Category Archives: Religion

Religious issues for transgender persons.

June 2018 Trans Talk on KKFI


We have two special guests with us today. First we will be talking with a guest who has visited with us before, Professor Larry Altman, who will discuss the current status of several legal issues impacting the LGBTQIA community in Kansas and Missouri. Then at the bottom of the hour we will be discussing issues of spirituality with the Reverend Seth Sonneville, a hospital chaplain who has worked with the transgender community for some time.

We will have a new take on the transgender news of the month, and finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, June 23rd at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

January 2018 Trans Talk on KKFI

Transgender, alternate gender, and non-binary gender studies is an incredibly broad and diverse field of study, which sometimes can be overwhelming even to someone who is honestly interested in the subject. And while it can be tempting to lump together anyone who is not cisgender binary as being “transgender,” that broad umbrella term can also hide the incredible depth and breadth that exists within a specific culture. This can be especially troubling when we are trying to learn from an ancient culture which has been subjugated and nearly destroyed by a conquering culture of invaders – such as the Native American two-spirit people.

We are very happy today to have two representatives of Native American two-spirit culture with us in the studio today, Bry Smiley and Reggie Black Elk, who will give us some enlightenment on their people and their culture, and who will talk about a premier event they are holding at the Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, called the Two-Spirit Pow-Wow.

Join us at 1pm Central today on 90.1FM KKFI, streaming on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phones.

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

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“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’

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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.