Tag Archives: religion

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

ESSAY: Una Rambles a Bit About the Cisgender Focus on Genitals

Vogue-Breathless

I confess that I saw the Barney’s photo shoot for their catalog which featured transgender models when the news first ran, and I didn’t feel it was really newsworthy enough to report upon. Vogue disagreed, and ran a transgender advocacy piece on their website, which is linked below.

The article is an interesting read, but there’s nothing really groundbreaking. However, this quote from the article caught my eye:

It’s astonishing the amount of time that certain straight people devote to gay sex—trying to determine what goes where, and how often. They can’t imagine any system outside their own, and seem obsessed with the idea of roles, both in bed and out of it.

This is very true when I debate transgender rights on various message boards across the net, but in a different way. Many cisgender people want to focus on our genitals. It’s the first thing they think of when they meet a transgender person, and if they are socially inept enough one may be asked “OMG! Are those tits real? Did you have your dick cut off? OMG!” When a transman is encountered, the reaction can be “OMG! So do you like wear a strap-on all the time?! OMG!”

This of course is at best willful ignorance, and at worst thinly-disguised hate.

The questions also come fast and furious about our sexual preference: “So, um, do you date men? Does that make you gay, or ‘something else?’ So you stayed married to your wife? Are you, like, a lesbian? How do you have sex? Doesn’t the wife miss ‘the dick?’ ” (well if she did, I could introduce her to the giant talking one I’m facing right now…) And most charming of all, “um, hey, can I watch?”

Charlie Sheen; Jon Cryer
Yeeees…lesbians…

For all that many cisgender people define transgender persons by our genitals and sexual intimacy, they miss the glaringly obvious point that it’s they who are thinking about the penis, the vagina, the breasts, and all the rest of the naughty bits which fill the average American with a frisson of glee whenever the subject arises. In doing so they admit their ignorance on understanding what gender really is. What is a man? What is a woman? They ignore the entire 99% or more of our lives which are spent in a gender role – living, loving, going to work, playing, shopping, and everything else – outside of sex.

Conservative religious followers scream with fury “THEY WANT TO PUT BOYS IN OUR GIRLS’ BATHROOMS!” and contemptuously brush aside the overarching whole of “what does it really mean to be a girl?” Others claim that the Bible, Koran, and other holy books are always and forever literally true, every word of them: God created men and women, there is nothing else, and you don’t dare presume to change that fact. When confronted with the fact that intersex people exist, they either brush it off as a birth defect, deny that intersex people exist and claim it’s all part of a government conspiracy, or go so far as to claim that intersex people are demonic spawn who God personally wants them to ostracize, mock, hurt, and kill.

And these folks can vote. Think about that for a golden moment.

I’ve told these folks “Me personally, I don’t believe God makes mistakes. The fact is, intersex people do exist, transgender people do exist, and we are all children of God, a creator, or nature and the universe, depending on your beliefs. You believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God, but think they made a mistake somehow? What the hell, do you think they were they doing Jäger shots when they created me?”

Jager
God doesn’t make mistakes, nor did they do Jäger shots when creating intersex and transgender persons.

Rarely are their hearts and minds open to the possibility that their own God did not make a mistake, and rather it is ever-so fallible human beings who are mistaken when they wrote the Bible.

Perhaps if as a society we educated our children on understanding gender – not just the traditional roles, but the reality of gender fluidity and gender ambiguity – rather than sex, we would raise a generation of children wherein small-minded, hateful bigots would be a vanishingly small minority.

Breathless: Ignorance or Insensitivity? Dealing with Transgender Culture – Culture – Music, Movies, Art, Profiles, and More.

Trans Woman Dares Bible-Quoting Councilman to Stone Her to Death

I admire her courage for standing up and confronting this dingus. It never ceases to stun me how ignorant Christians can be about their own Bible. And how so hypocritical even literalists can be, openly violated the Bible while they dare to try to judge others. Once I had a short conversation with a Biblical literalist, which went like this:

Them: “…and what’s the most disgusting of all is we have these homosexuals spreading Satan’s teachings in our schools! You know the Bible says we should stone them to death, and maybe it’s about time we realized we’re a Christian nation and need to follow Christ’s teachings!”

Me: “Jesus said you were supposed to murder homosexuals?”

Them: “It’s not murder if you’re doing God’s will.”

Me: “OK, two questions. First, are you saying Jesus said you are supposed to kill your fellow humans if they’re gay, and second, why does the most powerful being in the Universe, who created the Universe and everything in it, need to have you as their personal hit man? Are you saying God is so helpless they can’t punish these evildoers themselves?”

Them: “Jesus loves us and wants us to obey his teachings. That’s all you need to know.”

Me: “You haven’t broken any Commandments or teachings in the Bible? How about the ones about never shaving and wearing tassels on your clothing? How about not stealing, something I know you’ve broken?”

Them: “We’re all sinners.”

Me: “So should I punish you? Can I put you to death for violating God’s will?”

Them: “No, because you don’t believe.”

Me: “But I do believe. You’ve just borne false witness. That’s another Commandment.”

Them: “Leave me alone or I’ll kick your ass.”

Me: “Did God just tell you to do that? Otherwise you’ve just threatened to break another Commandment.”

Sobering thought of the day: people like that are allowed to vote.

Trans Woman Dares Bible-Quoting Councilman to Stone Her to Death | Advocate.com.

Why Are Americans Terrified of Transgender 6-Year-Olds?

A good opinion piece from The Advocate, but it really doesn’t tell us much that’s new. Typically there are only two fundamental arguments which people use to oppose transgender civil rights.

  • They think their religion forbids it.
  • Transpeople are icky.

My guess is that the second item is the real root cause 90% or more of the time. Always remember, the average American has an incredibly limited education and is typically a very insulated individual who has had no real experience with any cultures outside of their gated community subdivision. Because they are ignorant they are easily frightened, and will grab onto any excuse they can to deny their fear and claim they are acting to “protect” someone else – in this case, their kids from the phantom menace of fake transgender kids peeking over stalls.

Op-ed: Why Are Americans Terrified of Transgender 6-Year-Olds? | Advocate.com.

Pegasisters and Bronies Unite! Pat Robertson Likens Transgender People to Geldings

BroniesTransgender persons are clearly confusing to Pat Robertson. Several months ago, I posted a link to a video where Robertson said that being transgender is not a sin. OK, that sounded like forward progress at the time…however, in this latest video segment from the 700 Club, he states:

“Now, we talk about transgender. I have a former stallion who is now a gelding, because stallions get very aggressive,” Robertson said on a 700 Club segment Tuesday. “But he wasn’t trying to be a girl. We just made him into a less aggressive male.”

WATCH: Pat Robertson Likens Transgender People to Geldings | Advocate.com.

Can God Make People Who Don’t Fit Into Our Boxes?

Seriously, this is an excellent, if lengthy read which any Christian or one who is among conservative Christians should read. Pastor Morgan Guyton makes a lengthy and logical plea for conservative Christians to accept transgender persons, using multiple references from the Bible, to accept that we are in fact following God’s directives in our transition. I think he builds a good case and shows a lot of sympathy. Although he seems to be a bit befuddled about why someone would be transgender, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The arguments herein could be very useful for presenting to relatives or acquaintances who decide to hate you based on their “understanding” of the Bible.

From the article:

Nothing is a greater abuse of the Christian doctrine of humanity’s “fallen nature” than to use it as a means of dismissing other peoples’ created uniqueness as a mistake. The fact of the matter is that the Bible says nothing prescriptively about what people should do when the gender that they were assigned at birth is not the gender with which they identify, or about how to distinguish the people who are “really” that way from the libertines who are “faking it.” In fact, in Matthew 19:12 Jesus refers to “eunuchs who were born that way,” the term “eunuch” broadly representing the ancient concept of people who don’t fit in the world as regular males or females. When Christians try to turn Genesis 1:28’s statement that “God created them male and female” into a prescriptive prohibition of the acknowledgment of transgender identities, it’s about as reasonable as saying that astronomy is a sin because Genesis 1:14 says that stars are lights that God built into a dome in the sky. (Oh, wait! That sounds like what the church did to Galileo and Copernicus.)

The real reason that, in such Christians’ minds, transgender or other gender-nonconforming people cannot be allowed to exist is that they represent an existential threat to the conservative evangelical fetish of gender complementarity. If God created some people both male and female, then how in the world can their gender expression and/or sexual orientation be adjudicated and policed by others? The biblical prohibition on homosexuality and gender transgression becomes meaningless if we can’t say for sure that everyone is either fully male or fully female, which would mean that cisgender, heterosexual Christians don’t get to give themselves a gold star for being “normal.”

There are all sorts of “liberal” and “conservative” idolatries that we can fall into around sexuality and gender. We shouldn’t be fetishizing either normalcy or exoticism. In both cases we are worshiping creation rather than the creator. I happen to think that we are best guided by Paul’s pragmatic guiding principles in 1 Corinthians 7 of “promoting good order and devotion to the Lord” when we think about these matters.

If someone’s “good order and devotion to the Lord” can be less disrupted by modifying their anatomy, or even just their gender presentation, to match their gender identity, then why should any reasonable Christian oppose that? When Russell Moore says that this smacks of the “Faustian myth of our own limitless power to recreate ourselves,” is he willing to take this kind of anti-scientific stance consistently against the use of medical technology for other biological issues like helping kids who are born without vital organs or with genetic diseases?

Can God Make People Who Don’t Fit Into Our Boxes? The Transgender Question | Morgan Guyton.

Transgender People are a Blessing

I teared up after reading this introduction to an incredibly trans-positive editorial by the Reverend Martin M. Ellison.

Thank God for transgender persons and their families, who exemplify the amazing beauty of the divine creation in all its complexity and rich diversity.

See much more here: Transgender people are a blessing — Opinion — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.