The Guy's Horizon: The Future of Gender

We first heard the term hermaphrodite in elementary school. We have no idea how our source actually found out about this term, but he was more than happy to share his new found knowledge with us. Adding to the "collective vocabulary of insults" was a badge of honor back then and our source was catapulted from the bottom rank to the top in one day. Of course his status only lasted for a day, but the word itself stuck.

We found ourselves using the word to make fun of this person or that person. Or our siblings. It was especially useful on our siblings!! Did we have any idea what the word meant? We only knew the basics, because anytime it was discussed we just giggled. We thought it was SOOOO funny! But we were kids. We still thought we would get somewhere by putting someone else down. Yes, we've learned a bit since then. But let's not digress.

Hermaphrodites have been in the news lately. It started with Lady Gaga's questionable status a month ago and now Caster Semenya, the runner from S. Africa. But this term has been in and out of the news for a while. Do you remember the rumors about Jamie Lee Curtis? People wondered about her as well. THE GUYS don't quite get that one, but we do get that gossip sells, and this type of controversy is good for talk shows, newspapers, TV and yes, BLOGS!

So let's be clear. A hermaphrodite is a person born with both male and female sex organs. A hermaphrodite is NOT a she-male, cross dresser, transvestite, or a transsexual person. But how do we categorize this type of person? Where does someone who blurs the lines of gender actually fit? The government of S. Africa is adamant that the runner, Semenya is a she! But her hormones and testosterone levels really put her more in the category of a man. Wow, this is confusing!! What characteristic makes a person a she or he? Is it sex organs, hormone levels or just their word or belief?

When a person is born with both sex organs, one of the organs is often underdeveloped. It's possible parents could make the difficult decision of surgically removing the underdeveloped organ, or they could just wait and allow their son or daughter to make the decision when they're older. But what if they just don't want to make that decision. Is there something wrong with having both? Would that be classified as a third gender?

If you've ever seen Tru Blood, the vampire series on TV, you get a sense of how confusing this could be. In that series, Vampires have actually assimilated into mainstream society. They are actually a totally separate species living among humans, drinking blood from a bottle and generally minding their own business. Talk about confusing!! People don't know what to make of them, except that they don't trust them. However there are those that seek them out BECAUSE they are different and unique.

Hermaphrodites are far from a totally separate species. They are just part of a movement of people that are challenging the definitions of gender and sexuality. More and more college aged kids are experimenting with bisexuality. People are taking hormones to help them become their "true" selves. Some people like to cross dress in private, and some like to dress up and actually become the opposite gender for an entire evening. (Remember the Crying Game?) And many "normal" people also seek these people out BECAUSE they are different. They are looking for a totally unique experience.

So where do THE GUYS stand on all of this? We think the world is too large a place to live small. This fringe population may be a bit "out there" but they certainly aren't boring. And they give us "normal" people something to think about and talk about. (See the news everyday.) And don't we all need a dose of different every once a while, just to mix things up a bit? Keep us on our toes?

So we've come a long way from the giggles we exuded every time we used the word hermaphrodite. But as a society we've still got a long way to go. Race, religion and sexual orientation are still divisive in this country and in the world and it doesn't look like that's changing too much anytime soon. But for us, we want life to be interesting. So bring on the hermaphrodites and anyone else of any unusual bent. It's all good to us.

But what do we know, we're just plain old GUYS.

What are your opinions?
Where is our society at in terms of sexual orientation?
Do you see any changes on the horizon?
And how do you define a he or she? 


(Read our friend Badgal for her take on Caster Semenya)

14 Comments on The Guy's Horizon: The Future of Gender

  1. This was an excellent post with deep (and forgiving) insights. I think that Caster Semenya is a sad case. Society likes to put us into neat little picture frames to denote who we are. What is left out is individuality. That is a sad commentary on society. Are we so petty that we cannot embrace the differences in people, as well as their similarities? To me, it is the differences in people which make them interesting. We are not cardboard cut-outs.

  2. “We think the world is too large a place to live small”
    I will wear that on a t-shirt…a very thought provoking statement and trust me…I am so not a logo type fashion person.
    What an awesome answer to your very own questions.
    To be human is to fear what we cannot conceive of or understand.
    Each person has a different reaction to fear…some aggressive …others not so aggressive, but still remain apart and choose to be ignorant.
    I am soooo thankful that I am not a seriously judgmental person.
    I have always been of the rule that as long as they are not hurting me or forcing themselves on me …live and let live. When I say them I am referring to anyone that has different beliefs or different customs than myself.
    God did not create all creatures to be equal …so who the heck are we to judge those who we deem as different or not equal to us.
    Accept the goodness is the only thing you should do.
    If we were without sight …would we judge by the physical differences…nope.
    We have sight and yet we are still so blind…we are blinded by what someone has said to be the ideal type.
    Once again society rules …Blah!
    How do I define a he or a she…hmm…let me share my personal experience with gender confusion.
    I had a brother who desperately wanted to be a sister ….from the time I can remember he always dressed up like a girl…always played with dolls and my mom even said that when he was born he was the prettiest baby. All her friends continuously remarked on how he could be a baby girl…strangers thought he was a girl.
    His life was not an easy one. I was a tomboy and for some reason always took care of him.
    He grew up very confused because back then…his ‘type’ was shunned and almost stoned.
    My father & brothers being very strong male figures … had absolutely no understanding of his situation. If anything they feared it and ridiculed it to the point of thinking they could beat it out of him.
    He had male parts…but to me he was more my sister than my brother.
    His life ended young (30) sadly …he was forced to move away form family and found support & acceptance in all of the wrong places.
    Years later after surviving drugs, prostitution and the most humiliating lifestyle…
    she was cleared for the gender change operation, but it was too late. She had contracted aids..somewhere along her drug induced lifestyle and she died almost 10 years to that day.
    Yes…she was with male parts …but she was a women in her heart and soul.
    All she ever wanted was to be like me. She thought I had it all…a husband, the ability to have 4 children, to be a complete women.
    This is not an easy story to tell, but your topic most certainly brought it to the forefront.
    As far as the athletes and actors go…they are in a high profile position and that position itself will take that difference and use it against them…because that is an out for those who are not on their side initially.
    This topic is one that will be interpreted in many different ways as is the color issue of our world.
    Bottom line will rest with ones priority as to who they think they are and why do they think they can judge anyone.
    Digress…I did do that…but that is who I am…passionate about my thoughts.
    Fantastic topic:)

  3. It must be very hard to be Caster Semenya. My heart goes out to her.
    Yes, her – from what I’ve read, her urine tests showed that, despite her having higher than average male hormone levels, they are within the official limits for a woman.

  4. My heart hurts for Dorothy. ~So hard to watch a loved one suffer. Unconditional love is primary, and it sounds like her sibling had few sources for it save her.
    And Caster… All beyond her control. I wish our first reaction as a society was not to point a finger.

  5. Thank you all for your very personal comments. And insights!
    And a special thank you to Dorothy for sharing what obviously was a very painful experience. (And still is we’re sure.) We hope many people will get a chance to read your words and learn from them. Or at least begin to see that these people living alternative lifestyles, are actually real people too!!

  6. Hey Guys you opened a very powerful door. kudos to you for taking the open door approach. I read D’s story about her brother and I can understand. he was male by parts; female by spirit and all he wanted to do was be a woman. but society didn’t allow it. sadly society drove him inside himself and swallowed him whole. That is one of the things that society needs to spend more time addressing – social acceptance.
    Caster wants to be a Man; Because there is no indication of any photos of female looking caster before this.
    believe me I scoured the internet looking and hoping there were. I read the south african papers so I had a few other sources to check – and they all showed the runner, looking MALE. ALWAYS.
    Caster wants to be in a middle ground according to who ? I have yet to hear from Casters’ Mouth what Caster Wants.
    until then the hormones talk.
    my own hormonal craziness has taught me that Your Hormones are YOU. you can’t be a woman without estrogen. Caster Has NO Estrogen. but Caster has as much testosterone as The Guys and as well a Pair of Testes; yet No Ovaries or Uterus.
    apparently people think that your feelings dictate your identity, Not Your Physical Parts.
    if that’s the case, then lets do away with the check boxes that indicate sex and call it a day.
    personally I don’t think that will solve anything because Men who are Men want to be acknowledged for their testosterone. As a Woman I want men to see my Feminine Estrogen Enriched Boobage and Know that I AM A WOMAN In Parts and DNA.
    if that’s hard, sorry but I believe in Science and know that a man and woman have different body needs and functions; regardless of what our souls may feel.
    our physical bodies are what they are. sex is decided by your Parts Not Your Feelings.
    Thanks Much for the Link Back Guys.

  7. Okay that’s a hard one to answer. What makes a girl a girl and a boy a boy. At first thought I would say the sex organs, but then again what about those going through sex changes who are only part way through. Hmmm…I told you it was a hard one to answer. ;o)

  8. This is a very complex issue. When I was growing up, just a women who was “too manly” raised eyebrows, as did men who had “feminine voices” or walked in a “swishy” way. (Yes, just walking swishy was a surefire way for a guy to get beat up) I think we’ve come a long way from those attitudes, but I think that people that “blur the gender line” don’t really have a place in most parts of society. It’s sad, and I guess as more high profile people bring this issue to light that things may change eventually.

  9. A great post. I agree with you ‘this world is too large a place to live small!’ Diversity is not only a good thing, but a necessity, just look to the royal family for an idea of what goes wrong when you don’t spread the genes far enough apart!! Ok, I stole that from Eddie Izzard, but it’s still a good point.
    Aside from the fact that I think ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ can be 2 entirely different things, I think we need to embrace all ‘oddities’ in life. What may be odd to us may be reality to another. Not only does embracing those that are different make life much more interesting, but it makes for a lot less violence and hate.
    It’s wonderful to see that you Guys have such an open mind!
    Have a fantabulous day!

  10. If we saw people as individuals and not as belonging to categories these problems wouldn’t arise in the first place. No men, no women, no hermaphrodites-just ordinary human beings facing the daily struggles of life.

  11. First of all, any time you can work TrueBlood into a post you get s thumbs up from me. Second, the Jamie Lee Curtis rumor was true and third, while I feel bad for the runner…I feel worse for the woman whose record was broken. Perhaps hormonal testing as well as drug testing should be completed on athletes. Just a thought

  12. i feel bad for caster because she, i’m assuming, found out in a way that was so public. she does look like a man to me, but some female athletes and women body builders do. however, she was comfortable with being a woman, so i’m assuming that’s what she is regardless of her testosterone levels. her male organs were not visible so. what’s interesting though had she not won, would this have been an issue?

  13. I enjoyed this post a lot. Good one!
    We live in a society with different beliefs and culture and in some countries, a hermaphrodites would be a kind of God’s curse. Basicly, there are some that are quite ignorant about this and what they don’t understand is classified as odd and therefore, looked down upon. Each one of us is born as a unique individual and no gender is better than the other. When a person is born with 2 sexual organs or have the male and female hormones, it becomes fascinating but sometimes horrific for the person concern because gender identity is our most basic guide as how to we relate to others.

  14. We are all individuals equal in god’s eyes since we were created as he is. I can’t believe this is the second time I have talked about god in a comment today and I am not a religious person. Anyway when we treat everyone as a unique person rather than a gender or sexuality we will have come a long way. Fear is what drives people to ridicule people like Caster. Why anyone would be afraid of him/her I don’t know but if it can happen to one person it could happen to another. Fear is a powerful thing. We can’t fear what we love and we can’t love what we fear.

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