queerness first entered my radar as transgendered.
one reason why, growing up, i never thought of myself as homosexual was that i was told that homosexuals were men who wanted to be women. since i wanted nothing of the sort, + still don't, for years i deceived myself that my strong physical attraction towards certain men did not make me gay--just a 'man's man.'
even before my first misunderstanding of homosexuality, the concept of transgendered entered my imagination. i remember that, when i was four or no more than five, my mother gave me an old discarded women's purse to play with (such were the toys of sissy trailer trash like me). she told me the purse had belonged to my grandmother, but my grandmother no longer needed it. i thought that this statement meant that in old age people changed sexes because, by my childish logic, the only reason my grandmother would no longer need her purse was that she was becoming a man.
i have not yet become acquainted with (to my knowledge) a transgendered person. my small circle friends includes straight people, gay men, and lesbians. i had a long relationship with a bisexual man once, + a friend of mine now is bisexual. but no transgendered people.
when sandra bernhard performed for an aids benefit in raleigh a few years ago, she mulled over the politically correct 'lgbt' printed on all the promotions for the event. she asked the gay men in the large audience to applaud (big roar of applause), then the lesbians (big roar, again), then the bisexuals (a healthy, though more subdued, applause), + then the transgendered (nothing--you could hear crickets chirping). she smirked + said, 'just as i thought.'
where were the transgendered people?
today i'm happy that transgendered people consider themselves a part of the queer struggle for equality + justice. years ago my impression was that transgendered people objected to being associated with gayness. i remember a male-to-female transsexual proclaiming proudly on an old phil donahue show, 'i have always been a strict heterosexual,' with a strong air of disgust at even the thought that she might be grouped with gays.
thus, as i came to accept myself as gay, my impression of the transgendered was that they were gays + lesbians who did not accept their homosexual natures.
i understand things differently now, but lacking transgendered friends, i find myself limited in my understanding + empathy. i want the transgendered to enjoy the same rights, respect, and opportunities as everyone else, but as a gay man, i don't particularly identify with them apart from our shared humanity.
i don't want to be a woman. i like women. i like men even more (or, rather, i like men + cock). if a friend of mine wanted to change sexes, i would support him or her + do my best to remain friends. if a boyfriend of mine wanted to change sexes, however, i would no longer be interested in the person sexually. or, more accurately, i cannot now imagine that i could be ... simply because i like men sexually, not women, not even women who used to be men.
maybe this is bigotry. or superficiality. i'm just trying honestly to assess my feelings on this issue. so i guess what i'm saying is that as a gay man of 54, i identify strongly with three-fourths of 'lgbt'--i still need to get used to the idea that the 't's' are legitimately in league with my own struggle for equality + justice.