Queer Theory of Sex

There was a time when the word 'queer' was used as slang for homosexual or as an offensive homophobic abuse. The quick maturity and consolidation of lesbian and gay studies, improved the deployment of the term 'queer' in a new sense. Today the term 'queer' has been used to associate culturally marginal sexual self-identifications like lesbians and gays to the mainstream of sexual studies.

Queer theorists focus on problems in classifying every individual as either male or female, even with scientific facts. Gays and lesbians may not belong to either male identity or female identity, even though they will have the biological male or female identities. Some of the Queer theorists argue that the assumptions about sexual orientation; sexual interests and sexual classification of an individual should not be merely based on social constraints. The sexual orientation and sexual interests of gays and lesbians, which were not based on social constraints, are considered as derogatory. Apart from these, certain inherited biological characters can play an important role in shaping sexual behavior of a person.

Queer theory does not only voice out the dilemmas of gays and lesbians. Queer theory also incorporates topics such as transvestism, hermaphroditism, transsexualism and transgenderism.

Transvestites are a group of cross-dressing, male-bodied, male identified, and gynophilic persons. They universally assign their identity by dressing in clothes of a gender that is different from the gender to which they belong by birth. They will oscillate between two gender identities and will confused to locate into a socially defined gender identity. Their sexual orientation will be either towards the opposite sex or towards their own sex, since they assume themselves belonging to the opposite sex. To know more about transvestites and their dilemmas read Transvestism: A shift in gender identities...

Queer theorists assert that the sexual orientation and sexual interests of a transvestite should not be treated on the basis of social constructs. The transvestites developed their sexual behavior through biological inheritance and social pressures.

Hermaphrodites are intersexual or intersex persons, who are born with genitalia, and/or with secondary sex characteristics. They will be determined as neither exclusively male nor female, since they combine features of both male and female sexes. The term hermaphroditism was introduced in the 19th century and the queer theorists now call for this term to be abandoned. There is currently a move by some activists to eliminate the term "intersex" in medical usage, replacing it with "Disorders of Sex Development" (DSD) in order to avoid conflating anatomy with identity.

Hermaphrodites are treated in different ways by different cultures. In most societies they are expected to select one sex and confirm to gender roles. But many of the intersexual people do not want to undergo a corrective surgery and demand to see their intersexuality as healthy variations that should not be subject to correction. The corrective surgery is not essential for protection of life or health, but purely for social purposes. Morover the corrective surgery may lead to negative consequences for sexual functioning later in life such as the loss of sensation in the genitals.

Many intersex individuals who have been discontented with their surgically assigned gender have opted for sexual reassignment surgery later in life. Defenders of the corrective surgery argue that it will help the individuals to define their roles as male or female in the society. However the queer theory gives a solution to the long debate that one's sexual orientation and sexual interests should not only based on social constraints but also on biological sex.

Transsexuals are those who have changed their biological sex. People who show two gender identities behavior want to find a way of living in one gender as 'man' or 'woman'. The transsexuals who are asexual do not associate sexual behavior with transvestism. Transsexuals will have one gender identity, which they have selected through the change of their biological sex. But they will have two gender roles since they oscillate between the male and female minds and may be of an androgynous sort. Their sexual interests may be towards the opposite sex before their transformation. In this aspect they become gays or lesbians. Read more about transsexuals and their dilemmas in Transsexualism: A shift in Gender identities.

In accordance with queer theory it can be seen that the sexual interests and sexual orientation of transsexuals, change with the shift in their biological sex and is not based on the social aspects of sex.

Queer theory has a practical example for its assumptions through transgenderists. Transgenderist chooses either to become a man or a woman. Transgenderism is thus seriously related to the question of identity. The transgenderist's questioning of self-identity is there at the heart of transgenderist practice. This also implies that the transgenderist as being determined by the factors that overreach the biological identity understands their own self-identity and the socially constructed gender identity. Hence the transgenderist does not recognize the biologically and socially allotted roles and decides to define his identity by the assumptions of clothes and the habits of the opposite sex.

Queer theory therefore includes identificatory categories whose politics are less progressive than those of the lesbian and gay populations with which they are aligned. Whatsoever ambivalences organize queer, there is no misgiving that its recent redeployment is making an ample brunt on lesbian and gay studies.

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