Saturday, 27 December 2008

Today's Battles

I'm not the only one fighting them. And some people manage not to just use words, but actions.

Case in point, this comment at TRANScend Gender :
At the urging and with the help of the Arizona ACLU, Central Arizona Shelter Services, Inc., the largest shelter service provider in Arizona, recently changed its long-standing policy of refusing to allow transgender people to be housed according to their gender identity. In addition, the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter, on whose board I serve, is in the process of adopting a similar policy. I am saddened by Jennifer’s death, and the deaths of all the other homeless people in Austin and elsewhere, who die every year due to our society’s refusal to provide them with the basic necessities of life.

For those interested in urging their local shelters to treat trans people with dignity, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition have created an excellent resource titled Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People.
Not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. It rather puts my own poor efforts to shame.

Still. I will continue, to write the Right. Another (hopefully) informative comment over at God's Politics in reply to a comment that said (amongst other things) this:
Sexual identity, as expressed overtly, is entirely self-defined. So it is with most of the "transgendered" whose mutilations, amputations and massive hormonal drug usage does not erase the male/female chromosomes they carry that identifies them, a priori.
And a comment over at the Grauniad on the Pope's recent statements on Ecology:
Oh well, it took the Church 400 years to rehabilitate Galileo. They usually get it right in the end. I just wish the pope had some better scientific and medical advice, because his pronunciamento is going to kill some of us. It doesn't just lack knowledge, it lacks charity.
...and much more besides. I fear his words will be (mis?)understood. Or understood all too well, nudge nudge wink wink.

The pope was not talking about "transgender" or even "gender theory". He was talking about the concept that gender is distinct from physical sex. He denied this concept as merely an artifact of Man's Pride (for want of a better term), the same urge that led to the Tower of Babel.

Theologically speaking - and how else could the Pope speak, he professes that there are men, and women. Nothing else. Men are attracted to women, and women to men. That is the natural order of things. There is no "gender", only sex.

He states that all other things that appear to contradict a strict Male/Female binary, such as Homosexuality, or "women born in a man's body", "post-operative transsexuals" or any body not obviously male or obviously female, are all against the natural order of Creation, and dangerous. All such are artefacts of Human origin, perfect Divine creations spoilt by Man. Intersexed people may be explained away as the result of Man's tampering with the environment, with chemical and possibly spiritual pollution.

They can only be described in a purely ecological sense as human-created vermin, though that word in merely implied, not stated. Something undesirable and dangerous to the Ecology, the product of Humanity's prideful nature in wishing to be in sole and exclusive control of his own destiny. He does not go so far as to say that such (purely ecologically speaking, no pejorative meaning is implied) "vermin" should be exterminated, he leaves the question of what to do with them open. He merely states that they are a danger to all Humanity, and against the Natural order as ordained by God.

*sigh* No Dog Whistling there, is there?

Yes, this does contradict both Matthew 19:12 and Isaiah 56:3-5, 1500 years of Theological contemplation of Intersex, including the arch-conservative Peter Cantor of C12, as well as most of biological science. It returns us to the days of the Church's founding, and the Emperor Constantine, where Intersexed infants where sealed in boxes and cast into rivers as being against God's Creation. It was recycling the material of defective products to be remoulded into perfect ones. Ecologically sound practice, that's all.

Finally, sometimes in looking at the "Big Picture", we lose sight of the individual issues. Here's one important salvo, which I hope lands on target in wintry Quebec.


Abby said...

Wow, Zoe, I am honored that you found my comment over on TranscendGender worthy of comment. I can only take credit, however, for alerting the Prescott shelter to the issue of trans women at the shelter and publicizing the efforts of others. I think it's important that we acknowledge the progress we are making and to publicize resources we all can use to continue that process.

Keep up the good fight. I admire your willingness to engage our detractors on their own ground and counter their arguments with reason and wit.

Hazumu Osaragi said...

So, Pope Benedict is implying (love the OZ term 'dog-whistle') that, in GARDEN_OF_EDEN V2.0, those of us who occupy the TG spectrum are -- WEEDS?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Grauniad link, Zoe.

I love his outfit!


Cardinal Pole said...

"It doesn't just lack knowledge, it lacks charity."


"They can only be described in a purely ecological sense as human-created vermin, though that word in merely implied, not stated ..."

Possibly the most uncharitable inferences I have ever read. None of it supported by any citations from what His Holiness actually said, of course. Presumably you, and a select few in the G.L.B.T. intelligentsia, possess the hidden knowledge to decipher what the Holy Father was really saying. But you always were big on gnosis, weren't you.

"... Intersexed infants where sealed in boxes and cast into rivers as being against God's Creation."

But of course killing them while still in their mothers' wombs is just a woman's right to choose, which no doubt you and your readers would, in the finest traditions of the Enlightenment, die to uphold. The suicidal tendencies of the Church's enemies provide firm evidence that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church.

Anonymous said...

Holy Father? You must be joking. But I will admit he does look good in drag.


Cardinal Pole said...


Mmm, hilarious. Such originality. Perhaps once you've stopped laughing at your own joke you'll try refuting the arguments. Or not.

Zoe Brain said...

I freely admit that may not have been what the Holy Father intended. Given the "sub secretum" order on Transsexuality sent to Bishops not that long ago though, I consider it extremely unlikely, but you never know.

I absolutely guarantee that that's how others of violent disposition will interpret it.

Christine said...

so.... does the Holy Father have some serious academic or medical credentials that i am not aware of? Has he experienced a transgendered existence? Does he even personally know anyone who has?

I am an athiest, and I could say whatever I want about theology and nobody would (or even should) listen. I lack the credentials to speak with authority on it. So I say this with the upmost of respect available: Pope, please stick to what you know.

Christine Lisa Margaux

Anonymous said...

This is one more example of extremist elemnts in the Christian media taking quotes out of context and running with them. There is an intersting perspective on this at stoptransphobia. While this blog entry contains a link to an automatically generated translation, the Lancaster Diocese in England has a much better translation (in pdf format) on its website.

In re-reading the pertinent portion of the speech, I do not see it as transphobic at all, and only obliquely homophobic. To me, he was really referring to the rampant environmental degredation mankind is blithely committing, to the ultimate destruction of all life on the planet.

Anonymous said...

I just think it's too funny that this guy all dressed up in drag pronounces transsexuals a threat to humanity. And on top of that they call him the "holy father". I mean, come on, you can't see any humor in that? You must be a complete stiff. Or not.


Lloyd Flack said...

Cardinal Pole,

I think the Pope's statements come from poor scientific advice and from wishful thinking. And the poor scientific advice comes from wishful thinking by the advisors. I also think he is unaware of the lethal consequences that are likely to flow from his words.

He says we are all either male or female. A simple binary split. This is simply not true. Male and female are two clusters of characteristic values. And these characteristics are continuous. Most of us fall into one of two clusters. And most of us fall into one of two ranges on the individual characteristics.

But not all of us do. Any of our characteristics can take values between the male and female ranges. And we might be in the male range on one set of characteristics and the female range on another. There is no single defining characteristic that will always unambiguously identify a person as male or female. Male and female are fuzzy sets as are most biological categories.

But what the Pope said implies that there is an essence of masculinity or femininity that is an essential part of our nature. This is not so. Most of us strongly identify as male or female. We see this as part of our identity. But these are categories not binary essential states. And not everyone falls into those categories.

To the best of our knowledge transsexuality is a neurological form of intersex. The nervous system of one sex with the genitals of another. We can change the genitalia to match the nervous system better. We cannot change the nervous system to match the genitals. And surely our identity is more bound up with our nervous system than with our genitalia.

He has indulged in wishful thinking by seeking a simple rule to make choices by when reality is too complicated in some cases to allow decisions to be simple ones. Catholic philosophical thought seems to me to have a tendency to think of things in terms of essences, something that defines their nature. Putting on my biologist's hat, this is not a good way to approach biological problems.

Understandably he is probably unaware of the extent of the violence against the intersexed. He does not realize what he might end up unintentionally encouraging. If in speaking out against something you regard as immoral you end up encouraging murder then to what extent are you responsible for those murders? Is simply saying that such murders are wrong enough to get you off the hook? What if you could reasonably anticipate that some will listen to the condemnation of deviants and not that of murder?

Anonymous said...

Consider the source. He's an imposter. There's only one Holy Father, John 17:11.