"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, February 22, 2021

I Am Transgender! Oops, What Is Your Return Policy?

Billy Bickers had grown up male, identified as male, thought and pursued as male, but had been urged by his parents – straight as arrows but susceptible to liberal cant and persuaded to consider the alternative.  

“Women have been oppressed for centuries”, they told the young Billy.  “Put upon, harassed, abused, and neglected.  Who would want to be a woman, you might ask? But the times are changing.  Femalehood has a new, righteous agenda.  To fulfill your political destiny and your moral obligation to society, you should consider an alternate sexual identity”. 

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Now, this was very confusing to young Billy, delirious when he smelled the light, feminine scent of Nancy Booth in the eighth grade, followed her up and down the stairs at school, sent her notes and inviting glances, and was finally in heaven when she took him into the woods behind the golf course and got naked. 

He was too young to know what was what, and Nancy was precocious way beyond her years, so the sand trap was uneventful, discouraging and frustrating for Nancy and simply befuddling to Billy; but it had epiphanic qualities.  As young as he was, he knew then that someday his time would come, that women would be revealed.

The sexual allure of women became irresistible once he hit his early adolescence.  It was an obsession, filling every waking and dreaming moment.  Breasts, breath, lips, and hot, wet sex were his raison d’etre, his clarion call to arms, and his purpose in life.  When he first had sex with an ingenue from a proper women’s college who had, like him, unquenchable sexual passions, he felt that finally he had come into his own.  This was to be his life, his purpose, and its meaning. 

On second thought, of course, how could a scholar, a precocious interpreter of Francois Villon, a budding Medieval scholar of French literature, have so pedestrian, and common aspirations?  And his mother was the first to remind him of his patrimony – son of intellectual scions and liberal standouts.  

His grandfather, he was reminded, was in the armies of Samuel Gompers and the women textile workers.  His grandmother was at the barricades of Carnegie Steel, wounded by Frick’s thugs, as they fired on demonstrators gathered to protest inhuman working conditions; and his own parents were the first to march for civil rights, against the glass ceiling, and against heterosexual hegemony.

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This last, his mother insisted, was the core of the progressive revolution.  Income redistribution, civil rights acts, ending coal emissions were nothing compared to the re-ordering of human sexuality.  Since the Paleolithic and the evolution of the first intelligent human beings, the male-female heterosexual order had been predominant.  No, it had been restrictively enforced and arbitrarily endorsed.  Men – and especially women – had been forced into an artificial illogical template – round holes into which square pegs had been fit.  An illogical, presumptuous, and ignorant assumption of sexual reality.

Finally the penumbra had cleared, the oppression lifted, and men and women were free to choose their sexuality.  The gender spectrum was the new reality,  and choose at will, settle with only what feels best.

Betty Colonna was a special friend of Billy’s parents.  She had been a Navy Seal, an officer in the team that assassinated Bin Laden, had played football under Bear Bryant at Alabama, and had received both the Bronze and Silver Stars.  Yet she had always felt uncomfortable as Barton Colonna, terribly attracted to her macho teammates, unable to express her desires, and woefully frustrated even in Pakistan before the assault on the compound, 

 “I want him”, she thought deeply and secretively about Lance Billings, leader of the mission, a man of quiet bravado and ineffable masculinity.  And so it was that Barton became Betty.  The medals and awards still were on the walls, but more as history than currency.  Betty never denied her machismo in the days of the Seals and Bin Laden.  The photographs were simply reminders of a distant past.

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In any case Billy’s parents hoped that Betty would be an important role model for Billy.  Not that they expected any such radical changes, but that he (Betty) would serve as perhaps the most important icon in the progressive struggle.

Billy could only wonder who this freak delicately sipping tea in the parlor really was.   There was no hiding his five o’clock shadow, his Navy tattoos, and the thick, muscular legs above high heels.  His voice was deep and affected, but without the fluted, high notes of Billy’s Aunt Millie, the exotic, melodramatic, operatic diva of Easter dinners, he sounded no different from a truck driver or mess sergeant.

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Betty/Baron was more suited to Barnum & Bailey than to a Washington drawing room; but there he/she was, coddled and displayed by Billy’s parents like a flag over the Alamo.  They did not want to push Billy over the gender edge – that would ultimately be his choice – but how could an American wartime hero fail to impress.  If this divine, macho, god of a man could reject his male, white supremacy and turn to the enlightened, historically relevant, future human species, why shouldn’t Billy?

As hard as it was for his parents to accept that they would never be biological grandparents, that the Bickers line would stop here and now, their political convictions always prevailed.  If they were adoptive grandparents to the in vitro offspring of their son and his/her partner, so much the better and for the world.  Genetic determination of genealogy and family history was now irrelevant.  One not only chose one’s sexuality, but one’s own family configuration.

Billy considered himself lucky.  A number of his friends with whom he played baseball after school were forced into tutus and frilly dresses when they got home. Their parents, even more doctrinaire than his, were, in the progressive lexicon, ‘directional’.  They would never be authoritarian about sexuality but would be encouraging of ‘choice’.  In other words although they thought masculinity to be noxious and anti-social and although they would encourage their sons to find their feminine side and even go over to it, far be it from them to insist. Billy had never been dressed in crinoline and lace.

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Billy would have turned out to be a skirt-chaser, Lothario, Casanova, and Don Juan even if his parents had not intervened. Masculinity – the pursuit of women – was simply hardwired into his YY genome.  He never even considered the options.  He was never biased or prejudiced – live and let live was as good a maxim as any – but he could never imagine the horrible, painful twists of being to become other than what he was.

‘One and done’, he said, reflecting on his sexual life and that of others.  He was not one for Biblical exegesis and interpretation, psycho-social determinism, or bio-physiological recombination. ‘Male or female’, he said, “and be done with it”.

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