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Thanks to Markos for calling attention to US Census media rep Cynthia Endo's idiotic characterization of gay marriage as a "lifestyle" to be ignored in the 2010 census, and not a "number" that might warrent counting. I'm so sick and tired of my GAY marriage being called a lifestyle that is somehow oddball, scary, sinful, worthless or negligible.  HOW DARE YOU, CYNTHIA!

More after the fold (I think...this is my first diary).

This "lifestyle" word was the same one my conservative Methodist aunt used when she wrote me a brief note saying that after much thought and prayer, she would not be coming to my wedding.  She could not support my lifestyle choice. This from a 50+ year old always-single woman with no children and only 1 niece (my sister, who's HETERO wedding she did attend) and 1 nephew, me!  My lifestyle? Really? What about me being gay has anything to do with my lifestyle as a married man?  

My husband and I are both employed, and at times have supported one another through periods of unemployment and under-employment. We dated long distance and then lived together for 2 years before getting married at a church in Chicago. We had 2 ministers perform the ceremony, had beautiful music, readings, attendants and a kick-ass reception. We share joint ownership of 3 cars and 2 bank accounts. We have a houseful of non-human animals that we lavish our attention on, hoping for the day when we will have a human baby to add yet another wonderful dimension to our family.

We are monogamous, care greatly for each other, have been through couples therapy together, and taken vacations together. Our "lifestyle" is so typical of thousands of other married couples. Yet straight couples will have some way of designating their "lifestyle" as "married," while my husband and I will be denied answering in that manner.

PLEASE stop calling my sexual orientation a "lifestyle." It's just that. It's how I'm hardwired regarding my romantic-sexual attraction. My married lifestyle is no better, no worse, no more or less worthy or special than my sister's married lifestyle. Cynthia Endo, what is YOUR lifestyle? How will you be allowed to answer on the 2010 census?

UPDATE:  Tip jar is kinda far down...forgot about that!  Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for everyone's comments!

Originally posted to lincoln925 on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:14 PM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  My lifestyle, to my girlfriends disappointment, (4+ / 0-)

    is as a gammer. My gammer tag is psilocynic.

    Bring it on! - Barack Obama speaking to the National Association of Librarians concerning book return late fees.

    by psilocynic aka Nick Zouroudis on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:17:20 PM PDT

    •  Well, there IS a gay lifestyle.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....and I happily engage in some of it, but certainly the large majority of gays don't bother! Not that I disagree with the main point.

      Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass. - Barry Goldwater, 1981

      by Doug in SF on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:55:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice diary (26+ / 0-)

    "Lifestyle" is one of those belittling terms that negates the essential quality of being gay in one's life.  There may be reasons for sexual orientation to not appear in the Census (severe undercounting due to continued social disapprobation probably first among them), but calling being gay or lesbian a "lifestyle" is gratuitously insulting.

    Dear Republicans: You can't repeat a lie enough to make it true.

    by Dallasdoc on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:21:12 PM PDT

  •  We need to boycott the census (6+ / 0-)

    if the Dems realize that there would be a significant census boycott, you can bet they would change this policy

    Meet the New Boss - same as the Old Boss - the Who

    by tiponeill on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:22:37 PM PDT

  •  Yes, indeed (17+ / 0-)

    PLEASE stop calling my sexual orientation a "lifestyle."

    Turn it around on heterosexuals. "You're a man who likes women? So that's your 'lifestyle' and you can change it!"

    Then see what they say.

    You can't change genetics, or hardwiring, as you called it.

    Thanks for the diary.

    [M]issile defense is a theology, not a technology, for many conservatives. -- Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (ret)

    by Page van der Linden on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:25:30 PM PDT

  •  Lifestyle.... (2+ / 0-)

    Hmmm.  I understand you're pissed, but what is a better word, a rubric, category descriptor, to describe how one lives.

    This is just for discussion since I don't see how the word is necessarily insulting, nor does it even imply that your lifest.... whoops, see the problem, it becomes difficult to describe your way of living, your having a committed monogamous same sex relationship---without using a word.

    Is it her refusal to accept you and your spouse, to participate in the celebration, or is it the word.  What if her message had been,

    "While I'm still uncomfortable with your lifestyle, I love you and wish you and your spouse the best, and will be happy to attend"

    •  It's a long standing nature vs. nuture question (4+ / 0-)

      as to the reasons behind homosexuality.  It's the difference between born that way and choosing to be that way.  It seems pretty ridiculous when you consider the Intersexed.  Who are they supposed to choose since they are born that way?

      Anyway, I am an anomaly.  I am Gay and have no desire to be married.  My last long term relationship, we lived in the same building, not in the same apartment and not on the same floor.  I'm a bitch, aren't I? I want my time and my space.

      Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

      by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:33:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A bitch? Probably not (4+ / 0-)

        But you are a proponent of what I call "separate domicile relationships".  And that's very smart!  

        •  that is actually my fantasy relationship (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dallasdoc, gmb, ShempLugosi

          different apartments in the same building. You spend 3-5 nights a week together, but you have your space too. what could be better?

          the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

          by SeanF on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:31:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Me too. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc, ShempLugosi

            I read about a couple of writers--straight folks--who lived in England and were married.  Each owned a house on the same street.  They had kids, loved each other, etc., but they each continued to live in their own house (but obviously spent a lot of time with each other).  I think the kids lived between the houses.  I thought it sounded like the best relationship ever.

            •  It's kind of ironic that a straight couple can be (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pucknomad, SeanF, Marie, AJ in Camden

              considered married even if, like certain recent presidential candidates, they spend most of their time living in a separate city from their spouse and have lived that way for years.  But if you're a same-sex couple and have lived together for forty years, that's just a "lifestyle".

              If you've got time to comment here, you've got time to email a Letter to the Editor and counteract republican framing of issues. DO IT!

              by lineatus on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:58:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Oh please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it becomes difficult to describe your way of living, your having a committed monogamous same sex relationship---without using a word.

      Here's a word -- married. Or would that be too difficult?

  •  Where is your tip jar? People usually put one out (4+ / 0-)

    to get more mojo points.  I know it's your first and I want to help you out.

    Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

    by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:27:48 PM PDT

  •  Endo should be asked (7+ / 0-)

    if it's official government policy, then, that God doesn't make gay people.  And where do we come from, then - France?

    "Justice is indivisible." - MLK

    by Bob Love on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:30:08 PM PDT

  •  "Lifestyle" sounds like "preference." (9+ / 0-)

    Lifestyle makes it sound like being GLBT is a choice, like deciding whether or not to join a gym.

    Teh stoopid, it burns!

    Can someone please explain to me how there can be a "moderate" position on equality??

    by browneyes on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:30:09 PM PDT

    •  If you would please start using GLBQTI that would (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      help.  When you consider the Intersexed, who are part of our community, the whole nature vs. nuture question becomes ridiculous.

      Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

      by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:34:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Acronyms are most useful if pronounceable (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ShempLugosi, browneyes

        and if they stay relatively contstant from year to year instead of growing a tail of new categories.  I sympathize with the desire to be inclusive of all sexual minorities, but as acronmyms go that one is a bear.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:36:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oh right, we forgot the bears... (5+ / 0-)

          make that GLBQTIB!

          the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

          by SeanF on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:38:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  GLIB CUTIEs pronounceable. Tradition is overrated (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Which one are you and we'll cut it out so you aren't represented because it might be inconvenient.

          Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

          by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:39:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, by all means ostracize me (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dennisl, ShempLugosi, browneyes

            for my mild observation.  Sheesh.  It might make you feel better, though it won't do a thing for the millions to whom our concerns are peripheral at best.

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:45:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When I was working in HR @ LA's Gay Center, (0+ / 0-)

              I worked very hard to get the Intersexed included in the language of their Employee Handbook.  Your argument that it needs to be pronounceable and based on tradition is weak and disappointing.  How are we supposed to rail against the goopers for having a small tent when you want to keep our tent small to keep it convenient?  

              Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

              by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:01:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But need the tent have the initials (0+ / 0-)

                of every constituency spelled out?  Should we change the name of the Democratic party to the Liberal Progressive Socialist GLBQTI FEminist Environmentalist Labor Education Party?  

                "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                by lgmcp on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:05:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, we just need to make you comfortable. (0+ / 0-)

                  Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                  by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:27:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  why are you so hostile? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    an uncurious about other people's opinions?

                    the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                    by SeanF on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:32:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Because you aren't part of the groups left off (0+ / 0-)

                      until you are, I don't really care what you think.  You are no better than the gop.

                      Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                      by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:39:27 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Whoa! What happened to that tent? (0+ / 0-)

                        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                        by lgmcp on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 07:46:03 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  When I'm dealing with Dumber & Dumberer, who only (0+ / 0-)

                          think of themselves, the tent shrinks and you two can go get a room.

                          Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                          by uc booker on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 08:54:54 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You're being awfully reactive, you know (0+ / 0-)

                            The slightest hint of disagreement with your own views, and you lie down and throw a hissy fit?  We were talking about ACRONYMS for heavens sake, not life and death.  In other conversations I took you for a rational person, but in this one the chip on your shoulder is outta control.

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 05:51:39 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As I have said, you are not one of the groups (0+ / 0-)

                            left off the list and you are saying that it would be inconvenient for you because it doesn't spell anything and you are invested in the old label. How am I supposed to deal with your irrationality?  Your mind is closed and you are the one unwilling to deal with those who have the "slightest hint of disagreement with your own views."  So, I lie down and have a hissy fit? What's the matter, not sure if I'm African American so you can't use uppity?  I am a very rational person.  You are the one being irrational and I am sure you will find that out when you go back and reread the thread.

                            Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                            by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:42:56 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sigh. (0+ / 0-)

                            Passionate and committed activists such as yourself often earn both admiration and frustration from those slightly less involved.  But it is clear that the most effective activists are the ones rather less prone to saying "please get off my side".  I am not the one calling names in this thread (and yes, GOPer is a nasty name).

                            The fact that I feel silly saying "glib cutie" when "gay" or "all sexualities" would do just fine (and I'm a dyke, by the way), is somehow interepreted by you to mean I'm utterly disinterested in justice and tolerance.  You mistake nomenclature for substance, and make a mountain out of a molehill. In this you do your own cause a disservice.    

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:55:11 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's sad you don't see how you feeling silly does (0+ / 0-)

                            not matter.  You are very dismissive of me and try to lambast me for dismissing you.  That doesn't work for me, sweetie.  

                            You need to be more sensitive to the needs of others.  In women terms, think of all the women who had diseases, went to the doctor, and was told that it was all in their head.  Now, transfer that to people of ambiguous sexuality, who may or may not have been sexually mutilated, and forced into a gender that did not fit.  Finally, after years of not feeling you were in the correct body, you find out that your parents had you sexually reassigned because they might feel silly with a sexually ambiguous child.  You finally have a name for what and who you are and some undereducated dyke doen't want to include you under the very umbrella that she has the security of because it might make her feel silly.  You are the most self-centered imbecile I have ever encountered.  Read up and get some sensitivity training.

                            The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough

                            By Anne Fausto-Sterling

                            The Sciences March/April 1993, p. 20-24

                            Anne Fausto-Sterling is Professor of Biology and Women's Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. Professor Fausto-Sterling's new book, entitled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, appeared in February, 2000.

                            In 1843 Levi Suydam, a twenty-three-year-old resident of Salisbury, Connecticut, asked the town board of selectmen to validate his right to vote as a Whig in a hotly contested local election. The request raised a flurry of objections from the opposition party, for reasons that must be rare in the annals of American democracy: it was said that Suydam was more female than male and thus (some eighty years before suffrage was extended to women) could not be allowed to cast a ballot. To settle the dispute a physician, one William James Barry, was brought in to examine Suydam. And, presumably upon encountering a phallus, the good doctor declared the prospective voter male. With Suydam safely in their column the Whigs won the election by a majority of one.

                            Barry's diagnosis, however, turned out to be somewhat premature. Within a few days he discovered that, phallus notwithstanding, Suydam menstruated regularly and had a vaginal opening. Both his/her physique and his/her mental predispositions were more complex than was first suspected. S/he had narrow shoulders and broad hips and felt occasional sexual yearnings for women. Suydam's "'feminine propensities, such as a fondness for gay colors, for pieces of calico, comparing and placing them together, and an aversion for bodily labor, and an inability to perform the same, were remarked by many," Barry later wrote. It is not clear whether Suydam lost or retained the vote, or whether the election results were reversed.

                            Western culture is deeply committed to the idea that there are only two sexes. Even language refuses other possibilities; thus to write about Levi Suydam I have had to invent conventions-- s/he and his/her-- to denote someone who is clearly neither male nor female or who is perhaps both sexes at once. Legally, too, every adult is either man or woman, and the difference, of course, is not trivial. For Suydam it meant the franchise; today it means being available for, or exempt from, draft registration, as well as being subject, in various ways, to a number of laws governing marriage, the family and human intimacy. In many parts of the United States, for instance, two people legally registered as men cannot have sexual relations without violating anti-sodomy statutes.

                            But if the state and the legal system have an interest in maintaining a two-party sexual system, they are in defiance of nature. For biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes-- and perhaps even more.

                            For some time medical investigators have recognized the concept of the intersexual body. But the standard medical literature uses the term intersex as a catch-all for three major subgroups with some mixture of male and female characteristics: the so-called true hermaphrodites, whom I call herms, who possess one testis and one ovary (the sperm- and egg-producing vessels, or gonads); the male pseudohermaphrodites (the "merms"), who have testes and some aspects of the female genitalia but no ovaries; and the female pseudohermaphrodites (the "ferms"), who have ovaries and some aspects of the male genitalia but lack testes. Each of those categories is in itself complex; the percentage of male and female characteristics, for instance, can vary enormously among members of the same subgroup. Moreover, the inner lives of the people in each subgroup-- their special needs and their problems, attractions and repulsions-- have gone unexplored by science. But on the basis of what is known about them I suggest that the three intersexes, herm, merm and ferm, deserve to be considered additional sexes each in its own right. Indeed, I would argue further that sex is a vast, infinitely malleable continuum that defies the constraints of even five categories.

                            Not surprisingly, it is extremely difficult to estimate the frequency of intersexuality, much less the frequency of each of the three additional sexes: it is not the sort of information one volunteers on a job application. The psychologist John Money of Johns Hopkins University, a specialist in the study of congenital sexual-organ defects, suggests intersexuals may constitute as many as 4 percent of births. As I point out to my students at Brown University, in a student body of about 6,000 that fraction, if correct, implies there may be as many as 240 intersexuals on campus-- surely enough to form a minority caucus of some kind.

                            In reality though, few such students would make it as far as Brown in sexually diverse form. Recent advances in physiology and surgical technology now enable physicians to catch most intersexuals at the moment of birth.

                            Almost at once such infants are entered into a program of hormonal and surgical management so that they can slip quietly into society as "normal" heterosexual males or females. I emphasize that the motive is in no way conspiratorial. The aims of the policy are genuinely humanitarian, reflecting the wish that people be able to "fit in" both physically and psychologically In the medical community, however, the assumptions behind that wish-- that there be only two sexes, that heterosexuality alone is normal, that there is one true model of psychological health-- have gone virtually unexamined.

                            The word hermaphrodite comes from the Greek name Hermes, variously known as the messenger of the gods, the patron of music, the controller of dreams or the protector of livestock, and Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love and beauty. According to Greek mythology, those two gods parented Hermaphroditus, who at age fifteen became half male and half female when his body fused with the body of a nymph he fell in love with. In some true hermaphrodites the testis and the ovary grow separately but bilaterally, in others they grow together within the same organ, forming an ovo-testis. Not infrequently, at least one of the gonads functions quite well, producing either sperm cells or eggs, as well as functional levels of the sex hormones-- androgens or estrogens. Although in theory it might be possible for a true hermaphrodite to become both father and mother to a child, in practice the appropriate ducts and tubes are not configured so that egg and sperm can meet.

                            In contrast with the true hermaphrodites, the pseudohermaphrodites possess two gonads of the same kind along with the

                            usual male (XY) or female (XX) chromosomal makeup. But their external genitalia and secondary sex characteristics do not match their chromosomes. Thus merms have testes and XY chromosomes, yet they also have a vagina and a clitoris, and at puberty they often develop breasts. They do not menstruate, however. Ferms have ovaries, two X chromosomes and sometimes a uterus, but they also have at least partly masculine external genitalia. Without medical intervention they can develop beards, deep voices and adult-size penises.

                            No classification scheme could more than suggest the variety of sexual anatomy encountered in clinical practice. In 1969, for example, two French investigators, Paul Guinet of the Endocrine Clinic in Lyons and Jacques Decourt of the Endocrine Clinic in Paris, described ninety-eight cases of true hermaphroditism-- again, signifying people with both ovarian and testicular tissue-- solely according to the appearance of the external genitalia and the accompanying ducts. In some cases the people exhibited strongly feminine development. They had separate openings for the vagina and the urethra, a cleft vulva defined by both the large and the small labia, or vaginal lips, and at puberty they developed breasts and usually began to menstruate. It was the oversize and sexually alert clitoris, which threatened sometimes at puberty to grow into a penis, that usually impelled them to seek medical attention. Members of another group also had breasts and a feminine body type, and they menstruated. But their labia were at least partly fused, forming an incomplete scrotum. The phallus (here an embryological term for a structure that during usual development goes on to form either a clitoris or a penis) was between 1.5 and 2.8 inches long; nevertheless, they urinated through a urethra that opened into or near the vagina.

                            By far the most frequent form of true hermaphrodite encountered by Guinet and Decourt-- 55 percent-- appeared to have a more masculine physique. In such people the urethra runs either through or near the phallus, which looks more like a penis than a clitoris. Any menstrual blood exits periodically during urination. But in spite of the relatively male appearance of the genitalia, breasts appear at puberty. It is possible that a sample larger than ninety-eight so-called true hermaphrodites would yield even more contrasts and subtleties. Suffice it to say that the varieties are so diverse that it is possible to know which parts are present and what is attached to what only after exploratory surgery.

                            The embryological origins of human hermaphrodites clearly fit what is known about male and female sexual development. The embryonic gonad generally chooses early in development to follow either a male or a female sexual pathway; for the ovo-testis, however, that choice is fudged. Similarly, the embryonic phallus most often ends up as a clitoris or a penis, but the existence of intermediate states comes as no surprise to the embryologist. There are also uro-genital swellings in the embryo that usually either stay open and become the vaginal labia or fuse and become a scrotum. In some hermaphrodites, though, the choice of opening or closing is ambivalent. Finally, all mammalian embryos have structures that can become the female uterus and the fallopian tubes, as well as structures that can become part of the male sperm-transport system. Typically either the male or the female set of those primordial genital organs degenerates, and the remaining structures achieve their sex-appropriate future. In hermaphrodites both sets of organs develop to varying degrees.

                            Intersexuality itself is old news. Hermaphrodites, for instance, are often featured in stories about human origins. Early biblical scholars believed Adam began life as a hermaphrodite and later divided into two people-- a male and a female-- after falling from grace. According to Plato there once were three sexes-- male, female and hermaphrodite-- but the third sex was lost with time.

                            Both the Talmud and the Tosefta, the Jewish books of law, list extensive regulations for people of mixed sex. The Tosefta expressly forbids hermaphrodites to inherit their fathers' estates (like daughters), to seclude themselves with women (like sons) or to shave (like men). When hermaphrodites menstruate they must be isolated from men (like women); they are disqualified from serving as witnesses or as priests (like women), but the laws of pederasty apply to them.

                            In Europe a pattern emerged by the end of the Middle Ages that, in a sense, has lasted to the present day: hermaphrodites were compelled to choose an established gender role and stick with it. The penalty for transgression was often death. Thus in the 1600s a Scottish hermaphrodite living as a woman was buried alive after impregnating his/her master's daughter.

                            For questions of inheritance, legitimacy, paternity, succession to title and eligibility for certain professions to be determined, modern Anglo-Saxon legal systems require that newborns be registered as either male or female. In the U.S. today sex determination is governed by state laws. Illinois permits adults to change the sex recorded on their birth certificates should a physician attest to having performed the appropriate surgery The New York Academy of Medicine on the other hand, has taken an opposite view. In spite of surgical alterations of the external genitalia, the academy argued in 1966, the chromosomal sex remains the same. By that measure, a person's wish to conceal his or her original sex cannot outweigh the public interest in protection against fraud.

                            During this century the medical community has completed what the legal world began-- the complete erasure of any form of embodied sex that does not conform to a male-female, heterosexual pattern. Ironically, a more sophisticated knowledge of the complexity of sexual systems has led to the repression of such intricacy.

                            In 1937 the urologist Hugh H. Young of Johns Hopkins University published a volume titled Genital Abnormalities, Hermaphrodites and Related Adrenal Diseases. The book is remarkable for its erudition, scientific insight and open-mindedness. In it Young drew together a wealth of carefully documented case histories to demonstrate and study the medical treatment of such "accidents of birth." Young did not pass judgment on the people he studied, nor did he attempt to coerce into treatment those intersexuals; who rejected that option. And he showed unusual evenhandedness in referring to those people who had sexual experiences as both men and women as "Practicing hermaphrodites."

                            One of Young's more interesting cases was a hermaphrodite named Emma who had grown up as a female. Emma had both a penis-size clitoris and a vagina, which made it possible for him/ her to have "normal" heterosexual sex with both men and women. As a teenager Emma had had sex with a number of girls to whom s/he was deeply attracted; but at the age of nineteen s/he had married a man. Unfortunately, he had given Emma little sexual pleasure (though he had had no complaints), and so throughout that marriage and subsequent ones Emma had kept girlfriends on the side. With some frequency s/he had pleasurable sex with them. Young describes his subject as appearing "to be quite content and even happy." In conversation Emma occasionally told him of his/her wish to be a man, a circumstance Young said would be relatively easy to bring about. But Emma's reply strikes a heroic blow for self-interest:

                            Would you have to remove that vagina? I don't know about that because that's my meal ticket. If you did that, I would have to quit my husband and go to work, so I think I'll keep it and stay as I am. My husband supports me well,

                            and even though I don't have any sexual pleasure with him, I do have lots with my girlfriends.

                            Yet even as Young was illuminating intersexuality with the light of scientific reason, he was beginning its suppression. For his book is also an extended treatise on the most modem surgical and hormonal methods of changing intersexuals, into either males or females. Young may have differed from his successors in being less judgmental and controlling of the patients and their families, but he nonetheless supplied the foundation on which current intervention practices were built.

                            By 1969, when the English physicians Christopher J. Dewhurst and Ronald R. Gordon wrote The Intersexual Disorders, medical and surgical approaches to intersexuality had neared a state of rigid uniformity. It is hardly surprising that such a hardening of opinion took place in the era of the feminine mystique-- of the post-Second World War flight to the suburbs and the strict division of family roles according to sex. That the medical consensus was not quite universal (or perhaps that it seemed poised to break apart again) can be gleaned from the near-hysterical tone of Dewhurst and Gordon's book, which contrasts markedly with the calm reason of Young's founding work. Consider their opening description of an intersexual newborn:

                            One can only attempt to imagine the anguish of the parents. That a newborn should have a deformity ... [affecting] so fundamental an issue as the very sex of the child ... is a tragic event which immediately conjures up visions of a hopeless psychological misfit doomed to live always as a sexual freak in loneliness and frustration.

                            Dewhurst and Gordon warned that such a miserable fate would, indeed, be a baby's lot should the case be improperly managed; "but fortunately," they wrote, "with correct management the outlook is infinitely better than the poor parents-- emotionally stunnedby the event-- or indeed anyone without special knowledge could ever imagine."

                            Scientific dogma has held fast to the assumption that without medical care hermaphrodites are doomed to a life of misery. Yet there are few empirical studies to back up that assumption, and some of the same research gathered to build a case for medical treatment contradicts it. Francies Benton, another of Young's practicing hermaphrodites, "had not worried over his condition, did not wish to be changed, and was enjoying life." The same could be said of Emma, the opportunistic hausfrau. Even Dewhurst and Gordon, adamant about the psychological importance of treating intersexuals; at the infant stage, acknowledged great success in "changing the sex" of older patients. They reported on twenty cases of children reclassified into a different sex after the supposedly critical age of eighteen months. They asserted that all the reclassifications were "successful," and they wondered then whether reregistration could be "recommended more readily than [had] been suggested so far."

                            The treatment of intersexuality in this century provides a dear example of what the French historian Michel Foucault has called biopower. The knowledge developed in biochemistry, embryology, endocrinology, psychology and surgery has enabled physicians to control the very sex of the human body. The multiple contradictions in that kind of power call for some scrutiny. On the one hand, the medical "management" of intersexuality certainly developed as part of an attempt to free people from perceived psychological pain (though whether the pain was the patient's, the parents' or the physician's is unclear). And if one accepts the assumption that in a sex-divided culture people can realize their greatest potential for happiness and productivity only if they are sure they belong to one of only two acknowledged sexes, modern medicine has been extremely successful.

                            On the other hand, the same medical accomplishments can be read not as progress but as a mode of discipline. Hermaphrodites have unruly bodies. They do not fall naturally into a binary classification; only a surgical shoehorn can put them there. But why should we care if a "woman," defined as one who has breasts, a vagina, a uterus and ovaries and who menstruates, also has a clitoris large enough to penetrate the vagina of another woman? Why should we care if there are people whose biological equipment enables them to have sex "naturally" with both men and women? The answers seem to lie in a cultural need to maintain clear distinctions between the sexes. Society mandates the control of intersexual bodies because they blur and bridge the great divide. Inasmuch as hermaphrodites literally embody both sexes, they challenge traditional beliefs about sexual difference: they possess the irritating ability to live sometimes as one sex and sometimes the other, and they raise the specter of homosexuality.

                            But what if things were altogether different? Imagine a world in which the same knowledge that has enabled medicine to intervene in the management of intersexual patients has been placed at the service of multiple sexualities. Imagine that the sexes have multiplied beyond currently imaginable limits. It would have to be a world of shared powers. Patient and physician, parent and child, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual-- all those oppositions and others would have to be dissolved as sources of division. A new ethic of medical treatment would arise, one that would permit ambiguity in a culture that had overcome sexual division. The central mission of medical treatment would be to preserve life. Thus hermaphrodites would be concerned primarily not about whether they can conform to society but about whether they might develop potentially life-threatening conditions-- hernias, gonadal tumors, salt imbalance caused by adrenal malfunction-- that sometimes accompany hermaphroditic development. In my ideal world medical intervention for intersexuals would take place only rarely before the age of reason; subsequent treatment would be a cooperative venture between physician, patient and other advisers trained in issues of gender multiplicity.

                            I do not pretend that the transition to my utopia would be smooth. Sex, even the supposedly "normal," heterosexual kind, continues to cause untold anxieties in Western society. And certainly a culture that has yet to come to grips-- religiously and, in some states, legally-- with the ancient and relatively uncomplicated reality of homosexual love will not readily embrace intersexuality. No doubt the most troublesome arena by far would be the rearing of children. Parents, at least since the Victorian era, have fretted, sometimes to the point of outright denial, over the fact that their children are sexual beings.

                            All that and more amply explains why intersexual children are generally squeezed into one of the two prevailing sexual categories. But what would be the psychological consequences of taking the alternative road-- raising children as unabashed intersexuals? On the surface that tack seems fraught with peril. What, for example, would happen to the intersexual child amid the unrelenting cruelty of the school yard? When the time came to shower in gym class, what horrors and humiliations would await the intersexual as his/her anatomy was displayed in all its nontraditional glory? In whose gym class would s/he register to begin with? What bathroom would s/he use? And how on earth would Mom and Dad help shepherd him/her through the mine field of puberty?

                            In the past thirty years those questions have been ignored, as the scientific community has, with remarkable unanimity, avoided contemplating the alternative route of unimpeded intersexuality, But modem investigators tend to overlook a substantial body of case histories, most of them compiled between 1930 and 1960, before surgical intervention became rampant. Almost without exception, those reports describe children who grew up knowing they were intersexual (though they did not advertise it) and adjusted to their unusual status. Some of the studies are richly detailed-- described at the level of gym-class showering (which most intersexuals avoided without incident); in any event, there is not a psychotic or a suicide in the lot.

                            Still, the nuances of socialization among intersexuals cry out for more sophisticated analysis. Clearly, before my vision of sexual multiplicity can be realized, the first openly intersexual children and their parents will have to be brave pioneers who will bear the brunt of society's growing pains. But in the long view -- though it could take generations to achieve -- the prize might be a society in which sexuality is something to be celebrated for its subtletites; and not something to be feared or ridiculed.


                            Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                            by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 11:59:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good heavens (0+ / 0-)

                            You are the most self-centered imbecile I have ever encountered.

                            If this little exchange merits your very strongest superlatives, I am forced to conclude that your encounters have been somewhat limited.  

                            Interesting article on Intersex, though.  Good reading.  Many of the concepts are familiar through reading Middlesex and hearing a Fresh Air segment with Eugenides that focussed on his background research.  

                            Again, I must repeat that you are putting the cart before the horse when you conclude that a trivial remark about nomenclature equates to some kind of wholesage rejection. Also I repeat, that activists who so readily repudiate potential or actual allies for insufficient zeal, are failing their cause.

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 12:34:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I recognize the verbiage of compromise in your (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            text. I am an English major after all. However, when you keep pushing that your right to feel silly overrides the plight of everyone who is Intersexed I must protest.  I will call you and your friend who said that I neglected to include the bears in my nomenclature out every time.  I can promise you that. Everytime you use your feelings as an excuse to dismiss an entire minority, I will call you out.  Do you understand?

                            Having said that, I am willing to find some sort of compromise.  However, I am not willing to compromise the legitimate claims of an entire minority for you.  Therefore, we can agree to disagree, but that is about as far as I am willing to go.

                            Yes, I am an activist.  I went into ultraconservative San Diego and started the Clean Needle Exchange Program and the Condom Crusades in the high schools.  I am a freight train and I get things done.  I don't care how the people in the wrong feel.  The rights of others trump any feelings.

                            Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                            by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 01:23:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Agreeing to disagree will do. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            uc booker

                            Thanks for an informative, if not harmonious, discussion.

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 02:53:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  do you know what a self-absorbed bore is? (0+ / 0-)

                            You can be that whether your cause is just or not. I see how you brag about yourself constantly and think you are a failure at communication and persuasion. You are perhaps the worst I've experienced in the last year or two. But worst of all, you lack curiosity which puts you in unpleasant company.

                            the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                            by SeanF on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 03:01:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A self-absorbed bore? Freudian transference come (0+ / 0-)

                            to mind.  I do not lack curiosity.  You lack sensitivity.  Keep rationalizing how the plight of others affects your feelings.  I do not brag about myself.  She kept calling me an activist and I gave her some of what I have accomplished.  The only people I have found that my pedigree bothers are those who have accomplished nothing.

                            Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                            by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 04:05:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  here's the problem (0+ / 0-)

                            you don't know anything about my knowledge or understanding of gender issues. You didn't bother to ask. You didn't bother to see if i could be convinced. You just attacked. What a horrible activist you must be. (Maybe you are more brazen with the crutch of anonymity.) You are turning potential supporters into enemies, without even doing the basics of finding out if they would support you.


                            I read that article a year ago. Pretty cool that you can copy and paste. But here's why you suck: You've failed to demonstrate that a sense of humor about all of our various communities is the same thing as disenfranchisement. You've failed to prove why stringing letters on an acronym helps anyone or improves inclusiveness. You've failed to prove the utility of assuming that all these different groups are best served by one advocacy group or one larger identity. You've failed to acknowledge that even the G's and the L's often don't get along, or at least gel socially. In my experience, when a T shows up to an otherwise L/G meeting, it's even less cohesive. Lack of education and lack of common experience makes each of these groups very different.

                            There are a lot of interesting topics in all of that. They cross almost every kind of stratification we have in society.

                            But you don't care about any of that behind the safety of your screenname. You just want to vilify and berate.

                            Humorless fuckwad.

                            the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                            by SeanF on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 04:36:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You completely trivialized the Intersexed commun- (0+ / 0-)

                            ity by saying the bears were left out of a moniker that I didn't even invent and you want me to ask you question? Are you insane? You haven't said that you have accomplished anything in your life.  Have you accomplished anything? I have revealed enough about myself that anyone with the Google could find out who I am, so I guess you lack the curiosity to google.  Glad I could wreck your world. Tootles!

                            Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                            by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 04:55:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  does anyone like you (0+ / 0-)

                            in your personal life? I just want to make sure that this presentation isn't accurate. It is so disturbing to me to think that such a complete dick is loose on society, I proactively choose to think that you are charming. Somewhere.


                            the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                            by SeanF on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09:53:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So, I take that as a no you have not accomplished (0+ / 0-)

                            anything in your life and you don't know how to do research for yourself.  Congratulations!!!!

                            Later loser!!!

                            Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

                            by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 10:20:01 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Um, I didn't write this diary (0+ / 0-)

                            to start such a bitter argument between 2 members of the DKos community. I'm sure both of you are wonderful people who care deeply about progressive issues, particularly issues of traditionally non-normative sexuality. If you can take your personal attacks somewhere else, I'd appreciate it.  

                            Best to you both.

                            I survived Lufkin, Texas.

                            by lincoln925 on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:13:07 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  I certainly will. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, uc booker

        Thank you.  I apologize.  It wasn't an intentional oversight.

        I'm hoping one of these days we will no longer have to have this discussion.  It breaks my heart to see so many of my friends treated as second-class citizens.

        Can someone please explain to me how there can be a "moderate" position on equality??

        by browneyes on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:37:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  when my mom tells me she (8+ / 0-)

    doesn't approve of my lifestyle, I tell her I don't approve of hers either. (i.e. I'm comparing my gayness to her psycho religious voices-in-head "beliefs").

    Doesn't accomplish much, but makes me feel better...

    the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

    by SeanF on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:35:01 PM PDT

  •  So they won't let us be married (16+ / 0-)

    and they also won't let us be counted as something other than married.  Sounds to me like a conspiracy to make us not exist.  

    We LITERALLY don't "count".

    This is something the Obama administration can easily fix, by the way.  I hope they do.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:38:43 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this diary, lincoln925. (6+ / 0-)

    "Lifestyle" is one of my least favorite words

    And when someone uses it to describe the life I have, it raises my blood pressure.

    I have a life, not a 'lifestyle.' And I deserve to be counted as who I am.

  •  Yeah, my miserable, sad, depressed, alone, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, ganymeade, ER Doc, browneyes

    gay brother CHOSE his LIFESTYLE, I am SO sure.

    Say it loud: "He's Black and we're Proud!"

    by OleHippieChick on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:58:35 PM PDT

  •  I do not want marriage nor a "lifestyle" (5+ / 0-)

    I am a gay man.  I have had three relationships in my life that were fulfilling, loving, etc.  I honor those who believe in marriage as a choice.  The French/European model is almost perfect - everyone who wants to marry goes before civil authority - religious marriage is optional but does not replace civil union/civil marriage.  I do not want marriage in any way, shape or form for myself.  That is my choice.

    What is not a choice is my sexual orientation.  The word "lifestyle" is loaded and needs to be discarded. Homophobic america needs to grow up.

    •  Not just France. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Many European and Latin countries do it this way.

      For instance, when the Prince of Orange (Crown Prince of The Netherlands) got married a few years ago, they had their civil marriage one day in the ancient town hall and the religious ceremony in the cathedral a day or two later. Both occasions were accompanied by large crowds, TV coverage, processions through the streets, horse-drawn state coaches, trumpets, etc.

      In poorer communities and families the bride and groom might go to the nearest municipal building that conducts marriages, and then to the parish church, probably wearing their Sunday best for both.

      I suspect our merging of church and state draws more upon the English model. I don't know the particulars, but I do know their are distinctions between civil marriage and religious marriage and how each is performed. I believe they do allow clergy to perform legal marriages.

      "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

      by homogenius on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:24:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  TIPS!!! (15+ / 0-)

    Sorry, forgot the jar up top.  Here ya go!  Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

    I survived Lufkin, Texas.

    by lincoln925 on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:12:44 PM PDT

  •  Won't it be great when truth in science educ. (0+ / 0-)

    includes our species entire range of sexualities in a common sense manner.

    It is so easy to describe asexual reproduction of ameba and earthworms having both sets of sex organs and some critters changing sex when survival demands it.  Humans have the whole range of varieties in varying numbers - end of problem. The rest is details when demythed.

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:40:20 PM PDT

  •  homosexuality is not a lifestyle but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    your relationship status is, just as marriage is.

    I am heterosexual and
    my good friend is heterosexual and

    I don't think there is anything sinister about it.

    •  If you're not allowed the married "lifestyle" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pucknomad, sberel

      because you don't exist in the eyes of the government, then it is sinister.

      If you've got time to comment here, you've got time to email a Letter to the Editor and counteract republican framing of issues. DO IT!

      by lineatus on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 06:03:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Endo's implication was that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, sberel, lineatus

      there is something different about my gaily wed lifestyle that is uncountable, or not worth counting, or too lifestylish to count. Not necessarily sinister, just too bothersome to worry about. If they're not going to count lifestyles, then why bother having any relationship category at all on the census? Just count bodies and don't worry about anything else.

      I survived Lufkin, Texas.

      by lincoln925 on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 06:05:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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