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With Mishana Hosseinioun

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The Third Sex

By Mishana Hosseinioun

April 13, 2006

In the free flowing bazaar of our 21st century gender economy, we float, neither fully men nor wholly women, but as members of the comprehensive third sex. In many ways, we share a collective skin, an elastic global organ of some sorts. It is not to say, however, that every tenacious effort on our part to differentiate ourselves from one another in getup, gait and gray matter, is a futile and utterly unfounded endeavor. In fact, this tool has served as one of society's greatest arms and shields throughout history, whether in constructing incest and homosexuality taboos to preserve 'orderly' kinship structures, or in branding the Other or Beauvoirian second sex for purposes of patriarchal supremacy. But that was so 1949. It may just be that the elusive identities we create for ourselves and others today, in general, are hardly capacious enough to encompass our full range of being, especially in this increasingly globalized and interconnected world of ours; if anything, they serve to compartmentalize us not unlike items in a supermarket aisle, when really we are more souk-material than Safeway. For that reason alone, being more cognizant at all times of our vacillation along that universal ID axis becomes our biggest modern day challenge. It is an imperative nonetheless.

Transsexuals must know this reality all too well, having been unapologetically misplaced on the gender shelf by the Stork in its haste during delivery, yet having subsequently taken to properly re-shelving themselves at all costs. In choosing to make the grueling trek toward self-actualization and trading in their days 'behind barcodes' for a life in the fast checkout lane, these resilient individuals have come to embody the ultimate art of cultivating one's own garden. We are all-man, woman and hermaphrodite alike-to one extent or another, wittingly or not, making that excursion as well. Only now we can turn to our chameleon-like kin as the sources of emulation and consolation we never knew we had.

It is common, for instance, for most women with any aspiration to ascend to the male-dominated strata of power, to be in the business of sporting short bobs and wearing the pantsuits in the casa. With a pair of X chromosomes to their name, why stop short of a Y, they are wont to question. As if females did not already have their share of burdens, they have gone on to bear those of males as well, and understandably so. After all, a glossy ponytail has yet to make it past the glossies, and no Femmebot has ever scored a Governorship. Besides, why let their bosom weigh them down, so to speak, when they can just as soon grab life by the jewels? All the same, today's Stephen-turned-Stephanie might have a lesson or two to teach them about fully appreciating that which only women hold in their 'cups.' Breathtaking gender illusionist Cassandra Cass might even step in to inspire nostalgia in each and everyone amongst them for that long forsaken, fierce element called femininity that once launched a thousand ships.

Long gone, perhaps, though liable to be resurrected, are the days when a lounging Cleopatra would stir perfume with one gilded finger and twirl an entire empire around the other. Here to stay is an age in which men soaking their cuticles in bubble water ponder how much more of their masculinity they can safely give up to experience another such feeling of utter serenity and freedom in their lifetime.

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