Sunday, August 15, 2010

DON CHARLES: THE GENDER MONOLOGUES: FRANKENGENDER

Check out: The Gender Monologues: Frankengender by my good friend, Don Charles.

Here's an excerpt from his incisive and liberating post, a post that I strongly urge you to read in its entirety:

A lot of people say that "gender reassignment" effects a 100% cure for the Transsexual person. A cure for what, I'd like to know? Induced inferiority? What benefit does a target of bigotry derive from conforming to the twisted values of a bigoted society? And how does society benefit from having its corrupt value system affirmed?

No cure has been effected! On the contrary, the disease (transphobia) has been rendered more virulent. People of blended gender keep falling into its predatory grasp. Transfolk are still being driven to mutilate perfectly good human bodies because the world they live in rejects the gender God has attached to them. Worse, they're still being driven to commit suicide for the same reason. Either way, violence is being done to the Transgender body! Either way, Transfolk are following the urge to act on socially-imposed self-hatred.

Whenever I make pointed observations like this, I get emails. Nasty, vituperative emails! Acid-tongued individuals claiming to represent "the Transgender community" keep trying to sell me bottles of snake oil. Their wares are odious enough, but their sales technique is even more objectionable! After they're done cursing me out, labeling me an oppressor and fictionalizing my personal life . . .

Trying to fit into a binary gender world is severely traumatic for them; they run to psychologists and physicians, pleading for peace of mind. In much the same way their predecessors pathologized LesBiGay status in years past, these opportunistic and narrow-minded health professionals slap a disordered label on transsexuality. Convinced that they must be freaks of nature, their patients readily accept this diagnosis; but that's hardly relevant when the diagnosis is wrong!

I submit that "gender dysphoria" is nothing but a convenient way to avoid challenging transphobic social norms. Patients find it easier to change their transsexual anatomy than do battle with a world (and a self-concept) that recoils from it. Doctors find it easier (not to mention far more lucrative) to recommend expensive and painful "sexual reassignment" than to confront their own binary gender bias.


The message all should hear and take to heart is that transgender people are not "mistakes," not "deviants," not "freaks," and are not only normal, but are made in God's image!
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29 comments:

MgS said...

He's right about one thing - transsexuals (and other transfolk) are a normal, natural part of the world.

After that, he's missing the boat entirely.

His understanding of the drive to transition is grossly incorrect - at least as I see it. While the need to transition may have a component of "desiring to fit in", it is far from a refuge from transphobia of any kind.

The desire to transition comes, at its root, from a desire to correct the cognitive dissonance of knowing we should be living in a far different gender role than we were born into. Only a relative handful of transfolk pursue surgery - and for those who do, the outcomes are genuinely positive. (See Pfaefflin et al.)

While the concept of genderqueer is intriguing, it hardly describes the narratives of most transsexuals, and in fact represents a place which few are truly comfortable with.

I will be posting a more detailed response to Mr. Charles' commentary on my own blog later.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

There is no "need to transition", none at all. Rather, Transfolk have a need to reconcile themselves to a world where their manifestation of gender is either rendered invisible or demonized. There's no "cognitive dissonance", either! There's just a crushingly narrow concept of gender that "gender reassignment" advocates try their damndest to shove transsexual human beings into. It keeps coming back to that log in the eye Jesus Christ spoke of! You can try to discredit me if you like, and judging by the negative response I've gotten to my latest essay, many people will applaud your efforts to do so. Whatever you may feel forced to say about me, though, the truth about Transgender status will remain as inconvenient as always. Not to mention the inconvenience of that aforementioned ocular impairment . . .

MgS said...

Mr. Charles,

I disagree with you on this.

My response is here if you should care to read it.

In this forum I will only say this: For some, transition works. We should never lose sight of that reality.

FQ said...

Rev. Jerry, thank you for posthing this. While I disagree with your and Don Charles's opinions, I appreciate the space you have provided.

Why is Don Charles suddenly an expert on Transgender and transition? Is he Trans? If he's not Transgender, why are his opinions superior to the Transgender community?

And I find the title "Frankender" quite offensive, like Trans people are monsters. And the illustration of the soccer (?) playing with his bare buttocks is offensive because it shows Don Charles is trivializing Trans concerns and using sports photos to "sex up" what should be a serious discussion.

I will never take Don Charles seriously. I left several comments on this topic at his old blog and they were never posted. And I resent the fact I cannot leave comments at his new blog unless I get a Google email. Jerry your system is much more user friendly. Since you and he have comment moderation, why does Don make it so difficult to comment at his site? What is he afraid of? And how ironic that he rails against other blogs and comments but he is the worse (sp?) offender.

I love my sexuality and my identity. It is a gift from God.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi FQ: Don Charles can best speak for himself, but he's quite knowledgeable about LGBT issues, and provides an interesting, incisive, perspective from which many people may benefit.

The last thing he's doing is portraying Trans people as "monsters," and "trivializing trans concerns." Quite the contrary!

He sees LGBT people as normal, and resents any attempt to buy into the homophobia and transphobia that exists in society.

Also, he moderates his blog as do I, in that you can't imagine some of the demented comments we receive.

I won't pollute any reader's mind by allowing hateful, if not demonic, comments that add nothing to the discourse. Believe me, you have no idea! Best wishes, Jerry.

MgS said...

@Don Charles:

You write: There's no "cognitive dissonance", either! There's just a crushingly narrow concept of gender

Unless you've been inside my head in some way, I don't see how you can make such a statement. I speak from lived experience. Trying to tell me that I haven't experienced cognitive dissonance when I know damned good and well that I have is precisely the kind of statement that will provoke very angry responses from those who have experienced it.

This is the kind of claim that is nothing more than a sad attempt at erasure. I'm sorry to say, but just because you can't believe it's real doesn't mean that you can simply dismiss it out of hand.

You might want to consider the fact that you are talking about human beings with real thoughts and experiences outside of your own.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

The reality that we shouldn't lose sight of is that there is nothing wrong with the Transgender body. And as I stated in my essay, neither "transition" nor anything else that perpetuates narrow concepts of gender "works".

Nice try, "FQ" (I get the acronym), but I know you better under your "real" identity of SugahHoneyPlease. You're a pathetic and disturbed human being! You need help, and I hope you get it.

genevieve said...

Wow! A great article and it echoes what I manintained all along. I'm normal. I don't need to have surgery to be transgender because I already am. I've never felt that I was dysphoric. I'm just being the person that I was created to be.

Jerry Maneker said...

You got the message, genevieve! You are normal, made in the image of God, and you don't have to do anything to compromise your intactness by in any way validating the transphobic elements in society. Best wishes, Jerry.

FQ said...

Dear Rev. Jerry:

Thank you very much for posting my comment earlier. I discovered both of your writings around the word "queer". I dislike how some GLGBTs use it with a passion! As I said earlier, I have disagree with some of you and Don Charles's opinions' (except on 'queer') but very much appreciate the "safe space" you JERRY have provided.

I will not disrespect Rev. Jerry's online ministry or blog with an argument. But I don't know who or what Don Charles's was talking about. My name is Frank and my middle name begins with a Q. I am putting my email address in the comments for Rev. Jerry's use and it can easily be confirmed. Jerry read my comments and allowed me to express my frustrations and I appreciate that.

Rev Jerry , MGS and Genevieve (lovely name! smile) please be blessed. But as I said I will never take Don Charles seriously, ever, especially after that vitriol. What a way to greet a first time commenter!

Thank you for letting me share.

I love my sexuality and my identity. It is a gift from God.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi FQ: I'm so appreciative of the kind words you said about me and my blog. I must say that the comment to which you refer by Don Charles has a context that no one else knows about, but is a result of horrific and demented comments that were not published, made by a person who uses different aliases so that it was understandable that he felt that FQ could well be another alias from a truly demented commentator whose demented vitriol will never see the light of day on his blog or on mine.

I do hope you will read, and I urge you to read, his many essays on his excellent blog Christ, the Gay Martyr that are a product of many years' work; his blog, Ignorance is Plentiful.

He is truly a fighter for the dignity and equality for God's LGBT children, and has immeasurably contributed to the education, empowerment, and liberation of so many people.

In fact, he's the only person I have ever asked to allow me to post some of his posts on my blog, and he has kindly given me permission to do so. He's a first rate scholar and a very decent human being, and I just ask that you and others understand that his comment to which you refer has a context relating to demented, and perhaps demonic, comments with which he and I have been inundated for a long time.
Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Thank you, Genevieve, for understanding what I'm attempting to do.

"This is the kind of claim that is nothing more than a sad attempt at erasure. I'm sorry to say, but just because you can't believe it's real doesn't mean that you can simply dismiss it out of hand."

Just because you believe something is real (and I have no doubt that you do) does not make it so, MgS.

"You might want to consider the fact that you are talking about human beings with real thoughts and experiences outside of your own."

And you might want to consider that you have no insight whatsoever into my experiences! Don't try to play that you're-not-an-expert-on-transsexuality-so-you-have-no-right-to-comment game with me. I'm not playing games! And I'm not posturing, either, unlike you. I'm trying to spark discussion and re-evaluation of transsexual identity.

As for "FQ", you may have deceived Jerry, but you're still "SugahHoneyPlease" to me! Anybody can adopt a fake name and email address. You still to need seek help for your bizarre and obsessive behavior, and you're certainly not going to get it by crafting these elaborate subterfuges. I'm finished talking to you.

MgS said...

@Don Charles:

You write "I'm trying to spark discussion and re-evaluation of transsexual identity"

But you are doing so by attempting to erase/invalidate the narratives of transsexuals.

The entire issue of gender and gender identity is much deeper than your apparent claim that transsexualism is rooted in the narrowly defined social roles.

Gender - as I have discussed on my own blog (here, here and here (plus a few additonal essays) ) is something that spans the social, physical and psychological spaces - the intersections of attributes between these spaces all contributing to an individual's understanding of their gender.

Simply broadening or eliminating gender roles at the social level does little or nothing for transsexuals whose issues relate to the intersections of the physical with the social and psychological. (It might benefit crossdressers and genderqueer people who are content with their physical status, but not transsexuals)

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi MgS: My point in what I have written (and what Don Charles has written) is that there are no "genderqueer" people! A meaning of "queer" is "abnormal," and no LGBT person is abnormal!

Regarding transgender status, they are "normal" and made in the very image of our transgender God!

Regarding "the intersections of the physical with the social and psychological," it's the latter two that cause untold harm to transexuals by the very existence of transphobia in society that is often internalized by many (though by no means all) transexuals.

If there were no transphobia in society, it is unlikely that there would be many transexuals who would feel "like they were born into the wrong body."
Best wishes, Jerry.

MgS said...

If there were no transphobia in society, it is unlikely that there would be many transexuals who would feel "like they were born into the wrong body."

Jerry, I can hardly believe you wrote that.

It makes about as much sense as claiming that eliminating homophobia will result in fewer homosexuals in society. Transphobia doesn't cause transsexuality any more than homophobia causes homosexuality.

In the last sixty years, the degree of transphobia in society has dropped markedly - the experiences of people coming of age today are dramatically different than my own in this regard. (there is much less resistance to the concept of transsexualism among today's 20-somethings than when I was that age)

The availability of information about the condition has increased dramatically from the days when Jan Morris wrote Conundrum.

This has meant that more people are aware of transsexuality, and also there are more who seek to find resolution to what they experience.

Show me a single shred of peer reviewed evidence that supports your "reduced transphobia = fewer transsexuals" hypothesis ... because I've never seen anything that suggests such a thing.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi MgS: You write, "Transphobia doesn't cause transsexuality any more than homophobia causes homosexuality."

I never suggested that transphobia causes transexuality! I said that transphobia causes transexuals to feel that they are abnormal, when in fact they are not abnormal.

Psychologically incorporating the transphobia that exists in society can't help but make many transexuals feel that they are abnormal; if there were no societal transphobia, it is unlikely that many transexuals would feel that they are abnormal.

You also write, "Show me a single shred of peer reviewed evidence that supports your "reduced transphobia = fewer transsexuals" hypothesis ... because I've never seen anything that suggests such a thing."

Again, I never suggested that there would be fewer transexuals if there were less transphobia, only more well-adjusted transexuals. Best wishes, Jerry.

MgS said...

Again, I never suggested that there would be fewer transexuals if there were less transphobia, only more well-adjusted transexuals.

Jerry - that's a far more reasoned statement than your previous summary statement, thank you.

That said, I do not for one minute believe that less transphobia in society is going to result in fewer transsexuals who pursue surgery. There are far too many whose need to transition is blocked by either internalized or external transphobia related pressures.

It is far more likely that we would find out that there are more surgery-candidate transsexuals than we had previously thought if we were to shed society's transphobia.

The implication of your statements and position (which you seem to share with Mr. Charles), is that surgery should not be necessary for transsexuals. If you take a close look at the WPATH Standards of Care, you will find that surgery is only one dimension of the process, and really only applies in the most severe of cases. (and, BTW, I do not think that a transsexual who pursues surgery is "maladjusted" either - the post surgery outcomes for these people suggest otherwise)

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi MgS: I've been quite clear about my views all along, and we'll just have to agree to disagree agreeably. Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

"But you are doing so by attempting to erase/invalidate the narratives of transsexuals. The entire issue of gender and gender identity is much deeper than your apparent claim that transsexualism is rooted in the narrowly defined social roles."

I am doing no such thing, and I have made no such claim. It never ceases to astound me, the outrageous things people spout to camouflage their discomfort with my positions.

"Simply broadening or eliminating gender roles at the social level does little or nothing for transsexuals whose issues relate to the intersections of the physical with the social and psychological."

All gender intersects with the physical, the social, and the psychological! You're doing what so many other "gender activists" do, marginalizing Transfolk under the guise of radical theory. Broadening (I never said anything about eliminating) gender roles certainly won't benefit people like yourself who are caught up in narrow definitions of gender. But it will definitely benefit Transfolk and the transphobic world they now live in. Your claim that "the degree of transphobia has dropped markedly" is insane! I dare you to make such an absurd and insensitive claim to the parents of Gwen Araujo, Brandon Teena, and all the other Transsexual murder victims.

(It might benefit crossdressers and genderqueer people who are content with their physical status, but not transsexuals)

Anybody who uses terms like "gender queer" is a thinly-veiled Transphobe. The other retrograde claims you've made in this thread leave no doubt in my mind about it. Our exchange is finished. Take the ignorance elsewhere!

genevieve said...

I never understood why some claim names that once were used to demean us. Another thing is that some are defending the gender binary system that is used to demean (especially to transgender people). A case in point is effeminate men and masculine women. They are demean in gay and lesbian circles.

My folks always taught me to be proud of who I am. I embraced all of the different expressions in the LGBT community. That should be everyone's desire.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks genevieve. Your insights, given your experiences, mean an awful lot to those who erroneously see themselves as "mistakes," and refuse to accept their normality. Best wishes, Jerry.

Kathleen said...

"People of blended gender keep falling into its predatory grasp."

Jerry please explain this term. What is blended gender? Is this Don's preferred phrase for what is commonly described as 'transgender'? Or is this a catch-all phrase for feminine presenting men and masculine presenting women, and transfolk. Or does Don Charles (pls correct me I'm wrong) suggest that many of us are 'male and female'?

It's very confusing to repeatedly used a phrase and it's never explained.

Thank you.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Kathleen: "Blended gender" is a term that signifies people who don't conform to the stereotypes of "male" and "female" as dichotomous, or binary, expressions. Therefore, there is a range of gender expressions that have nothing to do with one's anatomy.

So, in their extremes, a woman can have a penis and a man can have a vagina, which doesn't make them people with "blended gender," but signifies them as "transexuals."

However, in most cases of transgender, or blended gender, expression, there is a range of gender expression that has nothing to do with, and is independent of, one's anatomy; comprises people who are "feminine presenting men and masculine presenting women" and all forms of transgender people.

Regarding transexuals (and I don't consider them to be "blended gender"), they are women with a man's anatomy and men in a woman's anatomy. Whether or not they want to have their anatomy medically and/or surgically made in line with their gender is their choice, but it's likely that in a non-transphobic society, fewer transexuals would want to make that transition, and would see themselves as "normal." As you know, my contention has been that transexuals (and transgender people) are definitely not "mistakes!"

As you can imagine, this is a difficult subject to articulate, and I hope this helps. Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

I assume you are the foul-mouthed Kathleen who frequents Pam's House Blend and posted so rudely to my diary over there. I will not carry on an extended conversation with someone so vulgar and rude, but I will answer this one question:

Blended gender is the combination of male and female that makes LGBT folk different from Straight (i.e. binary gender) folk. Scripture calls it "Fullness". I believe all Gay men, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transsexual folk are Transgender people, using the broadest definition of that word. However, I coined the term "blended gender" to avoid the confusion that would result if I used the word "transgender". For more detailed information, read my Gender Monologues which are posted in the sidebar at: http://christthegaymartyr.blogspot.com/

If you are one of the people who've been relentlessly harrassing Jerry, please leave him alone! I'm the one you're upset with, so direct your anger at me, not him.

Kathleen said...

Jerry, indeed that it is very helpful. And thank you for brief but very succinct explanation.

So would it be safe to say that gender is often presented as a binary option, and "blended gender" encompasses the many shades of gray?

Also one more question, professor .. ;)

The difference between transgender and transexual...does the latter signify one who seeks surgery and/or is in the progress? Or is transgender the preferred term in the community?

Thank you very much. I'll re-read your and Don's essays with a better understanding!

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Kathleen: In answer to your question, "So would it be safe to say that gender is often presented as a binary option, and "blended gender" encompasses the many shades of gray?" Yes.

In answer to your question, "The difference between transgender and transexual...does the latter signify one who seeks surgery and/or is in the progress? Or is transgender the preferred term in the community?" I probably disagree with Don Charles on this issue, as I consider transexuals to be men in women's bodies and women in men's bodies. In a non-transphobic society, there would be less or no desire for one to seek surgery or be in the process of "transition," as being transexual is normal and what makes it felt to be abnormal by many transexuals is transphobia.

Therefore, transexuals are extreme forms of transgender people which, in my opinion, puts them in a unique category that still affirms their normality, just as LGBT and Straight people are normal.
Best wishes, Jerry.

Kathleen said...

Rev Jerry, thank you very much for defining that term and the follow-up. In three or four minutes, you managed to clear up months of confusion.

Don, the comment was intended for Rev. Jerry who was very gracious and most helpful. It was NOT directed to YOU. But fwiw: Rev Jerry has a much more specific definition of blended gender. I am a lesbian and do not consider myself "transgender" at all.

If you're saying "all Gay men, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transsexual folk are Transgender people" I would forcefully disagree. Seems like you are conflating "gender" and "sexuality". Again, I could be wrong (and Jerry please correct me if I am) but in the previous intersex related post you said you were "not gay" but refer to yourself as "blended gender". Other times you have said you were "gay" . I can accept Jerry's explanation of gender presentation and expression. But I refuse to accept all LGB as a third "blended gender" or as semantics.

And Jerry please correct me if I am mistaken but is this not gender vs sexuality? I am biologically female, and sexually attracted to other biological females and present myself as female.

As someone said earlier, if Rev. Jerry welcomed me into his virtual home, I will not disrespect the host. But Don clearly you're having a meltdown at several blogs this week, accusing random people of conspiracies and accusing several benign comments upthread of having sinister motivations. To be completely transparent, yes, I (and many others) have asked you to explain this theory at the Blend for months, but you refused. As far as hateful or vulgar comments...I'm not the one who was banned, Don.

Thank you for the opportunity to explain myself Rev Jerry and thank you for allowing me to respond. I will brew a pot of tea and re-read your essays and yes, I will re-read Don's as well. And thank you accepting my sincerity.

PS: Rev. Jerry have you ever discussed Uta Ranke-Heineman? Would love to hear your thoughts on the catholic Church.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Kathleen: I never heard of Uta Ranke-Heineman; maybe it's someone I should read. In any case, my view of the RC Church regarding sexuality is that it's way off base for many reasons.

God doesn't make mistakes; God is sovereign and created God's LGBT and Straight children just the way God intended; disciples of Christ do not judge or condemn others.

The Vatican has done more harm, caused more suffering, to LGBT people and their families than can be imagined!

As I wrote regarding homophobic clergy: every suicide, every assault, and every murder can be largely laid at the feet of religious homophobes who ignorantly and erroneously interpret the Bible, and use their preconceived prejudices, to justify their hatred, often garnering financial and/or psychological rewards for so doing.

Homophobic clergy, and other homophobic professing "Christians," have a lot of LGBT people's blood on their hands! In this connection, you might want to read some of my articles referenced in the Links section of my blog, particularly the one entitled, "Why Every Church Must Be Open And Affirming." Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

"But Don clearly you're having a meltdown at several blogs this week, accusing random people of conspiracies and accusing several benign comments upthread of having sinister motivations. To be completely transparent, yes, I (and many others) have asked you to explain this theory at the Blend for months, but you refused. As far as hateful or vulgar comments...I'm not the one who was banned, Don."

So I've been banned now? I didn't know anything about that. I thought I'd just been censored and slandered. If any of Pam's Blenders sincerely want "explanations" of what I've posted over there, they're free to read the more detailed content at my blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr. They've always been free to do that. This notion that I've been somehow making it hard for them to comprehend what they clearly never wanted to comprehend is quite disingenuous.

What is it about being a regular at Pam's House Blend that brings out some of the worst qualities in people? Such mendacity, rudeness, vulgarity, vindictiveness, smug condescension and snide swagger? This Kathleen creature exhibits them all. I wonder if there could actually be a nice person underneath that nasty attitude she carries around? The woman should take an extended break from Pam's fascist clique and get acquainted with civil human interaction again. I fear it may already be too late for her . . . such misguided souls as hers are best left in the care of the Lord.

We probably don't agree about the nature of Transfolk, Jerry (I absolutely do consider them people of blended gender), but we certainly agree that they are not freaks of nature. God did not gift certain human beings with His mirror image by mistake.