Christianity and Being Transgender

Now that I’ve skewered the Pagans, time to move on to the Christians. Don’t think that just because I’m a Christian myself that I’m going to be easy on Christians. Oh no, I’m going to hold them to a high standard as well. Also, I’m not going to simply go with how Christianity should be practiced. Nope, I’m going to use Christianity as it is actually practiced to see where it is lacking. I have found that Gandhi was right, most Christians do not act like Christ, yet they will claim to following in his footsteps. Christians need to wake up and smell the coffee, the more you try to repress others, the more you push people away.

Oh, where to start. How about the whole damn “there are only two sexes” thing?  Kind of funny really, there are sects of Judaism that recognize six different sexes and have for over a thousand years. So, come on Christians, get over it already. Another fun one is that God doesn’t make mistakes. Let’s assume that is true, how do you know that God didn’t make the trans person trans?  Do you know what God intended for that person?  I don’t think so.

Enough of that, let’s get into to how Christians treat those in the LGBTQ community. You want us gone, you want us to deny ourselves, you want us to be what you are. Could you imagine if it were reversed?  I doubt these Christians can really put themselves into someone else’s shoes. There are some denominations that do better than others, yet, there is still distrust towards us. Again, it is easy to say this is an issue that only affects those on the fringe. Easy and wrong. A lot does depend on the congregation, even in Affirming ones there can be issues. In others, although the church is officially against LGBTQ rights, there are people who are accepting. There are not many of the latter, unfortunately.

Ritually, there are problems. The Christian God is beyond gender, beyond sex, yet is referred to as Him and Father. Why?  Well, tradition. God should be a They, but Christians wouldn’t be comfortable with that, so it’s not even considered. I really think this change would help the transgender community and women. Think about that, God is no longer solely male and their femininity might just be able to be shown. Sadly, we aren’t given much of the feminine side of God. I think that is because it has been mostly men interacting with them and writing about them. The Christian God is as much a mother as a father, we simply are not allowed to see it.

There is also Jesus. Imagine how different Christianity would look if the Messiah were a woman. I think we get glimpses of that with some of the women of the New Testament. Sadly, it is only glimpses as those women were mostly ignored because they were women. Mary Magdalene was as close to an apostle as a woman could get, and I think she was only excluded because she was a woman. It is high time that modern Christians remember something, Christianity only spread the way it did because it was one of the few that gave some sort of freedom to women. The next major religion is going to be the one that is open to all of those who are currently being oppressed.

One thing that the Church is lacking is LGBTQ representation. It is simply not there and something needs to be done about that. I don’t know what, only that if it isn’t, this could become a problem with the growth of the Church.

I realize that no religion is going to be perfect. If they don’t try, they will never become more inclusive, and they all need to work on that. If they don’t work to become more inclusive, then they will fall by the wayside and that would be a sad thing to see because religion can be a source of good in the world.

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Paganism and Transgender

I suppose I ought to start with explaining by what right I have to delve into this topic. That is a little stroll down memory lane. I grew up nominally Southern Baptist, though my family taught me things that you’d not be taught by them. Things such as acceptance of others and tolerance and what not. All through my life, I’ve been very spiritual, so when collage time came, I joined a church. I don’t know if I can ever say this strongly enough, not all churches are the same; not all Christians are the same. I ended up in the University Bible Fellowship, a very cult-like church. This led to a spiritual crisis. Some background is needed to give you an idea of things were for me. This is back in the time when I was still pretending to be male. So, here I am, a straight, cisgender male who has a spiritual crisis because it seems to me that the only way to be Christian is to hate those of the LGBT community. Why did this bring on such a crisis I hear you ask?  Because, many of my friends were gay. Because some of these friends are why I am still alive today. How can I hate people who helped me through my deep, dark periods and made sure I came through them?  Well, I can’t, so I completely broke off from being a Christian.

I became an atheist and quickly shifted from that to agnostic and again quickly shifted. I went from being an agnostic to being a deist. Eventually, I became a pandeist and a Quaker, though I was starting to become interested in Paganism. I moved 200 miles and suddenly had the freedom to explore myself more. This led me to a generic sort of Paganism and, after a while, to Druidry and both Celtic and Hellenic Reconstructionism. It was during this time that I became a Unitarian Universalist as well. I have been a Christian again for about a half year or so.

There are my chops. Now, onto what I really wanted to right about. Paganism has a problem with the LGBTQ community right down to its core. I know I just made a bold statement, please hear me out, though. Not all forms of Paganism have this problem, but a large part do. I know most people think these problems are confined to outer edges. They aren’t. It’s easy to the the transphobic Dianics and say “we aren’t like them”. Not all Dianics have issues with trans women, but you do see a lot of open transphobia there. There are anti-LGBTQ Asatru, however; I don’t think they are the mainstream there. There are other places where there is open homophobia and transphobia and I don’t care about them. They aren’t my target because they are so obvious.

I’m talking about things like the idea masculine and feminine spirits. Why do I take issue to this?  Because, one, they erase the non-binary from having a spirit, and two, because a lot of time it is used to justify a subtle bit of transphobia. See, everyone either has a masculine or feminine spirit and this spirit is imbued at birth. Not so bad, right?  Well, what happens next is the big problem. The only way to have a feminine spirit is to be born with a vulva. Now, I’ve circled with people who didn’t take that view, which helps some. However, that leaves those who don’t fit into the binary out. There is little there for them.

Another thing I’ve seen is the Great Rite. It is a truly amazing thing, but seems to me to preference heterosexuality over any other sort of sexuality. The Great Rite is a recreation of, well, heterosexual sex and is sometimes used as a focal point for ritual. Like I said, it is a beautiful and moving thing,but if you aren’t heterosexual, there is nothing like it for you. There is nothing for those who aren’t ‘normal’. Which I find really odd because, let’s face it, Pagans aren’t normal. I have no dislike for Pagans, I was one and have many friends who are Pagan. I think one of the best things that could happen to this country is for there to be a large Pagan population. That said, I also think that they need to really consider how their rituals and rites look to someone who is trans or gay. If you were look at your religion through the eyes of someone else, would they think it is as open and accepting as you think?  If not, work to fix it, you have plenty of time to make small changes and to include those who don’t fit the standard mold for Pagans.

What’s my point with all this?  To make Pagans aware of a big problem that they face and most likely don’t realize is a problem. They aren’t alone, all other religions struggle with this as well. It’s simply that I have run up against people claiming that Pagans, other than a few weird ones, have complete understanding of trans, bisexuality, and homosexuality and this is most definitely not the case. I don’t want to seem like I am being hard on them, simply pointing it out. Next week, I’ll take on Christianity, and that won’t be any prettier.

Why I’m Not Patriotic

I’m reading Vonnegut’s “Mother Night” and in the introduction he talks about his experience as a POW working in Dresden during the firebombing of the city.  He survived because he was in an underground meat locker for the two days that the bombing took place. I think this is one of the worst things the Allies did during the Second World War. In some ways, it is even worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At least they were both only one bomb, Dresden was two days of constant bombing. Even better, we used an increased mix of incendiaries and scheduled the bombing runs so that emergency responders wouldn’t be able to come out of hiding. Fortunately, the death toll was relatively low, but the planning of this screams evil to me.

Then there were the US concentration camps for the Japanese. If you were an immigrant from Japan, the US rounded you up and put you in a camp. At least we didn’t kill them. Still, it was very wrong and we should apologize for it.

In 1921, the Tulsa Race Riot took the lives of many black Americans. There was a mess leading up to it. Blacks doing what most whites would have done, arm themselves and offer their services to the sheriff. They were turned down, but seeing black men with guns prompted the whites to arm themselves and a shot was fired. I’m sure you know where things went next. Then, fires were set in the black section of Tulsa and the fire fighters were confronted by men with guns. Two planes flew overhead, supposedly for reconnaissance, but they were seen dropping incendiaries. What started all this?  A black man in an elevator with a white woman.

We’ve had so many race riots since the 60s and we still haven’t changed the way we do things. Why is it so hard for us to learn?  Peaceful protests, lobbying, riots, #blacklivesmatter, and who knows what else and we are little better than we were forty years ago. Plus, there is everything we’ve done to the Native Americans. Centuries of injustice. Murders both single and mass, treaties shredded whenever it was profitable, forced marches, and segregation. When are we going to stop ignoring their plight?  As a country we have abused every single minority group from women to the LGBT community, from atheists to pagans, from vegetarians to Hispanics. Some of the people we have mistreated were here before the country was.

Don’t get me started on our foreign policy record. How many dictators have we installed and propped up?  How many of our allies constantly commit human rights violations?  We are the reason sweatshops exist. We are the reason that there are slave plantations in other parts of the world. We espouse some great ideals, but rarely embrace them. They aren’t profitable, they won’t bring us more wealth. Our ideals are wonderful; however, we are so quick to lose them and push them to the side. They are inconvenient, they slow us down, so we abandon them and ignore them.

This is why I can’t patriotic. American patriotism requires you to not see where and how we aren’t perfect. You’re not allowed to point out that we are anything less than perfect. Suggesting that we do something to address our problems isn’t patriotic. Not only is it not patriotic, it is subversive and to be avoided. I want to be subversive. I want to change things for the better. I’d rather try to make my city, my county, my state, my country, and my world better than put my head in the ground and pretend that it is all perfect.

 

Sexual Assault

On June 10th of this year, I was sexually assaulted by a man I met online. We agreed to meet at a diner in the morning and I had a not good feeling about him, but it shouldn’t have mattered as there was no chance of a second date. Instead, I let him talk me into going with him in his truck. I take full responsibility for that. I knew it was a bad idea. He drove me to the Francis E. Walter Dam and found a spot not far from the road that was secluded and grabbed me and groped me and kissed me and forced himself on me. Had things been different, I’m sure he would have raped me. Needless to say, this was very traumatic for me. So much so, that while staying at my girlfriend’s house with a male friend of mine, I would not even get up to go to the bathroom because I was afraid of him. I had no good reason to be afraid of him, yet I was terrified.

So, I called up the VRC, Victims Resource Center, and arranged an appointment to see a counsellor. Best thing a friend did for me, tell me to call them. It’s been nearly two months since it happened and I’m still seeing her. She’s been helping me with my current trauma and my past trauma. Picking the two apart, apparently, isn’t an easy thing to do. Also, not having dealt a lot with my past traumas isn’t helping my dealing with my current one. Yay. Anyway, she has been helping me with it all and it’s free, which also helps. I’d have to say, based on my experiences, the VRC has been very helpful. She helped me when I decided to report my sexual assault, which I will get to in a bit. They have helped me a lot and I’d recommend them to anyone who has been through a similar thing.

Now on to the saga of dealing with the Pennsylvania State Police. First, my advocate called the troop I needed to submit the report to. All that she was trying to do was set up an appointment to make the report. The trooper who took the call was badgering her for information and demanding that I come immediately and report it. The advocates at the VRC, like the advocates at a domestic violence shelter, are legally required to not give out any information about their clients and the state police know this. Then I went to my advocate’s office for a conference call with the state police to set up an appointment. This trooper didn’t seem to know much about what was going on and seemed to not really care.

Finally, the trooper that was going to take my report called and we set up an appointment for me to report my assault, but I couldn’t have my advocate present during the reporting. Now, other barracks allow this, but this trooper was trying to claim it was illegal. So, we’re getting off on the right foot. Rather than press the issue, I decided to just go with it. She was very nice to me, not so much towards my advocate. The statement went fine, but as we were leaving, the trooper decided to get into an argument with my advocate and kept having back down. First, the trooper was was trying to claim that the advocate could not be present during the taking of the statement and some other related issues. Then, the trooper starts berating my advocate for not telling them that I’m trans. What part of being legally bound to confidentiality did this trooper not understand?

Two weeks later, when the trooper can finally start investigating, I get an email saying there is nothing she can do. She had no problem getting my information from PennDOT for the statement, but she can’t do one thing to start looking into this. Needless to say, I’m a bit upset with all this. The state police have been reluctant and downright hostile at times and at the end of it all, they aren’t even going to bother to do anything. Nice to know that sexual assault is taken seriously by them. Why don’t women report?  I can’t imagine why. It’s not like the police try to work with you. It must become easier to report and the police need to have more empathy when dealing with victims of sexual assault.