Who Are You Calling Unnatural?

shive dual gender

The image is that of Shiva in a dual-gender aspect.

This post is a reaction to the fundamentalists who run Texas who are again going after queer and trans people.

This hatred is being driven largely by the Christian obsessive need to micro-manage the lives of others, particularly in the areas of sexuality and gender. There is a lot to unpack here, but I will stick to one point: the idea that transgender people are unnatural.

Take a good look at the steadily growing body of evidence that we come out of the box with our brains wired to be trans, which looks pretty natural to me. Consider that there are clear descriptions of trans women in 2,500 year old Hindu texts, and that societies all over the planet that had no contact with each other were aware of us. That there are even major deities that have shifted gender.

We show up all the time in families where no one ever talks about anything even remotely related to trans issues, and even in subcultures that have completely cut themselves off from exposure to any kind of mass media (Hasidic Jewish communities, for example) where the subject might come up.

Meanwhile, our Southern Baptist friends in Texas must go to a great deal of trouble to systematically indoctrinate their children in their faith. If everyone stopped training children in Christianity, the faith would be extinct in a couple of generations because no kid spontaneously becomes Christian in the way that some children are just trans because they were born that way.

So which do you think is more natural, trans people or Christianity?






When They Really Are Out to Get You, May 2018

black and white cemetery christ church
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Much of what the Christian right’s political activity is about is trying to make it impossible for LGBTQ people to live our lives in peace. I have had Christians of this ilk go out of their way to get in my face and to be as nasty as possible to me. Some of them, I have no doubt, would have assaulted me had we not been in a space where that could get them into legal trouble.

They want to see people like me fired, evicted, and denied medical care. Some of them are quite open about wanting people like me to die. They do not want us to exist. Period.

If you are not part of some marginalized minority group, try to image what it would feel like to watch a well-funded, politically formidable movement on the march with the intent of making you disappear from the face of the earth.

I can’t find the exact quote, but I think H. L. Mencken once observed that God must not be very powerful if he requires the protection of a state legislature.

“The idea behind Project Blitz is to overwhelm state legislatures with bills based on centrally manufactured legislation. “It’s kind of like whack-a-mole for the other side; it’ll drive ‘em crazy that they’ll have to divide their resources out in opposing this,” David Barton, the Christian nationalist historian and one of four members of Project Blitz’s “steering team,” said in a conference call with state legislators from around the country that was later made public.

According to research provided by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, more than 70 bills before state legislatures appear to be based on Project Blitz templates or have similar objectives. Some of the bills are progressing rapidly. An Oklahoma measure, which has passed the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature, allows adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate on the basis of their own religious beliefs. Others, such as a Minnesota bill that would allow public schools to post “In God We Trust” signs on their walls, have provoked hostile debates in local and national media, which is in many cases the point of the exercise.”

That Is Not How the Universe Arcs, Good Friday 2018


Post Script: After I posted the material below this morning I got a bunch of people “liking” it who are peddling assorted self-help nostrums, new-age nonsense, and Jesus Christ. Trust me, don’t waste your time. You could not possibly find a less receptive customer for what you are vending.

Original post:

Last night I got an email from the membership director at church. She sent me a link to an article that promoted thinking happy, loving thoughts and staying open and trusting and peaceful in the face of daily life.

It hit a raw nerve. I wrote her back:

No. Being open and trusting and peaceful gets you ridiculed, exploited, and killed.
We just had to bury one of my sisters here in town. She had been beaten to death and her remains stuffed into a garbage bag like the garbage that most cisgender people think we are. I was one of those women sobbing at her candlelight vigil.
Just in the last month I have had to deal with someone who was supposed to be a medical professional who went out of her way to be really nasty to me because I am trans and I had a similar experience in the office where I went to get my taxes done.
And I don’t even want to talk about my biological ex-family and the nightmarish weeks I recently spent because of how they treated me when I was  isolated and vulnerable and at their mercy.
I don’t have the privilege of living in a happy-thoughts fantasy as that ridiculous woman advises.
In order to stay alive, I must continually scan for hazards and assume that anyone I meet might want to hurt me in some way, because, all too often, they do.
My God, when you handed me that trans sticker for my car did you have any idea what you were asking of me?
If you put an anti-Trump sticker on your car the worst thing that would probably happen is that some jerk in a parking lot might call you a “libtard.” If I were in a parking lot at night with a transgender symbol on my car, my body could easily wind up in a garbage bag along a highway somewhere.
Perhaps I don’t belong at the church. Between the people who like to get in nasty little digs when they get a chance and think no one will overhear and the oh-aren’t-you-a-cute-little-token-to-show-how-enlightened-we-are types it certainly isn’t pleasant being there.
I see no evidence whatsoever that the arc of the universe bends towards justice.  My life experience has taught me that if  anything the universe bends towards cruelty.  I trust my experience, not wishful thinking.
Writing this now has me wondering whether my showing up at church has any point at all. I will have to think about that.


It’s Not Just the Southern Baptists


For any fans of Pope Francis out there, yes, I know he has said some sensible things about human-driven climate change, etc,, but he and his church take a very hard-line position of being opposed to the well-being of transgender people.

Despite a steadily growing body of evidence that our brains come wired in ways that look a lot more like the brains of the gender we know ourselves to be behind our eyes than the gender we got stuck with at birth and that transition makes it possible for us to live much happier lives, he and his friends are fighting tooth and nail against even modest efforts to let us live as ourselves. Since they explicitly deny the possibility that one can be “born in the wrong body” they deny that we even exist.

I know a trans woman from a Catholic family some of whose members work for the diocese. Her relatives have been instructed that even such accommodations as being polite and sensitive to her feelings–being misgendered hurts deeply in ways I cannot explain to my cisgender friends–by addressing her by her preferred name or using feminine pronouns are serious sins.

This is from a church that never got around to excommunicating Adolph Hitler and generations later still won’t let outside historians see the massive documentation it has behind lock and key on its dealings with him and his regime. I suppose what Hitler did weren’t serious sins such as being kind to a transgender person.


A Game of Hate and Two Very Different Christians


A few years ago my taxes were complicated by a move from one state to another (with issues of two different state income taxes), my mid-year legal name and gender changes (that really muddies the waters!), and a divorce. Knowing that I was way out of my depth, I went to a professional tax preparation service.

I happened to draw a gregarious, kindly woman who has since become a good friend. She prepared my tax returns last weekend.

On Monday, there was a small hiccup caused by my misunderstanding something. I stopped by the office where she works. She wasn’t there, but another person talked to me.

I sensed some hostility from her. Everyone in that small office knows that I’m transgender. However, I had never really talked to this other woman before.

I should explain that I am a soft-spoken, polite, friendly older woman who dresses modestly. I enjoy classical music and art museums. I have finished two novels. On a number of occasions I have had people ask me whether I am an English teacher or librarian.

And I happen to be transgender.

As I do when I sense someone reacting to me in a hostile way because I’m trans, I did my best to smile and to be friendly and to relate to her as simply one human being to another.

As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

The hostile woman was having none of it.

For no particular reason, she turned to someone else and referred to me as “he.” A couple of seconds later, she corrected herself by saying, “I meant ‘she’.”

OK, fine, I thought. I get that transgender issues of pronouns can be confusing.  Even nice people make mistakes.

However, she did exactly the same thing again six times in the next two minutes.

Those weren’t honest mistakes. She was not a nice person. She was being intentionally as cruel to me as possible.

This is a game all transgender people become familiar with. If you challenge the bully,  you get, “What? What’s the big deal?”

The “big deal” is having your most profound experience of who you are dismissed as a joke. This hurts so much in ways I cannot explain to cisgender people that when we hear it day after day after day we sometimes kill ourselves just to silence those voices.

After the second verbal cut, I remember thinking, “You think I’m garbage. Message received. Please stop now.”

But she didn’t. She was enjoying herself too much.

And I should mention that I was already sad and having crying jags due to the emotional aftermath of a just-ended month of up-close emotional abuse from my biological family.

Today I got a call from my friend, my regular tax person. Without being specific at that point, she apologized for how I had been treated when I came by the office.  She said no one should ever be treated like that and invited me out to lunchtime coffee at Starbucks so we could talk. I accepted.

Over coffee, she related how that morning the obnoxious woman had plopped into the guest chair in her office and started talking in a sneering manner about “that client of yours” and how disgusting transgender people are. The woman got on a roll about how God despises queer and trans people and how we are going to suffer God’s wrath as we richly deserve for going against His Word.

My friend was so stunned it took her a moment to react. She told her co-worker that she did not want to listen to this hate and asked the woman to leave.  The woman was surprised. She had fully expected her fellow Christian to hate people like me and want to see terrible things happen to us.

That, after all, was what she was being taught in her church.

The office receptionist, who had overheard the entire exchange I had with the obnoxious woman on Monday, had overheard this conversation too. She came and described to my friend how I had been treated.

My friend was horrified. That was when she called me.

So we had a lunchtime conversation over coffee and chocolate-chip cookies. My friend said that her faith teaches her not to judge people she doesn’t understand and to treat others with love. She thinks that all persons, including transgender people, are made in God’s image and are children of God.

Then she cried. So did I.








Hateful Epistles

1655 massacre Waldenses

A group of religious leaders–Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, and a Catholic contingent that included four Catholic bishops–just posted an open letter that denies the validity of our deepest experiences of who we are.

None of these leaders in their faith communities would probably be willing to take any responsibility for sneering bullies seizing upon this as an excuse to assault or kill us, but there are those who will see this as a green light to go ahead with violence against us.

I spent most of the afternoon today with my transgender peers, my trans family, at an early Christmas party. People there hugged a lot. We  in the community where I live worry about each other.  Many of us have paid the price for coming out as who we are in our inmost selves with the loss of jobs and friends and families. Many of us are not welcome in the religious bodies we grew up in.

Most of the promotion of hatred of transgender people–and an implicit approval of violence against us–is coming from religious leaders with tens of millions of followers.

That doesn’t just terrify me.

It breaks my heart.

The image is by Samuel Moreland – This image is found on page 345 of Samuel Moreland’s “History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont” published in London in 1658.