Friday, October 25, 2013

Keynote Speech

Keynote Speech for Community Healthcare Network
3rd New York Transgender Health Conference:
Transgender Care and the Universal Right to Health

Joann Prinzivalli – Challenging Assumptions

We are living in a period of societal transition in Western culture – in which the fundamental understanding of certain assumptions about reality are being challenged. 
There have been other times, and other issues –
For many years, people believed the earth was flat and the sun traveled around the earth. 
In 1633, the Italian scientist Galileo, who saw the workings of orbital mechanics with his own eyes by using a telescope, was condemned to spend the remainder of his life in house arrest, by an Inquisition tribunal consisting of a number of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily because he had the temerity to advance the Copernican heliocentric theory of cosmology over the traditional Church-approved Ptolomaic geocentric theory of cosmology. 
Under threat of a painful execution, Galileo recanted the material from his book, which allowed the Inquisition to spare his life - but there is a possibly apocryphal story that as the Inquisitors left, he muttered "Il pur se muove" (It still moves!) under his breath.
It took 359 years before the Roman Catholic Church formally rescinded the condemnation of Galileo, On October 31, 1992, after a lengthy inquiry that Pope John Paul II set in motion in 1979. 
Even though we may still poetically refer to the beauty of a “sunrise” or a “sunset” we, or at least most of us, Flat Earthers excluded, actually now know the earth is round and that it is the earth that orbits the sun, and not the other way around.
For many years, Western culture classified animals in accordance with the book of Genesis – if it flies, it is a bird, if it swims it is a fish.  This was challenged by the early 1800’s – and there is a celebrated 1818 New York court case, Samuel v. Judd, which pitted the testimony of preachers and whaling captains against that of the most famous naturalist (i.e. scientist) of the day - and even with all the testimony, the whales were still held to be fish, despite the scientific evidence to the contrary Luckily the state legislature changed the law to make it clear that the tax on fish oil did not apply to whale oil.
Moving forward to 1920, the issue that of rocket ships.  The august New York Times opined in an editorial that Robert Goddard was wrong in asserting that a rocket could travel to the moon - - the editorial writer wrote that Goddard “… does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react…. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” since "every schoolboy knows that in space there is nothing to push against"  To its credit, 49 years later, in 1969, when humans landed on the moon, the Times quietly printed a retraction.
And speaking of the New York Times, we can move forward to 2006, when in what was supposedly a news story, the New York Times libeled me by referring to me as “a man who has lived as a woman since 2000.”  Apparently, in 2006 the New York Times was still behind the times, lurking in the quaint understandings of a bygone era, much as it was in 1920 about space travel.
Moving back to 1965, we can see what era the Times was stuck in - The New York City Department of Health assembled some of the leading lights in the medical field in a “blue ribbon” commission to study the nature of transgender people, which came to the conclusion that transgender people are delusional members of their originally-assigned sex, and for whom any treatment is merely "palliative" (i.e., doesn't really do anything except make us "feel more comfortable").
Scientific studies from 1995 to date tell a different story.
In studies that were reported in 1995 and 2000, it was reported that there are significant structures in Trans brains that are different from those of members of the sex they are assigned at birth, and similar to those of the "opposite" sex.
In the last decade, we learned that there are genetic predispositions for embryological development in which the brain develops in one sexed direction while the genital tract develops along the other sex's lines. So when trans people are born, we really do not belong to the originally-assigned sex.
In 2008, two separate studies from Australia established separate genetic predispositions for different kinds of transgender development.
In one study, the predisposition for those who develop with female-identified brains and male genital tracts was shown to involve a long androgen receptor gene
The other study,aimed at those who develop with male-identified brains and female genital tract development, was entitled A Polymorphism of the CYP17 Gene 
These studies, the earlier brain structure studies from 1995 and 2000, and numerous other reports, provide clues to the ontological developments that result in transgender people. While there is much additional study required, these studies make it possible to discredit the primitive “brain as Skinner-box” understandings of transgender people that dates back to the time of that 1965 blue ribbon commission.
The reality is that trans people do not fit into a single narrow definition - since the most likely causation is rooted in one or another genetic predisposition, and not an “on-off” switch, working in conjunction with other factors affecting the ontological development of the embryo and fetus, it may explain why there is a diversity of trans experience.
We are arriving at a point in Western history in which there is a greater but not yet universal realization that "biological" includes the ontological development of the entire person and not merely the genitalia, and that genetics does not stop at the gross shape of the 23rd chromosome pair, but also delves into a number of genes and their expressions (the coding for the creation of enzymes, telomeres, cell receptors, etc.), and the probabilities of developmental paths that vary in one way or another from the binary expectation.  
Once society gets the science, then it might be time for us to gain a greater understanding of semiotics - the deeply esoteric study of the understanding of understanding, and the meaning of meaning.  I would recommend Umberto Eco's Kant and the Platypus to anyone who wants to get a grasp as to how people's perceptions are affected by improvements in knowledge.  It is a messy process, and it is neither instantaneous nor universal.  After all, some people still do believe in literalist young earth creationism, and that the moon landings were a hoax because the earth is flat. 
My assertion is that we who are trans are born *different* - we do not belong to the initially-assigned sex ab initio, even if we also may not at that time be properly assigned to the other. Since birth records are based on the simple expedient of the observation of infant external sex characteristics, it should be made easier to amend and correct the records once the reality is ascertained. I do believe that it should be possible for society to evolve to accept a diversity of sex assignment. Of course, since the "reality" in which we currently live does still have a strong binary-sex assignment bias, many of us, particularly those of us who are over a certain age, strongly identify with the binary sex not assigned at birth.
I cannot predict how an evolving societal perception of reality will affect those who are born into a society in which (one could postulate) trans-kids are accepted as being different. Leslie Feinberg might, if born in today's world, grow up to identify as genderqueer.
The fact that we are born different does not mean that trans people are all different in exactly the same way, or to exactly the same degree.
Being different in a binary-sexed world is a challenge.  My birth certificate calls me male, even though I know that is an error.  My driver’s license calls me female, because I fit into the New York DMV’s definitions for women.  I can get a passport that says female, and I can now have my social security records reflect that I am female.
That leads to a conundrum – up until now, I’ve had to deal with health insurance in which I am expected to fit one or the other of the binary expectations of sex, even though my trans body doesn’t fit entirely into either Column A or Column B.
If I was classified as “male” my medical insurance would cover prostate screenings, but not hormones – classify me as “female” and I get the HRT, but have to get anonymous PSA tests at a free clinic.
Having my driver’s license identifying me as female, and having more of a need for HRT than for a rare prostate screening, I am listed as female on my health records – which comes with a periodic reminder from a well-meaning insurer that I am overdue for my pelvic exam and pap smear.
What trans people need is medical care and medical coverage that is designed to treat us with dignity and respect, and that rather than denying us coverage based on arbitrary decisions as to what comes under Column A, and what comes under Column B, we are able to get tested and treated for those items from both Column A and Column B that apply to our bodies.
And yes – some of us actually do need a periodic pelvic exam and pap smear as well as a PSA test.
The time of the either/or coverage may be coming to an end under the Affordable Care Act – there are twoc ritical sections of this law that have, or should have, a bearing on transgender health care:
Affordable Care Act §1302 requires consideration of “diverse segments of the population” in the design of the Essential Health Benefit standard. This provision is intended to help fulfill the Affordable Care Act’s goals of reducing health disparities and expanding access to adequate insurance coverage, especially for populations that prevailing practices in insurance markets frequently marginalize.
ACA §1302 also prohibits Essential Health Care package designs that discriminate against individuals on the basis of factors such as disability. Though the statute directs this requirement at the Secretary of Health and Human Services, any scope and duration limits included in state-designated essential benefits packages will be subject to review by the Department of Health and Human Services, which effectively extends this requirement to the states as well.
Even though the New York State Medicaid Regulations in effect since 1998 prohibit hormone and surgical care for trans people, neither the Affordable Care Act nor any New York statute excludes Gender Dysphoria or related conditions from the term “disability.”

This indicates that GD and related conditions may be seen as constituting a disability under the law, subject to the same requirements as other conditions.
Arbitrary condition-based exclusions such as those targeting transgender people represent exactly the kind of discriminatory barriers to coverage and care that the ACA was designed to eliminate.
The 2011 Institute of Medicine report on the essential benefits clarifies that Congress intended “to ensure that insurers do not make arbitrary and discriminatory decisions based on certain characteristics of people rather than assessing the individuality of each case when making medical necessity decisions and applying clinical policies.” Fully implementing the law’s nondiscrimination mandates thus requires reasonable restrictions on condition-based exclusions in the context of the essential benefits.
The other section that bears watching is the provision calling for Nondiscrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity: ACA §1557 and federal regulations regarding the establishment of exchanges and standards for eligibility and enrollment in qualified health plans
ACA §1557(a) prohibits discrimination in any health program receiving federal funds or by any entity established under Title I of the Affordable Care Act, including the exchanges. This provision references the protections of several federal civil rights laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Through this law, §1557 incorporates nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex. Recent interpretations by federal courts and executive agencies indicate that such sex-based protections cover transgender people through an interpretation of the term “sex” that includes gender identity and nonconformity with sex stereotypes.  In particular, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a formal ruling that gender identity discrimination is per se sex discrimination.
Further, regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in March 2012 explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in all activities of the exchange, as well as the activities of qualified health plan (QHP) issuers with regard to their QHPs.  Accordingly, QHP issuers are prohibited from offering QHPs that discriminate on the basis of gender identity by denying transgender consumers coverage for services that are covered for nontransgender consumers.
Notwithstanding the fact that the ACA seems to prohibit discrimination, we’re already seeing discriminatory practices popping up.

In a Huffington Post piece and at a White House briefing on the topic in September, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius claimed that Obamacare will address these problems, specifically in the areas of discrimination, lower premiums, and pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental health.
"We've also taken action to strengthen the civil rights provision in the law, by clarifying that the new law's prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sex stereotyping, and on gender identity," Sebelius wrote.
BUT in at least two known cases, trans women have been denied free mammogram screenings under the ACA because of misguided guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control guidelines that ignore the statute and limit free mammogram screenings to women who are “genetically female” - Whatever that is supposed to mean – “genetically” ought to include those women of trans experience with that long androgen receptor gene, as well as anyone with a similar predisposition that is as yet undiscovered.
Separately, a New Jersey transgender woman, aged 44, also had to fight for a mammogram for breasts that developed from hormone therapy, the New York Daily News reported.
In that case, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund helped the transwoman get the screening — and an apology from Aetna, the insurer. Previously, Aetna denied the mammogram because it fell under policy exclusions for treatments related to “changing sex”
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in health care programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sex stereotypes, gender identity, age, or disability.  This is the first time that federal law has prohibited sex discrimination in health care.  Health insurers, hospitals, the health insurance exchanges, and any other entities that receive federal funds are covered by this law.  It became effective upon passage of the ACA.

While it will still require a continuing struggle, we can make a difference as society comes to grips with an improved understanding of the nature of reality – one that includes trans people as people entitled to dignity, respect, and fair and equal treatment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Massachusetts at the Cutting Edge?

The following is the text of an e-mail message I sent to Boston Globe columnist Lawrence HArmon, who wrote in his column how he was enrsaged by a court's decision to allow convicted murderer Robert Kosilek, sho is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for killing her wife, to have GRS at state expense:

Mr. Harmon:


In your September 7, 2012 column, Judge goes too far in sex change ruling which I read at:

http://articles.boston.com/2012-09-07/opinion/33713842_1_reassignment-surgery-gender-identity-disorder-michelle-kosilek ,


you described the judge's decision to mandate that the government provide GRS to imprisoned felon Kosilek as "enraging."

I have to disagree - I think of it as an encouraging sign of the change in the societal perception of trans people that has been taking place in the past decade or so.

What enrages me is the fact that medical insurance, medicare, medicaid, etc. don't all cover trans medical needs in the same way that they treat diabetes, atherosclerosis or any other medical issue. GRS is far from experimental - it is the standard method of treatment for transsexual people.

You describe inadequate treatment as being "more moderate" - it's not "more moderate," it's cruel and unusual. or should be unusual.

It is not that Kosilek should be denied treatment, it's that everyone else who needs it should have it available - whether they are privately insured or on a government medical program.

Societal understanding has been improving over the years. In the 1960's the best medical experts considered trans people to be delusional members of their initiallya ssigned sex, for whom any treatment would be merely "palliative."

Today we know that trans people have brains that develop physiologically along the gendered lines associated with the sex not associated with their genital duct development. Scientists have found at least two kinds of genetic predisposition for embryological development along these lines, where the developing body "zigs" along one path for the developigng brain, and "zags" along the other path for the development of the reproductive system.

At one time, people thought the earth was flat and the sun traveled around the earth. Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition for advancing the Copernican theory - but we now know the earth is round and the earth orbits the sun.

In 1818, a New York court ignored the testimony of the leading natural scientist of the day, in favor of the testimony of sea captains and clergymembers, to hold that whales are fish. But whales are still mammals - and the state legislature recognized that shortly thereafter.

I'd recommend you read a little of Umberto Eco's works on semiotics. What our society is experiencing in connection with the understanding of the trans phenomena is much like the way society has experienced changes in the understanding of other things.

Your column represents the resistance of ignorance - perhaps out of ignorance, but I'd think you, as a journalist, should be educable, or I wouldn;t have bothered with this message to you.

I'd suggest you do some research on your own. Perhaps you might read my occasional blog. (And I think I am going to take this message and post it there . . . at www.trans-cendence.blogspot.com )


Regards,

Joann Prinzivalli

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our friends still need a little education, sometimes

Professor Randolph McLaughlin gives me a "teaching moment."
This evening I attended the New York Civil Liberty Union Lower Hudson Valley chapter's annual dinner, at which we honored our retiring Executive Director, Linda Berns, and awarded the Myron Isaacs Community Service Award to two sisters, Joanne Robinson-Boettcher and Roberta Robinson Frazier, for their lifelong work in community activism across a broad spectrum of causes.

The evening's principal speaker was Randolph McLaughlin, Esq., who is a civil rights lawyer, a professor at Pace Law School, and who is currently a member of the legal team representing the Chamberlain family's interests in connection with the shooting death of retired corrections officer and Marine veteran, 68 year old Kenneth Chamberlain, killed by a White Plains police officer in his own home for no reason except for the fact that he was an African American male who did not shuffle and say "yassuh" when the police came to his door, ostensibly to help him because his life alert pendant had triggered an alarm.

Professor McLaughlin's speech was inspiring and outstanding.  He even cited one of my favorite quotes about the law, from the play A Man for All Seasons.

His speech was marred by a different reference, one I realized was rooted in an innocent ignorance.

In a portion of his speech, he compared the police refusal to allow Mr. Chamberlain's niece, who had arrived in the hallway, an opportunity to speak to him to try to get him calmed down, to the situation police offered to the character played by Al Pacino in the movie Dog Day Afternoon, when he was allowed to speak to his pre-op transsexual girlfriend (in the real-life bank robbery the movie was loosely based on, this character's inspiration was Elizabeth Eden). . .

.  . . except Professor McLaughlin referred to the person on the other end of the phone, as the bank robber's boyfriend.

I realized that the factual inaccuracy was secondary to the point that was being made, but I did find it disturbing enough that I had to broach it to Professor McLaughlin afterward.  And I did.

It was an opportunity for education, and I took it.

I explained the inaccuracy in the reference to him - and I pointed out the fact that the purpose of the bank robbery in both the film and in the real life situation, was to obtain the funds for Elizabeth's surgery (or surgery for the character based on Elizabeth).

When I finished explaining, Professor McLaughlin asked me to repeat the phrase "pre-operative transsexual woman."  I realize that he was trying to commit the phrase to memory - and I am sure that the next time he gives a speech on the subject, and makes that reference, that he will be more respectful of the identity of the character based on Elizabeth's life.

My suspicion that the gaffe was based on an innocent ignorance that led to the initial reference was conformed by the respectfulness and attentiveness that Professor McLaughlin gave me when I spoke to him after his speech.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Monsignor Pope, and the Pope, not only cherry-pick scripture, they misinterpret it.


Over at the Joe.My.God blog this morning, Joe shares with us a quote from Monsignor Charles Pope, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Monsignor Pope's reliance on authority emanating from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church is utterly misplaced.  I grant that he is a spokesman for that apparatus, but the moral evil that his quoted statement reflects must not be left unchallenged.

Let's start with this:

"We cannot pick and choose the books of the Bible, we cannot tear out pages, or cross out lines. Orthodoxy is to accept the whole of the Sacred Text, and to consider its claims with reference to the whole of Scripture and in keeping with its trajectory."

Monsignor Pope, in his essay, is addressing President Obama's non-Catholic Christianity as expressed in an interview he gave to ABC News about his conversation with his daughters about marriage.

Okay, Monsignor, if we're talking about "picking and choosing," - how about 1 Samuel 18:1-4, when David and Jonathan get married (become "one soul.") - How about the complete and total misrepresentation made by the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in an official 1975 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona Humana:

"In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[ Rom 1:24-27 ] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of."

In the 1983 document Homosexualitatis Problema, Ratzinger's theological ignorance and deeply-seated and disordered bigotry comes out with this misinterepretive gem:

"Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion."

The actual fact is that the patriarchal misogyny that is at the root of the moral theology of the Roman Catholic Church is the root cause of the evil which is preached from the pulpits, and from the Thone of Peter.  But let's leave the Pope's own moral failures, and return to return to Monsignor Pope's: 

"For a Catholic, of course this is done in union with the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition."

But the problem with this is that the Magisterium is so morally corrupt and evil that it cannot be a moral compass.  Tradition was corrupted from the time Augustine of Hippo cemented the Manichaean and Gnostic debasing of the body and elevation of the "spirit" that informs much of Roman Catholic theology.

"Many supporters of homosexual behavior adopt this heresy by saying, 'Jesus never said a word about or against Homosexuality.'"

But Jesus DID talk about transgender people, and some theologians believe that this same quote also actually addresses those who are hard-wired gay - all covered under the term "eunuch."  It is Matthew 19:12, which refers back to Isaiah 56 and forward to Acts 8 - so it's not an isolated passage.  It is misused by the RCC as a principal biblical argument in favor of priestly celibacy, which involves a clear misinterpretation of the passage.  However, let's face it, most gay people who have been hounded out of churches aren't scripture scholars, so the meme that "Jesus never said anything against gay people" is at least easy to state - what they don;t realize is that it is likely the Jesus did say at least one gay-positive thing.

"True, but he also never said a word about a lot of things: drinking to excess, beating one’s wife, he never forbade ethnic humor, or said people should wear clothes, He never declared how big and how much money should be spent on the military etc, whether Government should provide welfare etc. Since Jesus did not say out of his own mouth we cannot beat our wives then it must be okay to beat them? Of course not. An argument from silence is very poor and unhelpful." 

Monsignor Pope, Jesus never spoke out against the marriage of David and Jonathan as described in 1 Samuel 18:1-4.  So from your analysis, we can imply that this particular silence involves a implicit approval of gender-neutral connubium.  Isn't that special?

Of course, Monsignor Pope serves as a flack for the Magisterium in the Archdiocese of Washington, so it is no surprise that he spouts the evil party line, particularly of he wants to keep his job.

Now let’s turn to the source for Joe.My.God’s quote of Monsignor Pope, as there is much more to analyze:

Monsignor accuses President Obama of cherry-picking a simplistic portrait of Jesus Christ (as distinguished from the likely historical man, Yeshua ben Miriam, an itinerant preacher of a Jewish religious movement that became known as “The Way” after his death, who was crucified after he moved from preaching a message of non-violent resistance to starting a riot in Jerusalem during the Passover Season by driving the money-changers out of the Temple pricincts).

When President Obama talks about the genuine central message of the Good news, Monsignor Pope chooses to focus on matters that relate to the cultural assumptions of the times in which Yeshua lived.

The biggest problem with Pope’s “orthodoxy” is the fact that it relies on all the encrustations that the writers of scripture (including added passages by others than the original authors), and early scriptural analysts and Church Fathers added, in order to deify Yeshua and turn a message of non-violent resistance to oppression, of speaking Truth to Power, and involving the relationship between Love and Power to achieve Justice, into one that is centered on the myth of the resurrection.  I grant that most Christians are resurrection-focused, which obfuscates the real message – one that is not unique or exclusive to Christianity but can be found in many other paths.

So the path that Monsignor Pope takes is to rely on this orthodoxy that is the principal source of the bigotry and prejudice that has corrupted Roman Catholic “moral” theology.

MOnsignor Pope himself heretically “picks and chooses” scripture – and he and the Magisterium intentionally choose to misstate and misinterpret much of what is actually there – just go and reread  what Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) once wrote as authoritative scriptural interpretation, as quoted above.  

Ratzinger ignored the message of Romans 1, which was Paul’s disrespect for the sacramental sex of the religious competition from the other mystery religions that were all the rage in first century Rome.  Ratzinger ignored the message of the story of Sodom – which is strangely not a moral condemnation against homosexuality, as he states it is, but is rather a moral condemnation of macho, misogynistic, disrespectful prejudice against strangers, foreigners and people who are different – a condemnation that should be seen as aimed squarely against the institutional Roman Catholic Church’s patriarchal misogyny. (Take as just one example, the insistence on patriarchal male pronouns for their trinity in the formula for baptism, and the invalidation of baptisms that used any gender-neutral formulation.)

So much of Monsignor Pope’s essay is filled with arrant nonsense similar to that that emanates from his top boss in Rome – he and the Magisterium not only "heretically" pick and choose their scripture, they consistently misinterpret that which they pick and choose in order to magnify the depth of the evil to which they have stooped.

The fact is that there is not a single bit of Christian sacred scripture that actually condemns homosexuality – and some that describes a marriage between David and Jonathan.  There is not a bit of scripture that condemns trans people – and three interrelated citations that show how special we are in the eyes of God – and which some theologians believe include gay people as well.

Monsignor Pope writes that:

Thus orthodoxy, which holds to the whole and does not pick and choose Scripture, must in every way accept and announce that these are sinful acts, sinful enough to exclude one from the Kingdom if they are not repented of (e.g. 1 Cor 6:9)”

What Monsignor Pope conveniently ignores in citing to 1 Cor. 6:9 is the fact that the English translations are mostly incorrect, and even Jerome, who was notoriously heterosexist, misogynistic and cissexist, took pains to mistranslate some key passages when he produced the Vulgate.  

The Greek word arsenokoitai does not mean homosexuality – but rather was most likely to be related to the practice of adult sexual relations with children – a practice which is almost universally condemned, and with which many Roman Catholic priests are familiar, either as eager participants, or with their heads stuck in the sand trying to ignore it,  or even diligently trying to root out the practice despite the obfuscations of others among them (though going after gays as a means to eradicating the problem is an error, the root problem is mandatory priestly celibacy, which is unnatural except for those few form whom abstinence is possible without psychological harm).  Certainly, the term arsenokoitai has no connection with the modern understanding of adult gay relationships.

Similarly, malakoi is a term that refers to the indolent who take no risk, sit on the fence and go with the flow – to give it the correct flavor, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of crisis, maintain their neutrality.”  Those people are the malakoi.  Nothing gay about them, either.

Given Monsignor Pope's clear misunderstanding of his scriptures in the pursuit of bigotry and intolerance for strangers and people who are different, a teaching that is consistent with what his masters in the Vatican want him to teach, it is clear that the only way to save Christianity is for it to reform.  It must abandon the barbarism and immoral teachings that have no place in a civilized society. 

The Roman Catholic Church has failed to address its deeply rooted patriarchal misogyny which is at the root of its anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-trans teachings, and as a result, it has lost any shred of moral authority it may have once commanded among people who are possessed of an informed conscience and a working moral compass.  The Church is wrong about women, it is wrong about gays, it is wrong about trans people, it is even wrong about masturbation – simply put, the entire structure of Roman Catholic moral theology is like a house of playing cards set up on a beach in the face of a gale-driven incoming tide.

The actions and statements of Monsignor Pope, as well as those of the Pope in Rome, are just more examples of the misguided teachings of a Church that has been losing its way for many centuries, and has never bothered to abandon its barbarism and become civilized, beyond the small movement forward when Aquinas and the Scholastics brought the Church up to the level of science that was taught many centuries earlier by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

I continue to mount a call for all Roman Catholics of good will to break with the Roman Catholic Church, which has long abandoned the authentic teachings of Yeshua ben Miriam in so many ways.  Find some other spiritual home - one that is not so intrinsically bound up with evil counsellors.  There are even Catholic alternatives, such as the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and the Old Catholics.  There are main line Protestant churches that are evolving their theological approaches to become more civilized - even though they are having pains at getting there.  Then there are the paths that take one farther afield from more traditional Catholicism, including United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, Unitarian/Universalism, the Society of Friends, Ethical Culture, Buddhism, Wicca, and others.

The bottom line - there are many paths, but not all paths lead to the top of the mountain.  The Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church pushes a path that leads to the depths of the swamp.  It's time to leave - stop contributing time, talent and treasure to the churches run by evil counselors and their ilk.

One last note - to be fair, I have to point out that Monsignor Pope, like anyone else, is not totally and completely evil.  Some of his blog essays are even pretty good!  To get the bad taste of his bigotry out of one's mind, I suggest something inspirational like his May 9th essay, Just an ordinary, daily word, yet a word that mystically reaches for the stars.

 I grant that it is a Catholic perspective, and thus doesn't speak to those of different traditions - but if only, when it comes to LGBT people and the theologies that relate to is, Monsignor Pope, and the Pope, could just consider opening up their minds to a better-grounded theological approach to those of us who are not intolerant and wicked Men of Sodom like them. Our natures, even acting on them, come from the same God who created them - and God does not create junk.  Neither their natures, nor ours, are intrinsically wrong - cis, het, trans and gay, we are all loved (even though Isaiah 56 makes trans people really special, as we get a special place in God's House, but don;t ask the Pope about that, he thinks that we're more dangerous than the destruction of the rain forest.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

N.C. church sign unwittingly admits wickedness



Pastor Rondell Lance of the Center Pigeon Baptist Church of Canton, North Carolina (or whomever the church chose for the purpose of setting up their church sign), appears to have admitted the wickedness that was the basis for the church's blatant open support of North Carolina's anti-marriage Amendment One effort, which enshrines anti-gay bigotry into that state's constitution, making N.C. the last state in a now solidly wicked South to do so by a "popular" vote.

For anyone who has actually read the Genesis story about the actions and punishment of the Men of Sodom, the story is not a condemnation of homosexuality (a lying misinterpretation that is taught by Christianists ranging from this backwoods independent Baptist preacher Rondell Lance from his pulpit in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a few miles south of I-40 and not terribly far east of the possibly even more backwards State of Tennessee, all the way up to Pope Benedict XVI,spiritual leader of over a billion Roman Catholics (many of whom thankfully ignore him) from the papal throne at the Vatican in Rome).  It is about inhospitable intolerance for strangers and people who are different, by macho misogynistic people.  It's all pretty much clear from a reading of Genesis 19, unless it's a bizarro reading.

The right-wing conservative Christianist base of the Republican Party is truly inspired by the macho misogynistic wickedness and intolerance of their heroes, the Men of Sodom. Pastor Rondell Lance is perhaps the rare one who is willing to actually admit it on a church sign.

So, thanks to Pastor Rondell Lance and his church sign, we can understand that the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom are the inspiration for the Republican War on LGBT people, because we are strangers in their midst, different from their cissexist and heterosexist selves. Because we are different from them, they hate, fear and despise us.

Bit it isn't just us - and it appears that this deep spiritual evil root of this right-wing conservative Christianist Republican politics - the inspiration of the exceeding wickedness of the Men of Sodom - is also responsible for so many of the deeply-held positions of the Republican Party, such as:

The Republican War on Women.  Needless to say, the Men of Sodom were macho misogynists.  Their whole rationale for wanting to show their disrespect for Lot's visitors had nothing to do with sexual orientation, and everything to do with the fact that they believed women were lesser creatures than men.  By extension, their intent to rape the strangers in their midst would, in their way of thinking, prove that the Men of Sodom were the real "he-men," and that the strangers, who would have been "used" in the same way that the Men of Sodom "used" their women, were debased and "less than women."  It almost goes without saying that the attitude of the womb-controllers in the Republican Party is modeled on the misogyny of the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom.

The Republican War on Immigrants. Like Lot's visitors, immigrants come from somewhere else.  They are strangers in our midst.  Republicans want to treat them disrespectfully.  That is just like their spiritual ancestors, the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom.

The Republican War on Islam. They're different, they worship what seems to Republicans to be a different god (A classic example of this is that of the thankfully now-retired U.S. Army general, William G. Boykin, a Christianist who ridiculed the faith of Muslims, in a 2003 NBC interview, stating about an Islamic terrorist he hunted down in Mogadishu, "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, 'They'll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.' Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."  For that matter, during the Republican primaries, one of the reasons many Christianist GOPers were looking to "Anyone But Romney" was because his LDS faith marks him as being different, a stranger in our midst (and they were even willing to flock to Rick Santorum, A Roman Catholic who, just a few decades ago, would have been viewed as a stranger as well).  Again, the Republican position is just like that of their spiritual inspiration, the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom.

The Republican War on Racial Minorities.  People who are not white are different, strangers in the midst of the community.  This also passes the "inspired by the Men of Sodom" sniff test.

I could go on.

The thing is, that church sign in Canton, North Carolina says in truth what the inspiration of the Republican Christianist forces of Darkness really is - a deeply held distrust, revulsion and hatred for people who are different from themselves.

The exceedingly wicked Pastor Rondell Lance, with his bizarro Orwellian-Newspeaky brand of Christianist theology, likely does not realize the truth of the admission of wickedness on his church sign.  After all, he mistakenly believes that gay men are the ones who are like the Men of Sodom, rather than being more like Lot's visitors, the strangers in the midst of the community because they are different from the heterosexist majority of voters.

But I know what the true meaning of the sign is.  And now, if you've actually read this whole blog post, so do you, if you didn't know it already.

Spread the word.




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eye of Newt. . .

Since Newt Gingrich seems to have become the latest to become the darling of the ABM (Anyone But Mitt) movement among the know-nothing Tea Party and “Evangelical” Christianist Republicans, let’s take an opportunity to skewer one of his latest platform statements – his response to the call by the WAcKO Iowa group, The FAMiLY LEADER

NEwT: To Bob Vander Plaats and the Executive Board of The FAMiLY LEADER: I appreciate the opportunity to affirm my strong support of the mission of the FAMiLY LEADER by solemnly vowing to defend and strengthen the family through the following actions I would take as President of the United States.

Defending Marriage.  As President, I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted under my leadership as Speaker of the House, and ensure compliance with its provisions, especially in the military. 

JP: The fact that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is really an assault on states’ rights, an assault on marriage, and actually does nothing to preserve and strengthen marriage, is lost on Newt.  DOMA is unconstitutional and likely to be held to be unconstitutional by the courts.

NEwT: I will also aggressively defend the constitutionality of DOMA in federal and state courts. 

JP: A waste of taxpayer dollars, to defend a law that should so obviously a violation of the Constitution to anyone who claims to be a constitutional scholar.

NEwT: I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. 

JP: it’s so rare that constitutional amendments to take away rights are introduced.  The last one ushered in Prohibition. The constitutional Amendment we need to see is a reintroduction of the Equal Rights Amendment.  It is about time.

NEwT: I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman.  I will support all efforts to reform promptly any uneconomic or anti-marriage aspects of welfare and tax policy.  I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.

JP: Given Newt’s personal history, “personal fidelity to his spouse” in that “one man/one woman for life” scenario can only mean returning to the first wife he previously abandoned while whoring around with the second, and the third  he whored around with while still married to the second, and abandoning the later whores. But he is a whore himself who deserves the serial polygamy he *really* favors. His “one man and one woman”pledge should mean just that – not just serial polygamy, or “one man and one woman at a time.”  Oh, but wait, to his adopted Roman Catholic Church, Newt gets a pass, since neither of his earlier marriages are recognized by the pedophile-pandering priests (or any of the other more decent priests) in his Church as having been valid.  But don’t all these “Evangelical” Christianist types look at Roman Catholics as “papists” in sort of the same way they see Mormons as pagan idolators? Wouldn't that be especially true since he used to be a white Southern Baptist good ol' boy, and he actually converted to the papist cause?  Aren; these the same sort of people who objected to Al Smith and Jack Kennedy?

NEwT: Defending the Unborn.  I believe that life begins at conception. 

JP: He “believes.”  This is important. I will note that this belief that “life begins at conception” has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of when that life is entitled to be considered a human being.  Anyone who professes to be a bible-believing Christian and who does not accept the idea that the soul is intimately connected with *breathing* (i.e., the span of a human person’s ensoulment runs from first breath to last only.  Even under the English Common Law, which was rather bible-based in many ways, a baby that was born, but did not take a single breath, was not deemed to be a person, but was called stillborn.  No inheritance or inheritance rights would pass through such a non-entity. But Newt is one of those people who like the idea of granting full personhood status to inanimate corporations.  He would also likely consider the construction plans to be a home, and pans on regulating chicken eggs as if they were fully formed and once-breathing chickens.  But his "belief"is consistent with the kind of thing the Pope wants to impose on all Americans.

NEwT: On day one of my administration, I will sign an executive order reinstating Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions overseas. 

JP: That’s right, Newt “believes” and only his beliefs count. How he can say this, and then claim to defend “Religious Liberty” two points down from this one, is a conflicted position that can only be taken seriously by people who do not have the capacity to understand the fact that these principles are in opposition - such as anyone who might have signed Robbie George and Chuck Colson's bombshell of a Manhattan Declaration.    So Newt wants to take way from the religious freedom of women.  For Newt, women are a necessary inconvenience, and as an originalist on the Constitution, he believes that women should not be counted, and that African Americans should be returned to a state of involuntary servitude. (See his position on appointing "Originalist" judges!)


NEwT: I will also work with Congress to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood so that no taxpayer dollars are being used to fund abortions but rather transfer the money so it is used to promote adoption and other pro-family policies, and enact legislation that provides greater protections for the unborn.

JP: Even the English Common Law recognized that “the unborn” are not people.  So protecting the “unborn” means taking away the rights of women who are already born.  And so little of Planned Parenthoods budget goes to abortion,  Most of it goes to other reproductive health services.  I am sure that Newt would rather give taxpayer money to "religious" groups that discriminate against people they don't like.

NEwT: Defending Religious Liberty.  As President, I will vigorously defend the First Amendment’s rights of religious liberty and freedom of speech against anyone who would try to stifle the free expression of believers. 

JP: Newt wants to impose his religion in everyone, and then comes out with this? This is inconsistent with his policy on women’s reproductive rights. There are women who share my religious belief that is bible based, and consistent with the common law understanding that we are only human beings between first breath and last breath.  Our souls are intimately bound up in our breath – and literally, “spirit” and “breath” are the same thing.  So, why doesn't our religion count? Is it because Newt only believes that Religious freedom is for people who agree with him?

NEwT: I will also promote legislation that protects the right to conscience for healthcare workers so they are not compelled to perform abortions and other procedures that violate their religious teachings.

JP: how about the religious liberty of healthcare workers whose religious beliefs allow them to participate in assisting women in their reproductive health care.  I think that people who have a religious objection to performing their jobs should find another line of work.

NEwT: Defending Against Debt.  As President, I will undertake vigorous policies to maximize capital investment and job creation, along with common sense entitlement reforms, to dramatically turn around the nation’s fiscal situation. 

JP: This is meaningless drivel.  Newt has every intention to line the pockets of fat cats at the expense of the people.  He already intends to scuttle child labor laws.

NEwT: Building upon the same principles I championed during my four years as Speaker, when we reduced the national debt by over $400 billion and dramatically reduced the national debt as a percentage of the GDP, we will reduce the enormous burden upon American families of the public debt and unfunded liabilities.

JP: Newt is infamous for being the huckster who designed the program one can only call “The Contract On America” - The only way to fairly accomplish the goal he seeks  is to stop the insane defense spending and end the wars.  It is a well-known principle since the Vietnam war that America  can’t afford to have Guns *AND* Butter. 

NEwT: Defending the Right of the People to Rule Themselves.  Today, as federal courts have intervened in sectors of American life never before imaginable, including the intervention in the definition of marriage as well as when unborn life can be protected under the Constitution, the public has increasingly come to view them as an usurpative device for unelected rulers. 

JP: The real activist judges have ruled that fictitious corporate “people” have the same rights as human beings – the next step is to give corporate entities perpetual voting rights.  And the slippery slope will be to give Republican-built robots voting rights (something that they apparently have tried clandestinely in Ohio, with the apparent voting rights of voting machines there).  The courts actually exist to protect the *individual* people against the tyranny of the majority – a job they don’t do terribly well because of conservative activism from the bench

NEwT: This abuse of power and loss of public confidence amounts to a constitutional crisis.  I believe the executive and legislative branches each have an independent responsibility to interpret the Constitution,

JP: That is true, within their parameters, but the SCOTUS has the final say on constitutionality.

NEwT: and in those rare circumstances when they believe the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have engaged in a serious constitutional error, they can choose among an array of constitutional powers to check and balance the courts. 

JP: The “check and balance” on the SCOTUS is the constitutional amendment process.  Is Newt an ass, or what?  Since he is a self-proclaimed constitutional scholar, doesn’t he actually know this?

NEwT:  As President, I will nominate for federal judgeships, including justices of the Supreme Court, only those individuals who are committed to an originalist understanding of the Constitution.  Judges with an originalist understanding will subordinate themselves to the meaning of the Constitution as it was intended by the framers, and not substitute their own judgments about its meaning. 

JP: Originalism is an error.  Times have changed, and I expect a SCOTUS and federal judges who are more civilized than their predecessors, and more civilized than the Founders, who believed in slavery, and in the oppression of women.  Newt is saying tight here that he wants to roll back the interpretation of the Constitution to a point prior to 1870.

NEwT: The inherent judicial self-restraint that comes from an originalist approach to the Constitution offers the best long-term assurance that federal judges will not exceed their powers and trample on individual liberties.  I will also work with Congress to use the Constitutional means available to reassert the right of the elected branches of government to defend their understanding of the meaning of the Constitution, including limiting the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide on certain issues, when they believe the federal courts have engaged in a serious constitutional error.

JP:  I think that Newt treads on dangerous ground here.  While the courts have traditionally been a drag on progressivism, on occasion they lurch toward civilization.  Newt would kill that, and insure that the tyranny of the majority can crush individual rights for people who don’t fit into the majority.  Newt is a dangerous demagogue, and a threat to the republic, as dangerous as a mad dog I the streets.  If he were to be elected to the presidency, I would fear for the survival of the nation.  Gingrich, the Gingrinch, would steal the childhood from children, freedom from women, and human rights from LGBT people.

NEwT: Sincerely, Newt Gingrich

JP: Newt is *anything* but sincere.  He is a liar, a cheater, an adulterer, a miserable excuse for a human being, and he has a problem with the meaning of words.  His answer to charges of influence peddling was that he was not a “lobbyist.”  This fuzzy definition thing  is exactly the same kind of thing that he ha the House impeach Bill Clinton for exhibiting  – Clinton was technically truthful when he said that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  Because what Clinton meant by “sexual relations” was limited to a particular act that he didn’t actually perform.  So Gingrich technically tells the truth when he says he was not a “lobbyist” but there are other aspects of influence peddling that he had his hand in once he was gone from Congress.  Newt’s hands are stained and unclean. None of the Republican candidates for President are qualified for the job, but Newt has shown himself to be less qualified than Michele Bachmann.  He is already committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” under his own definition of the term, well before getting the nomination, much less taking office.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yet another Cissexist bisexual or “political lesbian” Radfem gets it wrong

Over on Facebook, my friend Zoe Brain pointed out an interesting but sad article this morning.

Someone named Bev Jo, as a “guest” columnist on the anti-trans Gender Trender blog, writes an essay entitled  Fighting the "Lie" of Trans, which summarizes everything that’s wrong with the cissexist POV on trans people adopted by many radfems based on the patriarchist birth-genital-essentialist position of the Roman Catholic Church, imported into radfem philosophy by the false spinnings of the twice-born Athenas, Catholic college-based professors, Mary Daly and her empire-building protégé, Jan Raymond.

On Facebook, while riding on the commuter train this morning, I summarized a response as follows:

The only time I ever lied about myself was when I was trying to assimilate in accordance with societal expectations. All the writer is doing is showing a particularly malicious, clueless, institutionalized pseudo-patriarchist cissexist POV no different from the cissexist birth genital essentialiam brought into Radfem philosophy by Catholic college professors, twice-born Athena fembots Daly and Raymond, who corrupted Radfem philosophy from the inside.


But sitting at the computer in my office after work, I decided to read and analyze Bev Jo's article a little more deeply.  I have just started reading Mary Daly's book Gyn/Ecology in an effort to better understand why Radfem philosophy took a cissexist turn, beyond the surmise that I've made based on my exposure to the writings of Daly's protégé Raymond.

Right in the beginning, Bev Jo tells us she is a Lesbian, and then proves she can’t be one!

She parenthetically claims

“Who women choose to love is a choice, not something as trivial as ‘sexual orientation.’”
That is a statement that can only be made by

(a) a woman with a bisexual sexual orientation who has a natural orientation that allows for such a choice, and who chooses to suppress her heterosexual side, or

(b) a woman whose natural sexual orientation is actually heterosexual, but who is so wrapped up in radfem philosophy that she rejects her natural orientation, suppresses it, and “chooses” to assimilate – for such as make that “choice,” the choice itself can be a cause for psychological imbalances.

So I don’t know what Bev Jo’s sexual orientation is, but she proves by her own words that she herself has no place in lesbian space, except perhaps to the extent that bisexual women are welcome.

So, having appropriated the identity of a Lesbian, she proceeds to assume the patriarchal authority to exclude others who have more right to Lesbian space than she herself does. This pseudo-patriarchy is not new, it has been a hallmark of Radfem cissexist thought since even before Mary Daly wrote her metaethics book Gyn/Ecology.

If anyone has made “death threats,” they are responsible for their own behavior. There is no excuse for oppressed trans women to make futile death threats against their oppressors. I am aware of an unfortunate use of violent imagery in a Facebook conversation by two trans advocates who should know better, but I am not aware of any actual death threats.

Bev then asks a rhetorical question about women’s reactions to “men claiming to be women.” I can only ask a counter-question – where are the men who are claiming to be women? I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and I was erroneously assigned male at birth, but I am not and never was a man, even though I spent years trying to live a lie and assimilate with societal expectations based on that erroneous assignment.

Bev Jo does not have a right to call me a man. I have more of a right to deny her right to call herself a lesbian, because he own words indicate that she cannot possibly be a real lesbian.

Bev Jo in her essay shows her amazingly incredible ignorance about transsexual women. She certainly has never met me, and it seems clear to me that she has never actually met a real trans woman. If the story she tells about her “stalker” is not made up, the person she describes does not fit within the parameters of being a trans woman.

She also does not seem to understand what it is like to be a girl, growing up in a situation where everyone expects you to be a boy. Unfortunately, those of us who have had that experience resent it when someone else takes our narratives and distorts them. I have already had the dubious “honor” of being quoted more than once on the “mansplainin’ transplainin’” site. One of those quotes was an explanation of how I felt when I was four years old in the 1950’s, from the perspective of being a four-year old. The people who run that site thought that my simple child’s-eye view of the differences between boys and girls, and my realization that I was being told I was with the wrong group, was quite amusing. I am sure they enjoy their cruel little laugh at my expense.

When Bev Jo describes how some women look (referring to them as “female impersonators”) she does not realize that there are many trans women who don’t need artifice. It would seem that she gets her ideas about what trans women are like by poring over the writings of the notorious Opus Dei psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, an eating disorders specialist who advised the Vatican abut trans issues. Her description is almost exactly what McHugh wrote:

McHugh wrote in a 2004 article entitled “Surgical Sex” in First Things:

“The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing;”

Bev Jo writes similarly:

“they look like drag queens with their heavy, ugly makeup, plucked unnatural eyebrows, garish costumes, etc.”

Bev Jo’s apparent reliance on yet another patriarchist source like McHugh is more evidence of the nefarious influence the Roman Catholic Church has exerted on radfem philosophy.

Bev Jo rejects those of us who have surgery, and she rejects those of us who do not or cannot have surgery as well.

Bev Jo has apparently not been exposed to the mass of scientific evidence that shows that trans women are not, and never were, men, regardless of whether we have GRS.

Bev Jo has shown herself by her words to be an agent of the patriarchy.

She even writes. “It’s a basic weapon of patriarchy to divide women.” And then she proceeds to do just that – making sure that there continues to be a barrier between cissexual women and transsexual women.

I know who I am. I know that the scientific research backs me up. I have developed self-confidence. I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and no pseudo-patriarchist cissexist radfem is going to steal my identity, just because they themselves don;t know what a woman is.

You’ll note I am not using the term “transphobia.” The better terms to use are “cissexist” and “cissexism.” The relationship, particularly that of the institutionalized variety cause by a lack of understanding of trans lives, is eerily similar to institutionalized racism – and just as white people have to work very hard to see institutionalized racism, cissexual people have to look very hard to see the institutiopnalized cissexism that permeates the society.

If not by virtue of being cissexist, how is it that the Roman Catholic Church and the Radfem philosophers are so totally aligned on the issue of trans women?

One thing Bev Jo gets right – the alliance between some Radfems and their fellow separatist TS separatists, is still a variety of cissexism. Just as radfem philosophy as it relates to trans women is pseudo-patriarchist, the position of TS separatists is a pseudo-cissexist imitation of the radfem position, which makes it pseudo-pseudo-patriarchist. The willingness of the TS separatists to oppress other trans women as a means to gain entry for themselves into radfem circles, is pretty disgusting.

Bev Jo wants to organize het women to join with radfems. Um, that strategy is probably a non-starter – particularly with what Bev Jo already wrote in the beginning of her article about straight and bisexual women.

One would think that women – all women, straight, bi, asexual and lesbian, cissexual and transsexual, ought to be able to get along.

Why should Bev Jo be strategizing at marginalizing the most marginalized women, just because we are different and not cissexual?

Bev Jo should know that the National organization for Women already supports trans women – maybe she should get a clue from them.

As to being in opposition to NAMBLA, I am surprised that is an issue. Even the gay men I know are condemnatory of NAMBLA, why should women hesitate to condemn child abuse?

Well, when we get to Bev Jo’s conclusion – even RuPaul would acknowledge that female impersonators are not women. But RuPaul identifies as a gay man, even though he does costume very well. RuPaul is not a trans woman. I doubt that RuPaul would want to be called a trans woman or a transsexual, or a transgender person.

On the other hand, if one were to watch the RuPaul Drag Race show, some of the people who work as “drag performers” actually *are* trans women – and while they are involved in drag culture they are often working toward transition.

It may be hard to tell the difference by looking at them, and Bev Jo has already shown that she can't tell the difference, but all anyone has to do is ask.

So, when Bev Jo asks for lesbians to put females and lesbians first, she should be inclusive of trans women who are lesbians.  The fact that she isn't?  That is very, very sad.

But when you start with false premises, as Bev Jo does, it is really difficult to come to a correct conclusion.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Archbishop Dolan’s “Timmy One-Note” Afterthoughts on Marriage


I have to say it: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is no John the Baptist. If he were, he’d be telling his superiors in the Vatican hierarchy the truth about marriage, and he’d likely lose his job, but not his head.

Instead, he continues to play it safe in his quest for his cardinal’s red hat.

In his July 7, 2011 blog essay, entitled Some Afterthoughts, he refers to the historic passage of the Marriage Equality Act as New York State having “sadly attempted a re-definition of marriage.” But the Act was no attempt to “redefine” marriage, but rather involved an extension of connubium, which is “the right to marry” so that it is applied on a gender-neutral basis, in addition to the enactment of certain “religious protections” to insure that it is clear on the face of the legislation that those religions with faiths based in misogyny, patriarchy, and heterosexist supremacy, may continue to limit the marriages they sacramentalize and celebrate to those that they do allow.

It is interesting that he says, “the Church neither has nor wants political ‘clout.’” That is actually refreshing, since it is likely to be an indication that Archbishop Dolan does not plan to order priests in the archdiocese to refuse communion to Governor Cuomo and Catholic legislators who voted for the bill as retribution for their not following the Church’s party line.

The archbishop expressed concern about the religious protections, referring to, but not citing any, “editorials already call(ing) for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty.” I’d really like some credible evidence of this.

Dolan goes on to accuse pro-marriage equality forces of religious intolerance – the case where the bully accuses his victim!

He refers to his side as “those protecting traditional marriage” as if the proponents of the gender-neutral connubium are in some way against traditional marriage. We are not.

There are many LGBT people who have suffered persecution at the hands of the Church and other so-called “Christian” Christianist organizations. I do not blame them for their issues with the opponents of marriage equality, or their form of expression of their reaction to having been bullied by people like Dolan.

I myself will point out that Archbishop Dolan is a heresiarch, and that he really is not a Christian but is rather a Christianist, as is the rest of the Roman Catholic Magisterium. In a credal sense, the RCC hierarchy is nearly as true Christian as the Orthodox Christians who did not add a filioque to the original Nicene Creed. But in a doctrinal sense, as it pertains to moral theology, the Roman Catholic Magisterium is deeply in error because of its teachings in opposition to true natural law (as opposed to the Aristotelian conception of nature brought in by Aquinas), and because of the many Church Fathers whose writings were misogynistic and heterosexist. The Church’s interpretations of biblical passages related to LGBT people is rooted in misogynistic heterosexism, and are among the things that are the cause of error. (I won’t get into matters of faith, since I have evolved theologically since the Catholic Church threw me out in 1999, to the extent that I am now Unitarian/Universalist – so I am not Christian myself, in a credal sense, any more).

Archbishop Dolan apologizes, and I will share that apology here:

“. . . if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize. We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay. But, I’m afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, ‘Yes: I love you. Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being. I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God’s grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and His message. If I have offended any of you in my strenuous defense of marriage, I apologize, and assure you it was unintentional.”
I will accept that the apology is sincerely intended, but if only Dolan understood what it is that he, and the Church, are doing, I think he would want to rethink his position. (Certainly, casting his position as a “defense of marriage” is still an error.)

I could start with the schizophrenic passages in the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church, in which homosexual “activity” can never be “condoned” while homosexual people are to be “respected” and that there should be no discrimination against them. While Dolan is not responsible for the schizophrenia, he should interpret it in a more humane manner.

The tension between respect and condonation is thick – and the Church hierarchy often steers a course that can only be understood within the context of this tension – it is what allows Catholic organization leaders to refuse to allow a student group that has the word “gay” in it, but to permit the group without the name. I often find myself explaining (but not justifying) such actions on the basis of this.

From what I can tell, the Church Magisterium’s vehement opposition to even civil marriage rights is rooted in the “condonation” thing, even though I think that is a very wrong interpretation. The Church should be outside the civil marriage loop – it should be concerned solely with the sacrament of matrimony for Catholics. The opposition to civil marriage smacks of discrimination, and should be seen as against the Catechism. The problem is that the insane ravings from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the topic ties Dolan’s hands, so that in order to come across with the official party line of the Vatican, he has to make himself seem to be a fool (But, I am sure he might rejoin with, “but only a Fool for Christ!” or at least “only a fool in a quest for the red hat!” were he to read this essay)

Archbishop Dolan does not understand that we who support civil marriage rights being legally extended on a gender-neutral basis know that this does not have a single negative effect on the traditional marriage. There is a difference between connubium and matrimonium; while conjugal aspects of human reproduction through heterosexual sex acts are integral to many traditional marriages, they are not integral to all of them, and there are children integral to many same-sex couples’ lives.

Archbishop Dolan was in New York when New York adopted a no-fault divorce law just last year. He refers to the Church opposing no-fault divorce “sixty years ago.” Where was he last year, when the National Organization for Women was fighting valiantly in a losing effort to prevent New York from being the last state to adopt no fault divorce? I see nothing in his blog essays from 2010 that indicate that he was railing to stop the no-fault divorce law at that time.

There are many areas of the marriage “fight” where I could join with Archbishop Dolan. There are aspects of my 45 years as a practicing Catholic that still remain important to me, and aspects of Catholic morality that are not evil. The principles of monogamy and fidelity within marriage are sound. The idea that divorce should be limited to adultery and spousal abuse is one that I could support – I never understood the idea of “until death do us part” as meaning “or until we get tired of each other.”

I wonder what Archbishop Dolan would do about the thing that damaged marriage the most in the past century – the abolition of the common law regarding “bastardy and filiation.” This single legal change meant that women who would refuse a man carnal knowledge until “the ring is on the finger” because of the consequences to he and to any child, are now allowed to scheme on how to get celebrities and sports figures to get them pregnant out of wedlock so they can bring on the paternity suit. (One change I would make to the common law, though, is that it should not be the child who should be labeled as a “bastard,” but the man who was the “carnal sperm donor.”)

To my knowledge, while Republican Catholic and other Christianist legislators in New York State fought hard to include “religious protections” against gender-neutral connubium, there has never been any attempt by the Catholic Church or other Christianists to exempt Catholic marriages, or marriages performed in Christianist churches, from “no fault” divorce laws. While it is true that the Church maintains rigorous control over the granting of Church annulments, the canon law has been changed in such a way as to make it possible for just about any Catholic marriage to be annulled on the grounds that the parties were not really ready to be married at the time they were wed.

In addition to the above, there is much else to give the lie to how “the Church has always stood up for (its understanding of) marriage.” Yes, within the confines of spiritually guiding Catholics, but not to interfere with the civil laws – except for this time.

Where are the religious protections in the civil law against civil divorce involving Catholic marriages? I am sure that the LDS would join in to protect one of their forms of marriage, and the fundamentalist Christianists would support a civil “covenant marriage” concept that would be more difficult to end than the usual, run of the mill, marriage.

Here’s a quote that has me in partial agreement:

“And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity. If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called ‘nonmonogamy.’ Apparently, ‘nonmonogamy’ is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!”
I think the Archbishop is referring to the New York Times Magazine article on infidelity that prominently featured Dan Savage, which caused some interesting conversation over at the Joe.My.God. blog, entitled "Homoquotable - Dan Savage" (Is this the "editorial" he was writing about earlier? - if so, it's not an editorial, but is rather a magazine article, and Dan Savage was perhaps tryig to be practical rather than theological.)

Marital infidelity  is something that should not be legally condoned, or condoned by the Church. However, I would not push my moral position beyond that. The law against adultery and the adultery ground for divorce already contains defenses for both condonation and procurement. So, in the situation where both parties to the marriage enter into the marriage with the agreed intention of condonation or even procurement, I’d hesitate to be a moral judge. (With the "no fault divorce" law, they could get divorced anyway, but what if that were to change and divorce became more difficult to get without a legitimate reason?)

To speak against the practice, to advise against it, yes. To forbid it, no. People should be allowed make their own personal moral choices, though there should be guidance available for those who want it.  I would not change the law with regard to marriage to eliminate adultery as a ground for divorce, or to remove the defenses.

On the issue of multiparty marriages, that, too, is one that requires more examination. The state should provide a legal structure for various kinds of multiparty marriages (much as it allows various different kinds of business entities), all of which would require the up-front consent of all parties in advance, and all parties would have to be competent adults who freely and willingly enter into the arrangement with full knowledge and understanding and without any coercion. Ideally, each party should be required to be represented by an independent attorney as well, since it is not likely that most people would fully understand the various ramifications of such a marriage.

As I have pointed out in the past, the Catholic Church itself has examples of forms of multiparty marriage, albeit marriage-like family structures that do not require sexual congress among the parties – these are the various religious orders of priests, nuns, monks, lay brothers and sisters, particularly evident in those who live in religious communities, such as monasteries or convents.  In some ways, these are marriage-like structures modeled on the natural law relating to certain insect colonies and other creatures.

If Archbishop Dolan were pro-marriage, he’d be for both gender-neutral connubium and a framework for multiparty civil marriage that would protect all parties.  But he isn't - he is just pro one kind of marriage, and against other kinds.

Dolan’s blog post shills a bit for Robbie George. I have demolished some of Robbie’s writings in earlier blog essays –it would be a pleasure to do it again.

Dolan frustratingly holds “fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality.”

It’s interesting that in this, Dolan himself, like his mentor Robbie George, is retreating from reality in his inability to understand gender-neutral connubium as not affecting traditional marriage at all. He is retreating from morality by what I would call an institutionalized heterosexist blindness. It’s sad, really, that he does not understand that the misogynistic, heterosexist supremacist position of the Church is one which has no basis in Truth.  Heterosexist supremacism can be understood by an analogy to white racist supremacism - which I would assume is a concept the archbishop can readily grasp.  The idea that opposite-sex couples are superior to same sex couples, and that their legally sanctioned relationships should be better than those of same sex couples, that opposite sex couples have a relief valve for their natural sexual urges by way of a sanctioned moral marriage right, but that no same sex couple can have such a legal or moral outlet, is rooted in the same sort of thinking that led white supremacists to believe in the moral superiorityof the white race, that it is the pinnacle of evolution, and that the black race is destined by the Bible to be the chattel slaves of the white race, because they are the descendants of Canaan, and all the other arrant nonsense that goes witth the racial  bigotry of white supremacists.

Archbishop Dolan would have to be blind to be unable to make the connection.  He could try to rationalize the different kinds of -isms as having some sort of moral difference - but it would be just like turning to the Bible and retelling the story of the children of Ham to justify slavery.

Even so - he really likes his job, and he really wants that cardinal's hat.  Even if we could provoke a crisis of personal conscience in him, he would likely push it deep below his conscious thought, lest he run off the rails on his trajectory to a princedom in the Catholic hierarchy.

He started his essay with John the Baptist, and ended his article with Thomas More, both of whom quite literally lost their heads, while Dolan himself only loses his rationality and moral compass on the subject of marriage (to be fair, he does it on women's reproductive rights as well - but that's the misogyny again).

Thomas More was a brilliant man, but he was also a creature of his times. Neither the admittedly erudite but misguided Robbie George nor Archbishop Dolan can hide behind that fig leaf.  They live in a world where they have access to sufficient rational knowledge to change their views - unfortunately, the availability of Rational Truth may well not be efficacious in their cases.