Friday, May 20, 2016

Gender is NOT eternal

I've been thinking a lot about our society's current obsession with transgender and homosexual individuals.

It's not a good obsession either. It's a hateful one. It's a platitude, but it sure makes sense here: mankind seems to be afraid of things he doesn't understand. Especially for those who profess to be religious.

My understanding is that mainstream Christianity maintains that homosexuality is sinful in the eyes of god, because god created Adam and Eve, man AND woman in his own image, and gave them to each other. For whatever reason, this allows Christians who are uncomfortable with LGBTQ individuals to treat those individuals differently, and quite often, harmfully.

In LDS doctrine, members are taught that gender and biological sex are one in the same, and are eternal. Once a woman, always a woman. And gender is divine.

As I've distanced myself further from the church, I've begun to realize, through reflection and study, gender and biological sex are two different things. Biological sex refers to body parts and chromosomes. Gender refers to a psychological status, socially constructed, and in a constant state of flux from external and internal pressures.

Growing up LDS, my exposure to the real world was limited. I didn't really have much of a concept of anything outside of male and female. And I honestly believed gender was eternal, that I had always been female and that I always would be female. I didn't know about children born with both sets of genetalia. I didn't know about transgender individuals. I didn't know about XXY individuals. I knew about homosexuality, but my understanding was very limited. I kind of thought it was a last resort choice for guys who couldn't get a girl. I feel terrible about that. But I was ignorant, and no one taught me otherwise.

Gender is defined as: the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones). Historically, men wore pink and women wore blue. Historically, little boys wore dresses until the age of 5. Historically, men wore high heels. Historically, men hunted and women cared for children. Gender is a social construct to give roles to certain similar individuals. Gender is a psychological state of being, and as I said before, subject to internal and external pressures. What is acceptable for the "male gender" one decade, is taboo the next. Defining gender by clothing, behavior, interests, or abilities does in no way describe a biological sex. After all, my sons love what is currently defined as "girly", but that does not make them female. Gender stereotypes and gender roles are socially constructed. So if a biological male feels more comfortable assuming typical female roles, that shouldn't take away from his being male. Nor should it take away from his identifying as female if he so chooses. Your sex and your gender are two different things.

In our Christian theocracy, there is a widespread limited understanding of basic biology in regards to biological sex. The fact that homosexuality and transgenderism exist is not well understood by many people who tout themselves followers of Christ. There seems to be a lot of pent up frustration, anger, and misunderstanding. Most recently, in my experience on social media, I have noticed a trend in memes, articles, and video shares by conservative Christians that portray transgender individuals as rapists, pedophiles, or creepers. With the most recent controversy surrounding bathrooms in public venues, conservatives use excuses like "allowing transgender persons to use the bathroom of their self proclaimed gender will allow better access to perverts and predators."

I personally don't see the issue here. Perverts and predators exist, they will always exist, and they will always find ways to secure their victims. Allowing transgender individuals legal protection to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in isn't going to bring a rise to bathroom abuse. In fact, I think it might lower some, as transgender individuals may be safer in the bathroom of their identified gender.

There are so many strange double standards in regards to homosexual and transgender individuals within the realm of religion. For example, in the LDS church, it is completely appropriate for an older male ecclesiastical leader to be a lone in a room with an under aged female and ask personal questions regarding her sexuality. However, in the LDS church, it is completely inappropriate for a gay male to oversee a group of boys. Being gay does not make you a pedophile, any more than being heterosexual does. Just because a male is attracted to males does not mean he wants to have sex with children.

There have been reported scandalous cases, and one example I will use comes from the Catholic church, where many young boys became sexual victims for ecclesiastical leaders and priests. It wasn't well addressed for many, many years. In fact, it was hidden. Now, things like this are conveniently ignored and innocent LGBTQ youth and adults are persecuted by members of Christian (and non Christian) religions. Yes there are many religious persons who welcome and accept LGBTQ individuals, and I praise and applaud them for doing the right thing. But when I see a video of an angry  self proclaimed Christian woman walking through Target, yelling it's a sin, and her children are at risk in the public bathrooms, I am sick.

The first real experience I had with a transgender individual was through youtube. There was a female who had transitioned to male. And I would never have known unless he said it. He had a girlfriend, a fantastically fit muscly body, and a deep voice. Later, my husband introduced me to more, and I watched the documentary of a transgender girl named Jazz. Her story touched me, biologically born male, but transition to female by the age of 5. This little girl, you never would have know she was born male.
She looked female, talked femininely, and carried herself like a traditional little girl. And it is completely normal! But according to conservative Christians, she should use the men's room because she has a penis. This girl, all girl, with breasts, long hair, and skirts, would be forced to walk into the men's room, see grown men urinating and probably be forced to endure hateful gestures, words, and possibly abuse. That is wrong.

Gender is complicated. Biological sex is complicated. There is no perfect male or female. Genetics are a funny thing, and no, nature doesn't get it right 100% of the time. Gender roles are archaic. Forcing an entire group of people to behave, like, and look a certain way because of their genitals is WRONG.

People need to stop being afraid. They need to be educated. They need to be made to understand. We humans CREATED gender. Not god. It's not eternal. You can't tell a child who was born with a uterus and a penis, who's parents made the choice to remove the penis, that their gender is eternal, and god always meant them to be female. You can't tell a child that their biology is a mere trial of mortality, and they will be made perfect (not who they really are) in the life to come. That is cruel. That is wrong. And no boy should be persecuted for liking pink. No woman should be shamed for wanting to have a career. And no transgender individual should be labeled a predator, rapist, or pedophile when they want to use a public restroom.

Wake up America.

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