Monday, August 21, 2006

Lost in Transition

NY Times had an article yesterday entitled: "The Trouble When Jane Becomes Jack." I'm fascinated by the complexity of sexuality. To hear right-wing religious groups, politicians, and most of the media discuss it, you'd think all us "queers" fit neatly into 4 categories: gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and those that we don't want to know TOO much about because it's just downright freaky and uncomfortable: the trans community.

I'm on a mission lately to learn more about this big "T" in the LGBT term. I've had limited exposure to this group and therefore a limited understanding of them. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. This article may surprise you as it covers not only lesbians who migrated to the "other" gender, but the impact the transitioning partner had on the relationship.

Some lesbians view it as a kind of disloyalty bordering on gender treason.

“I am a lesbian because I am attracted to women, and not to men," said a 33-year-old woman who broke up with her partner of seven years, Sharon Caya, when Sharon became Shane. The woman, who asked to be identified only as Natasha, to protect family members who are unaware of her lifestyle, said that she was ultimately faced with the reality of her sexual orientation and identity. “I decided I couldn’t be in a romantic relationship with a man.”

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Shane Caya

Among lesbians — the group from which most transgendered men emerge — the increasing number of women who are choosing to pursue life as a man can provoke a deep resentment and almost existential anxiety, raising questions of gender loyalty and political identity, as well as debates about who is and who isn’t, and who never was, a real woman.

The conflict has raged at some women’s colleges and has been explored in academic articles, in magazines for lesbians and in alternative publications, with some — oversimplifying the issue for effect — headlined with the question, “Is Lesbianism Dead?”

Obviously lesbianism isn't dead. The number of lesbians seeking a change in gender is miniscule, but imagine the impact on your relationship if your partner suddenly makes it known that she feels more comfortable being a he.

If you thought transsexuality was as simple as just being gay or lesbian, think again. Later (hopefully this week), I'm going to be publishing an interview I did with a transgendered person recently. If you're like me, and never really explored this aspect of human sexuality, gender identity, expect a revelation.

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