Who Is Looking Out For Gay Kids? Your Thoughts.
Readers debate the impact of critical gender theory and share many of their own stories.
A reader dissents:
This paragraph from your latest Dish surprised me:
And one of the core elements of gay male culture — the celebration of the male body, its unique qualities, and its sexual power — is actively diminished. It’s diminished because we are told that being a man is now a feeling inside your head rather than a fact about your body, from the first wave of testosterone in the womb onwards. All that gay male physical sensuality — the interaction of male bodies with one another, the passion for biological maleness — is reduced to an arid, gnostic, inside “feeling” unrelated to the body at all.
I’m not sure transgender people would agree with your characterization of their experience. I think it’s all about their bodies — what else would it be about? Here’s Lynn Conway on her memories of early childhood:
During those years I played a lot with close friends who were almost all girls. There were all sorts of funny, silly things we loved to do together. I was becoming very aware of my body and loved the way it felt all soft and sensual and rubbery. I enjoyed being close to my mother and my girl friends who all seemed to feel the same way. I especially loved taking baths and being all "soapy" and slippery all over. Things like that seemed very special to me, and I can remember flashes of scenes in the bathtub from a very early age.
And then once puberty hit:
I also began a practice common among young, intensely transsexual girls. Ashamed of my male genitals and male arousals, I began to suppress penile erections by hiding my parts inside me and tucked under and behind me. Instead of sudden out-of-control male arousals, I often had long-lasting, “simmering arousals” deep inside me which I always perceived to be female in nature. And instead of masturbating like a boy, I would find ways to put pillows between my legs to press on my tucked parts, and reach orgasm that way.
“Arid”? “Gnostic”? I think you’re way way off base. I highly recommend reading Conway’s whole account of her life through her transition.
Also, I think it is a terrible mistake to see the interests of transgenders as being opposed to those of gays — and for that matter, of women. It’s all about creating more social and cultural space for throwing off rigidly defined gender roles and creating more social and cultural space for people to feel free to be who they really are. The fact that our culture is still so homophobic that many young lesbians think they’d rather be male, so their attraction to women would be “legitimate,” is not a problem with supporting transgender kids, but a symptom of a lingering homophobia, especially lesbophobia, that no one is even talking about.
The policy implication is clear. Teens, especially girls, who suddenly express an interest in transitioning, having shown no such interest previously, should be queried (gently, of course, and in private) about their attitudes toward homosexuality, and helped to come to peace with the possibility that they might just be gay. Only once they can contemplate that possibility with equanimity should they be offered puberty blockers if they still want them.
The problem with this wise and compassionate plan, of course, is that reactionary parents will still freak out about it. But I think it would address your concerns, no?