I often hear said to me when I am out in the community, or read in comments and articles placed before me on blogs and in magazines and newspapers, a comment from some people who think that they have nothing in common with trans people a certain argument that I find somewhat humorous at best.
It breaks down, basically, to the idea that trans people are about one thing, and the LGB is about sexual orientation (although, when it comes to the B, the LGB is really about being gay enough or lesbian enough in practice as we've seen recently).
And with that idea in mind, I'm going to tell ya'll about something you may not realize, so that you might see that trans is, in fact, about sexual orientation.
To start out with, it is often said that sexual orientation, since it affects the kind of people you are interested in, and those people include soul mates and significant others and husbands and wives and partners and so on, is an important and integral part of a person's life.
That sexual orientation is fundamental to one's sense of identity.
SO, as we currently classify it, is divided into a few rough groups: Opposite, Same, Neither, Both, and All Of The Above.
I'll leave out the all of the above part, since a lot of folks don't quite get that one and focus on the other four.
To understand any of those things, you first have to understand what the opposite and the same and both and the none are referring to, and that idea is usually described as sex.
Saying it's sex, though, is a kind of shorthand, and it holds because it is in fact, more than sex, or I'd be attractive and drawing the interest of a gay men still, just as I did before I transitioned. And with the same response on my part, which is likely to be little or none.
But let's take a moment and look at that idea of sex, and we'll only link to my previous article on what it is that determines sex, as opposed to actually posting it here again.
What sex is a trans person? And, since it is most useful to have an example, let's take the Bilerico contributors: Austen, Dr. Weiss, and me. What sex are these three people?
By many accounts of those who are generally considered "trans aware," the three of us are female. Indeed, ask us, and we'll all tell you we are female and you can deal accordingly.
However, that is, and I beg my fellow contributors patience in this matter as I don't mean to insult them but will simply because of the point being made, a sort of social fiction to some degree for those who do not have the sort of advanced education in matters of gender and sex that those three individuals do.
And, often, people will decide, based on something they learned in school ages and ages ago, that chromosomes determine one's sex. Well, most folks are also going to assume that the three of us are XY.
Of course, it absolutely is an assumption, as to know that for certain requires a costly test to be conducted.
But, still functioning on that basis, one would assume that gay men, who, following this same idea of sex as the defining aspect, would be attracted to us, since they would be attracted to the same sex.
However, as an article a while back noted, especially in the comments, gay men generally don't find trans women to be all that interesting since they are women.
This immediately points out a flaw in the very idea that sexual orientation is strictly about sex. The same thing applies if you identify sex by genitals.
And for trans folk, it becomes even more confusing.
An unpleasant part of transition for transsexuals is often the question of "What's my sexual orientation?" It usually strikes at a key point, and it affects a whole lot of things in one's life.
Including those around you. One of the earliest question my wife (eventually will be an ex wife) asked me on the day I came out to her was "Does this make me a lesbian?"
My change forced her to look at her sexual orientation in a way she had never done before.
This is not uncommon, at all, and there are many trans folk who are involved in committed relationships where they have no sexual interest in each other at all -- and sometimes that means they exist in open relationships.
Sexual orientation is also a surprise to some of us, as there are often many many layers that interfere with it before hand.
Most of my life I've only been attracted to women. Then I transitioned, and I'm suddenly very attracted to men, for the first time ever, and finally I realized I was still very much attracted to both, making me bisexual, and leaning more towards guys.
But if I am not a woman and not a man -- as some people have said, most recently Andrea Lafferty with that whole "she male hybrid" bullshit line of hers -- what is my sexual orientation?
SO is tied, inherently, to the sex and gender of a person. In combination and affected by a multitude of factors.
A few moments of thought on this subject, of tracking the real and basic aspects of what it means to be trans, and you'll note that SO is fundamental to trans people -- to a degree that's very much the same as it is for LGB folks. It is a major part of our identity, and for us, we have to struggle with it being perceptually changed in the eyes of others, and the way that it changes things for others as we change.
It is, as I've noted in the past from the other side, just as critical a part of trans folk as it is for LGB folk, just as gender inequity is a critical part of LGB lives and trans lives.