Category Archives: Religion

Religious issues for transgender persons.

March 2017 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI


Hello, and welcome to the March 2017 Trans Talk Edition of The Tenth Voice! We will be speaking with two guests on our show this month. Our first guest is Dr. Meredith Gray, who is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and who will discuss reproductive options for transgender persons, as well as transgender health services at KU. After our break at the bottom of the hour we will talk to Ceri Anne Lewis, who will discuss the positive relationship between religion and transgender persons, as well as her own transgender journey.

As usual, we will share with you the transgender news and the community calendar update. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, March 25 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

THIS SUNDAY: A Presentation on the Bible and Transgender Identity

Deuteronomy_23_Eunuch_and_Philip
Transgender persons are often told that their gender identity and presentation are forbidden by the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Insults are hurled, jobs are lost, and discriminatory laws crafted based upon this belief. But is this really accurate? Does research into the linguistic origins and the historical context of the Bible suggest that rather than being condemned, transgender persons may actually be accepted within the texts?

This lecture is intended for peoples of all faiths or no specific faith as a way to help understand how different interpretations of religious texts can yield significant differences in the meaning of the text – and how to respond to some religious-based arguments against the validity of transgender identity.

Please join Una Nowling, Director of Transgender Studies at the Transgender Institute, hostess of “Trans Talk” on 90.1 FM KKFI, and the founder of Transas City, as she presents her research on a positive relationship between transgender persons and the Bible.

Location

Johnson County Central Library, 9875 W. 87th Street, Overland Park, KS 66212 – Carmack Community Room

Date and Time

3:00 – 4:15 pm, Sunday, July 31st

There is no cost to attend, although donations will be accepted for transgender persons in need in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The Transgender Experience at Crossroads Church Kansas City

Crossroads Church

Transas City Founder Una Nowling will be speaking on the transgender experience at Crossroads Church Kansas City this coming Sunday. Her presentation will feature a few slides with transgender history and facts, will include her telling her personal story, and will address some of the current transgender events of the day (transgender discrimination, “toilet terror” laws, etc.) The presentation starts at 9:00 am Sunday, May 22, and will last (with questions and answers) until about 10:15 am. Transgender, non-transgender, and all folks in the area are very welcome to come see the lecture, or just drop by say hi.

Crossroads Church Kansas City is located in the Waldo district, at 7917 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64114.

The Subtle Threat of “Religious Exemptions” – Barber Refuses to Cut Transgender Army Veteran’s Hair

Kendall Oliver identifies as mostly male and wears masculine clothing. But the barber declined to serve Oliver, saying he doesn’t do women’s haircuts.

Source: Barber refuses to cut transgender Army veteran’s hair, citing religious views – The Washington Post

Across this nation, many conservatives pushing for laws to discriminate against LGBT persons are mostly focused on events and products related to weddings. Such as the notorious “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” case, where not only did the owners refuse to cater for a lesbian couple, but they were fined $135,000 for repeatedly deriding the couple in the media. But few people truly understand just how many nutty prohibitions exist in religious books (such as the Bible chapter Deuteronomy) – and moreover, how a person who hates LGBT people can simply point to one of many explicit or implied prohibitions in virtually any religious text to justify their discrimination.

What’s more, there is literally no legal standard preventing someone from simply inventing a belief or entire belief system of their own, provided they claim to honestly hold it. This weekend, for example, I became an ordained Minister in the Universal Life Church – something which takes no more than answering a couple of questions and clicking “Get Ordained Now.” And yet, I now can legally perform weddings and officiate at funerals in Kansas and Missouri. Given that sort of legal backing, it’s a small stretch for me to say “I refuse to serve (someone) because it offends my religious beliefs.” It really is just that easy, folks.

As a result, these so-called “religious freedom protections” are no less than ways in which to roll back civil rights for virtually anyone who is hated by anyone else. What if the barber in this case which is highlighted refused to serve African-American customers? Or Jewish ones? Or Armenians? Every single time a person backs or supports the “right” of a public business to discriminate against someone for being transgender, they also are supporting the “right” of segregation, injustice, and ghettoization. And they are supporting the right to perpetuate and spread ignorance, fear, and hate.

Discriminating against a transgender person at a place of business is fundamentally no different than discriminating against them for being black – people do not choose their gender, nor do they choose their race. And before there is a rebuttal that the Bible does not preach discrimination against other races, one has to look no further than the works of pro-slavery supporters in the 1800’s. Josiah Priest, for example, published a work in 1852 wherein African Americans were equated with “the race of Ham,” and the numerous instances of slavery and human bondage employed by the Israelites was called out as an example to follow.

And here’s something that those backing the “religious rights” of business owners are not getting. When a person operates a business in the public eye, they are utilizing shared services, incentives, and protections granted to the community as a whole in order to foster business. Deductions for business expenses, property tax incentives, tax-increment financing, special business development loans and grants, zoning protections, enhanced police and fire protection, assignment of inspectors for health and safety – businesses enjoy a wealth of considerations, incentives, or protections to help them thrive. And as a result of these considerations, businesses have a duty to serve and provide for the public in general.

If a business does not want to serve the public in general, then they need to remove themselves from the public arena, and work out of their home, place of worship, or somewhere else – and not take money and protections intended for the public as a whole.

In this case which was highlighted in the linked article, a transgender man couldn’t get a haircut at one shop. Some may argue “big deal, it’s not the end of the world. Go down the street to another barber.”

Sure. And I suppose it’s better at the back of the bus too, isn’t it?

A Handy Religious Groups’ Transgender Acceptance Chart

The Pew Research Center has published a handy chart which details the transgender acceptance policies of several major United States religions. This may be used as a quick reference guide for transgender persons who are considering looking into a new or another religion.

There is much more specific information at the link below, including a separate chart showing the results of a survey conducted on 1,197 LGBT persons asking them how they feel society accepts them. Unsurprisingly, transgender persons reported by far the lowest rate of acceptance, with 80 percent of respondents reporting little or no support. (Thank you for the link, Lisa).

Source: Religious groups’ policies on transgender members vary widely | Pew Research Center

Malaysia: Court Convicts 9 Transgender Women for “Posing as Women”; Plus, a Fantastic Protest Cartoon

Malaysia_Transgender_Woman

On June 17, 2015, A Sharia court in Malaysia sentenced nine transgender women to fines, and two to one-month jail terms under a law prohibiting “a male person posing as a woman.” Religious police arrested the women in a raid on June 16, 2015, and they pled guilty the next day. A lawyer filed an appeal and the two women sentenced to jail were released on bail pending the outcome.

From the original article:

The nine women, known as mak nyah in Malaysia, were attending a private birthday party at a hotel when officials from the Kelantan Islamic Department (JHEAIK) raided the party and arrested them. In each state in Malaysia, religious department officials are responsible for enforcing state Sharia criminal codes. In Kelantan, section 7 of the Syariah (Sharia) Criminal Code of 1985 states that “Any male person who, in any public place, wears woman attire and poses as a woman shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four months or to both.”

The situation for Malaysian transgender women has been declining in recent years due to a steady increase in Muslim fundamentalism, especially in rural areas of the country. Human Rights Watch has published a lengthy document on the history and current status of Malaysian transgender people, and you can download it from them for free here.

The reason that this article is being updated is because of some wonderful work done by cartoonist Kazimir Lee Iskander to highlight the plight of Malaysian transgender women. Prompted by the arrest of 17 transgender women in June 2014 for “impersonating women,” he was inspired to draw a political cartoon series to show how transgender people are harassed in Malaysia – and to offer hope. “I didn’t want everyone to hear the story and assume Malaysia’s some fundie hell-hole (even though it can be),” he was quoted as saying. “I also wanted to show a little bit of the activism happening on the ground.”

You can view the complete cartoon on the artist’s site here, but the first four of the 21-part series are included below.

Iskander_Malaysia_Not_a_Crime_01

Iskander_Malaysia_Not_a_Crime_02

Iskander_Malaysia_Not_a_Crime_03

Iskander_Malaysia_Not_a_Crime_04

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Slate.

Una Nowling to Speak on “Trans 101” at Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ

Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ
Hello everyone,

I will be speaking about the basics of the transgender experience, along with giving a transgender history lesson, at 7:00 pm, August 19th, 2015. The venue will be the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ, which is located at 205 W 65th St, Kansas City, Missouri 64113 (there is a map link below). Anyone who wishes to come and hear a little bit of “Trans 101” is welcome!

The electronic flyer put out by the Church reads as follows:

Trans 101 with Una Nowling
August 19th at 7 p.m.

Are you interested in learning more about the transgender community and how to be an ally to transgender individuals? If so, you are invited to an evening with Una Nowling on Wednesday, August 19th at 7 pm!

Una Nowling will share her own story and also speak about issues affecting the transgender community. Una is a transgender activist, researcher and historian who mentors local transgender folks, especially throughout the coming out process. She is the hostess of “Trans Talk” on KKFI. She also spends her time working on Transas City, a non-profit educational website and blog for the transgender community in Kansas City. This is an important educational opportunity for our church as we continue to evolve in our understanding and celebration of the LGBTQ community.

Please contact Bethany at bethany@cccucc.com for more details.

Indiana: Bigotry, Discrimination & The Religious Freedom Backlash

18291_882438008482134_5298707645301373542_n

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – excerpt from The Declaration of Independence

Matthew 23:4
“Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.”

How does one voice an opinion on a subject that causes one’s blood to boil? An issue that causes such anger that it makes a compassionate person double up their hands into fists and say enough is enough? Well if you’re me, you sit down and write about it. Then you do something about it.

I am not alone in my anger. With Governor Mike Pence’s signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana this past week, we have seen a backlash across our country of biblical proportions. Indiana faces a massive loss in revenue, from such companies as Salesforce and Angie’s List, to Apple & Eli Lilly. Cities like San Francisco and Seattle have restricted official travel to Indiana, and the State of Connecticut has officially joined them. Indiana itself has seen massive protests, and some Hoosiers have even quit their state-sponsored jobs. Even some mainline Christian denominations have become involved in the backlash – both Presbyterians and the Disciples of Christ have said that they will look elsewhere for their convention needs, and both groups have condemned this new law.

I applaud all who have stood up to this form of legal bigotry. Other states and their Governors would do well to pay attention to what is happening in Indiana. So what is this really all about, you ask? Is this a spiteful backlash on Marriage Equality, and about laying the groundwork for the future? In this writer’s opinion, Republicans have a long-term plan to supplant this great nation as a whole and replace it with a Fundamentalist Conservative Theocracy. One in which their version of Christianity is the State religion, comparable in scope to Sharia law in the Muslim world. It is not a popular or widely held opinion, but it is what I perceive as the ultimate goal of such laws. You of course are free to draw your own conclusions.

On Sunday the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, was asked several straightforward questions. The Governor quibbled, diffused, deflected and obfuscated his way through the interview and would never answer a simple question about the rights of people in his state to discriminate. Even today he is unwilling to speak about it. Watch the interview here.

ABC News interview

Today a letter was sent to Governor Pence from the Indiana business community demanding swift action to fix this issue, you can read the letter here. Corporate Business Letter

These laws exist in 19 states, including Kansas and in Missouri a law is being considered and has been written, and there is a federal RFRA law on the books. Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by Bill Clinton. It is important to state that if you are a person like me who opposes such legislation in one of these or another state, then do your duty and call or e-mail your representative and politely voice your displeasure towards any bill that discriminates, or otherwise impedes another’s basic civil and human rights. This is our government and we choose how it works, we elect people to protect our interests and preserve our rights, not remove them and entrench themselves in power at our expense.

Kansas Law: HB 2203 as enrolled (law as of July 1, 2013 RFRA-Kansas
Missouri Law: There is no law currently on the books or in the legislative agenda that i could locate at this time. This is a link to the proposed language of the bill. RFRA-Missouri

In Missouri there are currently two bills on the floor of the House. State Rep. Jeff Pogue (R-Salem) filed the legislation which opponents call “harmful” “demeaning” and an instrument to “create false fear” of the transgender community. One bill (HB 1338) would require all public restrooms, other than single occupancy restrooms, to be gender-divided restrooms. HB-1338 The other (HB 1339) would prohibit the appropriation or expenditure of state revenues for the purpose of creating a gender-neutral environment, unless required by a federal or state court order. HB-1339

In Kansas there is currently one such bill on the House floor. Sponsored by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth), (SB 175) prohibits the state’s universities from taking action against student religious groups that require members to adhere to the group’s religious beliefs. The bill passed 30-8, and it now goes to the House. Read more here: SB-175 Wichita Eagle, and read the bill yourself here. SB-175

Here is a link to a pdf dated June 2013 covering the law in both states, published by the ACLU. This has not been updated as of yet, but makes interesting reading. ACLU PDF

I look forward to reading your comments on this issue. Cassandra Frost

Equality House Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary With ‘Plant One For Peace’

o-EQUALITY-HOUSE-570

It’s always good to see events that promote a positive image in the LGBT community. Last Saturday one such event was held as the Equality House celebrated its 2nd Birthday in Topeka, Kansas. For those of you that may not know the house is located across the street from the infamous and much publicized Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) that was once headed by the now deceased Fred Phelps. The people who were in attendance seemed to be filled with a positive sense of fellowship and joy as they mingled and participated in the fundraising events of the day. Everything culminated in a giant group kiss or “Planting one for Peace” as it were.

We did this to remind the world what we stand for at the Equality House: individuals celebrating and taking pride in who they are, and never being afraid of showing acts of love, even in the face of bigotry. “Planting Peace” President Aaron Jackson told The Huffington Post

We are happy to report all kinds of people — queer couples, straight couples and families showed up to participate and ex-members of the WBC even dropped by including Libby Phelps who, organizers told The Huffington Post, was in the crowd with her husband kissing her baby.

For more information on Equality House and how to participate go to Equality House

In the end this was a very positive event for both the Topeka LGBT community and the LGBT community at large. For more information on Planting Peace and current fundraising efforts, follow the link Planting Peace

Pope Francis on Gender

Pope Francis Looking UpThis is not brand-new news, dear readers, as I try to investigate the news significantly now before just reblogging it and throwing links out. However, I have as of yet been unable to get a copy of the original text in which Pope Francis’ comments appear, to view them completely in context.

Because context does matter, and in some cases an argument could be made as a “devil’s advocate” or rhetorical position. However, in this case I have still found no credible evidence that this news isn’t prima facie correct.

Pope Francis appears to have indeed cast transgender persons as disruptive and destructive influences in this world, even to the point of being a threat to the faithful. The pontiff does not appear to delve into the scientific basis of transgender persons, nor does he address the many problems with classical interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. Rather, the statements appear to be somewhat cavalierly thrown out as appeals from authority.

In the book Francis calls us “Herods,” and puts us in the context with “nuclear weapons.”

But he then says that every historical period has “Herods” that “destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation.”

“Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,” he continues. “Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.”

“With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,” the pope says. “The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.”

“God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth,” Francis says. “The design of the Creator is written in nature.”

These comments come after some lesser-publicized ones which he characterized “gender theory” as “ideological colonization.” (Certainly something the Catholic Church as never, ever, engaged in…right.)

Recounting the story of a public education minister he knew who was offered money to construct new schools for the poor, Francis said to receive the money, the minister had to agree to use a course book with students that taught gender theory.

“This is the ideological colonization,” the pope said. “It colonizes the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure.”

“It is not new, this,” he continued. “The same was done by the dictators of the last century. They came with their own doctrine — think of the Balilla [youth groups of Fascist Italy], think of the Hitler Youth.”

I have to say that I am highly disappointed, but not surprised. I’ve studied the history of the Catholic Church, and despite the cheering evidence of greater tolerance from this pontiff, change in the Church – real and lasting change – only comes about over decades, centuries even. I’m not willing to write Francis off by any means, but I think we all need to remember that he is but a single Pope, and unless he is speaking ex cathedra, his statements are not automatically judged “infallible.”

Francis strongly criticizes gender theory, comparing it to nuclear arms | National Catholic Reporter.

Introducing the Transgender Newsbank

Martha_Gellhorn

The Transgender Newsbank is a collection of more than 400 newspaper and magazine articles from 1911-1994, organized by year and date. I have spent 3 months finding and formatting these articles for easy viewing, in addition to typing write-ups about them and linking to other topical pages. The Transgender Newsbank is the largest effort of its kind on the Internet that I can find which is freely available, and like all Transas City features is uncluttered by advertisements.

While a Transgender Newsbank may be unexciting to some, it will form the basis of an online historical library to help researchers, scholars, and anyone who is simply interested in the history of our people.

The Transgender Newsbank

Transgender Man Has Private Audience with Pope Francis

While I would very much like to report that Pope Francis has done more to directly foster acceptance towards transgender persons in the Catholic Church, this is a promising event. Diego Neria Lejarraga, a transgender man from Spain, first wrote to Pope Francis last year, and apparently what he wrote interested Pope Francis enough that Mr. Lejarraga was invited to a private audience.

Unfortunately we do not know exactly what Mr. Lejarraga and Pope Francis discussed, but Mr. Lejarraga is quoted as saying:

“This man loves the whole world,” Neria says of Pope Francis. “I think there’s not — in his head, in his way of thinking, discrimination against anyone. I’m speaking about him, not the institution.”

“But if this Pope has a long life, which all of his followers hope,” Neria says, “I think things will change.”

Transgender man: I met with Pope Francis | Entertainment – KCRA Home.

LGBTQ Children in Catholic Families: A Deacon’s View

PopeFrancis

This short essay is a good topic to highlight on Sunday, as it contains the story of how a Catholic permanent deacon successfully welcomed his transgender daughter into his family’s life. I will add however that Catholic permanent deacons are not quite the same as the main-line clergy of the Catholic faith – they can be married (if over age 35), and the wife of a permanent deacon can take a major part in the ministry as well, at a level much higher than Catholic women typically can.

That being said, permanent deacons often more directly touch the lives of the parishioners of a diocese than the established clergy, so they can have a much larger societal and social influence. So please read this short article, and if you are Catholic please see if it is something which you may want to forward (the original article, that is) to your deacon(s) as well.

LGBTQ Children in Catholic Families: A Deacon’s View of Holy Family Sunday | Bondings 2.0.

Fact Check: The AFA’s Latest Anti-Transgender Column

Woman_Investigating

In a column published on November 21, 2014, the American Family Association (AFA) has posted a column written by Bryan Fischer, wherein he attempts to prove that “trangenders” (as he grammatically incorrectly refers to us) are not only going against God’s will, but we are endangering our health. The overarching theme of his message is that transgender persons are not only willfully acting in defiance of his interpretation of the laws of his deity, but also that transgender regret is widespread throughout our community.

Mr. Fischer’s qualifications for saying what he says are that he is Director of Issue Analysis and Host of “Focal Point.” My qualifications for rebutting him are that I am a transgender researcher, scientist, adjunct university professor, and religious scholar. But let’s not appeal to authority here, and instead look at the facts.

I’m going to rebut Mr. Fischer’s claims using bulleted lists, largely because I really enjoy using them, but also because I think it helps to separate and address each point factually, rather than attempt to sway people with an appealing narrative.

1. The Appeal to Deuteronomy 22:5

Deuteronomy_22_Highland_Band
Men in kilts technically violate Deuteronomy 22:5. Break out the holy water.

The first major error which Mr. Fischer makes is in appealing to Deuteronomy 22:5, wherein he reads the texts as a prohibition against transgender persons, via its text stating “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Sadly, Mr. Fischer in this appeal to Deuteronomy has revealed that he is not in fact a Biblical scholar, or at best is a Biblical dilettante. Mind you, I’m being charitable here, and not bringing up the possibility that Mr. Fischer is either a bald-faced liar, under the influence of St. Glenmorangie, or perhaps insane.

I have written a very lengthy research piece on the true meaning of Deuteronomy 22:5, and if you want to sit back and read a few thousand words I’ve written I really do encourage you. But for those of you ready to click over to something less long-winded than I, dear reader, allow me to summarize. Deuteronomy 22:5 is a passage in a collection of various laws which not only appears historically unusual, but contains Hebrew text which could be interpreted many ways. At best, Deuteronomy 22:5 may be a prohibition against not attempting to avoid military service by pretending to be female (sort of a “no Corporal Klingers” clause), but it may also refer to a prohibition in engaging in Canaanite religious rituals of the day, which involved swapping sex roles and crossdressing.

Mr. Fischer further reveals Biblical ignorance in not addressing how many other parts of the Bible appear to welcome or be accepting to transgender persons, most especially Acts 8:26-40. Did you forget so soon, Mr. Fischer, the message of the Apostle Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch?

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

You can read all about nearly a dozen Biblical passages, along with my scholarly research on them, on my page regarding Religion, Faith, and the Transgender Person.

 2. On the DSM and Transgender Classification

Chewbacca
Chewbacca, who apparently has about as much chance of interpreting DSM V correctly as Mr. Fischer does.

Mr. Fischer then attempts to play psychologist, by bringing up the “scary” fact that “Until 2012, the American Psychiatric Association classified transgenderism as a ‘gender identity disorder.’ It has since relabeled it ‘gender dysphoria’ in an effort to soften the stigma that properly should attach itself to this problematic lifestyle choice.” He attempts to interpret the intent of the hundreds of psychologists and psychiatrists of the American Psychiatric Association by claiming this change was done to “soften the stigma that properly should attach itself.” It’s an example of “hate the sinner, and the sin.” But let’s set that dig he made aside, and proceed to the factual points.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has an FAQ on their interpretation of transgender as a mental disorder. Mr. Fischer could have found this like I did via a 5-second Google search (perhaps 30 seconds if he’s still on AOL dial-up, but I digress), wherein the APA has this to say about the subject of whether being transgender is a mental illness (I shall quote their answer in full, so I cannot be accused of selective referencing).

Is being transgender a mental disorder?

A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination. Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. These experiences may lead many transgender people to suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people who experience intense, persistent gender incongruence can be given the diagnosis of “gender dysphoria.” Some contend that the diagnosis inappropriately pathologizes gender noncongruence and should be eliminated. Others argue that it is essential to retain the diagnosis to ensure access to care. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is under revision and there may be changes to its current classification of intense persistent gender incongruence as “gender identity disorder.”

Please note the first and foremost point which the APA makes, which I have highlighted for emphasis. They clearly state that a transgender person who is happy in their gender role is not mentally ill. Why Mr. Fischer was unable or unwilling to mention this is a subject best left for others to address.

However, Mr. Fischer hoists himself by his own petard in his article. In one breath he refers to being transgender as a “lifestyle choice,” and in the next he refers to it as a serious psychological disorder. Which one is it, Mr. Fischer? It seems he cannot even stay consistent within the context of a couple of sentences.

Mr Fischer shows even more ignorance by apparently blindly linking to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, claiming that they themselves say that “transgenderism” has a “number of pathologies.” Note his quote – some of the “pathologies” in his link include:

  • Poor access to healthcare.
  • Keeping good medical records.
  • Taking hormones.
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco.

Tell me this if you please – on what planet are those “pathologies?” Did Mr. Fischer even read his own doggone links, or did he just outsource the entire column to interns? Good grief.

 3. Conflating Transgender “Regret” and Suicide

Regret
Attacking the most vulnerable of us all – is that really the ethic you want to uphold?

Mr. Fischer then makes a common mistake, or uses a common propaganda technique, by citing the statistics from the National LGBTQ Task Force, which are published in their watershed report Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Mr. Fischer does in fact quote correctly the statistic that 41% of transgender Americans have attempted suicide, and that this rate is at least 25 times that of the general population. But the mistake he makes is in context – in his context that being transgender is a sin, and transition fills most transgender persons with regret, he uses the statistic incorrectly.

The statistic of 41% of transgender persons having attempted suicide is over their entire lifetime as of the time of the survey. It by no means and in no way breaks down the statistics for those who are closeted, partially out, fully out, or fully transitioned. This can easily be seen by reading the original survey questions, which are published at the end of the full report (available above). In fact, Mr. Fischer should have taken the real message from the report – that in part due to the intolerance of people such as him and his organization, transgender persons are one of the most victimized minority populations in the entire world. Most Christians would take this statistic to be a call to action to help transgender persons and fight bigotry against them – rather than sanctimoniously and ignorantly wag our superior fingers at them.

4. The “Just Askin’ Questions” Fallacy

Inquisitor
Just a couple more questions if you don’t mind, ma’am…

Mr. Fischer then engages in a propaganda technique commonly known as the “just askin’ questions” fallacy, where he writes:

Social research has revealed that 65% of all those who undergo cosmetic surgery live to regret it. How much higher must that figure be for those who have undergone genital mutilation?

This is actually a meaningless, single-source statement which is akin to saying “research has revealed that 15% of Americans don’t like turkey for Thanksgiving. How much higher could it be for those who don’t like ham?” There is no logical connection between the two. Elective cosmetic surgery is an entirely different matter than rehabilitative cosmetic surgery. Transgender persons do not undergo sexual reassignment surgery so they can look good (heaven forbid everyone should walk around pantsless, like Winnie the Pooh). Rather, sexual reassignment surgery is undergone to help a transgender person feel whole, right, and as one with their body. Mr. Fischer may as well damn an Iraqi War veteran who has facial reconstructive surgery to repair burns suffered in combat, because “he might regret it!”

5. The Grim Spectre of HIV/AIDS

Trans_Menace
Indeed.

Mr. Fischer then attempts to appeal to the masses by the “leper! Unclean!” technique, attempting to inextricably tie HIV/AIDS to being transgender. This really doesn’t need much rebutting, as it’s clear that being transgender in itself makes one no more likely to contract HIV than to contract malaria, dengue fever, or bubonic plague. Now, it is true that transgender persons have a very high rate of HIV/AIDS infection as a population, but if Mr. Fischer was a compassionate Christian, he might have explored why that is. The reason for the high number of transgender persons infected with HIV/AIDS is quite simply sex work.

I sit on the board of directors of a charity which helps sex workers get off the streets and get medical help, out of prostitution, off drugs, and gainfully employed or at least stabilized in their lives. About a third of the women we help are transgender women, and about half of them are HIV positive. Why were these transgender women forced onto the streets into sex work? Quite simply, due to ignorance, prejudice, fear, and discrimination by the public at large. Parents who threw their child out of their house at age 13 because they were a “freak.” Employers who fired a loyal employee when they asked to transition on the job. Ministers and congregations who refused to treat transgender persons as human beings and give them aid. These are the reasons for the high HIV/AIDS rate among transgender persons, and Mr. Fischer should be ashamed of himself for implying otherwise.

6. When all Else Fails, Bark at the Moon and Hope for the Best

Richards_2
Reneé Richards – not exactly the best authority to cite.

Mr. Fischer finally makes a tortured appeal to authority by quoting two self-hating transgender persons. The first is “Well-known transgender[sic] Alan Finch of Australia…” Apparently this person is so well-known that despite my years of research, my enormous transgender bibliography on my bookshelves, my thousands of archived newspaper and magazine and online articles, I’ve never heard of this person even in passing. They have no medical or transgender research qualifications that I can find, so really they appear to be a sample size of one out of millions upon millions of transgender persons around the world. A quick Googling appears to show that Mr. Finch is in fact an intersex person (claiming that a psychiatrist diagnosed them as having a “missing male chromosome”), rather than transgender.

The next “transgender” Mr. Fischer quotes is Reneé Richards. I know quite a bit about Ms. Richards, having read her biographies and researched her sports and personal careers. It’s true that Ms. Richards has spoken out against transgender persons on many occasions. It’s also true that if you read Ms. Richards biographies, you see a person who is profoundly mentally imbalanced, who had a quasi-sexual relationship with her mother and a full sexual relationship with her own sister, went on and off hormones many times, had breast reduction surgery to remove her new breasts, then went right back on hormones to grow them back, had a sex tour of Europe, and generally by her own words can be seen to be somewhat of a first class loon. The last interview I watched of her on ESPN displayed a person who appeared profoundly disconnected from reality.

And this is the spokeswoman that Mr. Fischer wants to back?

Mr. Fischer decides to make it a trifecta of dodgy references by throwing out that “Mike Penner, a sportswriter for the LA Times, famously outed himself in 2007 as a transgendered individual and overnight became Christine Daniels. He then transitioned back to becoming a male in 2008 and finally killed himself in 2009.” My reaction, heartless as it may sound, is “so what?” I know a person who converted to Christianity in college, then climbed into a bathtub with a gun and shot themselves. Should we therefore indict Jesus? Note as well that Penner committed suicide after transitioning back to male, implying (via complete and utter speculation on my part) that perhaps gender wasn’t really their primary problem? The truth is the vast majority of studies show transition results in a net, positive benefit to the quality of life of transgender persons.

 7. Putting God in a Box

god-in-a-box
I mean, seriously? What hubris.

Mr. Fischer rounds up his somewhat embarrassing column by attempting to appeal to the Ultimate Authority.

Hassellhoff

No, I don’t mean David Hasselhoff, I mean God.

God knew what he was doing when he assigned each of us our gender at the moment of conception. And he stands ready to help any willing individual come to a place of resolution and acceptance of the gender God assigned him at the moment of conception.

Mr. Fischer has that correct – God created transgender persons to be transgender. He acknowledges the supremacy of his own deity, but then attempts to put him in his own, neat little box by stating earlier that God ONLY and SOLELY creates men and women. No other options. Based on the “common sense” reading of Genesis et al, which I investigate in my links above regarding religion and transgender persons, it’s unclear even from the original Hebrew text that God intended or intends to create ONLY men and women. Mr. Fischer has made a mistake common to most Christians of defining what God can and cannot do based upon Man’s dodgy recordings and translations and re-translations and interpretations of God’s missives.

The very fact that intersex persons exist, and in rather large numbers, proves that God intends to create humans who are other than men or women. Why is Mr. Fischer ignorant of the fact that as many as 1 in 500 “male” births is actually an XXY person? And before you say “they have a Y chromosome; it’s a MAN, BAY-BE!”, note that some XXY individuals have been able to become pregnant and bear children! (see Röttger, S., et al. “An SRY-negative 47, XXY mother and daughter.” Cytogenetic and Genome Research 91.1-4 (2001): 204-207.) Mr. Fischer, God clearly made this woman and her daughter with a Y chromosome. Who exactly is a “man” and who exactly is a “woman,” again?

Furthermore, I’ve written about 10,000 words, along with more than 30 scientific citations, on the subject of how transgender persons have a brain which shows clear physiological differences from those of cisgender persons. I don’t suppose you’d care to read it, Mr. Fischer? If your deity is not responsible for creating the brains of transgender persons, who is? The Easter Bunny?

8. The End

LA-Pride-Parade
Los Angeles Pride…which Mr. Fischer might view as a cavalcade of delusional, self-mutilating, Satanic psychopaths.

In short, this AFA column (which has their editorial backing, despite their boilerplate disclaimer) is the sort of misguided, ignorant, composed-from-Google-searches piece that we transgender persons expect to see from our opposition. Not only is there no “fire,” so to speak, I’ll be blessed if I can even find much “smoke.” Columns such as this are actually encouraging to me in a manner of speaking, as it shows that the bigots, haters, and opponents of transgender persons really have no factual legs to stand upon. When the primary ammunition of your opponents is to misinterpret their own religious texts, misquote studies, and engage in half a dozen propaganda techniques to perpetuate the “Big Lie,” it should give us confidence that we will win this battle in the end.

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 9: Jesus Makes a List of Eunuchs

Jesus Hugging Woman
In the latest update to my long-running exploration of religion, faith, and transgender persons, I have now turned my attention upon Matthew 19:12. This is a somewhat curious bit of text, which is located very near the well-known phrases of “…suffer the children…” and “…what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:12 contains a list of the three different types of eunuch which Jesus recognizes as existing, but what’s most important is what Jesus doesn’t say – he holds no condemnation nor claim that the eunuchs have sinned.

You can read the entire article at the link below.

Matthew 19:12 | Transas City.