by Melanie Yarborough

Okay, let's have a show of hands: How many here are heterosexual? Everybody? Okay, now the next question: How many of you are straight? What, you say it's the same thing? Well, it's not. And that's the problem.

"Heterosexual" is a biological drive, nothing more. It means manifesting sexual desire towards members of the opposite sex. There's no moral value attached to it. "Straight", however, carries a whole lot more meaning. It means conforming to the traditional stereotype of gender role & sexual orientation. It means aggressive masculine males attracted exclusively to submissive feminine females, and vice versa.

It's a pretty narrow definition. There's no room for ambiguity here. No gays, bisexuals, butches, femmes, fetishists, autoerotics and above all, no transgendered of any kind. Who came up with this definition? The power structure: older white middle or upper class Anglo-Saxon males.

Many transgendered people brandish the word "straight" like a shield. They may like to dress up as a woman, but they have a wife or girlfriend so it's okay. They're not gay, thank God. Or, they're M2F transsexuals but attracted to women and a lesbian, so for those of you who still see them as a guy, they're hetero. But ideally, nobody should care about anybody's bed partners.

Most transgendered people have harbored at least a fleeting fantasy of the ultimate test of womanhood: making love with a man. And there are many transgendered people who find themselves attracted to Queens. They tell themselves "I see her as a woman and respond to her as a man, so I'm still straight". Yet they know there's a penis under that tight skirt. They don't see them the same way they see genetic women, no matter what may be said.

The reason people have to lie to themselves is because they're part of those straight world stereotypes. Yet by definition, transgendered people aren't straight. They may be heterosexual in orientation, but they're not classically gender-straight males.

And there's nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is when such people aid and abet the "straight" stereotype. It encourages a lifeboat mentality. It says "Let me in because I'm straight, even though I'm a crossdresser. But keep the dykes and queers out".

What's needed is for people to evolve beyond the narrow view of gender and sexuality. A so-called purely straight world would be very bleak. No Andy Warhol. No Annie Lennox. No Liberace. No Amelia Earhart. All of these people bent the conventional gender stereotypes. And the world is richer for it.

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