Category Archives: Religion

Religious issues for transgender persons.

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.

The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys

Afghan Girls as Boys

This is a very well-written article by the Atlantic (said magazine focusing increasingly on gender-related issues of late) which discusses not really transgender issues, but rather issues dealing with gender discrimination. Women are treated like second-class citizens at best under many countries which have either a fundamentalist Islamic culture, or an old tribal culture which has somehow not yet realized that this is no longer the Middle Ages.

This is very similar to a story I reported on last year, about Albanian women who chose to live as men to they could enjoy gender-based socio-economic advantages. While one can only hope that as time passes women will finally gain equality around the world, we must remember that women do not actually have equality even here in this “enlightened” United States. Not only do women here face legal and institutional inequality (such as the way they are treated in the armed forces), but socially and economically American women still have decades to go, or more, before they are paid the same and promoted the same as men are in the workplace. And one wonders whether sexual harassment will actually ever end, or if it will require centuries to do so.

The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys – The Atlantic.

Transas City Chairwoman Speaks on the Radio a Second Time on Religion and Transgender Persons

Ardhanarisvara
Hello everyone. If you follow Transas City you’ve undoubtedly seen the series I’ve been posting on my research into the relationship between religion, faith, and transgender persons. Today I will be on the radio live at 1:00pm-2:00pm to speak on that very subject as part of The Tenth Voice on KKFI FM 90.1. Hostess Sandra Meade, the State Chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, will interview me on my research, and you can stream the program over the web if you are outside the area via a link on KKFI’s home page.

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 8: Secrets of the Body and a Genderless Soul?

Ecclesiastes-115In our last roundup of the Old and New Testaments for a little while, I want to call out two specific passages which are concerned with the body and the soul. The first, from Ecclesiastes 11:5, is often interpreted as being a rejection of transgender people by telling us that we do not know more out ourselves than God knows about us – thus it’s presumptuous to say that we know we were born in the wrong body. The objection to transgender persons via this verse of course is hypocritical, in that the person objecting is also pronouncing that God never intended to create transgender persons in the first place. In other words, it’s “God-in-a-boxism” all over again.

ArdhanarisvaraThe second passage is from Galatians 3:28, and is concerned with the concept of whether souls have gender. This passage should be interpreted as favorable to transgender people in its plain-test reading, although different translations can change the intend very subtly. In the case of this verse, the substitution of “and” for “nor” makes a huge difference, and depending upon which translation one reads, one may have a completely different interpretation. For crying out loud, I think some of the newer translators might benefit from an old Schoolhouse Rock lesson.

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 7: Is Surgery a Sin?

1_Corinthians_618
In the latest addition to our deconstruction of the misunderstandings of religion and how it views transgender and intersex persons, we address the versus contained within 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, which appear to prohibit most aspects of body transition.

Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

This at first appears to be a more vague version of Leviticus 19:28. However, what we find here is that Christianity has long since abandoned a strict prohibition against cosmetic body modification, so the question is raised as to why SRS or FFS is any more sinful than porcelain veneers, breast augmentation, or tummy tucks?

You can read a complete examination of these verses at the link below.1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Transas City Chairwoman on the Radio Today Discussing Transgender Persons and Religion

GuanYin
Hello everyone. If you follow Transas City you’ve undoubtedly seen the series I’ve been posting on my research into the relationship between religion, faith, and transgender persons. Today I will be on the radio live at 1:00pm-2:00pm to speak on that very subject as part of The Tenth Voice on KKFI FM 90.1. Hostess Sandra Meade, the State Chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, will interview me on my research, and you can stream the program over the web if you are outside the area via a link on KKFI’s home page.

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 6: Crossdressing, Femininity, and Corinthians

1_Corinthians_69Shalimar, the Latin Illusion – A Crossdresser

1 Corinthians in the New Testament is essentially the teachings of the Apostle Paul, via his letters to the early Christians of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 contains text of special concern to transgender persons and gay men alike:

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (King James Version)

The fundamentalist view reads this text as damning crossdressers, transgender women, and gay men, and in fact it is often cited against us. However, like many passages of the Bible, a look at the original Greek in which Corinthians was composed, combined with an understanding of the context in which Paul was writing, reveals that he almost certainly wasn’t addressing LGBT persons of any era. You can read a complete examination of this verse at the link below.

1 Corinthians 6:9

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 5: Acts 8:26-40 – Transgender Acceptance

Acts_128

In my latest exploration of the Bible and transgender persons, I explore the meaning of Acts 8:26-40. This is an important passage which tells the story of Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch, wherein the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading of Esaias (Isaiah) when Philip told him of the gospel of Jesus. The eunuch, so overcome with the new faith, asks what keeps him from being baptized and saved, and Philip replies:

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

Acts 8:26-40 says it right there. Believe with all your heart that Jesus is the son of God, and you can be saved. Being transgender has nothing to do with anything.

Read more at the link below.

Acts 8:26-40

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 4: Genesis 2:18-24 – Men and Women Part Deux

Genesis_218
Genesis 2:18-24 seems almost redundant to casual readers, as it basically reinforces Genesis 1:27. Namely, that God created both men and women. However, where Genesis 1:27 states:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:18-24 says the following:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner …” So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man …”

There is a specificity to the second quote which brings up some interesting questions with regard to gender and the Bible. The discussion of Genesis 1:27 can be found here, and the discussion of Genesis 2:18-24 can be found here.

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 3: Genesis 1:27 – Men, Women, and Nothing Else?

Genesis_127

This is one of the most common passages of the Bible which is used to beat up transgender and intersex persons, and it has a powerful effect because most Americans with any Christian exposure at all are familiar with the words. In this third exploration of how transgender and intersex persons really can exist in peace in religion, I deconstruct a false premise which again attempts to put God into a box.

As always, I welcome comments and am researching suggestions which have been kindly offered.

Genesis 1:27

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 2: Isaiah 56:4-5, Deuteronomy 23:1, and SRS

Deuteronomy_23_Eunuch_and_Philip
In this next installment of my exploration of the Bible and transgender persons, I review Isaiah 56:4-5 and Deuteronomy 23:1, both of which concern the acceptance of eunuchs. These texts are sometimes used to decry the use of GRS/SRS to treat gender dysphoria, but in reality there is a much more complex relationship at play. While it is true that Deuteronomy 23:1 appears to prohibit many forms of body modification, it does not differentiate between involuntary versus voluntary modification – something which some believe to be an incomplete and even haphazard ruling. But Isaiah 56:4-5 appears to over-rule Deuteronomy 23:1, in one of the very rare cases where God actually over-rules a previous religious law established by himself.

I recommend reading the shorter Deuteronomy 23:1 first, then Isaiah 56:4-5 so you can see the texts in the correct order.

ESSAY: Some Words of Hope for Those Who Are Older and Must Transition

Essay 1 Guanyin Bodhisattva

Although finally accepting that you are transgender may happen at any time in your life, it is the nature of being transgender that we are seemingly divided into two pools. The first pool consists of the young ones who can for the first time in history make plans for transition before puberty. Guided by loving parents and accepting physicians, transgender youth now have the options to take puberty blockers and to take hormone therapy from a very early age. The benefits of such a path are manifold – not only will most of their bodies develop in-line with their mental gender, but they will have been spared much of the trials of progressing through their years fighting gender dysphoria every step of the way.

But what about the rest of us, most of whom only start to realize with a grim certainty that we will transition, we must transition – but at a slower pace? Being a transwoman in my 40’s I feel this acutely, as do all of my sisters and brothers who are well past their youth. It’s very easy to think wistfully to what was and what will never be, and to mourn the untold losses resulting from maturing in the wrong body. For some the joy of transition and being themselves is overshadowed by their biological clock. They feel as if they are caught in a ticking trap, fearful of growing too old for SRS and knowing they will never again be a youth with clear-skinned smile and lightness of being. This can lead to jealousy and resentment towards the young ones, and what I want to discuss is why that is unwarranted.

Seat in Clouds
“A Seat in the Clouds,” Unknown Artist (1800’s)

Think on these things

We who have been forced to walk in another gender for much of our lives have gained a unique insight into the human condition. We have experienced the innermost details of the other side of life, and we have gained incredible richness from it. Having now accepted and transitioning into your correct gender, or having already transitioned, you now carry with you a knowledge and insight which very few human beings ever will. If you are a woman now, you may carry with you the feeling of being intimately in the company of men. You have seen their bullying and bragging, their contemplative sides, their soft sides on occasion. You may know what it feels like to have a group of close male friends. Late-night talks over beers. The feeling of having male strength and testosterone. The feeling of being automatically privileged – and of having to extend privilege by social convention. Most likely no one ever held a door or a chair for you, but you likely did it for women a hundred times. You know what it’s like to dress like a man, walk like a man, talk like a man. Even if you believe you were always “effeminate,” “an outsider,” and “never felt male,” you cannot but help having male culture and male life washed over you through most of your prior life.

Wait, you say you hated your old gender and life? I understand – believe me, this is one of your sisters talking to you. You can continue to hate the prison you were locked in, it’s OK. But haven’t you also gained a richness of experience and being? Will you not be able to empathize more with your old gender? If you have children of both genders, you now start to see how both of them really feel. You will be able to appreciate co-workers, friends, people on the street better, for you know now what it’s like for men and women. Oh I do not delude myself for a second that I grew up with a “female experience.” I will never know what my first period felt like, nor what it’s like to have a close circle of girlfriends as a teenager. I will not know the quiet desperation of waiting for a boy I have a crush on to ask me to the prom. I will not have had parents who treated me like a girl. Nonetheless, as an adult woman and living the life of such, I have experienced much of what genetic women experience. The small social privileges and the greater business disadvantages. Not only have I faced sexual discrimination, I know what men are saying behind my back. When a chair is held for me, I know what is going through the head of the man helping me into my seat. When I’m at a bar or a party I can recognize instantly the signs of a man who is interested in me, because I know what it feels like to be interested in a woman.

Ecstacy“Ecstasy,” by Maxfield Parrish (1929)

And when it comes down to it, one could choose to spend their lives yearning for that which is impossible – a second chance. Or, one could try to focus on how their past gender has created a greater depth and breadth of experience. We who walk through this life as transgender do not have to drag our past behind us through the mud – rather, we can wear it, underneath and hidden, and soak in the richness.

And do so with pride! Because you who read this right now are a survivor. You, my sister or brother, have survived something which is so destructive with its morbidity and mortality that it can very aptly be compared to cancer. Take ownership of your past, make your past what YOU want it to be – an experience which you carry with you and which makes you a greater spiritual being.

 

Cover image “Guan Yin Bodhisattva,” by Una, taken 2007.

The Bible and Transgender Persons Part 1 – A Deconstruction of Deuteronomy 22:5

Deuteronomy_22_Highland_Band

I’ve started to post my analyses of the Bible and how certain parts of it may or may not refer to transgender and intersex persons, and to deconstruct the fundamentalist religious interpretations of certain passages which lead people to condemn and commit violence against us. I’m going to post this link to Deuteronomy 22:5 first, which deals with the subject of cross-dressing.

I’ll let the link below do the rest of the talking for me, rather than repeat it. I intend to start posting my research on the Bible, which I started a month ago, about once per day.

Deuteronomy 22:5 and Transgender Persons

Transgender Priest Gives Sermon at Washington National Cathedral

Rev_Cameron_Partridge
This is the first time a transgender person has led service at the National Cathedral, and it again marks another milestone in our path towards mainstreaming our community.

The Reverend Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University and a lecturer and counselor for Episcopal and Anglican students at the Harvard Divinity School, is a transman who completed transition in 2001. Reverend Partridge spoke on the ideals of revelation and strength.

“When Jesus tells his disciples to speak in the light, to uncover the hidden, to proclaim from the heights, he is asking them to join that stream, to become active participants in that blindingly good news,” Mr. Partridge said. “Of course, Jesus also explicitly warns that not everyone would experience such revelation as good, and that some might actively persecute the disciples for it. Doing this work would be utterly demanding.”

A good biblical example of someone with resilience and strength, Mr. Partridge said, is Hagar, the handmaiden who was forced to bear Abraham’s child only to be exiled with their son, Ishmael.

“Like Hagar, so many people in the LGBTQ community, and particularly in the trans community, have at one point or another or for a lifetime found ourselves in situations of intense oppression, isolation and despair,” he said. “We have been utterly unable to see beyond the horizon of our often multiple, intersectional margins.”

Transgender priest gives sermon at Washington National Cathedral – Washington Times.