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« Miss Pettigrew offers food for thought | Main | The Point Radio: Side-Stepping the Cross »

March 20, 2008

Daily roundup

Blogging will be light tomorrow, as PFM has Good Friday off. Have a blessed Easter weekend.

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Walter

Gina,

Thanks for pointing out the NY Times magazine article "When Girls Will Be Boys". Knowing that BreakPoint tracks transgenderism, it has been noted that you can no longer explain away your insensitivity through ignorance. Can you ask Chuck to apply midrash to the article and respond to his "Not my shower" commentary?

A couple of questions for you and Regis and Anne and Chuck to ponder:

1. Rey is quoted as saying: "When I was 5, I told my parents not to correct people when strangers thought I was a boy. I was never a girl, really — I questioned my own gender, and other people also questioned my gender for me.”

Do you believe, that as Chuck says, Rey is attempting to "erase the distinctions between males and females", or is he trying to live his life authentically?

2. Although Rey has not undergone bottom surgery, he most likely uses male restrooms. Does he deserve any protections? What does the "Not In My Shower" group have to say about his experience? Are there concerns for his safety?

3. What do you think about Akerly/Jordan who is described in the article by, "The only sign of an “alternative” or outsider identity — other than appearing masculine enough to be frequently mistaken on campus for a female student’s boyfriend". How should society deal with her. Should she be compelled to "feminize" herself? Does she have the right to use the women's restroom just the way she is? Does the "Not In My Shower" fearmongering campaign make things more difficult for her?

4. How would you describe the relationship between Melissa and Rey? They were a lesbian couple and now they are a normative "straight" couple. Did Melissa demonstrate true love, through her willingness to stand by Rey in spite of her own sexual orientation. Did she exhibit true Christian love? Should Melissa and Rey be allowed to marry?

Samuel X

(Note: The "God and Man in China" article link is missing the h in http.)

Gina Dalfonzo

Thanks, Samuel. I've fixed it.

Gina Dalfonzo

Walter, I feel I should backtrack a little and see if we can get to the root of all these charges and misunderstandings about the restroom issue. I'm not certain whether we've really done that yet. (As far as Rey is concerned, we don't know what restrooms he uses, so it's hard to go into specifics about whether he should or shouldn't be doing something when we don't even know if he's doing it.)

In my view, it boils down to this: If there are going to be separate restrooms for men and women, there has to be some distinction as to who's allowed to use which. The conservatives in this case think the division should be based on the physical. The advocates of the transgendered, if I understand their argument correctly, believe it should be based on the mental or emotional state of the individual -- that is, what gender he or she feels like he or she is.

The problem I (and others) see with that is that it's too subjective. The transgendered person may feel that he's in the right place when he enters the ladies' room. But his feelings are not all that are stake here. What about the feelings and the privacy of the women in there with him? Their feelings count too. And yes, it becomes a safety issue for them as well as a privacy issue, because they have no way to judge whether the man entering their restroom is a transgendered man who feels this is where he belongs, or a heterosexual man who's there for other reasons. I understand that the transgendered and their advocates don't like to hear this, but I'm afraid it's the truth and there's no getting around it. It could very easily happen. You try telling, say, the father who's waiting for his little girl to come out of the restroom that the man who just walked in there after her had no sinister intentions. How does he know for sure? For that matter, unless you know the man personally, how do you know for sure? This is not fearmongering; it's based on a sad fact about our sick world. I wish with all my heart that it weren't that way, but it is.

This is why so many of us believe that physical characteristics should remain the basis of the distinction. A transgendered person may not feel happy with his or her gender, but it's still his or her gender whether he or she is happy with it or not. I honestly believe, trying as hard as I can to keep prejudice and insensitivity completely out of it, that using that standard is the only fair and objective way to judge who should be in what restroom.

I hope this explanation helps you understand a little better where we're coming from on this.

Walter

Gina,

I think it's best for you to stay away from transgender issues. You don't respect pronouns. A transwoman is a woman, not a man, but that's not what we're talking about here. The NY Times article is about transmen and your explanation didn't address the specific questions I asked. You went off topic and repeated the abstract talking points from the "Not In My Shower" anti-transgender political agenda.

As for your hypothetical father waiting for his little girl, I see men bring their young daughter into mens restrooms all the time. That seems like the common sense solution. If a man was waiting outside a womens restroom and a transwoman entered the restroom and the man was really concerned (transphobic?), he has every right to follow the woman into the restroom. There is nothing illegal about that right now. Bathroom selection is governed by cultural norms, not law. There is no law that would prevent the father from entering the ladies room, whether there is a gender identity non-discrimination law on the books, or not.

Steve

I have considered it the better part of valor to stay out of this fray, knowing it is an emotionally charged issue. The problem with emotionally charged issues is that they are decided on the basis of emotion rather than facts.

Nothing has been proved regarding the causality of either homosexuality or other gender identity disorders. The preponderance of evidence is that they are acquired in early development. The evidence for a genetic contribution is meager, contradictory, and largely irrelevant. The image of the Church has not been helped by some who ignorantly assert that these come about by choice.

The Christian Medical and Dental Associations has an extensive annotated bibliography on homosexuality at:

http://www.cmda.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Sexuality&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=2295

Note that the very bottom of the page above links to a second page of references, including evidence for a strong association between homosexuality and pedophilia, a reality manifested in the Catholic priest scandal and denied by advocates and the media.

As a body of Christian medical experts, that page is provided for informational purposes only.

Many besides myself can comment on what the appropriate Christian response should be to those affected with gender identity disorders, but I imagine we all believe they should be treated with compassion, respect, concern, and a nonjudgmental attitude.

That does not mean, however, we must buy into the scientifically and Biblically unsupported view that these conditions are healthy, sanctioned by God, or in need of special public accommodation.


Walter


Steve,

There is no "fray" here that is not of BreakPoint's own making.

Let's review.

Regis Nicol wonders why people aren't listening to the "Christianist" message.

[definitional note: I use the term "Christianist" to describe a distinct world view or ideology. To put things in perspective, if an evolutionary biologist is a "Darwinist" even if she may be an atheist, Jew, Christian, Hindu or Muslim; a "Christian" who ascribes to the tenants outlined in Charles Colson's "The Faith" may be labeled a "Christianist" to denote their all-encompassing world view. On the other hand, adherence to a scientific theory, isn't a world view.]

The Barna study referenced in "Unchristian" notes that Christianists are perceived to be insensitive and overly political. You've provided a good example of this phenomenon. In a discussion of transmen at women's colleges, you posted a non sequitur (a la Paul Cameron) reference to the Catholic church's cover up of pedophilia amongst its own priests.

That has nothing to do with the topic. You've only demonstrated that the Barna conclusions are valid. Only a person with a political agenda would lump all GLBT issues into one category... "bad". That agenda results in blindness, which is about as insensitive as you can get. Also, your analysis is unscientific. Gender identity and sexual orientation are orthogonal.

Steve

Walter,
The scientific data from the Christian Medical and Dental Associations referenced above was provided for the benefit of readers of this forum who might desire objective information on the subject. Though there was probably no way to avoid the perception, it was not intended as a rebuttal directed against you.

I am not interested in debating the subject with you. Your posts obviously reveal a deep emotional investment in this issue. That is not a criticism; whether or not such is truly the case, that is what I am hearing. Even if it's true, there's nothing inherently wrong with being emotionally invested in an issue. As I pointed out in another post, and you quite graciously affirmed, there are a host of ways emotions can bias one's analysis and mold one's beliefs.

We are all interested in how the Church can better demonstrate compassion. Any concrete suggestions on how it might do so would be very valuable to all of us. So far your "judgment" against Colson et al seems to conflate compassion with assent. There is a profound difference.

Walter

Steve,

Christians have an intense emotional investment in truth. We don't like to see people who call themselves Christians bear false witness to advance a fear-based political agenda. It makes it harder for us to be a Christian.

You have an opportunity demonstrate compassion right here and now. Speak to the specific circumstances in the "When Girls Will Be Boys" article. Answer the questions that were posed. Show some sensitivity. It's ok to express disagreement so long as you demonstrate personal integrity and intellectual curiosity.

btw, thought you'd enjoy this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAZhdrB8cjA

(Ed. note: The link shows people removing their tops, but no actual nudity is shown. Proceed at your own risk. --GRD)

Steve

Walter,
One more thing. You protested Anne Morse linking to a column by Mike Adams. I think you're being a little harsh on her.

It was ambiguous from her post whether or not she was even endorsing it, but what if she was?

His article was slightly polemical, but on a scale of 1 to 10, with Mr. Rogers a 1 and Rev. Jeremiah Wright a 10, I'd give it about a 3 or 4. Way below Ann Coulter. Personally, I often find Anne quite funny, but I do not think she is very effective at winning anyone over to her side.

Everyone, including ourselves, uses a polemical style at times. The article you referenced at equalityloudon was extremely polemical, and contained some blatantly false and slanderous statements.

Mike Adams is a conservative commentator posting on a well known conservative website (TownHall.com). It also happens that most Christians are conservative. No one should be surprised to find polemical writing there, and it does no good to get worked up over it. If someone is wrong on the facts, prove it.

Steve

Gina,
I had submitted another comment prior to the 11:59 one responding to some of Walter's questions. Did something happen to it?

Gina Dalfonzo

Steve, I'm not sure, but I'm afraid something might have. I remember seeing it, and I thought I published it, but TypePad seemed to be having some sort of hiccups at the time. There were some comments I had to publish twice because they were unpublishing themselves! Now I don't see that one at all. I'll try to find it again, but I don't know if I'll be able to. I'm sorry.

Gina Dalfonzo

Steve, you're in luck! Although TypePad ate the comment, I still have the comment notification in my e-mail system. (And after I was ranting and raving about comment notifications this morning because they freeze up my inbox! God definitely has a sense of humor.)

Although I can't publish it from there now that TypePad's copy is gone, I have the complete text of it, so here it is. (Original paragraph breaks are gone, so I'll just put some in where they seem to be called for.)

"Walter,
"You started the comments above with 'a couple of questions' that tallied nine by my count.... It would take too much time and space to try and address them all. I'll just try to highlight a couple possible responses.

"'is Rey trying to live his life authentically?' It would be more accurate to state Rey is trying to cope with life as best he can. He grew up internally conflicted, and with our present state of knowledge medicine has nothing better to offer. Dr. Throckmorton might comment as to whether psychology could help.

"Regarding the question about erasing distinctions, the article clearly states he has become an activist. It also describes wide support among the community for blurring and eliminating distinctions. It is arguable whether that presents any threat to normal heterosexual marriage; by itself, probably not at all; in tandem with many other issues, maybe some.

"Restrooms: It's not just a question of what Rey wants, but whether Rey is capable of showing respect for others. Generally, it would seem to me that someone who looks and dresses like a man should use a mens room, and vice versa. Don't know what you mean about protection, safety, etc.

"Melissa and Rey: Two very trouble people who probably were very lonely. They probably are a comfort to one another. I'm not sure of the relevance of whether it is 'Christian' love or not. According to Jesus if we love Him we keep his commandments. The article didn't indicate whether they were or were not."

Walter

I hope you watched and enjoyed the youtube link. I've been told that it's a mainstream Italian commercial.

Gina, you may want to watch "Boys Don't Cry". The movie may deepen your understanding.

I'm not going to beat this horse anymore. It's dead.

Steve

Walter:

The Italian commercial: Maybe that explains why the Italians have one of the lowest birthrates in the world, way below replacement.

Maybe you can head back over to the evolution thread. I'm still interested in hearing you explain why the evolutionary model would predict increasing complexity over time.

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