General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Could a man be a lesbian?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) September 28th, 2010

In this question, MissAnthrope comments:

I’ll be honest, having a penis and getting to play with it would be a main highlight [of having your gender changed]. I think everyone has their own perspective and, being a lesbian and getting intimate with women, obviously there are some limitations (easy and enjoyable to work around, but limitations nonetheless). One ex of mine, she and I had the most mind-blowing sexual connection and we talked a fair amount about kind of wishing we had a penis sometimes. I don’t know how to describe it, but I was so into her, so in love.. giving her pleasure was over-the-moon awesome, yet I wanted so badly to know what it would be like to really feel her. With all my feelings for her, I could only imagine it being supremely amazing.

I replied: ”Now the idea that a lesbian might want a penis to help pleasure her lover and herself is quite fascinating. It kind of raises the issue of what it means to be a lesbian; in specific: would it be possible for a man to be a lesbian?

There are “women in men’s bodies.” Men, who truly believe they are or should have been women. Often they are gay, but what if they were interested in both women and being a woman?

And there’s the trip the other way around. A lesbian might want to be a man so she could pleasure her partner more mindblowingly. If she became a man, would she still be a lesbian?

Underlying this is the whole notion of gender. Is it more related to your mind, or to the configuration of your body? In either case, how do they interact in your case, in terms of your gender identity?

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41 Answers

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It really depends on the definitions used by that person. If they don’t identify as a man but you maintain that they are, then there you have a man who identifies as a lesbian. There could also be trans people of the MtF spectrum in lesbian relationships and they can call themselves a lesbian but identify as a man either because: 1) gender and sexuality aren’t the same thing and should not be conflated or 2) because of their history and experiences they still feel that both identities suit them. I have met a person who identifies as a lesbian but has now transitioned to identifying as a man, gender wise – he will always feel a deep connection to the lesbian community and doesn’t feel like taking up a different label to explain his sexuality. @ChazMaz – didn’t know you identified as a woman or transitioned from a woman. Or perhaps you’re just being funny, in your head?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Yes, I have a good friend who is going through the male to female transformation. She is definitely a lesbian who is at the moment trapped in a male body.

kenmc's avatar

No. A lesbian is a woman that has sex exclusively with other women. Not just someone that has sex exclusively with women.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
judochop's avatar

@hawaii_jake so right now he is a straight male and post surgery will be a lesbian?
I can see this. It must be awful to live like that. I hope everything works out well for your friend.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
MacBean's avatar

@judochop No, right now she is a lesbian who was born with male parts, and post-surgery will be a lesbian whose body matches her brain.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Yes, @MacBean, has it correct. She is a lesbian trapped in a male body.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Aww, dangit.. I thought you meant starting a new Q, but yours didn’t pop up until I finished posting my answer on the other thread.

.

I go through the world as not your traditional woman (i.e. I am not overly feminine, don’t wear make up, don’t usually wear women’s clothing, don’t conform to many beauty standards, etc.), so it’s interesting to see how that affects people’s behavior toward me. Thankfully, being a woman, I get a lot more leeway socially for not conforming to gender standards than I would if I were a guy. No one seems to think it super weird, they just kind of roll with it and deal with it in their own way.

Guys, I’ve noticed, don’t seem to consciously recognize how different male and female brains are. I have a more male brain, or at least more logical, analytical brain, and I usually find myself taking the ‘guy’ role in relationships. This works for me.. I didn’t like it when I first came out, but I’ve come to embrace and enjoy it. But it’s funny, I’m like any typical guy in a relationship with a woman.. often perplexed by irrational, emotional behavior and unsure what to do about it.

Anyway, with guys, they tend to view me as ‘one of the guys’ because I don’t present a feminine appearance and because I like women. I’m fine with this for the most part, but not 100% comfortable. The main difference is I strongly dislike the pervy vibe so many guys give off when checking out or discussing women. I’m fine with being ‘one of the guys’ until they start getting gross and then I’m completely turned off and have to remove myself from the situation.

My point is, even though I’m ‘guy-like’ in a lot of ways, I am still a woman and I still have a woman’s brain. It’s easier to sort out what parts of me are male than which are female.. it’s easy enough to say I’m reasonable, emotionally stable, and logical.. the female part is more subtle. Most women, I think, can identify when I talk about female relationships, compassion, maternal feelings, having situations bring up strong emotions, etc.. I don’t know why, but it’s harder for me to describe the experience of being a woman. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though, I love women, I love their brains (as perplexing as they are sometimes), I love the sisterhood, all of that.

My point here is that it’s nearly impossible to escape your brain wiring. Some of my male friends have joked in the past that they are lesbians, too. And I always sigh and say, No, you’re a straight male. Because liking women doesn’t make you a lesbian, being a woman liking women makes you a lesbian.

Now, granted, there is a gradient for just about everything. You’ll find stone butch ladies that are just as manly as your average truck driver. I know one guy who should totally have been born in a woman’s body because I think he is even more of a lesbian than I am. It’s ridiculous! The humorous part is that he keeps falling for lesbians, too.. so he may very well have a lesbian brain. ;)

downtide's avatar

@MacBean has it right; she was never a man to begin with. People joke about it and they don’t recognise the difference between a straight, biological male and a transsexual lesbian. But coming from the other direction I can definitely say for certain that it’s not the same. Sexuality is about the gender of your sexual partners. Gender identity is about your own gender, and the two are unrelated.

So the simple answer is no, a man can’t be a lesbian. But a woman who was born with male anatomy can be.

Winters's avatar

Why not? about five years ago in Cali (I think) there was something about some guy who got a sex change so he…she could have lesbian sex.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
KatawaGrey's avatar

@downtide: Just curious, I know that you are a pre-op female to male transexual and that you have a male partner. Do you consider yourself a gay man or is it that you love this person regardless of genitalia?

judochop's avatar

Physically impossible. No matter what my brain tells me I am the physical body parts speak differently. I understand all the GA’s @MacBean however I think it’s more of a PC thing to say. Not trying to argue. I am on your side but if you are born with the parts it means you are those parts. There are plenty of things the brain does to people. Many people think they can fly, this does not make them a bird.

iamthemob's avatar

gender is nonbiological.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@judochop : I am really shocked by your answer. There are decades of research into transgender issues, and it is real. It is not a delusion like your illustration of flight. I’m so astounded that I really don’t know what else to say.

Educate yourself on the subject. Get to know some transgender people closely, and I believe you will have a very different view.

MacBean's avatar

@judochopI am on your side but if you are born with the parts it means you are those parts.

Then you are not on my side.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@judochop Biology isn’t destiny.

Katexyz's avatar

@judochop
The brain is a part, is it not? Just as much as any other part, but undoubtedly more important in determining who an individual is, I’m sure we can agree. You raise an interesting point, about how identity should be addressed if it far exceeds norms, i.e. a person thinking they are a bird. I can honestly say I have no idea what is appropriate in this case. I have never met a person like that, I’d love to chat with them. That doesn’t really apply to this topic however, because as far as I know humans do not come in varieties based upon species, but they do come in different genders. It is then conceivable that this process, wherein a human’s gender is determined, may not occur as you might expect it.

I guess I have a few questions. First how do you know what genitalia an individual has? Second what do you think happens during this operation? If a transsexual person is standing in front of you today, then tomorrow they get an operation, and you visit them a few days later how did they change? Is there a switch that flips and a new sign lights on their forehead? Is there a chip somewhere down there that they switch out? Honestly if think about it practically it makes no sense.

To keep this on topic, I do not think it is possible for an individual who identifies themselves as a male to be a lesbian.

downtide's avatar

@KatawaGrey I have always considered myself as bisexual actually: I’m attracted to both men and women, but leaning slightly more towards being gay, I guess. I’m about a 4 on the kinsey scale

MissAnthrope's avatar

@downtide – Great link! I’m a 5.

judochop's avatar

and for the sake of arguing…Standing in my garage can make me a car if I make engine noises with my mouth. If you are going to speculate then anything is possible.
@MacBean, @hawaii_jake before you two unleash all your PC factual make up on me please note that I am indeed very well versed in the science behind most of what you are talking about. My best friend happens to be a trans-gender female whos partner is a trans-gender male. One of which thinks he is gay because of tendencies he is having as his body changes. All I am saying is that if you are born with a penis you are stamped as a male. If you go to the hospital your papers will say “male.” If you take a job, you are hired as a “____male.” Just because you speculate does not make you or I correct. I am willing to bet that my interaction with the trans-gender crowd is 10 fold to most of yours. I am not pretending to be correct but please do not talk down to me simply because I am not giving you the answer you desire to hear. In a sense you are doing the same to me as I was not meaning to do to you.
@Katexyz you asked and stated a few things….as you and @hawaii_jake state that people are born of different genders and that flight is a delusion and as @hawaii_jake rudely stated for me to educate myself I will bring to point one example of many…Just because it is not as common or as PC or a revolutionary movement right now please do not discredit it. click this link.
As for the Kinsey, I am a 3.

downtide's avatar

@judochop what you’re referring to is legal gender, – the “F” or “M” on your identity documents. Those determine what gender you are treated as in hospital, in prison, on your passport, in job applications etc. They can (in most countries – there are still a handful of US states where they can’t) be changed, at various stages of transition; sometimes post-surgery, sometimes before. And the ID for each thing doesn’t always change at the same time.

For example, my doctor, my pension provider and my passport all still say I’m female. My bank, and my employer have me down as male, even pre-op. Eventually, as I proceed through the various stages of transition, I’ll get them all changed to male.

Your analogies are flawed. Cat-man is not a real cat because he does not have a “cat brain”. He just wants to look like one, in very extreme ways. Standing in your garage and making car noises does not make you a car because you can’t have a “car brain”. However it’s been proved already that a person with male anatomy can have a female brain, and a person with female anatomy can have a male brain. There are differences between the ways that a male brain and a female brain function – that’s what the difference is.

Katexyz's avatar

@judochop
You didn’t seem to answer my questions, and I think they were somewhat important. If your conception of gender is solely based on genitals, what exactly happens when someone gets their set changed? If I were to head to a surgeon today, how would I be any more female then I am right now? Would I receive a blessing from a gender priest and be converted? It logically doesn’t make sense, it’s a very limited view.

What about people who do not fall into your model? Let’s take the XY woman who recently gave birth to an XY daughter for example. Is she male or female? There a whole host of other conditions like this one, what are these people in your world?

I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re going to base your understanding of another person on one organ, one part of who they are, why do you choose the naughty bits over the mind?

judochop's avatar

@judochop
You didn’t seem to answer my questions, and I think they were somewhat important. If your conception of gender is solely based on genitals, what exactly happens when someone gets their set changed?
@Katexyz Then you would be the opposite of what you were before you walked in.
As for the folks whom do not fall in the “this” not “my” model, born with X&Y then they are whatever their body chooses to be as they change and get older. A friend of mine was born with this and until she (always was more of a he until this) started having sugar, gallbladder and kidney problems did they figure out what would correct it. The answer was surgery and hormones. She is living happily now.

judochop's avatar

@downtide you are wrong. Cat-man may not have been born with a “cat-brain” however he is still an animal, just like a cat and his brain does think he is in fact a cat. He is slowly changing his body to fit the image and view of the way that he feels comfortable and “right.” Are you saying the only brains we can have anything in common with is human brains or are you meaning to refer to the chromosomes and genetic make-up?

Katexyz's avatar

@judochop
You seemed to miss the center of my point. What is it that changes about the person during surgery. What element of their person switches over allowing you to consider them who they are. Why is it that the genitalia determines a person’s identity more then any other part of them? What if a man was in a horrific accident and his reproductive organs were completely destroyed, would he still be a man?

I apologize that you took offense, calling it “your” model doesn’t mean that you created it, but that you use it. You say that intersex people are whatever their body chooses, but that’s the problem, their body chooses both. An individual with a Y chromosome and female genitalia at birth literally does not fit into this model. Leaving the decision of an individual’s identity up to random mutations, environmental stressors, and a few other factors is wrong. Not politically incorrect, just plain old immoral.

Let me apply this to you, so that maybe you can understand. What if I said you weren’t a man because of some arbitrary physical standard? You can’t bench press 500lbs, lol you’re a woman. You’re not 6’6”? Congratulations it’s a girl. Not a professional athlete? I’m sorry but the women’s section is this way. Your body chose not to be massive, strong, and extremely capable, so unless you get surgery that will cost all of the money you don’t have to make yourself harder, better, faster, stronger (and taller) I won’t consider you male. Not exactly fun is it?

judochop's avatar

@Katexyz I guess all that would change would be the flux of hormone levels.

Katexyz's avatar

@judochop
Okay then, we have something concrete to work on now. Why does hormone replacement therapy not solve this issue then? This, much more than any surgery, will change hormone levels. In fact without hrt there would not be enough estrogen or testosterone (depending on which way the individual is going) to really make much of a difference, even if the respective organs are removed. That action simply limits (not eliminates) greatly the production of the opposite hormone.

downtide's avatar

@judochop regarding having a “cat brain” I don’t necessarily think it’s to do with chromosomes, but it might be, I don’t know. I can’t imagine any human could possibly have the thought processes of a cat, given the difference in sensory capacity, language, and so on. The difference between a human and a cat is much greater than the difference between a man and a woman. It just seems less plausible to me. But I’m not an animal psychologist nor a zoologist. You’d have to ask someone who was, if a human could truly think like a cat.

mattbrowne's avatar

I don’t think so. A transsexual man becoming a woman (hormonal treatment, surgery etc) will mostly likely fall in love with other men, not women.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mattbrowne I really recommend you read Brain Storm by Rebecca Jordan-Young. It is a huge leap that some scientists have made (and other haven’t questioned them enough about) that (aside from this notion of ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains) each sex is wired to somehow want its complement in the opposite. I really wish you’d read that book and tell me what you think of it. She has done a great job of debunking faulty science that lead so many to say what you say.

downtide's avatar

@mattbrowne based on a straw poll of the transsexuals I know in my community (around sixty or so), I find that the incidence of homosexuality among transsexual people to be slightly higher than amongst non-transsexuals. Sexuality and gender identity are not linked, and I wonder if the slightly higher incidence is due to the trans community being integrated with the LGB community. More open, less likely to be in denial about their sexuality.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Just ordered it from Amazon.de – As you know I always like challenging my assumptions.

@downtide – Interesting !

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mattbrowne I think you’ll really enjoy it!

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Arrived yesterday.

desiree333's avatar

This has always really confused me. I remember Lisa, the male lesbian on The L Word. He baffled me, I just didn’t get how he was a lesbian.

desiree333's avatar

Wouldn’t they just be a straight transgendered person? Why would they be called lesbians?

MissAnthrope's avatar

Well, that’s the thing. Lisa identified as a ‘lesbian man’, but that show was ridiculous in so many ways (this coming from a real lesbian), so when I saw that, I laughed and assumed it was kind of a joke on how weirdly liberal, tolerant, and PC California is of alternative lifestyles. A lesbian man is kind of silly.

One one hand, I have known several men who, in my mind, were honorary lesbians. They weren’t your typical guys, much more sensitive and, well, lesbian-like. Often they would be unusually attracted to lesbians, even if they didn’t know the girl was gay (i.e. they’d see a girl they were attracted to, go chat her up, and then find out).

But to me, in reality, you can’t be a lesbian unless you’re a woman. Otherwise, you’re just a sensitive dude who likes lesbians.

desiree333's avatar

@MissAnthrope Thanks for clarifying.

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