Sunday, December 4, 2011

Opening the Closet

[A person walks on the stage, wearing clothing that accentuates curves well, and has notably feminine curves to accentuate. Jeans and a T-shirt--nothing fancy; nothing that says definitively "these are clothes a female wears" or "these are clothes a male wears". A smattering of polite applause sounds.]

Voiceover [nervously]: I'm not sure I can do this.

Person [confidently, in the same voice]: You don't know I'm a woman. [offscreen confused murmurs] I mean it. You don't. There are a hundred ways to define "male" or "female". If you say my curves make me a woman, what does that mean for flat-chested women? For that matter, does that definition mean that prepubescent girls aren't female?

Voiceover: They don't like it; you should just shut up; they don't like it; [hysterically] they don't like me!

Person [still calm]: You could define it as the presence or absence of a vagina or penis. People usually ignore what that means for same-sex marriage--do we need to drop our pants or raise our skirts at the altar? Even ignoring that, you haven't seen me with my pants off. I could have both, or neither, or the one you aren't expecting.

Other Voiceover [old enough to be Person's parent, sharply]: You obscene little girl.

Person: You could make a case that it's a case for hormones. That's still complicated, more so, in some ways. It's a spectrum, first of all, and people's hormones vary. In fact, the platonic ideal of "woman" would have eternally shifting hormones--that's what a healthy, wild-type, physically female's body does. Even taking that into account, people can take hormones. If one defines it as the body's "natural" state--well, first of all, that's an insult to trans people, but that's the point of this speech, isn't it? And besides that, what is its natural state? If I'm on the birth control pill, is that unnatural enough to call my womanhood into question?

Other Voiceover: Yes.

Person: So both physical definitions--one's holistic impression and the presence or absence of a vagina or penis--are out. Hormones are, as well. You could use them, I suppose, but you'd have to figure out some way to figure out the ones who fall on the line--and really, anything except the holistic approach is an invasion of privacy. That leaves chromosomes. XX is female and XY male, right?

Both Voiceovers [first hysterically, second still sharply]: Of course. Get down, you're making a fool of yourself.

Person: But there are more viable combinations than that. Nearly anything with at least one X is viable--XXY and XYY, to name the most common. One could say that we could define those by how many of them "seem" male or female, but at that point we come back to the same issue--holistic, primary sexual characteristic, hormonal?

[Person pauses to breathe, drops head. The room is silent.]

Person: I don't know how many of you will listen. But...maybe...I'll be that last nudge, for some of you. Or I'll be a nudge along the way. Gender isn't simple; sex isn't simple. [Person looks up.] I am what I choose to be. So are you. So is everyone. So...please.

Voiceover [quietly]: Please.

Person: [shakes head, swallows] Try to understand.

[Person walks off stage. Quiet applause starts, fade to silence and black before we see whether it polite or genuine.]

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