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Friday, September 20, 2013

So Very Queer

I struggled for a long time to figure out what pronoun to use for my friend, Sheraton.  Born female - named Shannon - Sheraton was always a tomboy, wrestling and riding bikes with the boys in the neighborhood.  Shannon played with G. I Joes and always insisted that they were “action figures not dolls!” 

But Shannon was never quite comfortable as a girl.  Wearing dresses and pretty, frou-frou clothing wasn't the problem; Shannon always liked to look nice, effeminate even (despite the tomboy nature.)  But Shannon was never comfortable with being a girl.  So Shannon disappeared after college, replaced by Sheldon.  (Sheldon told me that the name “Shannon” could conceivably have worked for either gender, but felt that the name had to be dropped completely in order to make a clean start as a male.) 

Shannon endured the required battery of psychological tests and interviews and personality inventories  -and battery is the appropriate pun; from what I've been told, it was a brutal process.  After the psychological gatekeepers were satisfied, Shannon was allowed to begin the necessary hormone treatments, and, finally, the complicated surgical procedures to complete the transformation: a mastectomy to remove Shannon’s breasts and then Phalloplasty to create an artificial penis for Sheldon. 
Sheldon (who has never been accused of being reticent or shy) has said that there is even a measure of sexual stimulation in the neophallus and Chris, Sheldon’s lover, whose square jaw is almost, but not completely, hidden by a Veronica Lake haircut has never complained about any lack of performance even though a saline pump is required to cause an erection.  “It’s less spontaneous, but no less effective,” says Chris.

If this were the whole case, my pronoun struggle might be easily resolved: born Shannon, she later became Sheldon, but he…

…and this is where it get’s weird – or, perhaps I should say, this is where it get’s queer… 

 “Sheraton,” I say, “What I like about you isn’t that you're queer, it’s that you’re so very queer.”  And Sheraton laughs, bats false eyelashes at me and says, “Oh honey, stop.  You’re making a girl blush.”

he  double checks the wig, adjusts the falsies worn under a black bra, and asks me to zip up the sequined gown before Sheldon takes the stage as Sheraton, a drag queen performer singing show tunes and telling old vaudeville jokes.

“He… She… It…” Sheraton says to me.  “It doesn't matter as long as you don’t call me shit.”

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