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Anya Cordell

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Conjoined, in Marriage?

Posted: 09/13/2012 7:18 pm

Do twins have a right to their sexuality and to marriage? Silly question.

Do conjoined twins have a right to their sexuality and to marriage? Interesting question.

I have a copy of Life magazine with conjoined twins, Abby and Brittany Hensel, when they were six, on the cover. Now they are 22; delightful, accomplished, bright and starring in the TLC reality series, Abby & Brittany. Each controls one leg, one arm, one side. They basically share organs from the navel down. Each has her own heart. And head.

As one of their friends points out on the show, they are stared at and commented upon, constantly. Yet, they seem to take their life completely in stride. They are inspirational in their spirit, verve and obvious determination to live fully.

We all know how it feels to be judged, or judge ourselves, based on appearance, and the challenges we face in varieties of ways, because of our physical realities. (Even those who are deemed "beautiful," may suffer being objectified, as if they are beautiful "its.") I've often spoken of "life in a body," in programs on what I call "appearance-ism."

Although we can alter some aspects of our physical selves, through diet, exercise, or plastic surgery, there is much about ourselves that we cannot manipulate, mold, or "fix," no matter how much we may desire. We are, in many respects, "as is"; and much of our happiness and contentment comes from making peace with that, as Abby and Brittany so beautifully exemplify.

While their sexuality is none of my business, and I apologize to them for using them to make a point, I do think that their biological reality creates a significant teachable or learnable moment for us, as we confront issues of the rights of individuals to our sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, and equality under the law, including marriage.

We all span the spectrum of human variation in our physiology and our chemical make-ups. We have different innate natures, proclivities, and abilities. We may be tenaciously athletic or utterly compelled to exercise our creative natures. There are naturally gentle men, naturally assertive women. Among heterosexuals, some have the capacity to procreate, others cannot conceive or carry children, have low sperm counts, or low sex drives. There are small-breasted women, men who could be viewed as prospective candidates for breast reductions, women who grapple with unwanted facial hair, men who couldn't grow a beard if their life depended upon it.

There is a continuum of what we term masculinity and femininity, as well as sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity; acknowledged by science, no matter how fervently some folks wish or would like to claim otherwise.

So, again, with apologies to Brittany and Abby for appropriating them for my argument; who would dare to decree curtailing their rights, with respect to their sexuality and to the creation of their own adult loving family?

They have clearly faced life's challenges, with their two lovely faces, seemingly smiling, more often than not; growing beautifully into adulthood. If they choose to do so, they deserve to marry the partner, or partners, of their choice.

I've written previously regarding marriage equality, asking "Who's on God's team?" in which I addressed the matter of those who are intersex, born with what is sometimes called "ambiguous" or "indeterminate" gender -- physiologically, hormonally, etc.; as an element of the rationale for equal marriage rights. (How can we decree "opposite" gender for indeterminate gender?) The piece elicited extraordinary comments, including from someone who is intersex, underscoring my points.

Abby and Brittany are certainly on "God's team," so to speak. It's hard to imagine who could be heartless enough to deny them the object/s of affection, of their one body and two hearts; (not their heart's desire, their hearts' desire/s).

Those who dismiss marriage equality must directly confront such challenges to their dogmas. Humans cannot be blithely dismissed. Rather, arguments against marriage equality should be dismissed, along with all the animosity, labeling, and denigration so often directed at human beings, simply trying to live their lives with the same love, joy, and connectedness, for which most of us feel our own hearts longing.

 
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