Advocating Choice in Sex, Gender & Body Identity

Jaded16’s Note: A strange trend has developed these days. MenPeople are making sense! On a number of issues! Rather regularly. Here is Arvan of SexGenderBody with another post! That makes sense!

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I like choice.  I believe in choice.  I think about choice as the exercise of one’s own mind and as fulfillment of any rights granted by a society.

My personal experience of rights is that they do not exist outside of the agreements that combine to create and define a society.  I won’t venture into the unprovable belief that rights are given by god.  For this conversation, I am talking about the rights granted by the social contract(s) we agree to follow as a group for the benefit if the group and by extension – ourselves.  In that context, rights are an agreement to what we can and cannot do, as individuals or groups within the society at-large.

As individuals, we demonstrate the reasons for our rights.  In fact, so many conversations demand that we prove why we have rights.  The rights of the privileged exist and everyone else is seemingly forced to fight for theirs – one painful step at a time.

When it comes to choice, our human cultures and societies seem to be giving a lot of preference to reasons over choice.  Take for example, identifying ones self as gay or trans.  There are plenty of conversations about how we don’t have a choice in being gay or trans.  Many good minds have found physical evidence that we were born that way.  Some people know at an early age that their gender, sex or body identity does not align with the hetero gender binary definition.  They are born thinking and feeling that way.  I absolutely believe that.  (I don’t know the science in detail, but it seems pretty sound to me.  However, I am in NO WAY even beginning to question this information, which I happen to believe is true.)

So many anti-gay arguments claim that the “gay lifestyle” corrupts “normal” people.  The inference is that gay is a choice and a danger all together.   It’s not just about being gay, either.  Trans folk, persons of color, persons living with different bodies and abilities, different gender definitions, different sexual expressions and identities all face demands for justification and acceptance.  A common statement is that people are born this way and that there is a) no choice and b) nothing wrong with it.  For some people, I am 100% positive that we are born with our sexual preference, gender identity and body definitions.  Absolutely positive.  But, what about someone that decides to make a choice without any of that going on?

I am asking why I have to prove that I was born this way, for people to accept me as I identify myself?  For the right to choose the terms of my own identity?

I have heard many derisive comments leveled at “pretend lesbians” or “fashionably gay” people as well as declarations of why someone is not really bisexual because…?

It seems to me that the idea of choosing for personal reasons that have meaning only to the individual – are challenged, ignored or devalued by well…just about every element of society.  The status quo, the smaller groups fighting for their group identity and a whole lot of the rest of us.

I don’t need a reason to be gay or straight or bi or trans or abled or equal.  If I choose to identify as gay or bi or trans, do I need to prove that I was born this way for me to have society’s permission to be identified as I say I am?

So fucking what if I do decide on whim to suck cock or wear a dress?  What if I suspend from hooks in my skin?  What if I cover my body in tattoos?  What if I decide to be referred to as hir for no other reason than it suits me today?  When technology allows in the future, we may be able to change our gender back and forth as we see fit.  (We already do so in virtual spaces like Internet chat rooms and Second Life, etc.) Will we need a reason to do so?  Why?

You can probably tell by now that I don’t think we need a reason for our choice of identity.  Not one bit.

I’ll tell you what I do wonder.  Is this just a product of bully culture, gang fighting and a widespread belief that if we stand up and declare ourselves as individuals on our own terms and with no one else’s permission – then we won’t have a fucking chance of surviving?  How much of our daily language and concepts are built on the idea of group identity?  Do we, as human beings constantly, invisibly and unquestioningly assume that we can only survive under the protection of some group’s agreement?  Is it the only way?

Let’s look at it another way.  Let’s suppose that there exists this strong current of belief inside the social contract of our societies that we have to belong to a group identity and that we all need to have the agreement of others for the group to survive.  Some individual comes up with its own identity definition.  Why worry?  If the group is looking out for itself, that individual will not be able to survive the elements of nature that are external to society.  If this group identity aspect is a means for survival of the group, then the individuals that move out of the group agreement are on their own.  Good luck to ya, etc.

It’s not really a threat.  No real reason to be upset.  But, people to get upset and they are threatened.

What is so threatening about an identity chosen independent of the group and for reasons that have nothing to do with the group?

What is so threatening about choice?

Why are people so quick to argue that we were “born this way”?  Why are groups so quick to accuse others of “lifestyle choice” and to declare it a threat  or ill?

I have my suspicions of course.  I suspect that we don’t examine our language and take these concepts of group identity for granted.  I suspect that people who profit from the patriarchal, militaristic and religious intolerance don’t want to lose their gravy train (and by profit, I mean the hoarding of wealth combined with the harvest of human misery).

So, what do we do about it?  Why am I even bringing this up?  If any of this has merit at all, how can a change be instituted?  It seems that if I start a call to action, I’m still engaging in group identity, group action and group thinking.  So, here’s my plan:

I personally; me; no on else; just me…I want every one of you to know that however you identify yourself, for whatever reason, for no reason…whatever – I accept you on your own terms, in your own words, as you see fit.  You don’t owe me an explanation for anything.  You can come and go as you please, dressed as you like and addressed in whatever pronoun, adverb, punctuation or linguistic construct you choose.  Call yourself whatever you will and that is who you are to me.

Please regard me in the same manner.

P.S. Remember that guest posting policy? Use the link! To make more sense! More than me saying this anyway.


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9 Comments

  1. Personally, I identify as gay and it not being a choice, less of a response (though there is elements of that) but mainly because this is inherently who and what I am – and it not being a choice, it being an inherent part of my being, something that is cell deep inside me, something as immutable and solid and me as any part of my personality. Down to my bones it is written solid

    But the whole ideas of questioning identity – of the reasons, oof the labels people choose for themselves, of demanding they prove it, riles me. People define themselves, people identify themselves, people know themselves. If they claim a label, then that is their label. If they claim an identity then that is their identity. if they say they are X then that is what they are – and their reasons are their reasons and not ours to question, deny or attack. whether they’ve decided this based on a daily whim as said above, or because they think it’s written in their bones or any other reason in the world – it is who they are and no-one knows that better than themselves

    Reply
  2. Butters

     /  September 23, 2010

    Interesting how you have an authoritarian comment moderating policy. I suppose you’re like Renee, wanting to surround yourself with those who agree with you.

    Shame on you and your anti-intellectual ilk.

    Reply
    • Exactly WHAT is it that you have done that makes you any more intelligent? Okay, look at what you wrote prior:

      This is libertarian capitalist claptrap. I can’t take it seriously at all.

      That? That is supposed to be INTELLIGENT? Try again! Will it be three strikes, or two strikes and a hit? We’ll see. I don’t know, maybe not.

      Way to go, adding NOTHING to this discussion with criticism and disagreement. Slander won’t get you anywhere on this blog. Just ask the trolls. They don’t get seen very often.

      Reply
      • Butters

         /  September 23, 2010

        I accused your comment moderation policy of being authoritarian — and I stand by this accusation — since you deleted two of my comments despite their being inoffensive, merely because they took a different position. I’ve moderated comments on blogs before, and the general idea is to delete comments that are abusive, e.g. that use abusive language, but not to delete comments on the basis of whether or not you agree with them, or whether they’re long enough. If you wanted me to elaborate on my comment, you could have inquired, but obviously it takes a certain type of mind to do that (one the moderators apparently don’t have).

        Criticism does add to the discussion, though it may not add to your sense of being affirmed but that’s another story. Since there is content in what I said (e.g. I didn’t merely say ‘I disagree’, which has basically no content, but I made a philosophical criticism that had some content, however briefly stated), there is no good reason for you to disallow it. Also, it’s not slanderous at all, e.g. I made no personal attack nor did I attempt to tarnish anyone’s reputation. It was a valid criticism that I’d expect an intellectual to understand (clearly there are no intellectuals moderating this blog), especially since the issue I brought up is an ongoing debate among ethicists and political scientists.

        Be careful not to label something unintelligent merely because you can’t understand it.

        Reply
        • since you deleted two of my comments despite their being inoffensive, merely because they took a different position

          Your perspective is different from ours. Again, saying that this is “Libertarian Capitalist Claptrap” isn’t a different view. You simply stated contempt for the post without actually pointing out what you felt was wrong with the author’s position. AGAIN: You do NOT have to agree with ANY post, just as long as you remain CIVIL. I am glad to hear about your objections if something seems out of place to you, AS LONG AS YOU SAY SO IN A KINDLY FASHION.

          If you wanted me to elaborate on my comment, you could have inquired, but obviously it takes a certain type of mind to do that”

          See? This also points out something very interesting. We didn’t ask Sparky to write out a full-length description of what that user did and didn’t like about the post. In fact, what I as a moderator see, is that I don’t even appreciate simple posts such as “Great! I liked it!” Why? Because nothing is backing it up. Much like how you continue to prove that you have nothing backing your replies up, besides accusations and incrimination. So it would seem, it does take a certain mind to comment appropriately. A mind that you do not possess.

          I made no personal attack nor did I attempt to tarnish anyone’s reputation. It was a valid criticism that I’d expect an intellectual to understand

          Okay, so, as an intellectual, I have to agree to you. I have to take “You’re stupid, and this post is stupid, and you should feel stupid” as a compliment? By saying “I can’t stand this at all” you are implying that whoever wrote the article is stupid, and will be stupid, because they are beneath you. It DOES NOT mean anything other than that, BECAUSE you did NOT include “Here is why…” Any one who says that I am stupid, and backs it up with a reason is good enough a person to me.

          Be careful not to label something unintelligent merely because you can’t understand it.”

          What have I labeled? Here’s a list of things that YOU have labeled about the Author, and myself, as well as others (que benny hill theme song):

          1. Accused moderators of being Authoritarian on THEIR OWN BLOG (Label: Authoritarian)
          2. Anti-Intellectual ilk
          3. Using Renee in a subjective manner in order to impose further implications of Authoritarian
          4. blockheaded control freak

          My labels for you: None.

          Go you!

          One more thing, recall what I said about a comment like “Great! I liked it?” Well, your comments fill that role of being spam – even now, because going on a tangent about ME is actually going off-topic.

          Reply
          • I’d like this moment to point out any further comments talking about anything besides the post will be deleted as Wallamazoo rightly summed up. Also, insulting guest bloggers isn’t the protocol here or on any ‘liberal’ space you like to bring up ever so often. They write here on request and frankly it’s an honour to have such varied voices. Next time you or anyone else has a problem with any authors, any sort of name calling will not be tolerated. Not in any form whatsoever, even if the commenter thinks they are making an “intellectual” point.

            Reply
  3. Flutterby

     /  September 25, 2010

    I dress androgynously as often as I dress in a way that’s relatively feminine. I don’t wear makeup, and I only shave my armpits. I have a buzz cut. Most of my friends are male, and I prefer male-dominated spaces.

    I am a woman. So often have people thrown slurs for lesbian or trans at me, as if my decision to perform my chosen gender in my chosen way is a direct affront to them. I will be who I choose to be, and I will present myself how I want to be presented. This is my prerogative. It harms no one, and no one has any right to tell me I’m wrong, because it’s all a matter of self-identification.

    Thank you for this post. Saved to my “I don’t want to deal with your ignorant shit; read this while I do something more productive” folder.

    Reply
    • I love that folder name! It’s an honor to be in there. Thank you for reading the post and it is my privilege to give something of value.

      -arvan

      Reply

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