Ask Isadora #5-09 : Gender Confusion

*I’m trying to understand the situation of neighbors of mine. Maybe you can explain it to me. Let’s call him Bill married to Jane. They seem like a nice normal couple. Then Jane begins to look more and more butch. Now she’s Jim. I don’t know the medical particulars, what’s been cut off or added on, but this straight married couple is now a gay couple, right? What used to be a married man and woman are now a married man and man. So Jane became Jim, now a gay man. Bill didn’t do anything but he is now a guy married to another guy instead of a woman. Is Bill a gay man now too?

There are two separate issues here – gender and orientation. Gender, whether one is a man or a woman, depends on more than parts, although most people simplify by calling it according to genitals. There is XX or XY chromosomes, there is social presentation, social role, and there is an inner sense of self. Whatever else Jane may have changed or maintained, she now socially presents as a male. She may have been a straight female who loved a man and now is a male who loves the same man, therefore now a gay male. That’s her orientation (not preference!), whether she desires males or females. One can change without the other. Bill presumably loved his spouse once as a woman and, if they are still together, presumably still loves this person who is still his spouse but is now his male spouse. So, yes, by society’s construct he is now a gay man, like his spouse. How each of them would identify if they were divorced is unknown, but I would guess that Jim would still desire men so now be gay and Bill, no longer in this particular marriage, would still desire women as he originally did, and thus straight.

*I’m dating this really nice guy who is a terrible kisser. Can a person be taught to kiss or is that a natural talent?

Someone who likes to kiss you the way you like to be kissed could be considered a natural talent. It could be possible to show someone how you like kiss (“more tongue, less teeth” for example) and possible for another person to learn your preferred way, but some people can not or will not be taught to kiss you in your preferred style. They might not like to kiss at all or prefer some other style. You have to decide when and if it’s a lost cause to either give up on the lessons or give up on the nice guy.

* My daughter is almost 8 and has not asked me anything about where babies come from. I’m surprised she’s not curious. I was at her age. I’m a single dad and I don’t know what’s typical and whether I should bring the matter up.

A network like Parents Without Partners would be a great place for a single man with questions about child raising. Online parenting groups answer such questions with lots of parents sharing their experiences. I recommend them, in the very least for finding out what is typical for kids at particular ages. In any case, there must be many occasions for you to bring up what you feel she needs to know . When you watch a relevant TV show or rent a movie open the discussion. “Do you know where babies come from?” or “Do you have any questions about how babies are made?” She’s certainly old enough to know the basics.