Saturday, May 14, 2016

Androgeny is Next to Godliness

Time to put some skin in the game and explain why I am such a vocal ally of our LGBTQI population.

I came by my male side growing up in an extremely patriarchal worldview. It quickly became apparent that I had been dealt the fuzzy end of the lollipop by being born cock and balless, just a fateful flip of a coin that had everything to do with what I was and wasn’t allowed to be or do, and by the way, this wasn’t the men making it this way, it was the way that God had ordained it. There was quite a bit of smug shrugging and vapid assurances that by embracing my own God given role of submission, I would find some kind of deep fulfillment as a godly woman. I have no beef with submission as a concept, but I do object to its performance being relegated to a particular gender. As a young girl, though, I learned how to be one of the boys and often hung out with groups of boys. I emulated and revered their hardness, physically, emotionally and mentally, and mostly lived in complete denial of my femininity, which is not to say that women cannot embody those traits, it just was not entirely acceptable for them to do so in the world of my youth. Additionally, I was often reminded that it was quite unsafe to be a woman in this world, as the ‘weaker vessel,’ so I learned to downplay my femininity in self-defense, hiding behind billowy clothes, glasses and unkempt hair. I was good at sports though, and that was the first space where I grudgingly made some kind of peace with my female form and found a way to feel physically safer through weight lifting and strength training.

It wasn’t until I fell in love with a man and became sexually active with him that I decided there may also be good things about being a woman. Our relationship was deeply healing to me on the levels of autonomy and self-expression, and while he was a very hard man in many ways (I couldn’t yet tolerate softness in a man), he was also the beginning of my reclaiming myself from years of programming that was untrue to my character. Being sexual with him allowed me to enjoy my womanhood, to feel pleasure in my femininity rather than fear and loathing. My spirit processed the fact that I was ‘living in sin,’ but experiencing wholeness and healing, so I chose to change my beliefs to match my reality; I started, finally, to be me, as well as comfortably female.

I didn’t fully embrace my womanhood though, until I fell in love with a woman. I loved her for many things, and quite a few of them were directly tied to her femininity. She could be a rough and tumble tomboy, but whenever she decided to pull out her woman card, she played it devastatingly well. The things I most hated about my body, my breasts and my hips, I found unspeakably beautiful about her. Loving her body allowed me to love my own in places I never had. Loving her afforded me the opportunity to be soft, unguarded in ways I truly couldn’t be yet with a man. Loving her allowed me to forgive myself for being born female in a world that didn’t appreciate powerful, autonomous women.

In some ways, I had a psychic split that revolved around my gender identity. I can viscerally relate to the feeling of being trapped in the wrong body, because I felt that for a long time. I wasn’t impressed with the roles my womanhood, as defined by my experiences growing up, pitched to me, and the constant sublimated fear of my womanly body’s supposed physical vulnerability also fed those feelings of gender dysphoria. My story has ended in a blissful hybridization of strong male and female traits, but when someone tells me they feel like they are living in the wrong body, I have a healthy and understanding respect for their experience. I accept that they are who they say they are, end of story.

The complaint I hear most from people who really feel strongly about the male/female gender binary dynamic, is that embracing a gender spectrum is unnatural, ungodly and will most likely lead to the destruction of morality and the world as we currently know it. And they are partially correct, the world will indeed change but it need not end entirely or become amoral--a gender spectrum still runs between two mostly fixed poles, after all. Cisgendered heterosexuality remains the mainstream norm, at present, and should not be threatened by less statistically represented expressions of human gender and sexuality. No one expression or experience is more valid or more inherently moral.

I’m here to ask: what is immoral about adaptation and growth? My body is female, by nature, but is also very male, by nurture. My personal experience of this dynamic, although traumatic in origin, is now one of my greatest strengths, and my life is vastly enriched by my gender hybridization. I would argue that the more people who are able to tap into their own androgeny, the more chance there is for mature, balanced and autonomous individuals who are less driven by needs and desires of completion in relationships outside of themselves, which in turn could lead to a more tolerant and stable society. Let’s also not forget, for my sacred text lovers out there, that we are said to be created in the image of God, who is neither male nor female, according to said text. It is in my nature to be both/and.
We exist in a living world that is constantly changing and rearranging. Our language is still alive, new words are added continuously to our lexicons. Our ability to compute and to observe on both the micro and the macro scales is increasing; we know more about our universe and our earth, with all its many organisms, than ever before. Adaptation is the key ingredient to the survival of life on this ever changing planet. It stands to reason that as our world expands and our ability to observe and quantify grows, so too should our definition of ourselves evolve.

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