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There was a piece in the New York Times recently about the debate in the lesbian community over gender-reassignment surgery. Lots of formerly butch lesbians now identify as "transmen." The strangest revelation was that after one member of a lesbian couple became a man, they were able to get legally married in California. Doesn't the fact that a marriage is legal if one partner gets a sex change kind of turn all the antigay-marriage arguments on their head? I mean, how do you think the Bible-thumping Republicans would take to the reasoning? "No, you can't get married--well, I guess if one of you has a sex change it'll be OK." That's pretty fucked-up, no? --Loyal Reader

Didn't you get the memo, LR? I'm supposed to lay off the gay-marriage issue for a while. But quickly . . .

Damn straight it's fucked-up, particularly when you read all of Paul Vitello's piece ["The Trouble When Jane Becomes Jack," August 20] and learn that many transmen don't bother getting their genitals swapped out. Building a reasonably functional penis is a hell of a lot more complicated than building a reasonably functional vagina, so there's not much incentive for transmen to get an "ersatz penis," to use Vitello's term. Which means there are lots of double-vagina marriages in California and other states. That a lesbian couple is able to legally marry and keep on grinding their glazed donuts--as long as one of the women gets a double mastectomy, a few hormone shots, and a soul patch, of course--only goes to show how absurd our marriage laws are.

Another small absurdity: Vitello's piece focuses on the debate in the lesbian community over transmen. Are they traitors to the cause? Abandoning their community in order to access male privilege? I'll let the ladies and ex-ladies duke that one out, but I would like to weigh in on the fact that, as Vitello writes, "there is no apparent parallel imbroglio in the gay community toward men who become women." The reason there's no parallel imbroglio in the gay community is that adult gay men rarely, if ever, decide to change their gender. I've been out of the closet for more than two decades now (since I was seven years old), and in all that time I've never known a single adult gay man who decided to run off and become a woman. The only men I've known who changed their gender as adults were heterosexually identified men who now identify as lesbians.

However, I've known lots of lesbians who later decided that they were and always had been men, and many more lesbians who decided they were and always had been heterosexual. At the risk of being burned in effigy at the next dyke march, the fluidity of female sexual identity sure does make me appreciate the solidity of male sexual identity. While I have to worry about my boyfriend leaving me for another man (he assures me that my worries are irrational--but he would, wouldn't he?), I don't have to worry about him walking into the kitchen one day and announcing that he's always been a woman, or that he's only just realized that he's straight. A guy that's sucking cock at 18 will be still be sucking cock at 28, 38, and 108, but it seems that a woman can be eating pussy at 18, sucking cock at 28, and having her cock sucked at 38.

My lawyer sister has a client with an unusual problem. When the client and his wife divorced he agreed to pay maintenance (alimony) for ten years or until she remarried. She's now in a lesbian relationship. They've exchanged rings, portray themselves as married, and she lists her partner as "spouse" on her child's school records. This man believes he should have the right to terminate maintenance based upon his ex-wife's "remarriage." But because marriage between two women is not legally recognized in this state, there's agreat deal of doubt as to how he would fare in front of a judge.

Doesn't it strike you as a major double standard that this woman can flaunt her lesbian, nonlegal "marriage" with impunity while she fucks her ex-husband royally? --Double Standards for Everyone

I suppose it's a double standard, DSFE, but it's not one I'm prepared to get exercised about. While I agree that this woman has an ethical obligation to turn down money that she's entitled to on a legal technicality, the fact remains that she's not married in the eyes of the law. That sucks for her, it sucks for her partner, and it sucks royally for your friend's royally fucked client. I hope he's directing his anger not just at his ex-wife but also at the federal government, bigoted judges, and irrational fears that keep his ex-wife from legally marrying her "spouse."

I'm an 18-year-old girl, going off to college in September, and I'm not sure how to identify myself to people I'm meeting for the very first time. I started at my school in kindergarten and stayed there until I graduated last week. Everyone there knew I liked both girls and boys, probably because I was kissing them from about third grade on. I can't say I'm a lesbian because it's inaccurate, but I'm certainly not straight. At the same time, I don't want to tell people I'm bisexual because 95 percent of the "bisexual" 18-year-old girls I've met were drunk straight chicks. So what do I say? "I'm a dyke but I'll do boys too"? "I'm bisexual, but not one of those bisexuals"? --Not One of Those Bisexuals

Lots of young gay men run around telling people--particularly straight people--that they're "not like other gay people." What they mean is "I'm not a skeezy slut." Some young lesbians insist they're "not like other lesbians," meaning they're not man-hating, makeup-fearing bull dykes. These stereotypes are not without foundation, of course. There are lots of skeezy gay sluts out there, and plenty of man-hating bull dykes. But just as it's unfair for straights to believe that all gay men are skeezy sluts and that all dykes are man haters, it's unwise for young queers to confirm heterosexual prejudices.

Don't play this idiotic game, NOOTB. You can tell people you're bisexual without adding the self-hating bi-phobic qualifier. And then, through your behavior, you can demonstrate that you--like most bisexual girls--aren't just some drunk straight chick.

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