Transgendered People and Religion.

A group that has not made as much progress as others is called transgendered people.  Who they are and their experiences are a lesson for us all.

Several years ago I was contacted by a couple in Southern Minnesota and heard a family  story the still bothers me.  When a doctor came out of the delivery room, he told the father his healthy baby had an issue about gender, it had organs of both.

Eventually, the medical staff decided the baby was a girl, and, with permission of the parents, a doctor removed male characteristics.

As a teenager, she decided she was a lesbian and began her life as such.  A few years into that, she became convinced she actually is a man.  The medical recommendation, parents’ acceptance and the surgery that followed had made his life unresolved misery.

In the years since, doctorsm mostly have stopped making decisions about gender indeterminate babies.  Children usually figure it out.

In a society trained to think in the myth of gender absolutes, ambiguity causes so much loathing people are murdered because of it.   Everyday there are individuals who must announce their gender is different than the one they previously presented themselves to be.  Religion exacerbates this problem by reinforcing absolute gender.

I wish some Christian denomination would have been at the forefront of accepting transgendered people.  Instead, it was a secular group, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, who first rolled out the welcome mat.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/03/12/174107482/flexible-gender-identities-confound-expectations-of-a-male-and-female-world?utm_source=NPR&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130314

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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61 Responses to Transgendered People and Religion.

  1. Morgan Christian says:

    Transgenderism is certainly one of the major failings of religious thought. It seems religion wants things black and white with no ambiguities. I think we are all subject to the shifting forces of nature and accidental mutation. A major difference I have with the notion of being born in the wrong body, is that I don’t believe I have a soul. There could be prenatal conditions of my forming in the womb, that gave me an identity that favors female expression in addition to a more dominant male expression.

  2. Brad says:

    “In a society trained to think in the myth of gender absolutes, ambiguity causes so much loathing people are murdered because of it.”

    Good point, and the reason is simple. On just about any topic, black and white, all or nothing thinking, and absolutism is simple, clean, and easy, whereas ambiguity and grey areas are sometimes very difficult to deal with. Black and white thinking doesn’t require an intellectual level much above a 5 year old.

    • Henry says:

      Brad: “Black and white thinking doesn’t require an intellectual level much above a 5 year old.”

      It seems that Brad would know. The true test of black-and-white thinking is an atheist giving commentary on the bible with their jaded black-and-white thinking and assumptions. They abysmally fail.

      • Brad says:

        I’m not an atheist, just so you know. My thinking is flexible enough to understand that there can be a God, and not have to be the God as defined by any particular religion.

        Kind of interesting, however, that you seem offended by what I said.

        • Henry says:

          “I’m not an atheist, just so you know.”

          That is right. You are Catholic as you already told us. What are we to believe?

          By the way, who said you were an atheist?

          • Brad says:

            I’m not Catholic, so I’m not sure where that came from. I never said I was (except jokingly when I said I was Catholic until the reached the age of reason).

            “who said you were an atheist?”

            I assume you were referring to me when you said: “It seems that Brad would know. The true test of black-and-white thinking is an atheist giving commentary on the bible with their jaded black-and-white thinking and assumptions.”

          • Henry says:

            Yes. Perhaps I was unclear. Sorry.

          • Brad says:

            Ok, that’s cool.

            Well, peace for now, I am calling it a day.

      • Brad says:

        And by the way, I am also flexible enough to realize that I can’t prove an atheist wrong, nor can I prove a Christian or other religions wrong.

  3. Avatar of Mac Mac says:

    For what it’s worth, I very seldom, if ever comment on the “T” part of glbt discussions because I don’t understand the “T” part.

    I like really being a male and have never felt the need to change that.

    For whatever reason I don’t understand individuals who feel the need to surgically change physical characteristics. I really enjoy the factory installed equipment.

    At last! Maybe a common ground where we can unite and hate some other.

  4. Michael Ross says:

    “We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”
    ~Dr. James Dobson, 2009 farewell speech upon retiring as president of Focus on the Family

    Two of those battles are against the abortion industry and militant homosexuality and now gay “marriage”. The right to life movement has just marked 40 years since Roe Vs. Wade and 60 million legal abortions. Millions of evangelicals, Catholics, and other pro-moral Americans have spent time, money, picketing, demonstrating, educating, being jailed, and otherwise sacrificing for the unborn, all to no avail. There is nothing to indicate any type of major victory in the foreseeable future. Likewise, the gay rights movement, which marked its beginning in 1969, has achieved one victory after another and the Boy Scouts may be the next to capitulate. Now two men or two women can be called “marriage”. We are in uncharted moral decadence with this one. Never before in history has homosexual relationships been termed “marriage”, being sanctioned by eight states and even some churches. Moreover, we have knowingly reelected a president that openly supports this perverted arrangement.

    Is this why the right to life and traditional marriage efforts have failed? As terrible as abortion and rampant homosexuality are, they are only symptoms, symptoms of gender confusion. As long as Christians battle for symptoms and ignore real underlying issues, the battle will continue to be lost.

    • Brad says:

      I guess I have to wonder what you would consider “victory”? If abortion were illegal, as it was pre-1973? There would still be abortions but we could feel better because we are unaware exactly how many abortions are being performed because it’s now being done illegally?

      On homosexuality, would “victory” be a nationwide ban on gay marriage, where again we could feel better because we can remain in denial about the fact that there are gay people sharing their lives together?

      What’s really sad is that abortion and gay marriage is seen as absolute center of all immorality, when that notion is contradicted by scripture. According to the scriptures, the love of money, not abortion, not gay marriage, is the root of all evil. The evil of corporate greed, of the unabated distribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, people starving in this country while corporate thieves and their Republican puppets are fighting tooth and nail to butcher the social safety net.

      I guess abortion and gay marriage do serve the purpose of diverting attention from the REAL evil in this world. The corporate fascists can continue to rape and pillage this entire planet while all the righteous Republican Christians can ignore that by fixating on abortion and gay marriage.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Brad 1:15 “What’s really sad is that abortion and gay marriage are seen as the absolute center of all immortality…”

        Great summary. That is one of the oddest things about today’s political Christianity. There are so many sins, most clearly labeled as sin, that are ignored. I bring up here over and over working on Sunday. It was punishable by death in the Bible. Today, apologists brush it off by spinning the meaning of “keep it holy”. They seem to think the Bible meant if you just remember it’s Sunday, it’s still OK to go to the office and put in a day’s work or go to the mall.

        The meaning changed when society changed.

    • Doug says:

      “Two of those battles are against the abortion industry and militant homosexuality and now gay “marriage”.”

      MILITANT HOMOSEXUALITY sounds like a pejorative term to me, for any homosexual who has the nerve or audacity exist (to BE who he/she is) AND to stand up for his/her rights.

      Furthermore, it is the MODERN Gay civil rights movement that began in the summer of 1969 with the Stonewall Revolt in NYC.

      ” . . .“marriage”, being sanctioned by eight states and even some churches.”

      Actually, marriage now is legally recognized by NINE states plus the District of Columbia. Depending on how things go in other state legislatures this session, as well as how the SCOTUS rules in June, that number could increase dramatically. Potentially, Marriage Equality could return to California and also become new law in Illinois, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Delaware, Hawaii and Oregon. A new poll that came out about two hours ago (Washington Post – ABC News) shows that “58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Public attitudes toward [marriage equality] are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.”

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/03/18/gay-marriage-support-hits-new-high-in-post-abc-poll/?wpisrc=al_comboNP_p

      • Jinx says:

        good news indeed Doug!

        wish i could type with 2 hands……..gene switches have alot to contribute to why we have gltb as well as hetero people.

        it may be too scientific for henry though.

        • Henry says:

          Jinx, now that was very bullying! Please tone it down. We’ve had complaints of that recently.

          I am unaware of scientists finding the gay gene. The last time I checked, they were feverishly looking.

          I am skeptical right out of the gate with the “science” of homosexuality. The man researcher who started the “science” made thousands of films of children being sexually abused. That is the basis for homosexuality theory. You have to be proud of that. {/sarcasm}

          • Jinx says:

            after some of the things you’ve typed to me henry, and you accuse me of bullying!!!!! jeeezzz

          • Henry says:

            I am at a loss. I have challenged your opinions.
            If that is insulting to you, perhaps you should get a different line of work.

  5. entech says:

    I can never understand how there can be such a thing. In a universe that is perfectly and intelligently design you would expect the design to preclude the possibility.

    Perhaps reality is the best argument against the intelligent design argument. As the creationists/designists always like to use “Atheist” to begin anything they don’t like or can’t understand perhaps we could start to use a similar expression for them. What I have in mind is that most of us that are not theists and a lot of theists can look at the universe and get a pretty good idea of what is real, people that insist on a special creation or some such thing could be Arealists while the rest of us are realists.

    • Henry says:

      enny: “always like to use “Atheist” to begin anything they don’t like or can’t understand perhaps we could start to use a similar expression for them.”

      You are blinder than a bat, just barely able to keep from running into things. You obviously haven’t noticed a “similar expression” being used for quite some time.

  6. Blasphemer says:

    Jon: I find it predictably interesting that your call to the subject of transgendered persons created zero discussion from the largely pompous opinionated group of responders. I suspect the reason for this is in my use of ‘opinionated’ in that they have no interest in the subject, therefore no opinion and therefore no reason to verbalize something that has nothing to do with themselves and how they think. However I have come to know that much of the silence on this issue is an uncomfortable element many have within themselves of a lurking gender issue of their own. How often we find men in clubs or social occasions wearing dresses and making a big joke of this. On the other hand for many doing drag is a serious effort to express ones true self or an element of a more complex true nature.
    I myself as you know (Jon) am a crossdresser. In the realm of psychiatry termed ‘transvestite’ which I believe many of us in drag avoid because that does sound perverted. We fall under the ‘transgendered’ umbrella as conflicted in our assigned sex role, but not an entire 180. I like girls and I like to be a boy in that role.
    While it will appear to some reading this that I am upset in some way for people being the way they are towards people like me I must tell you, I am not. When the weather is nice you will often find this girl out on the town with friends at Duffy’s, The Hodo, Dempsey’s etc. with my excepting friends where I meet many other friendly excepting people, who frankly are mostly of the younger crowd which indicates to me how the times truly are changing.
    Before someone points out my own ego here: Let me ask you this, to ask yourself: Do you truly express yourself to the world we live in? Are you living YOUR LIFE? The little gods out there that we make up often tell us to live the life they would have us live. Are you living a lie? And if you are couldn’t that too be a sin?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Blasphemer 3:32 Thank you for sharing this private side of your life. That you dress as a woman for some occasions does not hurt anyone so far as I know, but would be regarded as a sin by some here.

      That there are heterosexual males like yourself who feel an attraction to dress as a female reminds me of the discussion I am trying to have with Henry. If there is an intelligent design of the world, including humans, I wonder why the “intelligent design” would include folks like you and others classified under transgender? My tongue-in-cheek explanation it was to give a group true believers could dislike is the only answer I know.

      The reality, there was not intelligent design. We humans come in vast variety, blue eyes, brown eyes, skin color and complex sexual variations. Each has something to contribute. Thanks again.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        bill 8:45 I looked for some reason an intelligent designer may have designed trans people and gay people. I gave a reason. No one here has posted another one.

        • entech says:

          Jon, why do people make assertions and then demand we prove them. When will these people understand that rejecting their beliefs does not need an alternative presentation. We simply think they are wrong end of story.

          How do you think we could go about proving or disproving intelligent designers, creators, gods and fairies at the bottom of the garden? As they all have invisibility as a necessary property, after all if they could be seen that would be proof in itself, we can only really observe the effects that they have on the world around us.

          Take the intelligent designer hypothesis, presumably this designer designed the planet we live on to support life. Not only human life because we must remember that ID is not religious, has nothing to do with creationism (except when we look at books that have been hurriedly and badly cut and paste to change creator to designer) court decisions to the contrary. But I digress, stick to intelligent design and its creations (creations in a purely neutral usage). The planet designed for life will support life in all kinds of conditions – underwater volcanic vents, anaerobic lightless conditions, freezing cold, high concentrations of cyanide; conditions mainly supporting microbial life which are called extremophiles for fairly obvious reasons. The planet does not easily support more advanced life forms, take the higher primates, there is so much of the planet where they could not survive, too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, so the planet was not designed for all life, little bits of real estate designed for little bits of life, not very efficient, almost as if life just developed to suit the prevailing conditions. Humans can survive in a much wider range of habitat than lesser beings, that is because humans have a demonstrable intelligence and can do an intelligently designed modification to the environment to create a liveable space. Demonstrable intelligence does not imply that it is always demonstrated, if I were to talk about some of the impossible things some people can convince themselves are real, well a person living in the real world would not, could not, believe it. This is not taking into account earthquakes, volcanos, tidal waves, tornadoes, cyclones and other things that make some parts inimical to life regardless of what we could do, even if these things didn’t actually give enough warning, you would think an intelligent designer would have included some kind of early warning system. Of course, it is possible to think these things and other natural disasters, plagues and so on were designed for population control.

          That is just a brief reason not to believe in design, every day when I try to walk with my arthritis, take medication for cardio-vascular disease and diabetes I think that if there were a designer he is so incompetent that if he had designed my house I would want a refund.

          But I started off with proof for and against, invisible so look for effects (by their deeds?). I think that the faults we are surrounded by points to there being no Intelligent Designer, if you would say that in spite of all the contrary indications that there is, then it is up to you to offer proof, I can only say I don’t see any and conclude lack of evidence implies lack of existence.
          If you say something exists and I say I don’t believe that is the end, if you insist then you prove it, don’t pass your burden on to me.

        • bill says:

          Entech says: Jon, why do people make assertions and then demand we prove them. When will these people understand that rejecting their beliefs does not need an alternative presentation. We simply think they are wrong end of story.

          Bill’s response: Because that is what you demand of christians daily.

        • bill says:

          Entech in regard to your other statements about design. Ever think we might have been the first try? Perhaps we were made the way we are so that we wouldn’t live forever and outstrip our resources? Do you ever question why Pollocks paintings are the way they are? It’s up to the designer. You’re trying to judge based upon your experience not the designers.

        • entech says:

          Bill 12:52 Most people who are classed as or self define as atheist or agnostic will just say I don’t believe what you believe. There is nothing to say about proof, there are some that will state out and out that there are no gods or supernatural beings, they are in the same position as you – making statements that cannot be validated.

          You say there is a supernatural creator, a personal God that takes an interest in you and sacrificed his own son to save you – prove it.
          Some none believers say no such entity exists – prove it.

          Both are in the same position, most none believers are just that – none believers, I do not believe that your assertions on this matter are correct, convince me, prove it to me. If you demand that I prove you wrong I cannot, would not try, all I can do is say I don’t believe it and discuss my reasons for not believing.

        • entech says:

          Bill 12:56 I just tried to explain that I see no evidence for a designer of the universe and all that is in it, this world and all my fellow human beings – I cannot look at it from the perspective of unknown and unknowable, possibly, maybe designer.

          I can look at my house and car from the point of view of the designer, many people I know actually shared in the design process for their house. This is not the same outside of space and time Intelligent Designer that is so often referred to as God.

    • Henry says:

      Blasphemer, you have one whole paragraph of condescension and hatred.

      I can’t speak for others, but the term “transgender” is too broad for me to respond to. Any criticism of any part of the transgender situation will yield heaps of scorn from athists who will point out one segment within the transgender “big tent” were born in that condition and had no choice in being transgender. The topic was poorly set up, hence no discussion with even Big Mac acknowledging he doesn’t approach this subject.

    • Doug says:

      Thank you for your first-hand experience in the realm of cross-dressing. People in general often misunderstand the terms “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”, and as such, do not even know how to talk about the topic of transgendered people and their issues within this society (much less, discuss gay vs. “straight” issues, for that matter.) Cross-dressers can actually fall into either category of discussion (gender identity and sexual orientation.) However, I dislike generalizations and putting people into labeled boxes for whatever reason of convenience. All of us as individuals are hopefully more than the sum of our BODY parts, or the selected clothing ensembles with which we express ourselves. Needless to say, the human brain is an extremely complex organ, one for which we scientifically know the least information of any of our body parts. Likewise, issues of gender and ones sexuality (and what “turns us on” as individuals) are equally complicated, varied and multi-faceted. Religion in general demands simplicity, black and white. “Churches” will never try educating (indoctrinating) the sheep with anything too difficult to understand. Complex topics of sexuality must then be reduced to the most simplistic ideas. Unfortunately, this world and its billions of people certainly are anything that clear-cut. We must first seek out the extraordinary traits we all have in common as humans before we can begin the attempt at understanding our few differences.

      On another matter, here’s a bit of a grammar lesson that I think you might be interested in hearing: EXCEPTING vs. ACCEPTING. I do believe you meant to use the latter. The word “excepting” actually means the exact opposite of what I think you intended to express in your comment.

      Cheers!

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Doug 5:09 Thanks for an informed post on the complexity of human sexuality. You state so well, the inclination of churches, and all of politics for that matter, to see things in the simpliest way imaginable. “You can change,” is the theme of most religious conservatives. But, there remains no professionally veted evidence of that.

      • Henry says:

        Doug: “Religion in general demands simplicity, black and white. “Churches” will never try educating (indoctrinating) the sheep with anything too difficult to understand.”

        Depends on what church you go to and how you apply yourself. To say Christianity is not complex really rings hollow. Trinity anyone?

        • Henry says:

          Also:

          Matthew 18:3
          And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

          Simple and complex.

        • Doug says:

          ” To say Christianity is not complex really rings hollow.”

          Christianity was not even mentioned once in my post. Furthermore, MY suggestion was that “churches” or religions in general tend to simplify the approach to human sexuality (topic: transgendered people) for easier consumption by the masses (sheep). At no point did I say that either religion, churches or “christianity” were not complex. And PLEASE stop using hackneyed word combinations such as “rings hollow.”

          • Henry says:

            Doug: “Christianity was not even mentioned once in my post.”

            I can play your game as well. Here you go. I didn’t state that Christianity was mentioned in your post.

            Doug: “stop using hackneyed word”

            It is a public forum. I’ll use whatever tasteful figure of speech I want to. You will have to control your sensitivities from your end.

            I’ll stand by my original response.

          • bill says:

            I agree Henry. Saying that christianity is not complex really rings hollow.

          • entech says:

            Doug, don’t ask them to stop using expressions like “rings hollow”, that would be like asking them to think for themselves. Be reasonable miracles are their domain not yours.

        • entech says:

          I agree with you for a change Henry. Christianity is a very complicated thing, it needs to be to explain everything, even the early church fathers stated as much:
          The source and unity of the Holy Trinity is the Father, from whom the Son is begotten and also from whom the Spirit proceeds. Thus, the Father is both the ground of unity of the Trinity and also of distinction. To try to comprehend unbegottenness (Father), begottenness (Son), or procession (Holy Spirit) leads to insanity, says the holy Gregory the Theologian, and so the Church approaches God in divine mystery, approaching God apophatically, being content to encounter God personally and yet realize the inadequacy of the human mind to comprehend Him.

          He was born in 329 in Arianzus, a village of the second district of Cappadocia.

    • Jinx says:

      blasph……….you are who you are because that is how brain your was formed in the womb. have a broken wrist so i can’t get into molecular genetics and gene switches ’cause its just too long for me to type.

      good for being who you are! you remind me of my friend steve, he and his wife share clothes and make up. great people!

      take care and don’t change, your fine as you are!

  7. Buzz says:

    Blasphemer: Did you mean Accept-include,or Except-exclude. And Morgan I wish you comfort and Clarity. I also notice that Posters start misusing peoples Blog names when responding to Blogs when they get angry or disturbed. Just sayin.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Buzz 4:24 “Posters start misusing peoples blog names when responding ..when they get angry of disturbed.”

      Good point, Buzz. Henry, expecially enjoys assigning faux names to bloggers who have already entered a faux name. When have so much traffic here with two or three conversations going on at once. It will help readers who visit us if all play it straight–referring to the blog name used and idenfifying as best you can the post or topic you are referring to. Thank you all.

      • Henry says:

        I committed a transgression of Jon’s law. I didn’t think Jon believed in sin. I will make better efforts at correctly spelling.

        Hopefully, this can raise status, perceived or real, for some.

        • entech says:

          Henry @ 6:49. I didn’t know Jon was a Law Maker, I thought that they were just guidelines to make it simple. To comply with your standards I would like to know where Jon mentioned “sin”, unless you are promoting him to Law Maker not any old Law Maker but one whose laws are absolute and “sin” is described as transgression or leaving the path of righteousness.. There you Jon, wiped out, non existent, Henry has put you in a class where you would deny your own existence.

          Poor Henry, can’t resist a little hyper-defensive jab, perceived status indeed, merely a preference for a selected name. Actually it is a kindness, as Buzz says it makes you look disturbed. I think it makes you look stupid, specially when you can’t remember the name of your own president, it is also annoying because I know that stupid is something that you are definitely not; perhaps I am wrong suggesting you should have been a lawyer you should have been an actor you so often do a good job of hiding your lack of stupidity.

  8. bill says:

    Amazing. Now christians are responsible for the woes of the transgender crowd. Hey Jon? Is there anything else you can tie to us christians? Say like the Kennedy assassination, or maybe the discovery space shuttle disaster? Keep it up Jon. We christians thrive on being persecuted. It’s what we truly shine at. I’m sure if you could have your way you would use christians as human torches for nighttime garden parties like Nero did.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      bill 8:16 “Now Christians are responsible for the woes of the transgender crowd.”

      I made the observation when transgendered people looked for a group who might welcome them, they did not find it in churches, they found it in a nonprofit group, PFLAG. It would have been nice if it had been a church.

      • Henry says:

        Jon: “It would have been nice if it had been a church.”

        Jon, they did not make a sincere effort. The reason I say that is some denominations are clearly accepting of transgenders and any associated unrepentant sin (if any). I know the PCUSA, ELCA, and UCC and others would accept the transgender and their sin. Obviously, the claims of not finding an accepting church are false.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Henry 9:14 PCUSA, ELCA & UCC.

          They were not welcoming, or, trans people did not see them as welcoming, twenty years ago.

          “…associated unrepentant sin (if any).” I can’t tell if you are doing parody or serious there.

          • Henry says:

            Those church denominations at that point in time did not officially accept the sin. The right church body would have, though.

            On the last item, serious.

          • entech says:

            Jon, I think who hit it right on the head, definitely
            parody, reminds me more of Emily every day.

  9. Buzz says:

    Henry 6:49 Bullying isn’t being bought either.

  10. Blasphemer says:

    Wow, cool, you have quite the collection of responders here. First, thank you Jon for your kind if not most intelligent words here. Speaking of words,… except/accept,…really? Let me say this though; thanks to those who demonstrated the hint of an open mind. You know who you are. For the rest I would suggest you check your meds, you may consider either, start taking them again or upping the dose. In other words there is no way I will enter in to an argument/discussion with those that have such an obvious disconnect with rational thinking. I see through your shell of disjointed rhetoric rambling and its way to the hopeful illusion of reason.

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