Destroy The Gender Binary

Image by Whole Wheat Toast via Flickr

I have recently spent a lot of time thinking about this issue, researching and reading what is out there, and the fact of how religious groups take issue with things like gay marriage, homosexuality (check out this site for an interesting documentary on this), transsexuality and intersexed condition (related to gender transitions and gender binary propaganda).  For one, I know what the bible says on a number of issues, because I was a bible thumping Christian myself until I had to question accepting its morality as fact.  Religious morality is a form of moral absolutism which can be quite problematic.

I’ve been labeled as a moral relativist, but I’d say I am more of a moral realist.  I see no point in morality if it doesn’t grow and adapt to reality.  I believe that moral absolutism has a bad tendency to corrupt, and prevent people from efficiently challenging morally ambiguous concepts.  But I find that biblical morality becomes the basis for a wide arena of social prejudices, which in some light I believe are abusive contexts and divisive.  Really, I don’t have to prove they are divisive because they prove that themselves in the divisions, prejudice and oppression they create.  In one part as a spiritual person I must concede that many things in the bible are misrepresented to justify prejudice.  What’s ironic about that are the countless warnings, and advisories against hate practice which in the bible is equated to murder (Matthew 5:21).  Personally speaking I think Jesus would have a word or two to say about the way the bible is used unabashedly to judge people, especially in current day.

This is the face of Ricky Martin. Pretty normal eh? As you read this blog, you'll see this pattern again. You wouldn't know from looking at him that he is homosexual. What I am pointing out is how wrong the caricatures of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people are.

The problem is people embellish even endorse hatred in the name of God, which isn’t even biblically supported, or not supported in current context (especially not in the new testament).  The word abomination is profusely overused, and isn’t even an correct translation of the word from the older texts which had an entirely different meaning in the ancient Greek and Hebrew.  In the original Hebrew it was mentioned mainly in strict prohibitions (or toevah ‘culturally unacceptable’) that referred only to the Hebrew people themselves, like prohibitions against eating dinner with Egyptians and Shellfish.  Additionally the concept of homosexuality that we understand today didn’t exist in the times of the bible, to include the words currently translated to mean homosexual/homosexuality in newer English translations.  This makes any debate about sexuality morally ambiguous if the religious masses are in a false belief that the bible condemns homosexuality as a lone concept, et cetera. (Check this out)  I’d say there is enough of an argument about the meaning of Arsenokoites, and Malakos to argue that perhaps the condemnation of Christians is misplaced.

This is the face of Jane Lynch. Looks normal enough right, so you wouldn't be able to tell from her appearance that she is a lesbian. I think understanding that we are just boring old human beings like everyone else it will go far to reduce the stress and fear associated with social acceptance.

It would seem to me that the means refer more to social or economical exploitation, instead of being about homosexuals.  However, the other issue is the cherry picking of primarily Old Testament morality which has little to do with current times either.  It is my belief that morality and law should evolve as our understanding evolves.   In all truth, I’d argue that Matthew 23 show this point eloquently.  I think in some senses it establishes that those now in the seats of legal and religious power have a responsibility to not place unfair or iniquitous laws which they do not have to abide in. Perhaps it’s even a cautionary about moral absolutism as well as hypocrisy.  I’d argue that heterosexuals don’t have to abide in the social, legal or other restrictions against homosexuality by nature, just as disabled people are unable to do the same things as able-bodied people.  They consider the law fair, when it really is not because they are hypocritical because the law doesn’t affect them.  Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers were against making principal law in favor of restricting individual freedoms by majority rule.  The way I look at it, is realizing the nature of homosexuality the immutability of it, and the suffering and prejudice perpetrated against this group thus indicates the it meets the criteria for protection of the law.  Many would agree, with the exception of the religious minority who is convinced there right and to hell with scientific evidence.

Pragmatically speaking, if you are different, and forcing yourself to “fit in” is causing you undue duress, then stop.  Self-loathing, denial, repression, and internalized prejudice is a one way ticket to suffering.  You are better off being different and being okay with that, than a suicide statistic.  It’s something the religious right fails to accept, confront, and often shows no compassion for despite what their religion actually says about loving your neighbor as you would love yourself, and such.  I generally find that hatred and prejudice against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is very unchristian no matter how many passages you can find about it.

This is the face of Candice Cayne. Normal enough looking right, hell, I'd even beg to say that she is a beautiful woman. You wouldn't be able to tell just by looking at her that she is transsexual. But point is about the judgement and superficiality in society that contributes to how people perceive you in society.

Now moving on to another aspect often beaten about the head, neck and shoulders by religious zealots is transsexuality, probably even worse than GLB spectrum people.  If they don’t understand liking the same-sex, they certainly can’t get changing your sex.  The common understanding among theologians is that there is 2 sexes, and that’s it.  I don’t contradict this, what I do contradict is the way you apply this binary sexes rule.  It contributes to probably the worst and most wrong idea possible.  The idea that condemns all forms of gender or sex variance found in nature, the gender binary.  This greatest, and coveted concept of Christians is strewn with misconceptions and again bold face rejection of science related to it.  There are many passages on the dichotomy as reference (man and/or woman) but passages about people being different from this are completely ignored, as well as sound and conclusive scientific evidence.  The most common reference is Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto Jehovah thy God”.  However, this is the only verse that actually mentions transsexuality, but it doesn’t refer to what we understand of it today.  Now the progress of time and knowledge doesn’t mean that we know better now, but generally it means we have greater resources to understand it.

These are the ridiculous caricatures of cross-dressers, and by extension transsexuals that were and still are common portrayals in the media. Quite frankly, this isn't very realistic or true of most transsexual woman. The media nearly completely ignores female to male transsexuals on most occasions. Many transwoman fly right under the radar, and do all they can to not be noticed given social stigmas.

But a closer evaluation of the chapters, sections, as well as the original meanings of translated words reveals a slightly different picture. Check out this link to see what I mean.  Cross-dressing in modern-day understanding is far removed from transsexuality.  The picture the analysis reveals was that it was about and in reference contextually it was about women being soldiers, and men taking the roles of women.  Culturally speaking, the prohibition had little to do with cross-dressing, and more to do with prohibiting behaviors that could have led to the destruction of Hebrew culture.  The Hebrews were quite outnumbered by their adversaries, and the passages were meant in this way.  Additionally it effected the passing of wealth in their culture, which gender-role reversals would also have an impact on.  But if this was such an important issue why is there no real references to transsexuality.  There are arguments about mutilation, which many Christians use to prove their position against gender transition (as surgeries are often needed to fully transition) Leviticus 19:28, Mark 5, and Corinthians 6:1920.  The concept that anyone who wants to transition is “mutilating oneself” or “possessed by a devil” are common extracts from this.  However, Mark 9:42 – 47 rescinds this under certain criteria.

However, gender transition fails to meet the criteria for mutilation, though depending on how you look at it could be justified by Mark 9.  However, this depends on your definitions, because by the criteria used to condemn SRS (sex reassignment surgery) that would also mean that kidney, heart, or other organ transplants. In fact it would include all other life saving, quality of life, and corrective surgeries as immoral.  I think that however, like with SRS, is an abuse of the usage and context.  The verse in Corinthians is of particular interest as well, because gender transition doesn’t necessary violate that principle and may in fact honor it.  Gender Dysphoria puts exceptional stress on an individual that can not be prayed away, or fixed with reparative therapy.  This is medical fact, not my opinion; however, if you don’t believe me read this and this.  The American Psychology Associations, as well as many others are directly opposed to the use of Conversion Therapy, and urge caution in suggesting or engaging in such practices as they are not scientifically proven. (See here)

Nicolosi has advocated and practiced reparative therapy, which attempts to help people overcome or reduce unwanted homosexual feelings.

Joseph Nicolosi (born January 21, 1947) is an American clinical psychologist, founder and director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, in Encino, California, and a past-president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). (Wikipedia; click for reference)

As I may have said, some people have been able to repress their innate gender identity, but conversion therapy doesn’t actually change it and the potential risk is high.  Suicide and depression, as well as other mental illnesses are common side effects of ineffectual Conversion Therapies and thus it is not endorsed.  The concerned religious minorities supporting it often overstate its success, under report follow-ups, and generally skew the data in their favor; however, the polarization of this issue skews any sound figures on this.  There is a lot of secrecy surrounding conversion therapies used on transsexuals and homosexuals, and there is no scientific basis for such treatment.  Anyone can repress something if they feel duress in accepting it, but there are steep consequences and you are never cured.  Even the major reparative therapy supporters admit this, though there is a bit of double talk surrounding how their case is presented.  Additionally, many members, even founders of some of these organizations have actually rescinded their remarks  that they were changed (Ex-ex-gay) and now fight against the organizations they helped found.  Plain and simple, conversion therapy is a dangerous quackery and should be avoided like the plague.

Here is a You-tube video that illustrates (literally) some important points on this issue, with homosexuality in particular. 

Aside for the evidence that gender identity and sexual orientation don’t change there is medical evidence indicating neurological, biological, and other differences between homosexual and transsexual people and the largely unaffected majority.  There are also other argument that get thrown in with the mix that have a decidedly not religious origin by are taken as religious fact.  Fact, homosexuals and transsexuals give up at some point their ability to procreate for either biological or psychological reasons.  However, despite this it doesn’t sudden become an issue of morality.  Many heterosexual couples are in the same boat, and there really is no grounds for natural as moral.  In fact, like the video mentions, and many other studies of it show it isn’t unique to just humans. View this for information about transsexuality.  In fact, the very same diatribes that occur for transsexuals also occur for intersexed people.  It isn’t uncommon that intersexed people are treated as if they are the obstacle to “normalization treatments” and not the treatment being to blame.  It’s a big issue with the gender binary constructs that doesn’t allow for natural gender identity to present itself, and it the homophobia and transphobia needs to stop.

This is the face of self-acceptance. I accept myself for who I am. What kind of point would I be making if I couldn't use myself as an example of the points I try to make in my advocacy. I am human, I feel, I love, and I do the same mundane things as everyone else. I chose life, and as a result I chose to be who I am and accept what I have come to know about myself. "If you can't accept your self, no one else will" - Reneta Scian

This pattern emerges time and time again, so I am inclined to believe it’s not a fluke.  It’s statistically sound, and in many cases scientifically reproducible meaning you can’t simply dismiss it without providing evidence to the counter.  But this is the kind of ignorance facilitated by religious morality that doesn’t evolve and change with the times.  It’s time people woke up and saw reality instead of ambiguous morality, and integrate what we know into their knowledge.  I am not against religion, just against ignorance of truth in its name, and in my opinion I’d say that is in all of our best interests.  Blind faith is as dangerous as a chimpanzee with the button for a nuclear weapon.  The only true cure to the dilemma the GLBT community faces is self-acceptance, and social equality for all not just for the sexual and gender majorities.  Bring an end to the dehumanization, prejudice, and violence; it’s the right thing to do.  Moral absolutism just creates a pattern of ignorance, and inability to see the truth.  For more information click here for the Truth Wins Out website.