Posts Tagged ‘LGBTQI’

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Exilic Theology

30 December, 2017

A new study has shown that of the 100 largest churches in America 7 have a person of colour as their pastor, 1 has a woman as their pastor, and 0 are LGBTQ-affirming. A faith that once offered hospitality and hope to the disenfranchised and minoritised outsider has become the arm of the white, straight, cisgender man. We have seen this approach to faith before and we have seen how it ends:


Enslaved by monarchical theology in Egypt,

an exodus restored freedom to the oppressed.


Ruled by monarchical theology in a divided kingdom,

an exile restored commitment to the poor, the widow, and the orphan.


Dominated by monarchical theology under Rome, a pacifist Messiah ate and drank with tax collectors and sex workers and brought them salvation.


The church must abandon supremacist theology

or face a new exodus.


The church must abandon patriarchal theology

or face a new exile.


The church must listen to the messianic voices of and among the LGBTQ community

or they will lose the way to salvation.

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An Open Letter to Faith Leaders As We Approach TDoR

15 November, 2017

Dear Friends and Leaders,

 
Monday, 20 November, 2017 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Every 20th of November services are held to remember and make visible the known transgender people who have died due to anti-transgender violence. Black and brown transgender women make up the majority of these victims. This year continues the trend of seeing more transgender people killed than the previous year, yet these attacks and the Transgender Day of Remembrance receive very little acknowledgement outside of LGBTQ circles. The vast majority of Americans are unaware that on this day, every year, a day of mourning happens to honor the people lost solely because of their gender identity. This year, we mourn over two dozen Americans.

 
In light of this being Transgender Awareness Week and the week ending in the memorial service for those who have been lost, I encourage my pastors, my friends who are faith leaders, and all faith leaders to specifically mention the Transgender Day of Remembrance in their services and in their public prayers. Pray for and act on behalf of the victims of anti-transgender hate crimes. Pray for and act on behalf of victims and survivors, their friends, their families (chosen and biological), and their community.

 
Today, I present myself to you as a voice crying from the wilderness. A wilderness of fear, anguish, and suffering. A wilderness so dark that it cannot even be said to be ignored or rejected, but lost. I am the Samaritan woman begging for your children’s fallen scraps; for even your pets receive the blessing of Saint Francis once a year. I am the bleeding woman reaching out in hope of a miracle; I am extending my hand to you in faith that you will act to stem this bloodshed. I am the woman with the crooked back, bent over and hobbled, having seen nothing but dirt for decades; I stand before you now and hope you will lift our faces that we might see you and be seen by you.

 
I understand that the choice to do this comes with risk. There will be those who will be surprised or confused by what you say. Still more, there will be those who reject and actively resist what you say. I know that you have a position and a responsibility to your congregants and your superiors. You are expected to adhere to the dogma you were empowered under. I appreciate the gravity of what I am asking and I am asking it all the same. For God wants justice to follow down like mighty waters and that is powerful imagery. Mighty waters are overwhelming and not a little chaotic. They rip apart established structures and consume them. Mighty waters are not gentle, they do not only come if you are ready, and they do not ask your permission or acceptance for their flood. Scripture is demanding that justice, true Divine justice, be not concerned with what is political, or expedient, or comfortable.  Scripture demands we be prepared and willing to rip out the old structures and dogma, if it stands between God’s children and God’s justice. Are you willing to unleash those waters and let them wash away the injustices the church has shored and bolstered?

 
According to Matthew, Jesus said, not a sparrow falls from heaven without God seeing it, and how much more are we than sparrows. God sees us. I am asking that you, also, see us. God cares for us. I am asking that you, also, show care for us.

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Gender as Personality; Gender as Cultural Perception

19 June, 2012

I have been wondering for a little while (read: thirty plus years) what gender is, how one becomes gendered,whether gender is a social construct or an aspect of physiology, and how someone who is transgressively gendered can move through and interact with a traditionally (perhaps coercively) gendered world?

Part of the difficulty in addressing these questions and with talking about gender is a lack of common language. I think those who are traditionally gendered do not spend much time contemplating their genderedness. Like having two excellent eyes or ten flexing fingers, being traditionally gendered is taken for granted. When you are not traditionally gendered, however, you spend every moment of every day thinking about gender, not just your gender, but everyone’s.

“I wish I could stop thinking about my gender.”
—TotallyAmelia via Tumblr

I am able to remember a time in my life where I was not concerned with this thing called gender, I was four. The idea of gender had not been introduced to me yet. I simply knew my personality and that was all I needed to know. Honestly, I think that is all any of us needs to know. This raises another batch of questions for me. Why do we not interact with others based on their personalities? We do we feel the need to know a person’s gender? How are we determining their gender? Why do we try so hard to determine the gender of androgynous people or, worse, disbelieve those whose identified gender does not match what we perceive it as?

I have come to see gender not as a letter on a driver’s license or even a word on a birth certificate but as a multifaceted spectrum that incorporates physiological and cultural components. The arguments that it is merely a biological classification or that it is strictly a set of cultural norms fail to capture the complexity of the concept. Let’s be honest, if it were as simple as what parts you are born with or which conventions you follow, would I and so many others like me have spent so much of our lives obsessing over our gender, where it came from, and why it doesn’t seem to align with what society expects?

I think a life or a time looks simple when you leave out the details.”
Ursula K. Le Guin,
The Birthday of the World and Other Stories

Gender is a way of thinking about one’s own personality and the personalities of those one interacts with and it satisfies the cultural need to classify those personalities into tidy little packages. It is a philosophy designed to bring order to our world, but like all philosophies it mutates into rigid dogma in the hands of those attempting to maintain power and those who are afraid of anything outside of their individual experience.

Gender as individual personality is, perhaps, the easiest concept for a transgressively gendered person to understand and the hardest for traditionally gendered people to understand. When your personality runs fairly close to what society expects of you in your role as woman, man, girl, or boy, it does not occur to you that the personality you have is expresses your gender, that it is a method of categorising you with like personalities. Instead, the traditionally gendered see gender categories as being the domain of biology, in particular genitals and secondary sex characteristics. But gender is far more complex than that. When I was four and in kindergarten I got a damaging lesson in personality as gender.

It was a week or so into the first quarter of kindergarten and the children were just getting used to each other. Small groups of friends were forming and my instructor must have decided that not all of those groups were appropriately holding up the gender classification system. ‘Today,’ she said (or said something very much like,) ‘we are going to be in groups according to if we are boys or girls.’ We were all fine with this; after all weren’t we already with those like us? ‘Girls on this side and boys on that side.’ I had not really thought about whether I was a girl or a boy, but I knew I liked what the kids on the girls’ side liked and I played with them. The kids on the boys’ side were different from me. They played different games, they were louder, they were rougher (more aggressive), and I did not understand them or why they acted the way they did. Based on the logic of personality and perception I clearly belonged on the girls’ side and moved to join them.

‘Where are you going?’ the teacher asked me. I’m a girl, I told her. And she smiled at me. It was a smile that I would grow too familiar with. It lacked warmth or humour; it was reserved and hid her true emotions, a lot of disapproval and a little disgust. It was a frightening smile that told me not to question anything she said next, not to ever say what I had said again, and, more than anything else, that smile told me to never, ever reveal who I was (what I was) to anyone, ever. ‘No,’ she said. ‘You are boy and belong with the boys. Go to the boy side.’ I did not know what would happen if I didn’t do as she said, and that smile told me I did not want to find out. I shut my moth, crammed my personality into a deep dark corner, and joined the boys. I stayed there for thirty years.

And for thirty years I questioned my personality, I questioned how I was gendered and why my feminine personality did not align with what society classified me as. It never occurred to me to reverse the question, why did society believe I was male in spite of my evidence to the contrary? Everyone from school, to parents, to the mainstream media, to erotic fiction and porn confirmed that body trumped personality, so, clearly, I was broken mentally. I was a freak. And I knew I was freak because my personality was female.

“She gives me that look. And I know I’ll have to pretend to be a little boy from then on.”
Kate Bornstein,
Hidden: A Gender

Far easier for traditionally gendered people to understand is how other people’s personalities reflect their gender. Their personalities allow us to place individuals in the proper gender categories: girl, boy, straight woman, straight man, gay man, lesbian. Determining someone else’s gender category is more difficult than determining our own. For ourselves we ask one question: do I have a penis? If I have a penis then I am a member of the dominate gender, man. If I do not have a penis (because this is a phallocentric culture where a person cannot even use the word vagina in mainstream politics without drawing harsh rebuke), then I am not a man, but a member of the subordinate gender, woman. But with others the odds of our seeing their genitals to determine their gender are quite slim, so we find other ways. Of primary importance are secondary sex characteristics, such as facial hair, voice, and breasts. Of almost equal importance are behavioural cues, or personality. The way a person moves, speaks, and takes up space. What a person enjoys doing, the type of career they pursued, how they pursued it, the kinds of people they hang around. All of these are aspects of personality. As a society we default everyone to a male gender and then change that perception based on how the person’s looks and personality align with it.

According to research done by Kessler and McKenna it takes four female cues to outweigh one male cue. That’s how phallocentric our culture is and why women get sirred far more often than men get ma’amed.

Because our society cannot abide ambiguity we have created this nifty little classification system called gender to tell us who is what and, once we know what they are, how much of our respect they deserve. That is the ultimate purpose of the gender classification system. It is more than just the need for tidy little categories. It is what those categories help us determine, the thing we are most desperate to know, who is above who on the hierarchy. This is why transsexuals and other transgressively gendered people are such a threat to the gender classification system. They are jumping gender categories and changing the amount of power and respect they are entitled to, thus exposing the ridiculousness of the system. My personality is little altered from when I was socially male to my being socially female, but I receive less respect, my opinions are devalued, and I make less money (despite doing the same job). Conversely, I know some female to male transsexuals who have stepped not just into a different socially perceived gender but also more respect, more opportunities, and higher wages. Their personalities have not changed either. Our actual genders have remained consistent, but our perceived genders have changed and we suffer the penalties or reap the benefits according to our new position. Personality as gender exposes cultural perception as gender for the misogynistic system it is.

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Getting There is the Battle

6 June, 2012

Getting There is the Battle
by: River Eller

::getting ready to go to work. hating the prep time::

Shaving entails feet, legs, hands, arms, chest, under arms, shoulders, face, and neck; it is a tremendous pain in the tucked region and generally takes an hour and a half. I did most of it the night before so it only took twenty minutes this morning. It saves time to do it in stages, but that means everyday there is a different area that needs shaving and, every now and then (read: last night) shooting stars, planets, blue moons, and horseshoes align and I have to do it all at once. The exceptions to the stagger-shave rule are my face and neck, that’s everyday. I am still figuring out how much pressure to apply to each area, so I cut myself, a lot. I cut myself twice last night, once on a toe and once behind the knee.

After a scalding shower (it needs to be scalding to burn away my dysphoria), I towel dry my hair and shave my face. I also brush my teeth. I do this all by the glow of the nightlight. It is enough light to see by while being dark enough I won’t glimpse body parts I cannot handle seeing.

::a quick blast with the blow comb. hating my forehead; cursing mentally—and a little under my breath—fiddling with my hair::

I stare into the mirror. A brush in one hand and volumising spray in the other. I always flip my bangs to one side then the other then straight down. I brush them back to add lift …

::seeing my forehead again; struggling against the tears::

… and then back down. It wants to part to the right and leave the thinning spots distressingly noticeable. I brush it toward the left side. Better.

::still noticeable and oh goddess! that forehead::

I let the sides and back of my not-straight-not-curly-and-still-to-short hair flop down as it pleases. At least it is chin length now, which means fewer days in a wig.

::smiling at my reflection then frowning because I forgot to do my make-up before my hair; chastising myself; making myself feel bad because I deserve it, they tell me I deserve it.::

My foundation is powder. I tried the liquid but it clumps to the stubble as the five o’clock shadow comes in. Powder is lighter and can be re-applied quickly without a caked on look. I can do this because I am blonde and my shadow is almost non-existent.

::thanking the goddess I am blonde::

I apply some blush and, because I was feeling dysphoric yesterday, I decide to femme it up with eye liner (brown), eye shadow (green), and mascara (Lushes Lashes). I use just a hint of eye liner in my eyebrows to make them a touch more visible. Then the whole thing is sprayed with De-Slick, a mattifying spray.

::redoing my hair; feeling bitchy because it doesn’t look as good as the first time; still hating my forehead::

My outfit is cute; they always are. They need to be because jeans and a t-shirt get me clocked. (child: Mommy, why is that boy wearing make-up?) Today it is a dark, denim-like-blue, cotton skirt from Old Navy and a green and white, floral peasant top from Macy’s. I adjust my tuck to prevent accidental bulging.

::I thought it was supposed to shrivel from lack of use; it’s been a year, why is it still so huge? sighs::

I rub baby-boy Mulder, my black cat, on the head. “Be a good boy,” I tell him. “Or girl,” I add, “which ever you feel you are.”

::heading out; locking the door behind me::

Traffic is light, which is good because I left ten minutes late and have to speed to make-up the time. I push the car to seventy and hope that the people doing eighty are the ones who get pulled over. The posted limit is forty-five, but everyone does sixty. Well, everyone except the dump trucks, they do thirty and scatter themselves across all three lanes creating a string of weaving, merging vehicles at inconsistent speeds. I hate speeding or doing anything I could get pulled over for; I don’t want to deal with bigoted police officers. (cop: Sir, your license says female. Please, step out of the car, sir.)

::parking; rushing into the building::

I’m still late. Teachers are supposed to be there at seven; it is five after. On the way into the building, the wind blows my hair to shit. There are students gathered near the door and they see my bald patch. Some snigger, others turn away in disgust, and one grabs his friend’s backpack and pretends to vomit into it. Mr. Veep, the vice principal (read: bigoted asshat) is standing in the doorway, watching.

I smile. “Good morning, Mr. Veep!”

He looks away and down and mumbles a sorta “Good morn-nnmph …”

The office is crowded. It’s always crowded in the morning. Teachers, subs, administration, support staff, students, and parents. Today a group of parents take up half the lobby space. The men are big, I mean, BIG boys. The lightest of the three must weigh in at 225 pounds and his wife isn’t far behind him. The other men aren’t starving, either. Of the other two women, one looks like she could skip meals, plural, everyday for a few weeks and not suffer. The other is so skeletal I’m convinced the big’uns have been eating her meals.

“pardon me” I squeak. I keep my head down and avoid eye contact.

::willing them not to notice::

I slip between them and head to the counter and the staff sign-in sheet. Just three quick strokes, ‘CMS’, and I’m out of the office and into the hallway and sixty-one moderate steps later its the relative safety of a parent free room. dontnoticemedontnoticemedontnoticeme—

“The fuck is that?” the biggest big’un asks. His voice is as large as his stomach and resoundingly deep.

“Oh! That’s MISTER Song,” the skeletal one says. “He teaches literature.”

Big’un grunts. “I always figured boy teachers were fags. Doin’ women’s work.”

“Thank Jay-zus it don’t teach our kids,” says Mrs. Big’un.

Ms. Möbius, our smashing, sweetheart secretary, overhears them—they’re so loud neighbouring schools could hear them—and she says in a firm voice, “Good morning, Ms. Song. My but don’t you look nice today.”

“Thank you, Ms. Möbius. Have a great day!” thankyouthankyouthankyou!

“You do the same, now, dear.”

She’s a blessing, that Ms. Möbius. She also does a damn fine job subbing on those rare occasions I need to call in dysphoric sick.

::out of the office … sixty-one steps … shut the door::

Safe.