My response to "Gender: The Final Frontier" by Josh Kilmber-Purcell is a part of my weeklong obsessive dissection of Out magazine's transgender issue. When, from time to time, I do pick up Out, I always enjoy Kilmer-Purcell's column. He is engaging, witty and often I agree with his analysis. This month really isn't all that different.
I, of course, was a little skeptical when he opened by declaring himself "post-gender" and still think it was a regrettable way to start out his otherwise astute column. After declaring himself post-gender he says,
From this day forward I'm not going to use the words masculine, feminine, or any of their derivations. They're meaningless, useless, and far too often meant as weapons rather than compliments.
To hear more about Kilmer-Purcell being post-gender and some of the really cool things he says in his column, follow me after the jump. Please?
Kilmer-Purcell explains that he spent his twenties as a drag queen and his thirties looking butch with a beard (his description - not mine), and thus has experienced gender from a middle point in the binary. This is an interesting claim for him to make, and I question it for some obvious reasons. What we don't want to do, however, is discourage gay men from looking at the ways that gender structures and influences their lives, so he can have a pass from me on this one.
He observes that,
Straight or gay, most humans define their gender by their genitalia and what they prefer to do with it. Many are obsessed with it. Hands down, the most oft-asked question of drag queens is "where do you put your dick?"
This is pretty dead on and begins to acknowledge the weird genital focus that society seems unwilling to let go. This seems to be particularly true of gay men. When I talk to people about dating transmen, they always want to talk to me about genitals, and I think how when I date non-trans men I don't talk to you about their genitals. Why would it be any different with a transman?
After telling us about how he was a whore (good for him - I am certainly not one to judge), he goes on to capture in a very simple statement a lot about why I feel blessed to be a part of the transgender community. He says,
I've found that pretty much the only people who don't define themselves and others by their genitalia are trans people. Probably because they've spend more than a passing minute contemplating the existence of their hoo-has and ha-hoos.
This observation was pretty dead on and really resonated with my own experiences. I am curious if other folks agree with it.
I also feel like while he is trying to align himself with the transgender community, they are possibly the most likely to be offended by his "post-gender" declaration.
What do folks think?
Are trans people better at thinking of gender as more than genitals?
What does it mean for someone to claim to be post-gender?