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What’s a Gender?

When it comes down to it, if a whole group of people is honestly coming forward and saying they feel a certain way about themselves and they want the same rights as everyone else, then they should get those rights

Story by By Thor Benson Photos by Muge Karamanci
Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Now that most in the millennial generation are pretty much sure they don’t give a damn if gay people get married or they actively support that right, the big question is the fate of transgender people in America. It’s a complicated issue, and one we’re still getting familiar with, and I am quite sure we will be debating exactly what gender means for some time. A major part of the conflict seems to be which bathrooms they should be allowed to use, which shows it has already become a somewhat absurd problem.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Many have said sexual orientation is some kind of spectrum. It kind of makes sense when you think about it. Some people are almost entirely homosexual, some people are almost entirely heterosexual and there are people in the middle who are fans of both sexes. Beyond that, there are people who are mostly homosexual but have been known to make out with someone from the opposite sex or even have sex with someone from the opposite sex now and then, and vice versa.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Based on my knowledge of transgender people and people who identify as having other variations of gender that aren’t strictly based on anatomy, it seems gender can operate in the same way. Some are born a woman and feel they were supposed to be a man, while some feel they are not governed by traditional definitions of gender at all. Some people feel like they’re a man one day and a woman the next.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I’m a very open minded person, and I still struggle to understand how this all works and what it means, but it’s not really resting on my shoulders. If someone earnestly feels that way about their gender, my understanding of it does not influence its validity. Just because I can’t relate to what it’s like to be born a man and feel like a woman does not mean I get to make sweeping decisions about if it’s significant or not.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I will admit, despite people recommending I don’t, that I have trouble with the idea of becoming romantic with someone who was not born a woman but at some point became one (anatomically). I don’t know why this is, as modern technology can certainly alter that person’s appearance to make them appear like someone who was born a woman, and there isn’t a huge difference between men and women in the first place, but I suppose it is a subconscious prejudice. There is something in my mind that is telling me that people who are genetically born as women are born with some kind of essence of womanhood, and therefore that is what I am looking for in a partner. Maybe it’s something about their ability to bear a child or something about pheromones—I’m not sure—but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

That being said, once again, this lack of understanding is not significant for the greater debate. Just because I am struggling with comprehending gender issues does not mean I get to make the choices over who get what rights and what is socially acceptable. Like with gay marriage, it doesn’t affect me personally, so I don’t think I should have any realistic reason to oppose it. I also have gay friends, which makes things easier to relate to, but I don’t have any transgender friends that I’m aware of. The important thing is to just let people be who they want to be or who they feel they have always been.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

When it comes down to it, if a whole group of people is honestly coming forward and saying they feel a certain way about themselves and they want the same rights as everyone else, then they should get those rights. If it was just one dude being born a man and thinking he was actually an alien or something, then I would understand the societal response of not thinking he deserves to be a major part of the conversation, but transgender people and other groups with similar feelings about gender appear in cultures all over the world and have for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. It is not an insignificant group of people, and they deserve to be heard.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

“Well if you let them say they were born a woman but feel like a man, what’s to stop them from saying they think they’re a dog,” a fucking idiot might say. That’s not how it works. First of all, that’s an entirely different species. Secondly, when we gave women the right to vote or began to allow interracial marriage, that did not become a lasting conversation about if hawks can vote or if people can marry wolves. Let’s all pretend we’re adults who don’t need to extrapolate reasonable situations to the point where they become ridiculous. Just grow up, god damn it. Yes, GOD damn it, because god is dead, and I don’t care what he/she thinks about gender or sexual orientation issues.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

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