The right and wrong of being different or "other".

Such persons are hermaphrodites, having partially formed genitals of both sexes. They choose--or their parents choose for them--which sex they shall be, and medical services are provided to make their transformation total and complete. They become either a male or a female; they are not, therefore, shemales as the term is defined in this essay. Why should a person opt to be both male and female and, at the same time, neither male nor female, but shemale? There are probably as many reasons as there are shemales. However, their motivation is not the subject of this essay; rather, we are concerned here with the incongruity of the shemale.

As the third sex, so to speak, the shemale stands out. With a feminine face and figure, combined with fully functional male sex organs, she is emphatic (to say the least). She creates a stir wherever she goes. Often, she is accepted and admired, but, too frequently (one is too frequent), she attracts the attention of homophobic individuals (mostly males) who feel threatened by them. Why threatened? No doubt, such men have concerns about their own masculinity, and a merger of masculine and feminine, of male and female, in the figure of the shemale makes them uneasy and fearful--and, unfortunately--angry, even enraged.

To prove their manhood, they feel it necessary to lash out, or even to kill, the "freak" that they see--or claim to see--in the shemale's presence or, for that matter, existence. (Although the actor James Marsters--Spike on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) didn't lash out or attempt to kill the male costar with whom he exchanged a kiss in a recent movie, he is said to have immediately afterward kissed his girlfriend so as to "reassert his masculinity.") However, there may be another, broader reason that people in general--society, if you will--fears shemales and finds them to be more or less disgusting. As anomalies, they do not fit the heterosexual scheme of things that is of paramount importance in a sexist and chauvinistic patriarchy. By being neither clearly male nor clearly female, shemales are threats to the status quo. They are Others, such as outsiders, freaks, or monsters. As such, they must be cast into outer darkness (that is, exiled) or destroyed.

From the earliest days, anyone who was different in a significant way (for example, someone who, as a result of a genetic mutation or a birth defect, had two heads, three breasts, four arms, twelve fingers or toes, or a hermaphroditic combination of sexual organs) was considered a monster and, as such, a threat to the larger, normal community. In fact, the etymology of the word "monster" itself indicates this. The word derives from the Old French "monstre" word, which, in turn, comes from the Latin word "monstrum," which refers to a malformed animal or a creature afflicted with a birth defect. Monsters were once regarded as signs or omens which warned of coming catastrophes, and monsters were regarded as holy. The gist of the meaning, thereafter, however was of something that is unnatural or hideous and as deviant from the norm; a monster was something regarded as not merely wrong but as shockingly erroneous and offensive. Often, because men have ruled at least since the time that, according to some thinkers, the original matriarchy gave way, following men's discovery that they, too, play a role in women's pregnancy and that women do not get themselves magically or supernaturally with child, to the patriarchy and the vested interests of men. There were gorgons, lamia, sirens, Furies, and a host of other female monstrosities that male heroes fought and slew, preserving the status quo against the threats of the feminine.

Foreigners, Native Americans, Asians, blacks, Hispanics, the poor, homosexuals, woman, and many other minority and marginalized groups have, at one time or another, served the role of being the threatening Other against whom the patriarchy's white male majority defined themselves and maintained the existing order in which they, at the expense

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