Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Advocating Choice in Sex, Gender & Body Identity

I like choice.  I believe in choice.  I think about choice as the exercise of one’s own mind and as fulfillment of any rights granted by a society.

My personal experience of rights is that they do not exist outside of the agreements that combine to create and define a society.  I won’t venture into the unprovable belief that rights are given by god.  For this conversation, I am talking about the rights granted by the social contract(s) we agree to follow as a group for the benefit if the group and by extension – ourselves.  In that context, rights are an agreement to what we can and cannot do, as individuals or groups within the society at-large.

As individuals, we demonstrate the reasons for our rights.  In fact, so many conversations demand that we prove why we have rights.  The rights of the privileged exist and everyone else is seemingly forced to fight for theirs – one painful step at a time.

(Cross-posted at SexGenderBody.)

When it comes to choice, our human cultures and societies seem to be giving a lot of preference to reasons over choice.  Take for example, identifying ones self as gay or trans.  There are plenty of conversations about how we don’t have a choice in being gay or trans.  Many good minds have found physical evidence that we were born that way.  Some people know at an early age that their gender, sex or body identity does not align with the hetero gender binary definition.  They are born thinking and feeling that way.  I absolutely believe that.  (I don’t know the science in detail, but it seems pretty sound to me.  However, I am in NO WAY even beginning to question this information, which I happen to believe is true.)

So many anti-gay arguments claim that the “gay lifestyle” corrupts “normal” people.  The inference is that gay is a choice and a danger all together.   It’s not just about being gay, either.  Trans folk, persons of color, persons living with different bodies and abilities, different gender definitions, different sexual expressions and identities all face demands for justification and acceptance.  A common statement is that people are born this way and that there is a) no choice and b) nothing wrong with it.  For some people, I am 100% positive that we are born with our sexual preference, gender identity and body definitions.  Absolutely positive.  But, what about someone that decides to make a choice without any of that going on?

   I am asking why I have to prove that I was born this way, for people to accept me as I identify myself?  For the right to choose the terms of my own identity?

I have heard many derisive comments leveled at “pretend lesbians” or “fashionably gay” people as well as declarations of why someone is not really bisexual because…?

It seems to me that the idea of choosing for personal reasons that have meaning only to the individual – are challenged, ignored or devalued by well…just about every element of society.  The status quo, the smaller groups fighting for their group identity and a whole lot of the rest of us.

I don’t need a reason to be gay or straight or bi or trans or abled or equal.  If I choose to identify as gay or bi or trans, do I need to prove that I was born this way for me to have society’s permission to be identified as I say I am?

So fucking what if I do decide on whim to suck cock, eat pussy or wear a dress?  What if I suspend from hooks in my skin?  What if I cover my body in tattoos?  What if I decide to be referred to as hir for no other reason than it suits me today?  When technology allows in the future, we may be able to change our gender back and forth as we see fit.  (We already do so in virtual spaces like Internet chat rooms and Second Life, etc.) Will we need a reason to do so?  Why?

   You can probably tell by now that I don’t think we need a reason for our choice of identity.  Not one bit.

I’ll tell you what I do wonder.  Is this just a product of bully culture, gang fighting and a widespread belief that if we stand up and declare ourselves as individuals on our own terms and with no one else’s permission – then we won’t have a fucking chance of surviving?  How much of our daily language and concepts are built on the idea of group identity?  Do we, as human beings constantly, invisibly and unquestioningly assume that we can only survive under the protection of some group’s agreement?  Is it the only way?

Let’s look at it another way.  Let’s suppose that there exists this strong current of belief inside the social contract of our societies that we have to belong to a group identity and that we all need to have the agreement of others for the group to survive.  Some individual comes up with its own identity definition.  Why worry?  If the group is looking out for itself, that individual will not be able to survive the elements of nature that are external to society.  If this group identity aspect is a means for survival of the group, then the individuals that move out of the group agreement are on their own.  Good luck to ya, etc.

It’s not really a threat.  No real reason to be upset.  But, people to get upset and they are threatened.

What is so threatening about an identity chosen independent of the group and for reasons that have nothing to do with the group?

What is so threatening about choice?

Why are people so quick to argue that we were “born this way”?  Why are groups so quick to accuse others of “lifestyle choice” and to declare it a threat  or ill?

I have my suspicions of course.  I suspect that we don’t examine our language and take these concepts of group identity for granted.  I suspect that people who profit from the patriarchal, militaristic and religious intolerence don’t want to lose their gravy train (and by profit, I mean the hoarding of wealth combined with the harvest of human misery).

So, what do we do about it?  Why am I even bringing this up?  If any of this has merit at all, how can a change be instituted?  It seems that if I start a call to action, I’m still engaging in group identity, group action and group thinking.  So, here’s my plan:

I personally; me; no on else; just me…I want every one of you to know that however you identify yourself, for whatever reason, for no reason…whatever – I accept you on your own terms, in your own words, as you see fit.  You don’t owe me an explanation for anything.  You can come and go as you please, dressed as you ilke and addressed in whatever pronoun, adverb, punctuation or linguistic construct you choose.  Call yourself whatever you will and that is who you are to me.  

Please regard me in the same manner.



  1. Great to see you back here. We’ve had very animated conversations recently about God and Psychopathy. Sex seems a good sequitur.

    Because of my family and my theatre background, I’ve been mixing with people with various sexual orientations/preferences for a couple of decades now, and seen the language shift since the 80s.

    Lifestyle choice is, I agree, a captious and pat expression. Sex isn’t a form of consumerism, like choosing which lipstick or can of beans to buy. Most gay men I know knew they were gay long before they reached maturity. Many tried, and tried quite successfully to have girlfriends. But their identity was actually fairly fixed. (Though many tell me they divide between being emotionally attached to men, and sexually attached – another story).

    So the idea that you can inculcate ‘gayness’ in men – or indeed, in various Evangelical church programmes, teach gay men to be straight, seems dangerous and counter productive. Genetics, god, inheritance plays a big part (there are various evolutionary strategies which explain why homosexuality could easily evolve even though, like menopause, it’s technically non productive).

    The problem with all those 70s studies with hermaphrodites that said ‘Gender is socially constructed’ is that they opened gay people up to the challenge ‘well then it can be socially deconstructed too’. I’ll have to look up those classic studies of hermaphrodites who, though genetically male or female, were physiologically altered to become the opposite sex. But though they conformed for ten years or so, in their teens they rebelled and reverted to their innate sexuality.

    When it comes to female sexuality, as I understand it, things are slightly more complicated. PET scans of gay and straight men and women have shown that male sexuality is quite binary: the cerebral cortices of homosexual men will light up at images of naked men, and heterosexual men, at naked women.

    But the same studies applied to lesbian and straight women show a strange anomaly. Both light up at images of both naked men and naked women, leading the researchers to conclude…

    Men tend to have a sexual orientation: women a sexual preference.

    Just some thoughts to contribute to a frankly fascinating subject.  

  2. The gay and lesbian community are often just as derisive about bisexuals as the hetro community, and with often just as much confusion about why bisexuals just can’t “pick a goddamn hole.”

    And it boils down to less about the folks in question, than the insecurities of the folks leveling the charges.  Well, that, and the culture that a good many of those who led the charge after Stonewall grew up in.

    The more militant message that a good many Feminists took were adopted by advocates for the gay community.  Sex with ANY man was leveraged rape in some eyes, and it became a betrayal of community to cross the lines.  It is a portion of the LGBT movement that was a dark road that led to a lot of folks being alienated, and it added fuel to the fire, and gave bigots another stick to swing.

    At the heart of things though IS insecurity. About devaluation, about whether or not your partner is with you because they want to be, or because they’re supposed to be–and not really wanting an answer to that question–and in some cases, about their own sexuality, and the role that has played in their own identity.

    Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, is fraught with all sorts of wobbliness, because in nature, variation is the rule.  And that goes from hair color, to eye shape, and to sexuality.  The problem lies in the fact that we are social apes, and we like to be able to predict things.  We like simple lines, we like easy choices.  We prefer to be with our “own” kind and we attach a fair amount to what constitutes “our kind.”  Be that in skin, hair, nationality, language, ideology, etc… We prefer “our” kind because it’s easier to predict outcomes.  We are much more comfortable in areas where we aren’t challenged, or are challenged in ways that are predictable, and easy to manage.  We go to the same bars, with the same people, and we can play social dominance games with fairly safe parameters–pool, quarters, rooting for sports, getting a waitress or waiter’s number–that have a low threshold of social status loss.  No matter how advanced we get, we still rely on those troop primate instincts.

    The problem lies in that we tend to think of “our kind” as being the bestest, and others as being inferior.  The insecurity comes from wondering if others are having it better, if we lack something if someone crosses over–and if so, that means we’re the inferior ones, and that pisses a lot of folks off.  

    It is less that the LGBT community is teh Debbil than bearers of bad news.  And the bad news is that there are a LOT of folks out there that aren’t just like you.  And that is threatening as hell to some, and why it draws a lot of ire.

    Stoke it up with the additional fun of religious fervor, and perhaps some sexual abuse issues, and it makes for a potent stew of bad feelings, and bad intentions.  If we taught that particular lesson in our schools, and let our kids actually explore where their feelings come from, so we could actually break down why they feel a particular way about a community, people, or type, or even nationality, we might get a bit further.  

    As social apes, we need to be a damn sight more social.  But when folks feel threatened or insecure, they button up even tighter, and that is our ape heritage showing through. It is understandable, and if it’s understandable, we can work through it.  Eventually.  

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