Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER EXPRESSION

My friend, Don Charles, sent me an excellent essay by Gabriel Rotello that I want to share with you, and that deserves to be read by everyone who is committed to full equality for LGBT people.

His essay appears on The Huffington Post, and it is entitled, "If ENDA Doesn't Protect the Transgendered, It Doesn't Protect Me."

The following is a small excerpt from that essay:

"The decision by the Democratic leadership in Congress to eliminate transgendered people from ENDA, the bill to ban discrimination against gays in the workplace, has ignited a genuine firestorm in gay political circles.

"It's heartening to see that LGBT activists are coming out of the woodwork to insist that any meaningful bill that does not protect the transgendered isn't worth the paper it's written on.

"But criticism that the bill is a betrayal of the most vulnerable among us, while well-intentioned, doesn't go anywhere near far enough.

"A bill to protect gays from discrimination that excludes transgendered people isn't merely a betrayal of the transgendered -- it's a betrayal of all gay people. Because (as I wrote in an Advocate column a few years back, which I will quote from liberally here), in a very real sense, all gay people are transgendered."

Please read the whole essay, as it opened my eyes to a crucial dimension of LGBT studies and issues that I had not thought of before, and that Don Charles had long ago (See, for example, his essay, "Why Gay People Exist") pointed out in his posts, utilizing the Bible as well as Gnostic writings to support his thesis. It was only after reading Rotello's essay that I was able to see and appreciate the interface between his thesis and that of Don Charles' contention that supports that thesis in the spiritual sense.

The major cause of antipathy toward Gay people has largely to do with many of them not behaving according to established, taken-for-granted, gender roles: in mannerisms, sexual positions, sensibilities, and other assorted sentiments and behaviors that offend what most people consider to be "normal."

If, in fact, androgyny (or any departure from typically expected binary sexual identity and stereotypical gender expression) is part and parcel of one's being Gay, stigma and discrimination against Gay people have much, if not most, to do with the perceived "abnormality" of many Gay people's gender identity and expression, and that contention makes it that much more important that Transgender rights become embodied into law, for to do anything less doesn't get at the heart of many of the causes of the hate directed at Gay people, and will do virtually nothing to remove the effects of discrimination against Gay people.

Sexual orientation and conscious and unconscious gender expression might well be coterminous, inextricably enmeshed with each other, undoubtedly by God's design. Being Gay is a gift from God, and it doesn't matter that those who see gender expression and sexual orientation in binary terms vehemently disagree! God is sovereign, and He doesn't make any mistakes!

So, to deny Transgender people civil rights in the ENDA Bill, might well be cutting off the very reason that Gay people are discriminated against in the first place, thereby doing virtually nothing to reduce prejudice and discrimination against Gay people; thwart the very reason that ENDA was proposed in the first place.

As I've long contended, misogyny lies at the heart of homophobia! However, Rotello has taken this contention one giant step further. He contends that gender identity and expression are inextricably linked with sexual orientation, and that contention forces us to see that the fundamental basis of antipathy toward Gay people is not so much their sexual orientation (although that certainly is a factor), but is largely due to the fact that their sexual orientation is frequently (though certainly not always) enmeshed with their mannerisms and sensibilities that are not culturally and anatomically consistent with what many define as "male" and "female."

If for no other reason, Transgender rights must be included in ENDA! And, being Gay should also be seen as God-given (For it is!), displaying all of the varieties and complexities regarding sensibility, mannerisms, interests, and identity that are parallel to the seemingly infinite varieties we see in all aspects of God's creation.
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6 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

The following passage comes from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, and is, I think, pertinent to this discussion:

Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father's) kingdom."
They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's) kingdom as babies?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."

Androgyny is a heavenly state. It has a direct connection to the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I don't think it's a coincidence that the church has so many androgynous (LGBT) folk in it. I believe they were there from the very beginning, by God's design. What sacrilege, then, to try to expel them from His houses of worship!

Jerry Maneker said...

Don Charles: Just as the builders rejected the Corner Stone, most clergy and members of the institutional Church are rejecting God's very own children, and for this sin the institutional Church is deservedly paying a handsome price in the increasing loss of credibility, and a likely backlash from all people of good will, and from all Christians worthy of the name, who will flee these oppressive, hierarchical, bureaucratic, one-dimensional, exclusionary institutions and finally come to worship God in spirit and in truth, divested of the false gospel of legalism and exclusion to which so many have been exposed for far too long!

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

I believe those Scriptures referring to the rejected Cornerstone are direct references to LGBT presence in the church.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: I believe that that verse refers to Jesus, but the fact is that Jesus makes it crystal clear that we are not to exclude ANYONE, as it's His Church, and not the fiefdom of mere fallible human beings who crave moral and political hegemony over others and at the expense of others deemed as "the other." With and in Jesus there is no "other"

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

I think those verses just as easily apply to LGBT folk . . . who, other than Jesus Christ, has been more rejected and shunned by the organized church than us? And whose presence in the church has been more consistent than ours? I don't think it's a coincidence.

I've just blogged on Gabriel Rotello's article myself, and (pray for me) I've emailed the original article to my mother. She's always had a hard time understanding who I am. Maybe this will explain.

Jerry Maneker said...

Don Charles: Anyone who know you, even relatively superficially, and certainly from your writings, knows that you are a man after God's own heart, and that ou have the integrity, intelligence, compassion, and faith to speak the truth, both spiritually and in your sincere desire to help other people. Any mother or father would be proud of having such a child!