Monday, November 30, 2009

Crying Wolf

"In a multiple-bias incident [of reported hate crime], two conditions must be met: (a) more than one offense type must occur in the incident and (b) at least two offense types must be motivated by different biases."

Sounds like the definitive intro to an episode of "Law & Order", doesn't it?

If there were no statistics to show the high incidence of hate crimes committed against GLBTIQ people specifically on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Religious Right could go on making false claims that hate crime is "thought crime" and that the concept of hate crime was no more than a gay rights propaganda tool, and that it is their religion which is under attack, and not the pink community. In fact, this is exactly why they have been fighting tooth and claw to stop the passage of hate crimes laws. Why? Because without them, the FBI could not legitimately record such crimes - and the statistics would not be made available - and they could go on trying to obscure the fact that GLBTIQ people are indeed under attack - by themselves.

The recent passage of hate crimes laws in the USA have made such statistics valid and are currently available on the FBI website. To start off with, yes, these are American statistics - but as in America, the bigots and anti-gay activists in South Africa echo the very same rhetoric and follow the very same strategies as they do there, in fact to a large extent they have been influenced and even mentored by the American religious right. If accurate hate crime statistics were available in this country, there is no doubt in my mind they would reflect a very similar result demographically.

The FBI reported the following reported incidents of hate crime involving physical violence in the USA in 2008:

On the basis of religion:

Against Catholics, just for being Catholic:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 1, Simple Assaults = 3, Intimidation = 3.

Against Protestants, just for being Protestant:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 3, Simple Assaults = 3, Intimidation = 1

So we're looking at 14 victims who were violently attacked or intimidated, just for being Christian.

Let's take this a step further and compare anti-Christian incidents to other faiths:

Against Muslims, just for being Muslim:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 50, Simple Assaults = 30, Intimidation = 48

That's 128 victims. (A whole 114 more than the Christian total for the same period).

Against Jews, just for being Jews:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 25, Simple Assaults = 58, Intimidation = 201

Another 284 victims. (That's 270 more victims than the Christian total for the same period.)

That's their 14 Christian victims vs 128 Muslim victims and 284 Jewish victims of hate crime. Things don't look too good for the radical right argument, do they?

Kind of odd for the mighty Christian faith to be complaining that it is being "persecuted" and that Christians are "under attack" for their faith - especially when it comes to "defending biblical principles" and vending hatred against the pink community, don't you think? Perhaps it is more a case of "persecuted church syndrome"? But wait, there's more...

Against gay males, just for being gay males:
Murder = 3, Forcible rape = 1, Aggravated Assault = 152, Simple Assaults = 312, Intimidation = 238

Against gay females, just for being gay females:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 5, Aggravated Assault = 22, Simple Assaults = 58, Intimidation = 61

Against gay people in general, just for being gay:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 51, Simple Assaults = 111, Intimidation = 110

Against bisexual people, just for being bisexual:
Murder = 2, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 2, Simple Assaults = 12, Intimidation = 3

That comes to a total of 1143 victims of hate crimes on the basis of their non-heterosexual orientation.

Now let's compare that with one other sexual orientation - heterosexual people. (That's right, "heterosexual" is a sexual orientation too - and most of these bigots forget that when they complain about laws preventing discrimination on the basis of it.)

Against straight people, just for being straight:
Murder = 0, Forcible rape = 0, Aggravated Assault = 3, Simple Assaults = 8, Intimidation = 7

That's 18 straight victims vs 1143 non-heterosexual victims.

Wow.

Now let's look at the stats given per group - of all of the above, the only groups who were murdered for their sexual orientation were gay and bisexual people. That's 5 - 0.

Forcible rape on the basis of group hate - once again, gay and bisexual people: 7 vs 0.

Aggravated assault on the basis of group hate 227 vs 4.

Simple assault on the basis of group hate - 493 vs 14.

Intimidation on the basis of group hate - 412 vs 11.

It seems that any way you cut the cake, it still seems unbelievable that the group with the least to complain about is also making the most noise. In effect, crying wolf.

Incredible.

If data on hate crimes based on gender identity had been included, the tally would have looked even worse, fortunately the recent Federal Hate Crime laws in the USA were passed, DESPITE STIFF OPPOSITION. Until now, the FBI wasn't allowed to count hate crimes against transgender people, but we know just from US newspaper reports that at least 19 people were murdered simply for being transgender. It will be interesting to see next year's statistics, which will include a more accurate reflection.

Notice how the group with the biggest mouth about persecution (Christianity) has a figure so much smaller than the total for incidents of hate crime based on sexual orientation? AND on the basis of religion as well! So much for their "persecuted church" claims!

While religion is covered by hate crimes laws, sexual orientation and gender identity were not until recently. Now that it is, we can see why they opposed it.

This is the REAL REASON WHY the religious right OPPOSES HATE CRIMES LAWS intended to give EQUAL PROTECTION to the GLBTIQ MINORITY.

Preventing hate crimes laws prevents these incidents from being recorded properly, which prevents gathering accurate statistics, which conceals and covers up the direct results of their anti human rights agitation and campaigning - and makes it possible for them to claim that their religion is "under attack" and that gay people are lying when they complain about hate crime - when the facts (i.e. statistics) prove otherwise.

Because statistics show the facts, and in this case the truth - that the bigots are and have been exaggerating - and that the real reason behind their opposition to hate crimes laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity is to cover up the truth - that we really are a threatened minority - a minority threatened by them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

16 Days Of Double Standards

While I may commend the now traditional South African institution of the "16 days of activism against women & child abuse" campaign, I still see plenty of duplicity and ambiguity in it.

16 days of activism? I don't know about you folks, but I'm an activist every single day.

It is often said (to loud applause) that "real men" don't commit violence against women or children. This is all fine and well from a certain point of view - a largely traditional and 2-dimensional point of view - but exactly What is a "real" man? Anyone care to guess? A man with nuts and a ding-dong? A man who lusts after women? Does that make a "real" man?

If you castrate a man, does that change his status as a male member of society? Does having a sex change and getting rid of unwanted equipment correct a gender error and make a woman whole, or rather as some people claim - a "mutilated man"? What about an old man? Is he "past it"? Is he a lesser man than a "real" man? Is there an age limit which you pass and cease being "real"? What about those annoying beer ads on TV these days? "Keep it real" indeed.

What is a "real" man? Even in their noble efforts to protect women and children from violent males, these praiseworthy people - these fine, upstanding and obviously cis-gender and heteronormative people - who invented this campaign have committed a faux pax. They have pandered almost exclusively to the archaic gender stereotype. That - and of course, hypocrisy.

I would say a "real" man is a man who wants to be a man. Or who sees meaning or value in being a man. That, and no more. There is simply no honor attached to just being one gender or another - why should there be? I could say for certain that there is definitely honor in who people decide to be, and in how they decide to live.

The "real" man fallacy is what is so often used against gay males, stereotyping them as weaklings and somehow "lesser" men than straight males - and of course lumping them into a group of social "undesirables" along with the wife-beaters, rapists and child molesters, the latter which fits in perfectly with the religious right wing's propaganda ploy which claims that gay men are also more than likely to be everything from serial killers to pedophiles - something which they claim has been "scientifically proven" - and yet which has been consistently dismissed and proved false since bigots started manufacturing such propaganda more than a century ago.

How would one define abuse? How about discrimination? how about equal pay for equal work? Why is there still, after nearly a hundred years of "women's lib", a "glass ceiling" in place preventing women from rising above certain levels, jealously guarded by men - or is that "real men"? I wonder if we will see any mention made of the minor detail that women still do equal or better the work of a male while still being paid less on the same skill level. Why are women still being treated like cheap labor and second-class citizens? Funny, I thought we pink folks were the only ones "whining" about equality? What is wrong with the women in the world today, that they just keep quiet and accept this?

Ironic? You tell me.

During this annual campaign, much ado is made of the violence against women and children, while focusing on violent males, presumably husbands, lovers and fathers, but nothing is ever made of the abuse and prejudice against lesbians, trans-women and gay/trans kids. Nor is there ever any mention of violent women in abusive relationships, both hetero and homo sexual. In all fairness, they do exist.

Are lesbians not also women? Am I as a trans-woman any less female? There are those who claim so, although the first thing they point to is the obvious and rather pedestrian fact that I can't reproduce - while there are many cis-gender women who also cannot reproduce. Are they also "less female"? Is gender between the legs or between the ears? What about the gay and transgender kids out there? Are they not to be recognized? Does being gay or transgender exclude them from recognition as being in danger of abuse and persecution? Are they somehow "lesser" than other children for their nature?

The issue at hand is not gender identity or sexual orientation, or the age of the victims - it is violence and abuse.

I haven't heard any of the government ministers quoted in the press saying anything about the lesbians murdered because of their sexual orientation, or the transwoman who was murdered because of her gender identity. No, everything is just about the stereotype, the cis-gender hetero-normative female who is the "ideal" and darling of the conservative religious right. The devoted mother, the subservient wife, the obedient daughter. No mention of the lesbian or transsexual woman who works 8 to 5 7 days a week, pays her taxes, contributes to the South African economy and is an asset to society, and who faces discrimination and prejudice in the workplace and in the very same society on a daily basis.

"Women are often demeaned and dehumanized through sexually explicit billboards, advertisements and newspaper classifieds that commodify and exploit women as mere sex objects." Says Errol Naidoo, fearless leader of the FPI, in one of his regular Facebook newsletters, in which he whines about human rights infringing on his "God-given" religious right to condemn and discriminate as he sees fit. And who can forget his totally biased attacks on gay rights - and the bane of his existence (the Pink Loerie Mardis gras) and his continued misrepresentation of religious fiction and apparent inability to differentiate between fact and fiction?

Naidoo regularly makes reference to women and children, the bright shining knight in dull, plastic armor, waving his cardboard sword - omitting any mention of his relentless lobbying and attacks against gay people - which include women, trans-women and unavoidably - all those children who happen to be gay, bi, lesbian or transgender. But then, like those bigots in Uganda campaigning for the mass-murder of gay people, he also believes that gay people "recruit" in schools or are victims of "bad parenting" and can be "prayed straight" - and that gay rights are not human rights.

I also notice how expertly he has skirted the issue of intersex by completely ignoring the Caster Semenya issue, despite the fact that she is intersex and at 18, technically also still a child. Was he not concerned about her "protection"? Why not? Did the fact that she is intersex define her in his view as not needing "protection"? Or does addressing the issue of intersex in his mind signify a hot potato - an unwelcome admission that his precious religious scriptures do not hold all the facts, all the answers and that he is in fact not holding all the cards? Is this omission not an admission that not everybody conforms to his staid "biblical" stereotype of the gender binary - and that intersex (and non-hetero-normative sexual orientation and gender identity) is quite natural and as "legitimate" as his "ideal" stereotype? I think it does.

But then, hypocrisy is hardly a new thing when it comes to people like Errol Naidoo and Ray Mc Cauley who regularly drag religion - and the dignity of women and children through the mud by using faith as a blunt instrument to cajole people into seeing things their way and fund their misogyny.

For those who think like this, "protecting women" is all about keeping them in traditional gender roles - at home, popping out babies, "protecting" them from having the freedom enjoyed by males, such as freedom of expression - including sexual freedoms, the freedom of having control over their own bodies, and "protecting" them from having careers or independent, fully equal lives of their own.

To those who think like this, "protecting" children means preventing them from learning how to think for themselves by bombarding them with religious rhetoric from birth and in schools and "protecting" them from "turning gay" because they believe gay people "make a sinful lifestyle choice", are "recruited" and despite the abundant scientific evidence - even the plethora of examples of homosexuality (and even transgender) in the animal kingdom, showing that gay people are born - they stubbornly believe they aren't.

These are people who stubbornly deny logic in the face of fact, who preach the wolves of intolerance and persecution while dressing them up as lambs of "love" and "righteousness" - and then pass around the collection plate to help rob people of their civil rights and equalities. Hallelujah, amen!

Who is going to protect us from people like them?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lemon Karma

Sometimes life hands us a lemon. This is just one of those things that happens in the run of our daily lives, a truth, an undeniable fact of our existence - a thing which defines our state as mortal, fallible beings, and which clarifies one particular aspect of life - something which humans spend their lives searching for.

Control.

Either you have it, or you don't. And as human beings - we don't. We may have the illusion of it, the temporary illusion where we may have power or influence over others, or a situation - but this passes, as do all things. Eventually the wheel turns, and those on top find themselves lying in the road - asking what happened and what the number of that bus was. Ain't karma a bitch?

Once burnt, twice shy.

The truth is, everyone gets run over - or run down at some point. Sometimes good things happen to bad people, sometimes bad things happen to good people - but my point is, regardless of what happens to us, it is up to us how we choose to handle it.

The obnoxious girl at the drive-thru who called you "sir" despite the obvious, the attendant at the department store who refused to help you, the stranger who called you "a queer piece of shit" in the street, the supervisor who criticized your appearance, the friends and family who turned their backs on you when you came out, the lover who betrayed you, the pastor who told you God hates you and ordered you to leave your church, the government minister who changed the law to exclude you - all provide examples of the illusion of power and those who think they have it. All of them crowning themselves with wreaths of violet pain and grasping scepters of golden authority, applying to others whatever they see fit.

So, life hands you a lemon.

Some people decide to do something with it, make lemonade or whatever - some people just sit there and look at the lemon.

Yes, I know. It sounds awfully preachy and condescending and might cause you to expect a little speech or pep-talk featuring words on the line of "winners never quit, and quitters never win", or "get back in that saddle, move it, soldier!" For me it brings to mind that little saying about "if you don't try, you've already lost".

It is a poor workman who blames his tools.

Yes, sometimes life deals us some blows - handing us the lemon. But in truth, either you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself and perpetuate the sentiments behind that blow, loss, attack or whatever - vindicating their actions - or you can turn it to your advantage, roll with it, harness it, and make the world - or that individual sorry for screwing with you in the first place.

Ever heard that other old saying that goes "nothing succeeds like success"? I want to go one better by adding to it:

Success, and being happy and complete, despite your pain and those who hurt you - is the ultimate vengeance.

Voila' - lemonade!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Last night I came upon a blog which claimed to be feminist. Now I have no problem with feminists, in fact I am also a proud feminist (how can I be a human rights activist otherwise?) - and in the course of my activism for the pink community, I try to get a shot or two in for feminism also. After all, as a trans-woman I am also a woman and sensitive to the sexism and patriarchal attitudes that I face just as any cis-gender woman does. I am sad to say it, but the site in question also turned out to be transphobic in nature.

The owner, "Margaret" - wrote a post called "No Such Thing As A Transsexual" and proceeded to criticize transgender people to the point where I could actually forget it was a woman writing, and not a trans-misogynistic, heterosexist, homophobic bigot of the right wing. The only thing I did not see displayed was the rabid religious fundamentalist tendency to dump a ream of rhetorical religious references to somehow "prove" their point. Instead, scant references were made to the typical right-wing conservative propaganda machine, which has about the same basis in fact as Harry Potter is a world religion. The comments left by a gaggle of her goose-stepping cis-sexist wing men - and herself, simply expounded upon their clear bigotry against trans-women - and transsexual, and even gay people in general.

Let's start with the title:

"No such thing as a transsexual" ??

Wrong. I am one. I am a transsexual woman. I exist. Oops on your part, "Margaret". Deal with it.

The psychobabble I see dropped piecemeal all over her diatribe is just a load of inane bullshit without basis in fact. It echoes the ignorant and malicious rubbish vomited in international media by that transphobic bigot, UK columnist Julie Bindell, who targets transsexuals for "not knowing what they want" and "being gay people tricked into wanting gender reassignment". People who don't know anything about their subject and who express their ignorant opinions as fact should go do some fact-finding before they make bigger fools of themselves in the real world.

As a trans-woman, the following statement really got my goat: "Any male calling himself any kind of female is misogyny, period" - courtesy of a commenter calling herself "Dirt". Very appropriate - although a name more damaging for a feminist, wouldn't you agree? "Dirt" indeed. Perhaps "Mud" would fit better?

"Himself"? "Misogyny"? A transsexual woman is not male, so how is a trans-woman being called a woman in any way "misogyny"? You seem to confuse physical sex with actual gender. How two-dimensional of you. What's your degree in? Brick laying? Ever hear of brain-sex before? It means that the brains of the sexes differ significantly, and actual studies have shown that effeminate gay males and trans-women have feminine brains and masculine lesbians and trans-men have masculine brains. Furthermore, there is the genetic link to transsexuality - (Preliminary work, genetic link found in transsexuality) which proves your comments are made out of nothing more than malice and ignorance.

As this site advertises itself as a feminist site, I submit that it is in fact nothing less than a hate site which marks these fine specimens as hypocrites - whining about the Patriarchy and the oppression of women, while simultaneously attacking other people whom the patriarchy hates and oppresses as much as them - and whom they should be making allies with instead of enemies.

I should also point out their pedestrian remarks about Transgender Remembrance Day, and try to explain to them that as cis-women they are only oppressed as women - but that we as trans-people are oppressed as women - and also as transsexuals.... But then, I am probably just wasting my time anyway - these people are the sort who would whine about women's rights while attacking other groups for wanting the same rights they do. In fact, that is exactly what they are doing. That makes them both hypocrites and bigots, a fitting combination.

As usual, the blog and articles are posted by anonymous bigots who lack the courage to post their hatred and vicious misrepresentations under their real names and identities. Why? So that they can avoid having to actually answer for hateful and unsubstantiated slurs they post there, that's why. It is far more convenient to chip away at the humanity, dignity and equality of other people while hiding under the veil of safe anonymity than it is to do so openly. Why? Because even if it precludes intelligence, it takes courage.

This type of person is more often labeled a "rad-fem" or radical feminist, and usually they are the type to condemn any kind of masculine behavior in women and vice-versa. They will often vent hatred at the butch lesbian as much as the effeminate gay male - and bare their fangs at any kind of transgender person who dares to blur their all-too fragile perception of the current social "norm" called the "gender binary" for them. A prime marker of this radical and even violent hatred of everything not feminine - even women who once had male genitals, is the internationally known bigot-journalist Julie Bindell, who is a lesbian activist - and who sees no hypocrisy or hatefulness in going so far as to advocate that transgender people should be forced to attend "ex-gay" therapy instead of receiving gender reassignment. Nice.

I suppose I should compliment Bindell on her courage to express hatred and transphobia openly - at least, even if she is ignorant about gender, transgender and transsexuality and a bigot, a hypocrite and an opponent of human rights and equality, she isn't a coward.

Thankfully, these bigots are a minority among feminists, but they will happily join in wherever any form of prejudice and discrimination rears its head. After all, they don't like being on the receiving end - but are quite eager to dish it out. They disgrace women, they are an insult to human-kind and they give feminists a bad name. I would go so far as to say they do not in any way belong in the fight for human rights or equality for anyone. It is like asking Osama Bin Ladin to hold your shotgun while you tie your shoelaces.

Their hypocrisy - and their hatred disgusts me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dutch Courage

Over the past weekend some things drew my attention. Oddly enough, both of these are related to courage and speaking out. Oddly enough, speaking out can be a sign of courage - and the lack of it. Even stranger, not speaking out can be a sign of courage - or the lack of it. As with everything, this depends on the circumstances.

I read some comments on a letter posted by an activist friend of mine. Yes, my activist comrade was writing about gay rights and the unity of the pink community, and yes, the commenter was himself gay, but the tone of the comments were anything but flattering. It seems this critic felt that "self-appointed" activists were "ruining his image as a gay man" by "speaking for all gay people" - and he certainly did not want to be associated with transgender or intersex people.

Wow.

In the first place, where are activists ever "appointed"? Certainly none of the ones I know were. They are by nature volunteers who stand up and take the initiative. - otherwise they are not activists, but "agents".

In the second, is the person whining about activists "speaking for gay people" in any way himself active in the community or participating in gay rights activism? I don't know, is he? I certainly never heard of him before.

Thirdly, I have to wonder how long we will have to entertain these fools who think each of us can survive without the help of the other. The right wing has declared war on us as a total group of society - and it makes no sense whatever to encourage divisions that make us weaker and help to drown out our voices in the cacophony of chaos and discord. As I have so often pointed out before, our enemies see us as one group, the best thing for us to do is to act like one.

Another conversation that irked me over the weekend was on the subject of insults against gay or transgender people in public. A Canadian friend and I discussed the insults we as transgender people receive. She told me the following:

"I do get people calling me "faggot" or mothers telling their children "don't talk to that thing it's dangerous" and the occasional "Christian" telling me I'm going to hell for 'going against God's plan'... If I repent and come back I'll be saved..." "I would like to [respond] but when I'm at work they expect me to turn the other cheek, so to speak... I'm not allowed to insult or talk back to customers as much as they may deserve it. I can politely "thank" them for their input or when I say "have a nice day" and get a reaction like that I sneak in an "...or don't" discreet but loud enough that they can hear."

Invariably the people making such slurs do so from a position of strength, being either paying customers who would doubtlessly get them dismissed were they to respond in kind, or street ruffians who would resort to physical violence. This makes them cowards in my assessment, people who would never dream of sinking so low were they on an equal level with their victims. And we all know that such people aren't on an equal footing with GLBTI people - they are of the heterosexist elite, who have more rights than us and who persist in insulting our intelligence by daring to call it "equality". I find it unusual that in the USA you cannot fire these people for their religious pretense, but you can fire a trans woman for being trans. And yes, I did say 'victims'. Of what? Intimidation. Or if you will, bullying. Oppression. Discrimination. Prejudice. Inequality. Need I say more?

If people were to call out insults to me, I would certainly confront them or return the favor - in fact, I have done this in the past. To talk about a person like that is disgusting, and to call another human being a "thing" is really low. To do so in such a manner as to prevent the victim from even defending themselves is even more low class - and shows to me exactly what the classic bigot is made of.

For us as GLBTI people, I feel that to keep quiet makes them think they are right - and keeping quiet makes them think they have the right to do so.

Talking back isn't always an option, I know. But as non-heteronormative people, God has gifted us with razor-sharp wit and tongues to deliver a coup de grace in a soft tone with a smile as sweet as an angel.

"Faggot!"
"Yes sir, it takes one to know one, sir."

"You're going to hell for going against God's plan!"
"Don't worry m'am, I'll save you a spot right next to mine." *wink*

"Don't talk to that thing, it's dangerous"
"Yes, m'am - you just don't know HOW dangerous."

On the topic of courage, both examples above involve speaking out and remaining silent, both involve courage, or the apparent absence of it.

Which is which, is a choice I leave up to you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thick Skin And Stone Hearts

How can people ever know the mind of God? How can creatures such as us ever hope to understand the thought processes of a God who can create a universe? Who are we to decide what is or isn't acceptable to God? And what I find amazing is the folks who will stand up and claim that they know what God wants, what God says - and go further to claim the authority of God to act out of hatred and intolerance.

Last week I wrote about a conversation I had with my Facebook friend on the topic of homosexuality and transgender. Needless to say the conversation did not end so quickly, but continued over a few days, and simply showed that neither of us was prepared to back down. I suppose the only difference between our arguments was that one of us was arguing human rights based on facts, while the other was arguing religious fundamentalism based on fiction.

All that aside, I must reiterate that talking is better than not talking, because the moment the lines of communication are shut down and people stop freely exchanging ideas, they start to build little fortresses around themselves and make plans for war.

Bigots these days see human rights victories and gains in equality for GLBTI people as threatening. They love to claim that they are having homosexuality "forced" on them, although I fail to see how this can be true - when the quest for GLBTI rights is about attaining EQUALITY with the part of society - the heterosexual and cis-gender part, which has for centuries taken for granted - and accepted as "normal", the oppression and prejudice with which millions of people have to grapple on a daily basis. This Facebook 'friend' of mine is one such individual.

Firstly, nobody is "forcing" you to "approve" of gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people - or to even like them. The only thing society is "forcing upon you" is laws which prevent people from committing acts of hatred and discrimination against them. The only argument you can possibly present against such laws or argument, from a religious perspective, is that regardless about what you believe, it is your religious ethos to commit hateful acts or to discriminate against people simply for who they are. Is this the ethos such people would call Christianity?

Why does everything have to be about what is "right and wrong" with you folks? What is right in destroying other people's lives? What is wrong in treating other people as you would like to be treated yourself? Is that not one of Christ's own teachings? Is spreading lies about people and trying to make criminals out of them indicative of how those pointing the fingers would like to be treated? Do those calling themselves "bible-believing Christians" hate themselves that much?

If all people were to be judged by "right and wrong", nobody would be wholly right or wholly wrong - for have not all people "sinned and fallen from the glory of God"? It seems more than a little unfair that some folks with at least as much sin themselves as any gay or trans person, like to jump up and down and point fingers at other people.

Don't you think it a little bit strange that it is usually us they point fingers at, and not tattoo artists and people who eat pork and shellfish? Yet they are all ritual offences called "abominations" listed with homosexuality in the OT. And yet Christ even dismissed these ritual offences when he said it is not what goes in that defiles you, but what comes out. Funny, I don't see people throwing philanderers and serial monogamists out of church - and yet even certain ministers who are very vocal in attacking the humanity and equalities of gay people are examples of these themselves.

Guilt and innocence, right and wrong - are only a matter of timing.

"There is also enough evidence existing today to confirm that the bible is indeed fully and completely inspired by God." my 'friend' countered. Ah, now there I have a few questions for you.

How can you produce evidence of something which is improvable? Can you back up any of your claims without referring back to you book as "proof" of itself? Allow me to refer to a great explanation of what I am getting at:

"Let’s look at a classic circular argument used to show how perverse illogic has infiltrated modern society:

Statement: “The Bible is the word of God.”
Question: “Why do you believe that?”
Answer: “Because the Bible tells me so.”
Question: “How do you know the Bible is fact?”
Answer: “Because God wrote the Bible.”"

Can you see what happens here? A document claims it is the word of God and it is assumed and believed that it must be so because after all, God wrote it.

If I wrote a book which I say was inspired by God, does it in any way give legitimacy to my work or the words in it? And yet people wrote the bible - even the many books ripped out of it by other people - all of them claiming to have been "inspired by God".

At this point I assert that because I may write something about God while inspired by God, it may likely in no way reflect God’s opinion, wisdom or even what he desires people to do.

Suppose I wrote a book about telephones and say I was inspired by Alexander Graham Bell. Does that mean that Alexander Graham Bell had anything at all to do with me writing my book and what I put in it? Does it reflect the views and morals of Alexander Graham Bell?

Claiming that the bible was "fully and completely inspired by God" is a bit like a child believing in the tooth mouse. The child "knows" the tooth mouse exists, because they find a shiny penny under their pillow.

People are imperfect, and people, even if "inspired by God" are fallible - therefore anything written by them must be imperfect also. An imperfect being cannot create something perfect. This is logical.

I won't go into the plethora of genuine evidence which shows how badly the scriptures many refer to as supposedly "inerrant" have been translated over the centuries - and even deliberately altered - because as I recall, we have been down that road before.

It is not the system I am criticizing, but the abusers of that system.

My taking on religion in the defense of people like me, doesn't mean I don't have faith in God - what it does mean is that I lack faith in humanity (including myself) to understand God and to speak for God, which is why I sincerely doubt a collection of scriptures as old as the bible, which was written by people - and why I most certainly doubt any person who incites hatred and intolerance and demands punishments for other people in the name of God - for surely such people do not speak for God.

People who want to take away other people's humanity and turn them into scapegoats on the basis of something written by other people and then misrepresented as "Gods word" certainly do not live by the central message of Christianity - which is love, forgiveness and tolerance, not "hang-'em-high" and trample them into the dust.

"In a million years with thousands of links, books and opinions, you will not convince me of your stance. You are sinning and one day God will tell you that."

I am sinning? By doing what exactly? By loving? By being female? I do not deny that I have my faults and that I have sin - just that I have any more or worse sins than anyone else.

I tried explaining science to you, but I suppose you are the sort of person who would have gladly helped the Church burn people alive in the Dark Ages (I always wondered why they called them that) for daring to suggest that the Earth orbits the Sun and not the other way around.

I wonder what they would have to say about that today?

If today there is enough scientific evidence to show genetic and even biological causes for people being born GLBT or I, then surely somebody who wrote those very "inspired" scriptures - or translated them screwed up? Only an absolute fool and a fanatic would continue to insist otherwise.

Interesting enough, every time you corner a fanatic with scientific facts which they cannot argue or disprove, they either dismiss you as "anti-God" and a "secular humanist" or they start spouting reams of misapplied and irrelevant "scripture" at you, like good little sheeple and like that will in any way, shape or form prove anything. Which just proves to me that common sense and actual reason doesn't come into it.

And don't worry, I know that convincing a fanatic of the truth is a near-impossible feat, but I so enjoy our "chats" because it shows me just what kind of ignorance we are up against and reminds me of why I keep on fighting. The willful kind of ignorance, the kind that will deny facts even in the face of them, because they have been so conditioned to believe that everything contrary to what lies they have been taught will utterly destroy their view of the world around them, and so they cling to the lie out of fear. Why do you fear us so much?

Have any of the terrible things your fundamentalist groups predicted of the legalizing of gay rights come to pass? Has pedophilia skyrocketed since gay couples were allowed to adopt? Has the divorce rate trebled since gay people were allowed to marry? Has society disintegrated because gay people are not being herded into jail? Has your Church or religion become persecuted since any of these things? No, but that still doesn't stop fundie groups from blaming everything from violent crime and natural disasters to child prostitution and dead soldiers on society's "toleration" of homosexuality. It seems to me that kind of "thought" stems directly from folks like Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist cult. Scapegoating, plain and simple. It doesn't mean we are any of the things you claim we are, it doesn't mean we are even wrong - it just means you find us convenient.

I suppose whatever sins I may have, they are somehow worse than any of your sins? I always thought all sins weighed equally? But somehow I will "go to hell" for mine while you will get a nice pat on the back and a Noddy badge from the Big Guy for sticking it to those "dirty gay and tranny perverts who just won't listen" regardless of whatever you did in your life?

I suppose you as a sinner have been given the "right" and carte-blanche to condemn me as a sinner - and that I should "just shut up" and roll over, while fellow sinners and homophobic religious leaders who have little room to talk, condemn me? Of course it is laughable to suggest that a dog being kicked is somehow "anti-Man" for daring to bite the foot kicking it. It is simply an act of self preservation and self-defense.

I hope you can see the difference, but if you still want to make sarcastic remarks about my intelligence and reasoning in the face of not being able to argue your case, feel free to do so.

You are not God - and God does not need specks of dust to spill blood for him. If God condemns me, then let God condemn me - you and those like you who call themselves "Christians" while denying us the right to call ourselves the same, or to live beside you in peace - have no right to do so on his behalf - to justify your hatred in the name of God - and to take enjoyment from it.

"Let the Lord Himself lead you and if you harden your heart, you will know the truth when you stand before Him. Remember me then. Only then will you truly understand love."

Ok...

So now my love is being devalued as well? I "obviously don't understand love", simply because of who I love? Inneresting...

Isn't it strange that GLBTI folks are attacked so viciously and continuously - and yet the only way we really differ from heteronormative cis-gender people is in how we identify ourselves and who we love? Aside from that, our lives are probably just as ordinary - or even just as boring as theirs. Which oddly enough explains the extraordinary lengths to which they have to go in order to paint us as "dangerous threats to civilization" and lest I forget, "the family".

I think if my Facebook 'friend' finds herself standing before God, she might find a whole lot of people there she didn't expect...

Christ suffered and died for ALL people out of love. God sent him out of love for ALL of us. The only rule there was to accept Christ as their personal savior and to love each other as he did. Nothing in there about punishing each other - or ourselves. Life is tough - and unpredictable enough as it is.

If my heart was "hard", I would not still be here in this world, trying to be a voice for the voiceless and taking hits from people claiming to hate me in the name of he who died for my sins. My skin on the other hand, is another matter.

Try harder.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If The Shoe Fits...

My would-be Facebook friend wrote to me again yesterday. I say "would-be", because were it not for the tiny detail that I am a transsexual woman romantically involved with another transsexual woman, and the minor aside that this would-be friend is a "bible-believing Christian" who thinks I have made a "sinful lifestyle choice", we might actually be friends.

Aside from this detail, and the fact that I am also a human rights activist for the pink community, I might be friends with a lot of people who think along the same lines as her, but who might otherwise not actually wish me harmed, ill or dead.

She doesn't seem a bad sort though, this disembodied voice that pops into my inbox every so often just to let me know that the people my articles are aimed at, actually do read them from time to time - and are apparently "sensitive" to them.

"I know you mean no harm to what you call sincere people," She says, "but I am afraid that in your writings you are creating a conception that all people are good except bible believing Christians. I am a bible believing christian and it pains me when people create ungrounded perceptions of us..... "

Hmm.

When people call themselves "bible believing Christians" and also engage in anti-social behavior such as inciting hatred and participating in persecution and oppression of other people - is it people like me who chide them for their actions that create the impression that "all people are good except bible believing Christians" - or their actions which do so? Considering what is being said and done in the name of Christ, God and the bible, is this truly "ungrounded"?

After all, I never ever said that all people are good, except for "bible believing Christians". Do I detect a note of guilt? Is she experiencing an attack of conscience?

If you feel you are a "bible believing Christian", then what is it that separates you from those I and others like me refer to and warn against?

Surely, then you should be taking this issue up with those who are giving "bible believing Christians" a bad name? Either that, or you should question either what it is in their bibles - or which bibles - they believe.

"No true born again Christian will ever force his or her beliefs upon you. If you encounter a professing christian who does that to you, they are not truly born again." That brings a smile to my lips, not a sarcastic one, but a knowing one. For those who would do that - and much worse, may believe they are - and very often claim they are.

Perhaps you don't realize what it is I am talking about, but let me refer you to these groups on Facebook where people are not only talking about a state-sanctioned genocide of gay people, but putting action to their words. I am sure their words will upset and shock you as it does me. You should read through the whole thing to see the hate and absolute ignorance in them.

The bill they are supporting by the way, is due to be passed soon and will effectively destroy and end the lives of at least a million people and will also affect the lives of anyone who is perceived to not be anti-gay. They refer to the bible and they claim to be "bible believing Christians" too. They praise a loving God for the work of their own hands - a death warrant for their friends, colleagues, parents, children and siblings - and they justify their hatred with the name of Christ and drape respectability and justice all over it as though it is a monument to their faith.

They view this atrocity as "progress", and they assert with conviction that they are "Christians" and that they are doing "God's will".

Convenient, don't you think?

Perhaps you should contact those nice folks in Uganda calling themselves "bible-believing Christians" and let them know they are re-enforcing the "conception that all people are good except bible believing Christians"? I am sure they will agree with you and stop crying for the passing of that bill.

I can't read those comments on that group anymore, it makes me too angry and far too sad for words. Silence gives consent, and I will be silent no more. As I said before, I am challenging bigotry, hatred, intolerance, persecution, prejudice, hypocrisy - and now even genocide - which is committed and expressed in the name of the same God that made us both - and loves us both.

So, if you read my articles and if you feel they may be directed at you, well perhaps they are - but that is a matter between you and your conscience.

In all honesty, I don't care if people agree with my "lifestyle" or if they believe being transgender or gay is a "lifestyle" or a "choice" or if "it is sin in God's eyes", but I am glad at least that you do not hate me or demand a death sentence for me and those like me, although there are those who would.

For the rest, let me close with the following: You cannot "straighten out" what God made gay or trans, no matter how much you argue, deny, pray, preach, threaten, hurt, intimidate, persecute, reject, ostracize - or even kill, us.

And as for my articles - if the shoes fits, wear it.