Bi-gender and Transsexual Procedures

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)In a recent article in Newsweek[1], Borreli noted that sex change increased by 20 percent from 2015 to 2016 in the U.S., with more than 3,000 operations performed in 2017. She also reported that some male to female transsexuals felt they would never be liked or accepted as real women. Borreli also reported that there is a lack of pre and post counselling, and that a significant number of male to female trans wanted to reverse the procedure.

A group of researchers in Sweden[2]discovered that the mental health of transsexuals after surgery was not what we would expect it to be. In a follow-up survey of 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males), they discovered that the overall mortality, particularly death from suicide, for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up than for controls of the same birth sex. Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts and psychiatric treatment. They concluded that physically changing the birth sex may not be sufficient for treating transsexualism, and advocated for improved psychiatric care after sex reassignment.

With the increased frequency of sexual reassignment and the data on mental wellbeing after transition, one must take a long serious look at this life-changing procedure. Many of the people involved in sex reassignment have been previously married and in a heterosexual relationship. In my mind this makes them bisexual, or to put it more accurately, bi-gender. Many do not make the transition for sexual reasons with little or no desire to experience sex in their new sexually reversed bodies. Most of the issues are gender related not sexual. As we have seen, gender feelings come from a genetic predisposition and then shaped and molded by life and cultural experiences. Perhaps it is enough to be like the hijra and just take on the clothing and gender roles without the sex change.

More and more of the sexually reassigned are young people, many of them in their teens. This may not be a good time for a sex change. Sexuality seems to be quite fluid at this age with many, especially women, experimenting with bisexuality. They may need to resolve these feelings and explore their gay or lesbian nature before deciding on a sex change. They may also want to experiment with gender role change before starting hormone treatments.

Sexual reassignment begins with hormone treatment. One person Borreli interviewed felt it was the hormones that made him act impulsively and go for the surgery that he later regretted. Hormone treatments affect the whole body not just the genitals. They also serve as neuromodulators thus affecting the neural circuits of the brain causing a major shift in mental functioning. These dramatic physical and mental changes may lead to massive confusion in the creation and changing of neural pathways. This may lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

 

My five applications for bisexuals:

  1. Look for clarity in our sexuality. We can define ourselves sexually as heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian. We can then seek sexual gratification based on this knowledge.
  2. Look for clarification in our gender roles. Are we masculine, or feminine, or are we bigender with fluid flow from male to female feelings of orientation? If we feel we are a man in a woman’s body, or a woman in a man’s body, or if we alternate from one gender role to another, we can explore and enjoy same sex and opposite sex relationships by changing our gender roles without hormones or sexual reassignment.
  3. If we truly want and need to experience sex, not as gay or lesbian, but truly as our transgender nature, than proceed with the sex change.
  4. If we are in a love relationship or we want to experience a love relationship according to our transgender nature, then have a sex change.
  5. Give it time. Be absolutely sure that this is how you want to live the rest of your life. Seek pre and post transition counselling. Make sure you have a professional and personal support system in place before starting the hormone transition.

 

[1] Borreli,Lizette. Transgender Surgery: Regret Rates Highest in Male to Female Reassignment  Operations. Newsweek. April, 2018.

[2] Dhejne, Cecilia; Boman,Marcus; Joohansson,Anna l.; Langston,Niklas; and Landen, Mikael. Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden. Plos. February 22, 2011.

 

Advertisements

Bisexuality and the Third Gender

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Even though this post is primarily for bisexuals, we should never lose track of the fact that we belong to a broader community, namely, the LBGQT community. Our LGBQT family is not just about sexual preference, but really includes people of a wide variety of gender expressions.  Granted we have genetic predispositions, but these predispositions are then nurtured by a variety of community and cultural norms and practices thus  providing us with a variety of gender variations. These variations ultimately are a blend of the feminine and the masculine.

The one that I find particularly fascinating is the Hijra communities of India. In the year 2014, India’s Supreme Court declared that the Hijra constituted a “legal” third gender  considered neither completely male nor female[1]. Hijras have been noted in recorded history dating back to the Kama Sutra period often associated with castration and the creation of eunuchs. Today they retain their male genitalia, but otherwise take on the female gender role.  They live together in self-sustaining communities, often with a guru. These communities are recognized as a loving and caring society which have been known to attract straight as well as trans gender people.  They  have sustained themselves over generations by “adopting” boys who are in abject poverty and rejected by their family of origin.[2] The are recognized as having special spiritual gifts and make a living by performing “blessing ceremonies” at events such as births and weddings.

The hijra do not consider themselves as male or female but as an entirely different third gender that combines both male and female psychological characteristics. They refer to themselves in gender rather than sexual terms, and in fact, many of them choose to live asexual lives. This bears similarities to us bisexuals who do not consider ourselves as gay or lesbian who restrict themselves to same sex relationships, but as bisexuals opening the door to all forms of sexual expression. But perhaps what we are seeking is at a much deeper level. Perhaps we should view ourselves not only as bisexual but as bigender.  If we dig a little deeper, perhaps what we really want (particularly the men who enjoy the feminine role, and the women who enjoy the masculine role) is the ability to express both our feminine and masculine sides without the sexual baggage that goes with it. Many bisexuals are cross dressers enjoying the feelings that come not only from wearing female apparel but all the walk and talk that goes with it, but they do not want to cross over completely. They still enjoy their masculine side with the plaid shirt and cowboy boots and the swagger.

My friends, it’s time to recognize ourselves as not only the third sexual orientation but perhaps as the third gender. And perhaps it is time to realize that we have spiritual gifts that we can offer to our gay, lesbian, and straight brothers and sisters.

[1]  Nanda, S. “Hijras: An Alternative Sex and Gender Role in India Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. Zone Books; 1996.

 

[2] Hossain, Adnan. The paradox of recognition: hijra, third gender and sexual rights in Bangladesh. Published on line; May, 2017.

 

Bisexuality and God

SHIRT & TIE w.out white background (final)Strange title isn’t it? Seems like those two words just don’t go together. That may be because of our concept of God as the Ultimate Patriarch of the Islamic/Christian/Judean faiths. We have been taught to think of God as the judge and prosecutor of the family unit, where the man is the protector and guiding force, and the woman is the keeper of the hearth. There is no room here for the person who is not sure of their gender or is experimenting with same sex relationships.

Because of these foundation beliefs, we are taught to fear God and to attune ourselves with the traditions and beliefs of our parents, and through them, to the community of believers, and to our society at large. The result is either conformity and peace, or shame and anxiety. The tendency for us bisexuals, who just cannot conform to these beliefs no matter how hard we try, is to say “there is no God” and “I will live my life with my heart and my gut as my only judges”. We rule out the possibility of God because we can no longer carry the shame and the pain of being isolated from our biological, social, and spiritual families.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Each morning when I wake up, I light the fire in the hearth and then go out onto my front deck to watch the sun rise over the Salish Sea. I slide into my meditation sanctuary and experience the beauty of the colors melting into the clouds, framed by the silent silhouettes of the giant fir trees, and I listen to the barking of the sea lions and the songs of the twees, robins, and loons, and I somehow feel a part of something grand and powerful.

This is my God, the Presence that is in me and all around me; the Presence that is Life itself.  This Presence is part of me and I am part of it. It is masculine and feminine, male and female. It is the God of bisexuals as well as the God of gays, lesbians, and  heterosexuals. It is the God of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims, yes and even the fundamentalists. If I want to relate to this Presence as my Father, than he is my Father; as the Tao then it is the Tao; as my Mother Earth, then she is my mother earth. It, he, she – is everything. There is no gender; there is no condemnation based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. It is what connects me to you and you to me. It is the source of all that is, of every thought, of every spark of energy, including our powerful drives.  It is even part of my sexuality, my desire and joy in being a bisexual man and a Father, my ability to know and love lovers and friends sexually and/or platonically.

Anyway, that is my own personal belief, and this belief makes life easier and sweeter for me. It gives me a foundation for love. It gives me a reason to get up each morning and love the life that is in me. And yes, it is even there at the basis of my sexual desires. It is what transforms having sex into “making love’.

Here are my five applications for bisexuals:

  1. We do not have to give up on God; he-she-it, by its very nature, has not given up on  us. Remember our beliefs provide the guidance and the power for our feelings and emotions. We have to believe in something so we may as well reach for the sky and believe in this wonderful power of love and beauty that is the foundation for all that is good in this life. Believing we are part of this presence, and it is part of us, opens the door to unlimited power. We can create miracles.
  2. Even if we cannot believe in a personal god, or even a presence in the universe, we can believe in something. We can believe in love. We can believe that we are beautiful powerful creatures, and yes we can still create miracles. This presence, this energy, can still work for us subconsciously.
  3. We can see the presence in others. This will prevent us from falling into hate with all its negative emotions and consequences. We can see others as powerful and beautiful people who are struggling with their own identity.
  4. We should never be ashamed of our bodies. They are a gift. They are beautiful. They are what binds us to Mother Earth and to the Universal Presence.
  5. We should never be ashamed of our sexual desires. They are a gift of the Universal Presence through our bodies. Through sexual relationships we can connect with others on a deep spiritual as well as physical level. We can know that love is the essence of life.

The Bisexual Continuum

SHIRT & TIE w.out white background (final)In a survey sample of 1,784 individuals on Facebook, Vrangalovaq and Savin-Williams[1] argued that there is a continuous, rather than a categorical, distribution of sexual orientation.  They used a five category classification including heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly gay/lesbian, and gay/lesbian.  It is interesting to note that a majority of gays reported some attraction towards the opposite sex. According to my definition, that means we can include most of them as bisexual, or potentially bisexual, depending on the circumstances that they are experiencing.  In addition, a significant minority of heterosexuals also reported some attraction to same sex partners. According to my definition of significant, that means that there are a hell of a lot more bisexuals in the world than is being reported. Again, the survey reconfirmed that women are more likely to engage in bisexual attraction than men.

Let’s take a closer look at these results. Perhaps there are not really five categories of orientation but really only one.  We could possibly all be bisexuals on a sexual continuum rather that a sexual orientation continuum. That might be why there is no gay gene.  With about twenty-five thousand genes in the human genome, you would think that one of them could be the culprit. Perhaps there may be a predisposition but not necessarily a genetic orientation one, but one that might shape our overall sexual needs. There could indeed be prenatal factors involving the psychological and physiological condition of the pregnant mother. Perhaps the mother’s pheromones might be affecting the male pheromones of the male fetus after several pregnancies with male children. Perhaps stress during pregnancy does influence the development of the fetus thus creating a predisposition towards anxiety and the need for soothing and physical connection in the infant. Most research suggests that this predisposition continues on through childhood and forms lasting sexual orientation patterns by the age of five or six. Perhaps these predispositions result in patterns of need, soothing, and behavior with a great need for sexual gratification from male or female partners rather than a fixed orientation.

If we are indeed on a continuum, there are not really five categories but perhaps fifty, or five hundred, or perhaps even an infinite number of possible sexual preferences depending on how our minds find pleasure, soothing, and gratification. Perhaps  this search for soothing and gratification leads to our unique brain patterns and life choices. If that is indeed the case, let’s stop talking about orientation and let’s focus on how we can get the most pleasure out of these wonderful bodies that we are so fortunate to inhabit, without talk of orientation, blame, and shame.

Here are my five applications for bisexuals:

  1. Let’s look at ways we are alike rather than different.
  2. Let’s accept our unique sexual attractions and explore them whole-heatedly without worrying about whether we are gay, heterosexual, or bisexual.
  3. We are not QUEER. We are just different. We are all different. We are all unique.
  4. If we need soothing – so what? It just leads to the need for sexual gratification. What’s wrong with that? That spells pleasure in my vocabulary.
  5. Let’s not forget that we have desires for love not just sex. At the root of the need for sexual gratification is the more basic need of being accepted and loved for who we are regardless of our orientation or our unique place in the sexual continuum.

[1] Vrangalova,z. and Savin-Williams RC. Mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian: evidence for new sexual orientation identities. Pub Med Arch Sex Behav. 2012 Feb;41(1):85-101. doi: 10.1007/s10508-012-9921-y.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327566)

Beyond Orgasm

SHIRT & TIE w.out white background (final)This blog has been up and running for two years now with roughly one hundred entries on some aspect of bisexuality. Various articles have been read by over five thousand viewers (thank you). So what does one write about when every conceivable topic has been covered?  Perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps it’s about time to stop thinking and writing about bisexuality and just get on with life. What’s to know and contemplate? We have an attraction and if it works itself out according to the moon and the stars we have sex. Once we have sex with enough people we find someone special and settle into an intimate relationship. Just like everyone else.

So what’s left? The question is – are we happy with life the way we are living it? Do we feel powerless to change? And that’s not just about sex. It’s about the big picture – life. One has to stop analyzing because analyzing leads to brain stress, which can lead to anxiety, which can lead to unhappiness, which can lead to depression. It a steep and slippery slope. At the other end is no analysis, just acceptance of what is. This leads to contentment and peace, two major components in happiness and joy. This leads to opening up the mind to other things that are around us that we are too busy to notice because we are struggling with the anxiety of our sexual orientation and desires. This is the world of peace. Taking time to not only smell the flowers but to plant them, the pretty ones, and to grow them. It’s all about expansion. Moving on from where we are now to a bigger and better me tomorrow. To hear the sounds of the songbirds in the morning. To appreciate the profusion of colors in a morning sunrise. To see the beauty of intimacy with someone who wants to share this life with me.

It is time to stand up and put sex in its rightful place. It is not life and death but it is part of life. It was meant to provide enough pleasure that we feel the urge to go about the business of having sex and having babies to save mankind from going the way of the dodo bird. We can take what we want and just plain seek the pleasure without thought or consequence. And then move on to the thousands of other pleasures that we can perceive or create.

My five suggestions for bisexuals:

  1. Have sex and enjoy it.
  2. No shame, no blame.
  3. Expand our world of pleasure by enjoying all the little miracles that surround us.
  4. Don’t just have sex, make friends.
  5. Enjoy all those little miracles – with your “friends”.

Bisexuality, Anxiety, and the Cerebellum

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Using national data and the criteria from the DSM 4 to identify people with Anxiety Disorders, a group of researchers[1]  concluded that men who reported lifetime sexual behavior with both male and female partners had the highest rate of every mood and anxiety disorder. This was matched, but by a lesser degree, with women who reported both male and female partners. In some truly significant numbers, 46.5% of bisexual men experienced some mood disorder in their lifetime, compared with 26.8% of men who reported only same-sex sexual partners, 29.3% who reported no sexual partners, and 19.4% who reported exclusively female partners. These numbers are highly significant from two perspectives, first we bisexual men are almost twice as likely as other men to experience clinical anxiety, and secondly, almost half of us have experienced some form of severe anxiety during our lifetime.

So what is happening in our brains? Converging evidence suggests that the culprit may be the cerebellum which was traditionally thought of as the part of the brain responsible for motor control, voluntary movement, and balance. New information based on brain scans suggests that it may be much more than that. One of the surprising areas seems to be associative learning. Remember Pavlov’s dog and conditioned responses? Well it appears our anxiety may be related to conditioning. I read an article once (can’t find the source) that described gay and bisexual lives as death by a thousand cuts. We apparently are subconsciously responding to a lifetime of mini-traumas and now exhibit symptoms of PTSD. It’s like we have been in the trenches waiting for next call to charge the enemy through a mine field. In other words we suffer generalized anxiety because we feel that we are living a life where our sense of security is constantly being threatened.

The cerebellum also forms neural circuits with the thalamus, the hypothalamus and the amygdala. In other words it connects to the limbic and reticular systems which are associated with the two powerful emotions of attraction and fear.  This links whole body involvement with the dopamine pleasure seeking drive and the alert hormones of the sympathetic system.  Therefore, for those of us who have learned to live with generalized anxiety, it is not hard to understand why our whole body seems to be involved in our anxiety and not just our minds or genitals.  I am sure as bisexuals at least half of us have experienced that elephant on the chest, the frequent occurrence of shallow breathing, and mental fatigue that accompanies generalized anxiety.

Generalized anxiety involves the whole body, and therefore the relief has to involve the whole body. In the past the fastest and most effective way to get into my body was through same sex encounters. Unfortunately that was only temporary relief. I would walk away with a hollow feeling akin to depression and a gradual rebuild up of anxiety. The involvement of the cerebellum suggests that these anxieties have passed on beyond mind control and have become a part of my implicit memory and subconscious response systems. In other words I am now stuck with a chemical imbalance that is beyond the scope of psychological therapy. Typically that means medication with all its possible side effects, and that only provides relief for the symptoms and not the cause. It’s like taking a Tylenol for cancer. I have spent the last fifteen years of my life leaning to deal with my anxieties and in the process have found a new way of life that uses my anxiety as nervous energy to accomplish amazing things including this amazing blog.

 

My five suggestions for bisexuals on how to deal with anxiety by controlling our bodies:

  1. We can get in touch and stay in touch with our bodies. It’s simple – meditate. Fifteen minutes a day where we shut down our mind and concentrate of the sensations of our bodies. In the process we will find an inner presence that is interacting with the world around us. It will help us stay grounded.
  2. Practice soothing activities whenever we feel anxious. We simply become aware of our breathing. Deep breath in from the belly, hold, let out slowly and completely.
  3. Practice touch. Touch the area where we are feeling the anxiety and then bring the touch down to the heart and hold it there until the anxiety subsides.
  4. We sooth by talking to ourselves. We acknowledge the fear and its source thus bringing it from the subconscious to the conscious level. It is best done out loud. Then tap your heart and say “There. There, now. It’s all okay. I am here to protect you.”
  5. Whatever our sexual practices, we have a right to experience it without shame and remorse. If you feel that empty feeling, take charge of it and emphatically claim the right to seek pleasure anyway you so choose.
[1] Bostwick, Wendy B.;  Boyd, Carol J.; Hughes, Tonda L, and  McCabe, Sean Esteban. Dimensions of Sexual Orientation and the Prevalence of Mood and Anxiety Disorders in the United States. Am J Public Health, v.100(3); Mar 2010. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820045/?tool)

 

Bisexuality and the Bonobos

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)This blog focuses on bisexuality, and as much as I would like it to be more mental and spiritual, it seems to keep coming back to just plain (or not so plain) sex.  And, if you take the ‘l’ out of ‘plain’, plain can become ‘pain’. It appears that one thing the human mind cannot cope with is boredom. If we do the mathematics, plain sex = boredom = pain. That makes the letter “l” very important. and of course. the “l” stands for “love”. Love includes sexual pleasure but it is much more than that.

Why do we bisexual often seek sex without love? For one answer beyond the pure aspect of pleasure, we can look to our fellow primates. As we go from simple to more complex animals (that means a bigger brain), sexual behavior becomes subject to learning and environmental influences and not just reproduction (Buss, 2007a, 2007b). For example, in one species, the bonobos of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sexual activity can occur at any time, not just when the female is fertile. Bonobos also engage in oral sex, intense tongue kissing, and homosexual and group sex. Among the bonobos, sexual interaction is used to increase group cohesion, avoid conflict, and decrease tension that might be caused by competition for food (de Waal,1995). Bonobos’ behaviors appear to be instinctive for social and stress relief reasons; these lucky fellows can seek pleasure for the sake of pleasure and the instinctive needs of the group. They are not capable of love as we know it.

Are we like our friends the bonobos? Are we just sex craved bisexuals merely releasing our aggressive tendencies so that we do not wreak havoc on society? I think not. You see, unlike the bonobos, we do have the ability to make complex rational decisions. Because of the evolution of our brains, we can hold two or more concepts or mind states simultaneously and employ our powers of reason to compare or combine them to make decisions for the self’s greater good. We can even take that one step farther and combine all our mind sets to create an emotional whole-brain mindset that we can call love. It then can become our guiding force that can control sexual pleasure by bringing it into the mindset as one whole-brain, whole-body experience that is greater and more powerful that the just sex-for-pleasure feeling.

Like our cousins the bonobos, we bisexuals often are out just for the pleasure of sex and to release our sex-based tensions so we can go back to our heterosexual world.  However, without love, sex can become merely an addictive pleasure seeking activity, and like with any other pleasure centered drug, the mind will seek greater and greater “highs”. Sex for the sake of sex will eventually become repetitive and mundane. If our only goal is pleasure, the obvious path is to find someone else who can start us off on a new high. If that fails, we can try same sex pleasure, and if that does not work, we can try fetishes. If that does not work, do we give up on sex? No. We give up on life.  In other words, our sexual desires have to be based on something more than just plain pleasure if we are to truly enjoy living.

Granted, a lot of us pleasure seeking bisexuals choose to follow our drives and not use our brains; however, we do have a choice.  And somewhere along the way, we may come to realize that pleasure for the sake of pleasure is literally a dead end street. And then we can try to put the “l” back into pain and just relax and enjoy good old plain sex with someone whom we can relate to on a mind and soul basis. We can choose to have sex because we love and want to be loved.

My five applications to bisexuality:

  1. Seeking pleasure is a good thing. It’s what keeps the old heart ticking. We can discover what turns us on and go out and find it. All is okay. No self judgement. No shame.
  2. We can use our brain to monitor our sexual drives and notice when the pleasure seems to be slipping. We can add new ideas and positions etc. to enhance the experience. This is also okay, but if we follow this path alone, it may never be enough.
  3. There is nothing wrong with repetition and familiarity. It’s okay to establish sexual patterns – the brain likes predictability. We do not have to work on our technique to increase pleasure, we just have to work on our minds.
  4. We can stop the noise of the mind that equates increased excitement with increased pleasure. We simply shut it down and enter into a sexual experience mindfully, allowing the mind to slowly absorb all the sensations that come from all seven senses.
  5. We can focus on our feelings for our partner and enjoy their increased levels of excitement and anticipation. We can learn to increase our own pleasure by enjoying the pleasure we give to the one we love. [1]

[2]

[1]Buss,DM.. Why Humans Have Sex. NCIB Resources. 2007. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17610060)

[2] De Waal, Frans B.M. Bonobo Sex and Society. Scientific American. 1995. (https://www.scribd.com/document/317081020/de-Waal-1995-Bonobo-Sex-and-Society-abbrev-pd)