I’m catching up, but still behind. Today we have two short letters that I have some thoughts about, but that I am unable to answer with much certainty, so I hope that readers can give these writers some additional information.
A reader writes: “I found your website while googling around on gender-neutral pronouns. My question, in brief, is this: Is it just me, or are gender-neutral pronouns mostly sought by people who were assumed to be cis women at birth?
“I love the idea of genderqueer and have happily appropriated the parts that work for me and read a fair amount of queer theory over the years. It occurred to me today that most of the third-way writing I have read is by people who no longer want to use girl-pronouns after being assigned she/her at birth, where as trans women tend to love getting access to (and perhaps ideally only using) the girl pronouns versus seeking some third way.
“I googled a bit hoping to find some evidence to the contrary, but didn’t find much. Perhaps I’m insufficiently thorough. Thanks in advance for your reply, and also for your patience with my question and any parts I may have phrased inelegantly or insensitively.”
I don’t know whether or not this is true, but it appears to me, as well, that the majority of people who prefer gender-neutral pronouns are those who were assumed to be female at birth. I do know some genderqueer-identified people who were designated male at birth who use “they,” and I know some who use “he” and “she” interchangeably. But again, the majority of people who I have found to use “they” or “ze” were designated female at birth.
I’m not aware of any statistics on this, or whether or not any surveys or studies have been done (if anyone knows, please fill us in), so my answer is coming from personal experience.
If my personal experience transfers to the larger culture (and I don’t know if it does or not), and I had to give my thoughts on why this might be, I would say that I think that the “gendered” life experience is different for those who are designated female at birth and those who are designated male at birth, and this causes potentially different responses to any feelings of gender incongruity.
It’s also possible that it has to do with the way that we treat male-designated people when they exhibit anything outside of the strict male gender norms that our culture prescribes for them. We tend to give female-designated people more latitude with regard to gender identity and expression. So there may be far more genderqueer-identified male-designated people out there than we realize. They simply may not make themselves known because of the discrimination and danger they might face.
It could also be that I’m just not in the right circles and am not aware of the number of genderqueer male-designated people. So I hope that we get some reader input with regard to this issue.
A reader writes: “I have found lots of information about female-to-male people, meaning born female, transitioning to male. What about masculine men (like me) who just want to get SRS (sex reassignment surgery) but stay masculine and manly as I am right now. I mean, I have no fantasy at all of being a woman or feminine, but just being total bottom with SRS to become total receptive partner of another man.”
I’ve heard about this, although I don’t think it’s too common. Because it’s not too common, and it has probably been under-explored in psychiatric and medical communities, it might be difficult to find a doctor who would perform this kind of surgery – at least in the United States.
There are doctors in some countries that I think are quite a bit more open to performing surgeries at a patient’s request, without a bunch of documentation from different professionals who have scrutinized and analyzed them and determined that this type of intervention is appropriate and necessary.
There might even be doctors in the U.S. who would do this, but I doubt if they are advertising it very publicly. Malpractice is a huge concern for any surgeon who performs irreversible surgery on “healthy” organs, particularly surgery as extensive as what you are asking about.
There are probably communities of men out there with similar desires. I don’t know where to find them, but perhaps someone reading this will know. If you can find these communities, you might be able to find doctors, and you might be able to find “success” and “regret” stories that can help you make decisions.
It’s also possible that a sex therapist who works with the gay community knows more about this and would be able to direct you or work with you on resources. Good luck.
Readers, what thoughts do you have?