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Written by Daniel Otero

Am I heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or pan-sexual?: I’m really confused!

By: Daniel Otero

I grew up in a simpler time, when the norm was to have four-distinctive genders. These genders where the rulers of society for centuries; whether it was legal or not to be gay.

After all, ‘buggery’ was still considered a crime in the U.K. till the 1960s!

The two distinctive sexes of my generation were the following: male, female. Two main ones dividing most of us.

Well, if a female was attracted to a male and vice versa; the norm was to call you a heterosexual or straight. Then came homosexuality or gay, with men loving men. Of course, let’s add to that, lesbianism, women loving women. The latter two were well known since the time of the ancient Greeks. After, came bisexuality, when a person can be attracted to both male and female at one point or another.

But presently, it has all become sort of confusing for me. Because during my time growing up, to this lexicon of words were added transexual and transvestite. Giving another form in our evolving human sexuality. I came to understand these two terms all too clearly by the 1980s. When some men loved to dress as women or women dressed as men, and voila you have a transvestite. And coming especially upon the 21st Century, with its legalization in different countries, more people have been choosing to become transexual. In other words, to have gender-reassignment surgery.

Therefore, LGBT had to add a ‘Q’ [and more] to their organization at the end (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Queer or whatever comes after) to state the growing differences in the evolving gender pot around the world.

From four distinct genders in the 1960s, the amounts have grown to 60. That’s why you have a new generation of millennial using terms like: gender fluidity or pan-sexuality.

Such things didn’t exist until the last decade. When fluidity was used more frequently for those who felt attracted to a particular gender during a particular moment and time.

Coming to my point, if it’s confusing by Western standards, it must be confusing for Chinese, with a population of 50-million homosexuals and growing. For a traditional society it isn’t easy to accept and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

On one holiday in Xi’an with my wife, we went to question a ‘woman’. As my spouse spoke to ‘her’, she never realized that he was a transvestite!

Being myself a street-wise kid, I knew better and told my wife much later, “Did you notice that man? He’s a tranny,” sorry guys for using a disrespectful street term!

My wife was in total shock and all she could answer in disbelief was a, “什么/What?”

Therefore, times aren’t changing, people are!

With pan-sexuality, you can be attracted to all genders without any limitations or discrimination.

And certainly, the world is changing. I really don’t know if it’s for the better or worse.

What has confused me more has been the gender-neutral bathrooms/toilets!

It doesn’t mean I don’t respect a person’s choice, their desire or gender. But like I told one person, “Hey man, I just want to use the bathroom!” Feeling that things have become over complicated on the issue.

In the meantime, while I figure things out, can somebody get me a new dictionary on genders?

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.