Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Gender and Sexuality

Dear #,

I've been thinking about how to approach the remainder of the subject of gay marriage, since my first post about it made a pretty big splash on facebook. I'm struggling to write what I feel needs to be said, to clarify my understanding, and to not offend my loved ones. I mean, if you are offended because you completely disagree with me, that's your fault, but if I accidentally offend anyone by not being clear enough, or by rudeness or insensitivity, that's a different story. So I'm biding my time a little longer. Instead, I want to dive into this idea of Gender a little bit. In the original post, I emphasized how Traditional marriages have something to learn from Emerging ones, and that primarily revolves around Gender, but I didn't really explain what they need to learn, mostly because the post was long enough already and it didn't need more.

But here's the thing about Gender - it isn't always tied to sexuality. Many people believe it is, but it isn't really at all. I'm going to borrow something from D&D and use the alignment system. In D&D, they simplify basic morality along a double axis, one for Good v Evil and one for Law v Chaos. This isn't a perfect system, and it has dramatic and important flaws, but it makes it clear that just because two people are "Good" doesn't mean they have similar ideas or would make ideal allies. Because there are three positions on each axis, (the two polarities and "Neutral"), the final result has 9 positions total. The results look something like this:

Now, consider for a moment Gender and Sexuality - if there are two separate axes for this, as well, you would get similar results. Some of these are going to be what we consider "Normal" or at least are normative, but some are definitely different than what most Religious groups consider to be the two acceptable groups - Hetero Masculine and Hetero Feminine. Ultimately, it would look something like this:
Disclaimer - I intentional replaced terminology in such a way as to avoid equating certain alignments with certain Genders/Sexualities. Please don't read into it in that way, that's not the point.
 Now, here in the Conservative Mormon Heartland, two or maybe three of these are considered "normal" or "acceptable":

This leaves out a significant portion of the spectrum. Worse yet, this presentation is missing the Z axis, which has two polarities (with a tiny genetic Neutral), which is what SEX they were born as. What I mean is, if you are Heterosexual Feminine AND a Girl (genetically), that's "Normal." But if you happen to Heterosexual Feminine and a BOY (genetically), that's completely unacceptable. (For clarification, in this construction, a Heterosexual Feminine "Boy" would be someone who has male genetics, female gender, and is heterosexual (meaning she likes boys). This is important, because it would make her "Gay" in many classifications, which she really isn't. So we're classifying sexuality based on actual gender, rather than genetic sex).

And finally, just to make things murkier, consider that reality is, well, more grey.

Now, this may not be an entirely scientific reading of the way it works, but it covers my understanding of sex, gender, and sexuality. Most who are bisexual fit into the Neutral on that axis. Most with Neutral gender will not realize they are until someone points it out, or they'll just figure they are "tomboys" or "metrosexual" or whatever they decide to call themselves. As for those who consider themselves to be "Polysexual" or "Pansexual" I hope this doesn't exclude you too much - if it does, I apologize deeply, but I hope you understand that the D&D system has distinct limitations.

Finally, this model was built with input from, well, no one. So it could be deeply offensive. If so, it stems from my understanding of things, and I hope you know I mean well. If you are reading this and are one of Conservative or Mormon friends, please, I beg of you, consider the possiblities this system allows, and remember one thing: EVERYONE fits into another category or two:


Child of GOD.



  1. Interesting model. I love your ending! Starting with "remember one thing..."

  2. Good post. As Lynn said, the ending is awesome. I would like to say, though, that the right side of your axes being "acceptable" is a cultural thing, not a religious thing, and even here in Iowa where most people aren't LDS (and where gay marriage is legal!) most people, in my admittedly unscientific experience, find only that right side completely acceptable.

  3. Ok, I didn't mean to imply that this lack of acceptance was exclusive to Mormondom - obviously bigots live everywhere.

    Allow me to extrapolate the model slightly, though. If you have an issue with the left side of the model, that's entirely about sexuality, and there are literally MILLIONS of people who don't find homosexuality to be abhorrent. In addition, while church teachings exclude the middle column it is more likely for most people to have diverse sexual inclinations than exclusive ones. This isn't the point of the model.

    Imagine, for a moment, that you have what appears to be a "normal" heterosexual couple, but you later learn that one of them, let's say the female, has gone through gender reassignment surgery. Where does the couple now fall? Left or Right?

    What if you have a couple that is composed of a male and a female - "normal" heterosexual couple, only she identifies her gender as Masculine and always has, which they have worked out together. Where do they fall, left or right?