We Use Gender Because Talking About Sex Is Nasty

In my piece about Stephanie I stepped out of bounds, went beyond what passes for legitimate discourse in today’s world of neo-Victorianism where gender is used in place of the more properly applicable ‘sex’.

I wrote about lust, animal magnetism consummated immediately in a nasty ladies’ room of a dive drag queen hustle bar.

Now days there is a contingent of “classic transsexuals” who are pushing for us to use the phrase HBS or Harry Benjamin Syndrome instead of the term transsexualism.  Their argument is that transsexualism is tainted by its being used as the descriptive term of choice for transsexual and transgender hookers.

It follows then that proper people with transsexualism or post-transsexual people should disassociate themselves from the term transsexualism.

Now I tend to think what many of these folks find problematic is the three letter word one finds in the middle, “SEX”. But then too, I am a nasty girl who still likes trannie and thinks that it is like our n-word, which is to say a word that only we get to use legitimately.

I can understand why people who came out of the straight CD area of theory want to avoid the word sex and make no mistake about it the fountain head for most of the transgender arguments was first Virginia Prince and later the founders of Tapestry Magazine.  Tapestry was the voice of IFGE and grew out of the heterosexual CD rather than the queen community.

It is important to realize when the Transgender Movement really started and that was during the very conservative 1980s rather than during the 1960/1970 era of sexual liberation that spawned the Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movements.  It was therefore influenced by reactionary elements found in the cultural feminism of Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, and Cathrine MacKinnon.

AIDS and reactionary politics meant a backing away from frank discussions regarding sex.  We as transsexuals had the crap pounded out of us in the earlier part of the decade by Daly’s acolyte Janice Raymond as well as the infamous machinations of the alleged Opus Die member Paul McHugh.  Between feminism and the religious right there arose this wall of anti-sex propaganda.

In 1982 I marched topless down Market Street with the S/M group, Samois in the Pride Day parade as part of a protest against the anti-sex/anti-porn movement.  You see I am old enough to remember when the Catholic Legion of Decency governed the movies we could see and the books we could read.  I am old enough to remember the persecution of Lenny Bruce for having the audacity to teach us How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. They killed Lenny.

Emma Goldman was asked if she believed in free love and answered, “Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere.

We live in an age where AIDS (sardonically described as the perfect disease that kills queers, junkies and n—-rs) has made even a discussion of loving freely seem insane.  Yet we are nightly subjected to ads for treatments of male impotence.  Impotence goes hand in hand with powerlessness and sexual repression.

Women’s Studies became “Gender Studies”.  I guess we had to hide that they were about women and feminism and that either of those areas had become either too controversial or too trivial to be designated as Ph.D. programs or legitimate fields of study.

Gender…  Judith Butler writes highly acclaimed unreadable books filled with obscure academic jargon and we are supposed to think she is deep because she shields us from a reality of cocks and cunts, mouths and assholes.

We used to speak of sex roles, that was back in the era of sexual freedom, the 1970s.  Now we speak of gender roles separated from people with cocks or cunts in the way married couples were separated and sleeping in their own twin beds in movies and television shows of the 1950s.

There are those who think we should erase the profoundness of sex change surgery or sex reassignment surgery divorcing it from the changing of the parts of our bodies that we use when having sex and the fact that the operation changes male parts to female and vis versa.  Better to obscure the idea that what was once a dick is now a pussy behind gender reassignment surgery or even worse behind genital reconstructive surgery which conjures up the image of surgically repairing an injured organ rather than changing the form and function.

At a time when women were demanding equality of the sexes, gender asserted the dominance of roles and subjugated maleness and femaleness to the culturally determined tyranny of god ordained roles.  Real men are once again defined by masculinity and real women by femininity.

One of the weirdest phrases to enter society on the path to sexual equality has been “gender variant”.  What in hell is a “gender variant”?  The term is meaningless in a society where men and women are free and is only really relevant in a society governed by misogyny and rigidly defined roles.  Using the concept of gender variance reifies the ideology of their being a gender binary that defines who are real men or real women based on their rigid adherence to some stereotypically defined role.

Of course this concept is useful for transgender people since it sets adherence to role rather than the messy sex parts as the standard.

It also seem to me that among many people assigned male at birth who want to be part of the T grafted on to LGB, that there is a near homophobic panic over the suggestion that they might actually want to have sex with male people. Then too there is this willful denial that drag queens, particularly those who not only live 24/7 but are sex workers are legitimately transgender.

The absurdity of all these attempts to disassociate not only transsexualism but the lives of many people with transgenderism not only from homosexuality but from sexuality by the use gender become clear in the face of the attacks from the psychiatric profession and the religious right (often times they are one and the same).

To both the religious right and to people like Blanchard/Bailey/Zucker/Lawrence/Green/McHugh we are all sex crazed perverts.

Instead of defending our having the same right to a satisfying sex life as cis-sexual/gender people we go into these elaborate forms of denial claiming it has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with gender, as though gender is pure and sex is dirty.

The liberation of self from the oppressive tyranny of both religion and psychiatry starts with our claiming the same rights to pleasure as those enjoyed by normborns.  The small step of defending  the frisson, the combination of desire for and identification with that occurs when viewing say fashion magazines, that is the carefully planned intent of the imagery which is after all aimed at selling merchandise to women by eliciting exactly that reaction, is the same reactions normborn women have.

When I have read some of the attacks upon our sexuality from not only the fore named psychiatric profession and the religious right but by certain anti-trans feminists I am forced to wonder if I can legitimately enjoy sex with my Hitachi Magic Wand much less the joyously free sexuality of my youth.

Fortunately the world as I experienced it in my youth was not the dark tangled web of religion, psychiatry and academic radical feminism but was rather the sexually anarchic world of left wing sexual freedom that characterized the far freer and more liberated days before the rabid right wing cum religious right take over during the Reagan/Thatcher era.

Perhaps it is time for us to get back to using the word sex when we mean sex, to defending our right to be sexual beings instead of pretending that sex is dirty and gender is pure.

Particularly since gender is so often tied to patterns of oppression that treat females as second class citizens.

One Response to “We Use Gender Because Talking About Sex Is Nasty”

  1. Véronique Says:

    Better to obscure the idea that what was once a dick is now a pussy behind gender reassignment surgery or even worse behind genital reconstructive surgery which conjures up the image of surgically repairing an injured organ rather than changing the form and function.

    You know how much I respect you? Sixty-two labels’ worth, that’s how much! I changed them all to “sex reassignment surgery.” That’s the term I use now anyway, and the old label was bugging me, so I wanted to change them anyway. Now I have.


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