Tuesday, June 7, 2011

clothes may make the man, but what makes the woman?

June 3, 2011 at 12:30am
Logically I know that gender is a construct and irrelevant.  Logically I know that, were it to be even moderately accurate, "gender" would have many more than two options. Yet there exists a hollow pit of despair that refuses to understand logic.

I have friends who are dear to me who defy traditional gender roles and hetero-normative sexualities.  I know women who would prefer to be men, men who would prefer to be women, women who used to be men, men who used to be women, men who dress as women but prefer to be men, drag queens (and kings), an entire spectrum of LGBTQ identifiers, along with pansexuals and a half-dozen other (mostly) meaningless words.  Why meaningless? Because we are all people.  Just people. People trying to make sense of our lot in life and figure out who we are and why we feel the way we do.  People who accept the bits the genetic jackpot dealt, people who get those bits readjusted to become other bits, people who struggle every day to feel like they belong in their own skin.  Heck, it doesn't even have to relate to the naughty bits.  There's the 4'11" woman who just wants that last freaking inch.  The 7'2" guy who wishes he didn't have to duck to get through doorways.  The one who eats everything in sight, but can't get up to a healthy weight - who hates that their bones stick out and cringes from the stares.  The one who hardly eats and exercises until they drop, but can't beat the conditions that keep them morbidly obese.  The one who has to stay home, on heavily padded furniture and can never own a dog or cat because his bones are so brittle that if a pet jumped on his lap, his legs could snap.  I know these people.  I love these people.  And it is because I know them and love them, that I feel twinges of guilt even admitting that I have a problem.

My surgery removed all of my internal sexual organs.  Every female bit was taken, sliced, examined and discarded. That hollow feeling inside? That's where I once nurtured life.  Those divots to either side? Those housed all the potential lives that should have been doled out, one by one, month by month.  In the great scheme of things, I shouldn't have a sense of loss.  I should be happy.  Happy that the cancer was caught in early enough stages that it could be effectively removed.  Happy that I avoided the swipe of the scythe.  Happy that my life can go on.

Like I said earlier, logic has nothing to do with this.  And why shouldn't I feel loss? Why shouldn't I be saddened that I can no longer function as a female.  Even when I had the parts in place, they weren't working properly.  Not by a long shot. That is part of why I have trouble coming to grips with these emotions.  We had realized long ago that a child was simply not possible for us.  But now.  Now it isn't even possible through miraculous intervention.

And I sit in my wheelchair, with my loving husband pushing me through the aisles, and I see the baby bottles in their neat rows.  The car seats and high chairs.  The tiny shoes and patterned onesies. And I carefully wrap the hand-crocheted blanket and mail it to a baby that will never be mine.

And I make lists of all the things that define a woman.  Is it the breasts? No, because a mastectomy survivor is still a woman.  Is it the vagina? No, because damnit, a pre-operative transgendered woman is just as much a woman as one who was born with the bits.  Well, then, what is it?  What is that defining characteristic? That spark? That bit with the flashing arrow to tell us that this... this right here... is why I am a woman?  And I've come to a sobering conclusion.

There isn't one.

Nope.  Not a single one.  Sorry, gang.  It's not T&A or the ability to bake buns in the oven that marks a human organism as woman.  It's not a bit, inside or outside.  It's not the hair or the pelvis or the shape of the jaw or the ridge of the brow or even the absence of an adam's apple.

There's only one thing that makes me a woman.


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