The Church and gender issues.

First off, let me say that I have no idea where this thread belongs; I’m asking for advice on a religious/political/personal issue over which I am considerably angry -
Too mild at present for the pit, too deep and contentious for IMHO or MPSIMS.
Perhaps we can start here and move it somewhere else if it becomes more appropriate.

At Church this morning, I was handed a copy of this letter (text from reverse side), which was sent to one of our leaders by

I am strongly opposed to the actions suggested in the letter and I think that parts of it are plain false or needlessly inflammatory (“Church leaders face a £5,000 fine if they tell the truth that a male transexual is a man” - ‘truth’, right) or just plain silly (“Churches will be pressurised to allow male transexuals to use the ladies’ lavatories…” - heavens above! You mean they might do a man-poo in there?), while other parts of it are dangerous, well, the whole concept is a dangerous one, in my opinion.

Needless to say, I’m in a pretty small minority with this view; the majoristy of the folks there (who have probably never knowingly even met a transexual) are just being nice little puppets and allowing themselves and their minds to be manipulated into tacit hatred of the transgendered (who are lumped into the convenient category of ‘perverts’, along with homosexuals, rapists and paedophiles - no qualitative distinction required, thank you!).

So, why don’t I just walk out of the place?
Well, perhaps I should do just that - register my disgust and leave.
But I don’t think that is the right thing to do - I am moderately well-respected in this group and I am in a position to possibly effect some kind of change here, however minor - even if that change isn’t the whole thing, just getting a few people to think for themselves about it would be an achievement, but I can’t go in with all guns blazing, as this would (I think) quickly diminish any tendency to listen to me; neither do I want to leave - I actually love all these folks, warts and all (and they appear to love me, warts and all).
I also have (personal)reasons not to want to abandon my faith.

So, the floor is open to you , the dopers (religious and otherwise) - what should a thinking person do in such a situation? Constructive suggestions warmly welcomed.

PS. I plan to write letters, but not the ones that I’m being asked to.

I used to see a lot of these expressions of outrage based on inadequate or misleading information – thank God we’re in a parish now that pays attention and works with facts.

I’m also wondering what a “male transsexual” is – it seems to me that utilization of a nude gender adjective attached to that substantive is either prejudging the case or totally uninformative. Is this a person with a penis who considers herself a woman? A person who considers herself a woman who formerly had a penis? A person with or formerly possessed of the complement of female naughty-bits who considers himself a man? What difference does having the surgery make? In view of the interior sexual identity of the person, what difference does the rest room chosen make? And what’s the bit about the 5,000-pound fine for “telling the truth” – which obviously isn’t the whole truth, if one gives any validity to what another person’s interior self-image is?

Perhaps Eve or Kelly will have a good source for a handout that makes clear what the real story behind a transsexual individual is. Beyond expressing my support for your intended stance, I’ll hold off and see what they have to say. This is clearly not a place where you want to take a polemic stance, but rather one that attempts to educate and win over the letter-circulators. (Oh, and ladies, you’re honored – you now have a “sinful lifestyle” the way the gays have had for the last 30 years or so.)

On second thought, ask them how they can see the mote in the transsexuals’ eyes. :mad:

Thanks Poly.

Without a doubt the authors of this letter would like it to be much more of a black-and-white situation than it ever really can be; they would like to present the transgendered as not ever having any genuine or fundamental reason for the way they are, but rather that they are wilfully choosing to do something that is plainly wrong. (not the first time we’ve seen this kind of thinking).

Perhaps most repellent of all of it is the implication that a transgendered person should be suspected of seeking to use toilet facilities for some nefarious purpose other than the elimination of bodily wastes etc. No, actually, the whole thing is repellent, isn’t it?

I never know what to expect when I see a topic with “the church” (emphasis mine). The body of Christ may be monotheistic but isn’t a monolith. My congregation, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, is reconciled in Christ and listed with the Lutherans Concerned of North America. Basically we welcome and affirm everyone who wishes to worship with us regardless of sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity. That doesn’t mean a pat on the head and trying to change them later that means full acceptance. A good portion of our congregation is gay or lesbian as is about half our church council. Couples present themselves as couples but I don’t recall any attacking the institution of marriage. I’m sure many of them would like to support it by being married themselves. No one has to hide what they are. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

That’s a fair comment; please therefore read it to mean “the methodist congregation attended by Mangetout, and other similar churches”.

Glad to hear that things are well in yours Padeye.

To me the real issue is- are there proposed or actual laws/regulations that would pressure clergy to keep silent their beliefs on TG issues or require them to open church other-gender bathrooms to TG persons? To me, the outrage is that the state could so interfere with church teaching & practice.

Do you know if there are others in your congregation who can work with you to establish a dialogue between disagreeing sides? I love it that you want to stay and work toward growth and understanding. My own church (Episcopal) could use such a good example of Christian love.

Note- I believe in the full rights of TG persons to get sex-reassignment surgery (tho the issue of who pays can be debated) and once fully transferred over to get married, provided the other person is told about the TG factor. I do not believe in the state putting TG rights over religious rights.

Friar Ted, fair question. Since this is happening in Britain, it may be perceived as different from the situation in USA, where it would be a given that within the congregation, in the conduct of the actual religious rites or operating the place of worship the civil authorities cannot force you to perform a wedding, integrate the toilets or stop preaching about the evil sodomites. However, there is here a perception that in Britain (and the rest of Europe), it is accepted that the State CAN tell you to shut up and cram certain opinions even among private parties.

The contents of the letter are a common scaremongering tactic – back when the ERA was proposed in the US, “coed bathrooms!!” was one of the cries raised. When same-sex marriage was legalized in a Canadian court, some MP’s felt like they needed to propose a bill specifically exempting churches from performing them. Preachers and secular commentators everywhere are very wary of “hate speech” laws.

Mangetout’s approach should probably start off by letting it be known he questions whether some of these claims are a real “threat” or if the letter-writers may be exaggerating – specially for some of the more outlandish claims – and indeed pointing out the ones that are just plain silly. Also, maybe do some wondering as to what is the authority that this organization claims. It’s not a question of “all guns blazing”, but of letting it be known that some of these things you just can’t buy at face value – thus making those who respect you wonder if they should.

Sorry, but I can’t help but wonder how they would even know that the aforementioned hypothetical male transsexual was, in fact, not biologically a woman.

I mean, would they ask each apparently female person who wished to enter the facilities to drop trou and submit to an inspection of their genitalia? Would they have an onsite lab to do on-the-spot chromosome testing if the person was suspected of having been surgically altered?

I think if a person came into my church wearing a dress, with face painted and powdered, and apparently in possession of a pair of breasts, I would tend not to question them if they wanted to use the ladies’ loo. I doubt many transsexuals would come into the building and say, “Hey, I was born with an XY chromosome combination, a penis and testicles, these two bumps on the front of my chest are the result of the injection of female hormones, and I really have to pee. Mind if I use the ladies room?”

Perhaps transsexuals could identify themselves by affixing some sort of brightly coloured geometric cloth badge to their clothing.

See, there’s the problem; these people are exactly like women in mind and body, but at the same time completely and dangerously different. It all makes perfect sense!

Don’t underestimate the power of the nice puppets. When pressured even into thinking about something so foreign to their world, their reactions will be loud and awful. I am no longer welcome at three different churches. The first two, I actually went to the leaders and tried to get answers and tried reasoning with them. Both times it was recommended that I find a church more fitting with my “needs and philosophy”. On the third church, I went to individuals instead and the individuals went to the leaders, same result. You can try. Feeling like you do, you probably won’t be able to keep quiet anyway. But brace yourself. It will be more than you expect and you may not be able to continue to be a member. I hope I’m wrong. Good luck.

Obviously, to these people, not a damn thing. A lot of people still refuse to believe that transsexuals are anything other than specially deluded individuals. And you know, who are us puny humans to undo what God hath wrought?

I don’t have any sources, sorry. Although I recall hearing about a group in England called the Beaumont Society; they may be of some use. (I got expelled from their on-line chat once.)

Thanks; this is my biggest concern, that by speaking up, I might not only alienate myself from the church, but in doing so achieve nothing or even reinforce the problem (transsexuals are bad, Mangetout spoke up in support of them, Mangetout was asked to leave and is therefore bad, proving that transsexuals are bad - it doesn’t have to make sense).

I’d be most interested to hear more about your experiences IWLN, if you’re willing to talk about them (either here or in a thread of their own, or by email).

There’s not a lot to tell, quick, not much bloodshed, but I’d rather not get specific here. You can email me if you want.

I don’t know if you remember the similar fuss that there was over the implementation of the EU Employment Directive - churches were going to be forced to employ homosexuals and satanists and God-know what other sorts of undesireables. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t happened yet, although the legislation has only just been passed - perhaps they are all in the planing stages still. :rolleyes:

My advice - let it slide, if you can. Make it clear that you are not going to be supporting this “petition”, and ask the “How would we know if they were a transsexual?” question of anyone who queries you.

Best of luck

Just as a matter of interest, where do these dingbats stand on androgen insensitivity? You know, where a genetically male (XY) fetus develops with female sex organs? Are they male as God made their genes, or female as God made their bodies?

And that line about “desecrating the image of God” … hmm. At what point does elective surgery become “desecration”? I knew a guy once who had fairly significant plastic surgery to fix a massive overbite; should he just have lived with his face, then, as it was God’s will? Do facelifts count as desecration? How about Michael Jackson?

And, I think, I will ask what seems to me an important question: why, in a world filled with war and poverty and oppression and injustice, do these twerps think that transsexuality is the most important issue and the gravest threat facing the Christian Church?

Simple; they don’t exist - human beings on this planet consist of good, pure Christians, and evil, cackling immoral perverts. Grey area? What grey area?

The problem here is that people just don’t want to think too deeply about tricky issues that challenge their preconceptions; much easier to settle into your comfortable rut and declare everything outside of it as bad (including any arguments about overbites and cleft palates - rather than addressing the actual issue, which is a thorny one, it is simpler to say “Now now Mangetout, good Christian folk shouldn’t be harbouring such doubts”.

To be honest with you, I am not gay myself, and i don’t plan to become gay… or transsexual, or transvestite, or anything else you might come up with. What i do know is: in the church, Homosexuality is such a difficult issue BECAUSE God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. The Earth was meant to be shared by a man and a woman and thus having familes of children which would marry man and woman just as the example had. If God wanted Adam and Steve, he would have made it that way. The reason this topic is so difficult is because noone ever accounted for homosexuality years ago, it was not an issue. Some bullshit says that homosexuality is because of a missing chromosome or something. Now I can’t HELP but believe that that is horse shit. When you hear of one of your friends GOING homo or some person of an acquaintence of yours going gay or however you would say it, they never started gay, it is just because of curiousity, and/or bad relationships previously with the opposite sex. Thus, same sex relationships are a difficult topic and should be avoided at all costs.