Category Archives: Religion

Religious issues for transgender persons.

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.

Transgender Panel at Trinity United Methodist Church in Kansas City is Warmly Welcomed

Trinity LutheranPhoto credit: Debi Jackson

This morning myself, Fiona, Madeline, and Debi talked to some of the congregation of Trinity United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, to talk about the transgender experience. We were warmly greeted by the church leaders and organizers of the event, and it was explained to us that Trinity was a reconciling church, in that they wanted to welcome the entire LGBTQIA community with acceptance and respect. And honestly, all that we felt from every person we spoke to was great acceptance and respect. The event was organized by Lindsey Collins, who very earnestly expressed the church’s desire to be a safe home for the transgender community.

Madeline_Trinity_2Madeline speaks of her career and her hopes for the future.

We lectured in the church sanctuary, and I was very happy to see three of our transgender friends in the audience (names not listed for privacy). Madeline spoke first about her life growing up and her later transition, and touched on legal aspects and transitioning as an attorney. I also spoke of my life, and brought some of the science of being transgender into the discussion. Debi spoke of the challenges of being a parent of a transgender child, and while all of our speeches were well-received, Debi’s was the most striking. Fiona assisted with the presentations and spoke to many of the congregation to answer questions one-to-one. Afterwards we broke into several tables to enjoy pizza and salad while continuing to answer questions and chat with the congregation.

DebiTrinityDebi engages the audience with her hopes for her transgender child.

Trinity United Methodist Church is located at 620 E. Armour Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64109. There is parking in the lot (that looks like an apartment building lot) just east of the church. Their Sunday worship service begins at 9:45 am and ends around 11am. They invite anyone and their families to come worship with them to see if the church has the right spirit for them, and they strive to be LGBTQIA-welcoming and enthusiastic.

A Roundup of Four Negative News Items

SouthCarolina
Hey, you can’t say I didn’t warn you…as I’ve gone through the news feeds from mid-week relating to transgender news, yours truly has picked out four post-worthy items which you may not have seen. None of them are especially positive, but neither are they catastrophic. And a couple of them are so over-the-top as to be somewhat silly.

We begin with the case of a gender-variant South Carolina teenager who was forced to remove their makeup prior to having their photograph taken by the DMV. This isn’t especially surprising – first off, it’s South Carolina. I mean, it’s only been legal to whistle on the Sabbath for 3 years now, so you have to expect some lack of tolerance. Second off, it’s the DMV – for crying out loud, if there ever was a domain of senseless, arbitrary, and random application of rules it’s there. Going to the DMV is sort of like entering a Salvador Dali painting, where up is down, right is purple, and number 12 is carrot. So yeah, this wasn’t too difficult to predict…

spy
Next up we have some sad news, as some timbertool (or timbertools) decided to ruin the Trans Pride LA Festival film screening by calling in a bomb threat. It was the second bomb threat of the Pride event, and one which had to be taken seriously given the appalling level of violence shown towards our people.

dawnennis
Next we have the case of ABC News Assignment Editor Ben Sherwood, who came out as transgender in the summer of 2013, and changed their name to Dawn Ennis. Then, after taking steps to transition, declared that they had a bout of transient amnesia, and that they never really were transgender. Then suddenly, they’ve gone back and discovered that no, really, they really were transgender. Now they have been fired from their job, and they are blaming anti-transgender discrimination. Well…folks, you will look until your eyes fall out to find a more pro-transgender person than I, but I’m also wondering why anyone is surprised that an employer might have some concerns over a person who is cisgender-no they aren’t-yes-they-are no-they-aren’t… Honestly, I think this would be difficult for most employers to handle, aside from the fact that there’s no proof or convincing evidence presented to say that it even is a discrimination case.

satan_computer
Finally, we get to comedy time, where the arch-conservative and anti-transgender Linda Harvey, of Mission America, claims that Satan, yes Satan, is behind the growing acceptance of transgender persons in America. It would be easy to dismiss her as another harmless flake…except that she has a lot of followers who believe everything she says. Never underestimate the evil that some will perpetrate all in the name of “fighting evil” (cough…thousands tortured and murdered by witch hunters…cough).