The essence of mankind is sex and sexuality. When one’s physical sex is at odds with one’s mental gender, the person suffers mental anguish. Usually at a young age, they become aware that they are different from their peers. Their desires range from the relatively benign such as cross-dressing to the more overt form where the desire for one’s own sex is overwhelming. To make matters worse, there are implacable societal pressures to conform to accepted gender and sexual roles. What does it mean to these people so conflicted and what should society do to alleviate this burden?
In a bygone era and even amongst modern religious people and conservative societies, non-heterosexual sex is regarded as a taboo, an abomination to be exorcised from society. This exorcism takes many forms from “aversion training” to the other extreme of the death penalty. Such extreme “treatment” is still considered necessary by many to rid society of a vile polluting influence.
Main picture: Bruce Jenner transitioning from male to female
What enlightened individuals have gradually realised was that one’s gender – one’s mental sex – was never a choice but it was instead innate. It is immutable, resistant to all manner of treatment and coercion.
This burden is never borne by the afflicted party alone. In an attempt to conform to societal expectations, such a person will normally suppress these urges and embark on the expected path as a partner in a heterosexual relationship.
At some point in time, this will culminate in distress, anxiety and pain for both parties as the supposed heterosexual relationship takes stain. Ultimately the inevitable occurs.
The rupture. As the saying goes, “What is worse for a wife? Finding one’s husband in bed with another woman or with another man?”
Like Elton John whose marriage to a female German recording engineer Renate Blauel on 14 February 1984, in Sydney, they are a sham. In the vain attempt to be viewed as being “normal,” their partner is hurt, even traumatised and scared.
This is not an isolated occurrence. We have all heard of or read about similar experiences. Even within Janine’s circle of friends, this has occurred. The boyfriend of a college friend refused to make a commitment to his girlfriend at the time. After many unsuccessful attempts at taking the relationship to the next level – marriage – the inevitable ultimatum was given. Marriage it was to be. Ten years and three children later, the above mentioned scenario was re-enacted. What must both parties feel as they lived a lie?
The latest in a long line of celebrities to openly admit to their genuine sexuality is Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic Champion having won gold in the decathlon during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal Canada. Such was his sporting prowess that he was proclaimed the world’s greatest athlete.
In a frank admission, he has revealed his feminine proclivities commencing with cross dressing from an early age. Finally at the ripe old age of 62, he now wishes to explore his genuine sexuality even though he proclaims that he is asexual and has no interest in men at all. His previous wife – Kris Jenner – his third, fervently believed that his cross-dressing fetish was an innocent obsession rather than a deep-rooted need to express himself gender wise.
One wonders whether the catalyst for his previous divorces was the inner conflict roiling within himself? Why did he inflict harm on innocent woman in his futile attempts to prove to the world that he was normal just like any other “regular guy”? Lastly why at the age of 62 subject himself to transitioning to another gender? Does this imply that he is only now courageous and manly enough to admit his real self?
The journey that Bruce Jenner has elected to travel is not for the faint-hearted. The process of transitioning from male to female will be fraught with difficulties. Many activities have strict sexual guidelines and norms. Forget about the most obvious such as going to the bathroom as the Americans euphemistically call it. What about boarding a plane? Mr Jenner, as a transient female, will present a passport or an identity document with a male name – Bruce – and the photograph of a male but the body dressed as a female.
Even in a liberal country such as the USA, this possibility could present challenges. In contrast how would the Ugandan Immigration Officials handle such a situation? Presumably in light of their legislation, he would be incarcerated. In which prison would they place him; the male or the female one?
Imagine the furore if Bruce Jenner attempted to use the female showers at his local Virgin Active Gym!
What about the other extreme? A disparity in sexual desire in heterosexual relationships. From anecdotal evidence it is usually the male partner who possesses the stronger sex drive. With the advent of the emancipated female, the opposite is possibly also true on occasion but maybe not to the same extent. While normal loving relationships are able to handle the normal variability, what about the situation where one partner is a sex addict?
A recent program on DSTV dealt with this conundrum. In that case, a 30 year British male confessed to having had at least 300 female sexual partners over his life. As he aged, he longed for a steady loving relationship, marriage and children. The sad part was that he acknowledged that it was a chimera. The two desires were incompatible.
The sad dreadful reality was that his guy would probably never be able to cohabitate let alone marry a female partner for any length of time before his sexual demands and desires destroyed it irrefutably.
From an age-old view of regarding such people as deviants, general acceptance is becoming the norm. The notion of alternative sexual behaviour as being abnormal is gradually transmogrifying into acceptance albeit grudgingly in some quarters.
It is only through compassion and acceptance that humankinds’ humanity is unmasked and exhibited.
Such benevolence, empathy, kindness and understanding are what will convince such people to admit their sexual orientation at an early age instead of living a lie. Aside from unwittingly ensnaring others in their futile lie, they will feel free to pursue their own sexual identity free of meeting society’s unachievable demands.
Religions, the supposed wellspring of compassion, godliness and forgiveness, need to embrace such people instead of shunning them as pariahs. For in their unwillingness to be in the forefront of such endeavours they reveal mean-spiritedness, heartlessness and indifference to fellow man’s suffering which demeans them.
For surely these individuals require our support and not our callous disregard and incomprehension?
Therein lies the salvation of not only future victims but the sufferers themselves.