Masculinity, Androgyny, and Young Greek Gods

Posted by – June 8, 2005

Yesterday Betty met my agent for the first time, and at some point in our conversation – amazingly enough, gender did come up – she mentioned that she not only read Betty as androgynous, but that her reading of his/her androgyny caused her to not know, exactly, how to interact. That is, all the social rules were gone. She is my agent, after all, and likes my work, so for her, this was a good thing; for her, it meant she had to connect with the person, and not her own expectations of who the person was based on his or her gender.

Others, of course, resent not having those kinds of social cues, and get confused and angry. Especially when conflated with sexual desire, or power, or even a tiny black and white world where there are no shades of gray.

Tonight, because it’s gotten hot here in Brooklyn, Betty was walking around for a while in a green Batik sundress of mine. (Note to CDs: babydoll sundresses are not very gendered, and did nothing for Betty’s figure.) A little while later, she gave up on the sundress as well and was walking around naked.

At home, I often flirt with her girl self – whether she’s presenting as female at the moment or not. At some point, she stood in the doorway to talk to me while I was at my computer, and I confess: I had a split-second – a kind of atavist split-second – of noticing what a beautiful man my husband is. I covered it by saying something about her being a girl, but she’d seen it. “When you look at me like that, doll,” she said, “I know what you see.”

What do I see? I see a young man who at age 36 has all the masculine and feminine beauty the Greeks were after. Betty is naturally hairless, naturally svelte, and has a full head of hair that goes wavy in humid weather like this. Go ahead and picture Michelangelo’s David, albeit less muscular, with longer legs. His looks both defy gender and confirm it; his beauty is not the type of masculinity we admire now, in modern 21st Century America, but it is a classic type of beauty, and – dare I say – the kind of beauty that men who love men seem to excel at portraying.

Others who meet him in male mode often remark to me privately that they’d have a difficult time letting go of a man who is so perfectly beautiful. And I admit, it does make it harder. I still go weak in the knees when I see my husband walking around naked; I still go weak in the knees when he’s in women’s underwear and leaning over to apply make-up, too. But in either case, I am responding to physical beauty, the kind that inspires poetry and love songs. And blog entries.

A long time ago I saw a magazine cover with a photo of Johnny Depp on it. A friend and I stopped to ogle and gossip, since we’re both fans. And suddenly it occurred to me: transness had to be real, because my husband looks like Johnny Depp and doesn’t want to. I don’t know anyone else who wouldn’t want to look like Johnny Depp if they could – male, female, or otherwise. (Johnny Depp, of course, also looks good as both male and female, too.)

In some senses, when I see how beautiful my husband is as a man, I really do think that God has a sick sense of humor to put such a beautiful body on a soul with no libido, to put such a beautiful male body on a soul that wants to be female. It’s a double sucker-punch, and it doesn’t make any sense to me – none at all. Add to that Betty’s desire to be my husband – and it becomes some kind of evil triple-play. (Hey, did I just use a sports metaphor? Did someone give me a lobotomy when I wasn’t looking?)
jas headshot

I wish I could bring Betty any kind of comfort or solace in his beautiful self. I wish I could help him feel more at home in a male body. I wish I thought I was a sufficient door prize for not transitioning (but I don’t) and I also wish I didn’t have this feeling that I’m somehow torturing the person I love most in the world.

But all that I’m laying aside tonight. Right now, I just want to get it off my chest: I married the most beautiful man in the world.

^ That’s his acting headshot. And yes, I had his permission: not just to post the photo, but to write this blog entry, too.

2 Comments on Masculinity, Androgyny, and Young Greek Gods

  1. itscrazee says:

    hi
    i’m from New Delhi, India. finished my bachelor’s degree last year in sociology and hopefully will start my masters in the same this year. but on the side i’m doing an independent research paper on Hijras (androgynes) in india. the approach i’m taking is based a lot on concepts of sexuality, spirituality, astrology, religion and so on. i’m trying to find answers to questions that have intrigued me through time…and questions that common people forget to ask themselves sometimes. i want to be able to bring in a strong enough research paper in this field to hopefully help the people of the Hijra community in any way possible.
    as i was searching the web, i came across your website and was moved with the way you’ve written it. when you write “other resent not having those kinds of social cues” or when you say “i married the most beautiful man” and so on. i was just wondering if we could be in touch and if it would be alright for you and your husband to help me with my research.

    with kind regards
    reeti mathur

  2. helenboyd says:

    Reeti, namaste.

    sure thing. there are two things: 1) we’d cover a lot of ground if i sent you a copy of my book, and 2) you should write me an email: helenboyd@myhusbandbetty.com.

    i’d actually like to learn more about the hijira, so maybe we can trade info.

    helen

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