Trans-sex and the Facticity of the Flesh
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Published in: September-October 2007 issue.


ULTIMATE SUBJECTS—bodies, sex, anatomy, gender, genes, hormones, chromosomes: identity. Sexuality, though causally and reciprocally dependent upon gender, is indubitably more complex, because it subsumes the entire range of behavior and psychology. What’s more, gender goes beyond being male or female. How does one explicate the tangle of anomalies, abnormalities, and antinomies of double sex? Changing one’s sex has to be one of the all-time most mysterious and daunting of transformations, even exceeding the province of art.

Gender is more malleable, inexplicable, and inscrutable than its dualistic inscriptions would have one believe, perhaps better likened to an adjustable slide rule that moves over and across the entire gamut of psychosexual binaries, while its formative impulses inform secondary sexual characteristics, object desire, fantasy transference and libidinal urge. Hence the continuum of trans-sex that exists—meaning not only changing sex but moving across the entire gender spectrum.

While men and women can easily get under each other’s skin, neither gender can get inside the other’s skin to comprehend what the opposite sex actually experiences. One can only surmise or simulate the other through mutual attraction or an appropriation of the other’s cultural roles, such as through cross-dressing. Thus an irresolvable psychological discrepancy not only inheres in the transference known as gender empathy, but is reinforced by an unbridgeable epistemological displacement as well. Transsexual beings move through an even more extreme confrontation with self and other than do most gay or bisexual individuals, and they embody psychosexual elements potentially inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender persuasions.

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