My Side |

My Side

Steven O'Brien

I wish to congratulate Jacob Romero (Sept. 3-4, “Queen for a Day”) for his courageous interview with Ivy Vogel. And I applaud the Post Independent and Ms. Vogel for a well written, fairly balanced article.

It remains an unfortunate fact that bigotry is still alive and well when dealing with sexual orientation. Some people still seem to think that sexual orientation is a choice and, if homosexual then “sick.” However, social and medical science is fairly convincing that homosexuals are born, not made; it is not a choice. Furthermore, social science also tells us that if you feel uncomfortable with another person’s sexuality, you probably should look long and hard at yourself. People who are uncomfortable in their own skin are unable to “live and let live.”

While the article about OutFest and Mr. Romero was well done, it did not address a separate, important issue that is not discussed much in our society. That issue is gender identity. I didn’t understand the concept well until I learned about it in medical school. Unfortunately, gender issues also remain an excuse for intolerance in our society.

Gender identity is part of each of us and is separate from sexual orientation. The “norm” most people are familiar with is a heterosexual man who has a male gender identity or a heterosexual woman who has a female gender identity. All the thoughts and feelings and behaviors that go into being a “male” or “female” in a given culture is what makes up gender identity. It does not select sexual orientation in any way. For more information, an excellent reference Web site is

I don’t know what Jacob Romero’s gender identity is; I can’t speak for him, no one can speak for Jacob except Jacob. From the interview, I suspect Jacob’s gender identity is male. Most gay men have a male gender identity but their sexuality is homosexual. Most lesbian women have a female gender identity but are attracted to women. Some folks in our society and the media are more comfortable focusing on “gay stereotypes” rather than the beauty of human diversity.

Men dressing in women’s clothing or transvestitism say nothing about a man’s sexual orientation nor gender identity. Most “transvestites” are heterosexual men with male gender identities. Jacob Romero says in the article that during his drag show he is an entertainer.

What’s wrong with that? I say live and let live.

Steven O’Brien, M.D., has been a practicing physician in internal medicine at Glenwood Medical Associates for six years.

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