I am Genetically Male and Genetically Femme

Posted: August 10, 2009 in Troll Wars

Male versus Female Is False Dichotomy

Drantz’s slideshows on gender can be revolutionary for gender activism. I will give a simple model here.

In my society we usually divide in two binaries Male/Female and Gay/Straight. Based on Drantz interpretation of current empirical biology, I argue the following:

Taking somatic sex (ie male/female) as an example, after conception we all began life as Female embryos. Somatic sex differentiation begins when androgens (masculinizing hormones) are flooded into the fetus. Every fetus is masculinized to some degree but there is a huge continuum without an endpoint. If you go far enough down this road you develop ‘male’ gonads and a penis. Plenty of people with XX chromosomes react enough to the androgens to develop both a penis and vagina or only a penis. They can also be a infertile somatic male. XY people who are less masculinized can even stay fertile somatic females!!  We call all of these people intersex, but intersex is huge and diverse category. This is just biological diversity. To some extent we are all intersex. We all worked off of a Somatically Female template and masculinized in different ways to create a multiplicity of masculinized female bodies.

Somatic Sex is Approximately a Binary

Mammalian reproduction requires  that a somatic sex binary be approximated. Enough of us need to have fertile male/female reproductive systems in order to reproduce. An important point is that gene pools do not think in binaries and black and whites. A male/female binary is approximated by evolutionary biology, but this binary is a statistical phenomenon that we reify through cultural taboos.  There is a huge Intersex overlap. As Emi Koyama writes there is no unambiguous border between male and female.

So we can drop the binaries. They are approximations and abstractions. Intersex is a broad and diverse category. It is not a mistake. My body masculinized enough for me to have a functioning penis, but my somatically sexed body retained much of its original femininity. I was always read as a feminine boy, and now I have a frame for interpreting this. On this basis I can strategically take the Intersex label rather than the Transgender label.  Intersex is interesting because it connotes genetics rather than an identity group.

I am Genetically Femme

Reading through the current state of empirical research, I can no longer deny a strong innate biological component to gender identity. The nature of this component is still fuzzy, but some of us are born with a strong affinity for Butch or  Femme behavior/identity. I hypothesize that the genetic component is an affinity for certain gendered behavior in terms of body language, mannerism, sexual/flirtation behaviors and emotions.

I believe that ethnographic data shows the strong Socially Constructed nature of Gendered Roles and Gendered Identities, but some of us seem innately inclined towards assertive Butch role/identities and some seem innately inclined towards receptive Femme role/identities. The identities are social but humans are not a blank slate.

I am Cross-Gendered, not Transgendered

In this perspective I am cross-gendered. I am somatically Male and behaviorally/emotionally/sexually Femme. Every culture has a range of more or less marginalized, socially-situated gendered roles for femme males. In San Francisco the options I found were femme gay man, gay drag queen, transexual lesbian and transsexual, androphillic girl.

We are at a point in time where Male Femme can step out of the shadows and resist our marginalization and pathologization. I want to be a visible as both somatically male and emotionally femme without people putting me in a transexual box. I share a lot of discrimination and harassment with Transexual Women and we can fight together, but my goal is critically different:

  • I am not a “real” woman. I am emotionally and erotically feminine and somatically male.
  • I am a Woman of Color. My color is my somatically male, but I am a sister.
  • I present as male Femme, not as Female.
  • My somatic maleness is the color by which I am marked and discriminated against by other women.
  • If I deny my color and my difference from other women, I deny the basis of my marginalization and participate in covering up my oppression.
  • Being somatically male cannot be ‘fixed’ through transition.  Being male femme is not a birth defect or a disease which medicine can cure.
  • I take pride in being genetically male and genetically femme.
  1. GallingGalla says:

    Galla sent me a reply which failed my criteria for publication. It was filled with outrage and personal attacks on me. But, I wish to address her two main points.

    … please oh please don’t tell me that you are oppressed on the basis of your ‘color’ being ‘somatic male’. what a bucket of utterly white-privileged crap.

    … you say “Reading through the current state of empirical research, I can no longer deny a strong innate biological component to gender identity”, yet in a previous post, you rail against “brain sex activists”.

    …your wardrobe…omg your wardrobe…wow what decade did you get stuck in?

  2. g531 says:

    The reality of colorism is intense, re: how one can read themselves as a person of color but have skin/language/accent privilege in being able to ‘pass’ as white. It’s something that is difficult to encounter, considering how it is expected that the privilege of passing be enough, as though one can negate a part of their existence. I posted on another entry–in response to your response to Galla’s post, the western focus of this conversation. I am still looking for one that critically examines intersectionality–I am not sure if you do because I have not read all of your entries, but it would be interesting to examine. As I have been blogging, I have yet to find a collective post that addresses the intersectionality of identification and expression, especially avoiding the role of class in blogging as well as ability to politically express oneself as we see fit. if you know of any, please recommend. 🙂

  3. Jasper Gregory says:

    Hi g531,
    My working model at the moment it that most of us fall into the four sex quadrant. So I am behaviorally female and somatically male. I feel like gender is built on top of sex, there are an infinite number of genders and they are socially constructed in social interaction between self and others (think symbolic interactionism or ethnomethodology). I feel that these social identity/genders are an intersection of nationality, sex identity, race, class, religion, age cohort, imagined communities, sexual orientation, etc. In this stratum of social construction everything is intersected and radically socially situated. There is no way to determine where sex ends and class starts.
    That said, aside from Emi Koyama, I have never read about intersectionality. Which one volume would you recommend? Bell Hooks? Audre Lorde?

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