Monday, July 21, 2014

Winkies, Hoo-hahs, and An Org Chart

Okay, so a friend of mine on facebook recently posted something about the difference between "normal" and "normative" with regard to sexuality, which raised the question of what these terms actually mean. So I thought I'd take a stab at clearing things up, even though I have no freakin' idea what I'm talking about1.

"Normal" can actually be defined as "that which deviates least from the norm", or the statistical mean. In this case, identifying as heterosexual males and females represents the statistical mean, simply because the majority of the world's population does so. It is by no means a value statement.

"Normative", on the other hand, IS a value statement, indicating that which is closest to an "acceptable" identification. "Acceptable" is, of course, open to interpretation.

Now that we've settled that, on to MY questions.

I'm a straight guy, have been all my life. I am also very supportive of LGBT rights, including marriage equality. Always have been (back in the 80s I was in a discussion about gay rights and some guy shouted accusingly "What, are you gay?" To which I replied, "Well, certainly not for you". That was fun to watch.).

However, I am now very confused by the profusion of labels being bandied about. For instance, recently it morphed from "LGBT" to LGBTQ". I'm assuming the "Q" stands for "queer", correct? But what does "queer" mean in this context?

Also, the idea of "identifying as trans" is a new one to me. For the vast majority of human history, you had a winkie or a hoo-hah, and those were pretty much your only options. In recent decades, it became possible to change this surgically, although I don't know all the finer points (and I'm quite proud of myself for refraining from referring to the "ins and outs" of all this ... now is not the time for bad puns).

However, now there's a whole new proliferation of terms: cisgender, transgender, transsexual ... I can't keep track any more. And apparently, it is no longer limited to the winkies and hoo-hahs, for someone can identify as female but dress as a male and still possess a winkie, and still be attracted to females, but consider themselves a lesbian, they're just a butch lesbian, even if that isn't the correct term, and there are other people who dress as women and present as women and date men but still possess masculine sexual organs even though they have boobies and great hair and impeccable fashion sense, and there are people who were born female but have had the surgery to become male so they have winkies but genetically they are still female and identify as ... as ... uh ...

I'm just so confused. And, in an effort to give the benefit of the doubt, this may be the problem that many in the conservative community have with all this. It's not that winkies are pairing up with winkies or hoo-hahs with hoo-hahs per se. It's just that, instead of the two genders they were raised to know about and be (semi) comfortable with, there are now 2, 3, 4 ... carry the two ... oh, I don't know, something like 57 different genders out there. And once you start adding in the various ways these genders can pair up with each other, it starts becoming this maddening, seething pile of squirming relationships, kinda like ten pounds of spaghetti in a washing machine.

It's the organizational chart from hell. So what I would like you to do, my legions of imaginary readers, is to lay it all out for me. What do all these terms mean, how do they relate to each other, and do any of them apply to me, and if so, how? I expect complete sentences, elegant prose, and I want it all in ninety seconds. I gotta lie down.

1Not that this has ever stopped me.

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