Biblical Justifications For Transphobia

Transphobia is a huge problem. Murder after murder, suicide after suicide, our trans friends and family are dying due to a tragic fear of what people don’t understand. The religiously fuelled orgy of ignorance, bigotry, and aggressive action continues to plague us. As we push for social equality, trans youth are suffering in the shadows, in the hallways, in our homes, and in our schools.

Now, it’s pretty easy to find the scriptural basis for things like homophobia, at least what’s perceived to be a scriptural basis, but the biblical foundations of transphobia are not so clear. Despite all the biblical analyses and supports one might use for justifying a bias against trans people, there are really only 2 passages – and they provide very weak support at best.

Psalm 139. This Psalm is all about how God knows each one of us infinitely more than we know ourselves. At verse 13, we read “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” and at verse 16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
What Psalm 139 is saying, in a nutshell, is that God knows everything about each of us because we were lovingly created according to his will. The idea that a person’s assigned sex could be out of sync with their gender identity is completely unacceptable to somebody who holds fast to Psalm 139; for if God created us according to his perfect will, our sex couldn’t possibly be wrong. Of course, every sermon I’ve listened to about this equates sex with gender, and sexual orientation with gender identity. Given this failure to understand basic terms, it’s really no surprise that some people would use Psalm 139 to justify their condemnation of what they don’t care to understand.

Oddly enough, Psalm 139 could also be used to justify acceptance of trans people. If, as is taught, we cannot know the thoughts or motivations of God, how can we say whether or not he created them just the way they are? Is gender not a social construct? Are we not flawed due to original sin? Isn’t it possible that we have imposed false social norms that were not part of God’s original plan? Psalm 139 says that God knows everything about each one of us because he created us. It doesn’t say anything about initial intent. From a biblical perspective, it may very well be that the very existence of the trans label is entirely our fault; and contrary to what God intended. Genesis lays out a differentiation of sex in the Garden of Eden, but not of gender. It could be that gender fluidity was the original idea and we screwed it up.

Deuteronomy 22:5. “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”

So, Deuteronomy is generally believed to be Moses’ restatement of the law originally given to the Israelites by God, in Exodus and Leviticus – approximately 40 years prior. This is questionable of course, given the fact that the laws in Deuteronomy are better described as continuations rather than restatements. In any event, this condemnation of wearing the clothing culturally assigned to the opposite gender is ridiculous. An all-knowing deity who concerns himself with what clothing we wear is extremely petty indeed, and dare I say it, quite human. One would think that if somebody had the entire universe to take care of, what clothing we wear would be quite low on the list of priorities. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Moses injected his own displeasure with ‘cross-dressing,’ and attributed it to God. If this verse is to be taken as a condemnation, along with Psalm 139, the scriptural basis for transphobia is extremely weak.

As with discrimination of any kind, it’s just not reasonable to believe a single word of the ‘justifications’ for it. Even if the Bible came right out and said “trans people are flawed, unnatural, immoral, and must be fixed,” it would still be wrong. There are over 2,000 religions in the world, and we have one chance to make a life. Any book that says we are to waste that life trying to condemn and ‘fix’ the diversity around us, isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

How about trying to understand? Ancient holy books were written before anybody knew much about anything. Instead of treating the Bible like a manual, how about we accept that much of it is no longer relevant, and work to come together? You can have your faith, but believing in the infallibility of the literal word of scripture renders you useless in a civilized society. The Bible isn’t entirely irrelevant, but condemnations of things we now know to be natural belong in the same category as every other biblical thing we no longer support (ie: slavery, not eating shellfish, avoiding mixed fabrics, stoning our children, etc). We need to accept that things change as we learn, and we need to embrace that knowledge. We need to embrace one another.

You may be upset over my choice of words and my insistence on de-legitimizing scripture, but that’s kind of the point. Scripture is being used to kill trans people. It’s being used to justify murder, and it’s being used to justify the abusive action driving trans people to suicide. Criticism is 100% reasonable here, and in my opinion I haven’t been critical enough. When the Qur’an is used to justify war and suicide bombings, people are all over it. When the Bible is used to justify violence and hatred toward minority people, we are supposed to say “oh, that person has problems, the Bible is a book of love.” And then, of course, we’re reminded that we have to “respect everyone’s beliefs.” Personally, I’m sick of this. I will not respect anything that doesn’t deserve respect, and I don’t particularly care if it’s your belief or not. If your belief is harming others, or causes you to dislike them without rational justification, it is worthy only of contempt.

Without scriptural support, without anything but your personal bias toward the unfamiliar, how do you feel about trans people? Believe me, answering that question can be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do. It gets to the core of how you view humanity, and that is a profoundly beautiful thing.

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The Past Is Gone. It Is Time For The Age Of Equality

I have often heard the complaint “why are we still hearing about this? For the love of God, shut up already. I am so tired of hearing about gay rights.” This sentiment has led to the contemptuous term “the gay agenda,” used by evangelical pastors, politicians, and pundits. There seems to be a perception that the LGBTQ community is an evil force bent on indoctrinating the world and convincing everybody to become “one of them.” This ridiculous and childish misconception has led to many attacks by people who are so weary of hearing about it that they feel threatened by the mere mention of social equality. If you are one of those people, I urge you to thoughtfully read what I have to say. Allow me to explain to you why the fight for social equality is here to stay.

First of all, I must say that the idea that LGBTQ people are dangerous predators is reminiscent of something straight out of a conspiracy theory. Evangelical pastors like Jack Hibbs and Scott Lively are routinely given platforms from which they teach that homosexual men are pedophiles, rapists, and savages. By viewing LGBTQ people in this way, they remove humanity and victimize an entire human community. These views portray their victims as base, instinctual, incapable of human thought, cognition, compassion, or empathy. They assume that the entire LGBTQ population has lost whatever it is that makes us human, and are in need of salvation. The misunderstanding required to make such claims is so extreme that I sometimes wonder if those making them are even aware that there is a world outside of their own. I have said it many times before, and I will continue to say that human beings have been viewed this way many times in our history. The most poignant examples of this, as we all know, were during the days of slavery in the US, and of course Nazi Germany.

The above view is of course a major contributing factor as to why this fight must continue, but now on to the primary reason why the protests and outcries continue. It’s very simple, really. They continue because the abuse continues. How many times do we have to stand up and demonstrate injustice? How many times must we offer evidence as to where active discrimination is happening? How many times are we going to have to protest human rights abuses only to have the perpetrators rewarded with honours like the Olympic Games? The list goes on and on, and the conversation surrounding it must go on also. Things will not get better by putting the issues back into the closet. Change has never happened by letting a problem sit silently while everyone ignores it and goes about their day-to-day, and the major issue here is that fear is the day-to-day norm for many LGBTQ people the world over. There is no good reason to shove this problem aside. If you feel weary of the discussion, ask yourself why that is (and be very honest with your response. Don’t worry, only you have to make peace with the reality of how you feel. Nobody else has to know).

Yes, the fight for social equality must continue. The white, heterosexist, male-centric culture that still dominates much of the world has had its day; and it is time for that to end. A lot of people may not like it, but paradigms of superiority have not worked for the human race. It is time for the Age of Equality, and the discussion is just getting started.

Keep Love Alive: A Call for Revolution

Today, as the majority of the Western population celebrates Christmas day, I extend a greeting to you all. No matter who you are, and no matter what today means for you … whether you celebrate Saturnalia, Yule, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Festivus, something else, or nothing at all … I wish only the most pleasant day for you and those you love.

Regardless of the commercial meanings placed on it, today is a day when most of us connect with family and friends and act in the spirit of good will. As a matter of fact, the entire holiday season is a time when we seem to feel more charitable; and that’s really the point of the whole thing. Meanings given to a specific day are plentiful, but without compassion for our fellow humans they are useless. When we act in the spirit of good will we act in ways that positively impact the lives of others, and that’s what I find most appealing about this time of year. A few extra dollars given to a homeless person may be the difference between a hot meal and no food at all. A coat to the clothing drive will keep an otherwise frozen child warm. Food to the food bank will feed those who have no other place to go. A kind or encouraging word may make a huge difference in the outlook of someone who feels disenfranchised and alone.

I’m issuing a challenge to all who read this. From now and into the New Year, let’s keep the holiday spirit alive. Be kind. Be charitable. Be accepting of others. When we allow social injustices (poverty, racism, rape, homophobia) to take place, it reflects very badly on us; for it reveals our willingness to turn our backs when no-one is looking. Stay mindful of everything you say and do. When you act badly, accept accountability. When you act with love, watch it grow in those around you. Let’s make today the beginning of change. Let’s search our hearts and find the connection to the world around us.

The time has come for a revolution! With all the progress we have made, it’s time to further empower ourselves. Let’s end bigotry and misinformation now. What are we waiting for? While many of us move forward, countries like Russia, Uganda, and too many others move backward. It’s time for those of us who can to lift our voices and fight back. Write about it, create websites and blogs, compose songs, find ways to legally and peacefully protest injustice and discrimination. Let’s set the stage for a new year that will see a Revolution of Love and Acceptance!