Friday, February 22

Another ChristToday mistake

A missed an erroneous in the Christianity today article.

"There are six levels of GID according to what is known as the Harry Benjamin Scale. The occasional cross-dresser is stage one; someone who has had a surgical procedure, such as a vaginectomy or penectomy, has completed the final step."

There's a great difference between a "level" and a "step" or "stage" and I believe Benjamin uses the terminology "type." Christianity Today makes it sound as if there is a chronology present, as if cross dressors can evolve into transexuals. However, the Benjamin scales addresses types of people, not stages of their transition from one sex or gender to another. To my knowledge, there is very little true movement between trans types, Ben. Scale types or otherwise. There are fluxuations, just as with cisgender people. And some trans people change identities entirely, but always because of further introspection. For instance, I didn't id as intergendered and until I was internally motivated to sit down and figure out of my funny feelings.

Second mistake. The sixth (and fifth) type requires a request for a penectomy but doesn't neceessarily happen. The Benjamin Scale was created using almost only biologically male participants, thus it says nothing about FtM surgery. Neither does CT reflect the real world. Many trans people finish transitioning without any surgery or without a vaginectomy or penectomy.

Wednesday, February 20

Trans behavior in animals

So my posting frenzy continues. Here's an amazing summary of trans behavior in animals including homosexuality, bisexuality, asexual reproduction, transexuality, hermaphrotism (that is, two full sets of sex organs), and other kinds of intersexuality.

It got me thinking that perhaps some homosexual behavior in animals is really transexual behavior. Does an animal what its own sex? How? My weak zoological understanding is the reason animals smell each others genitals is to determine what sex it is and if it's thus available for mating; animals recognize each other almost entirely based on smell and little on sight. If they use smell to recognize genitals, then how do they recognize their own genitals? Perhaps their own genitals have the smell of the opposite sex so their same-sex partners appear to them as opposite sex. Or, perhaps they don't perceive their own smell at all (my experience washing cats suggests this) and their brain simply identifies as their opposite sex.

Favorite quote: "Those who attempt to limit nature, limit God."


A Third Sex Around the World
...

Just as there are many incredible displays of sex and gender variety among Hindu deities, so also nature displays an amazing array of sex and gender diversity within the animal kingdom. The simplistic notion of a Noah’s Ark, with one male and one female specimen sustaining all species, is a far cry from scientific reality. In truth, biological sustenance and reproduction are dependent upon an incredibly complex web of co-dependent factors, including a third sex. Not only is nature more complex than we imagine, it is more complex than we can imagine!

Microbes and simple life forms are, of course, either asexual or hermaphrodite, meaning they reproduce without separate dimorphic divisions of male and female. Many plants can reproduce themselves simply by the severance of a root, twig, or other appendage, and nearly all flowering plants are hermaphrodite with sexual organs (flowers) that have both male and female parts. Worms, slugs and many aquatic species are also hermaphrodite—they possess both eggs and sperm that are mutually exchanged. In the insect world, reproduction occurs mainly through dimorphic male and female methods, yet many of the more developed social species such as bees, ants and termites sustain their colonies through large numbers of asexual or sterile workers. In such insect colonies, the asexual workers and reproductive queens and drones are all co-dependent upon one another for survival.

Scientific studies of homosexual behavior among fruit flies are quite well known; scientists have observed this behavior in nature and can also induce it in individuals through the manipulation of their genes. Homosexual behavior has similarly been observed in insects such as moths, butterflies and beetles, and intersexed examples of butterflies and spiders have been found that are sexually divided in half, with one side male and one side female (gynandromorphism). Among the millions of Monarch Butterflies found mating in central Mexico, 10 percent of the mating pairs are same-sex male couples—with an even higher ratio of 50 percent by the end of the season!

Creatures such as sow bugs, shrimp and oysters completely reverse their sex at some stage in their lives and such transsexuality is a routine occurrence for many species. Tropical coral fish, for instance, are especially well known for their ability to change sex—more than 50 species of parrotfish, groupers, angelfish and others are all transsexual. Their reproductive organs can undergo a complete reversal, enabling females with fully functioning ovaries to become males with fully functioning testes and vice versa. In some families of fish, transsexuality is so common that it’s actually more unusual to find species that do not change sex!

Among amphibians and reptiles, certain species are known to reproduce both sexually and asexually. Female geckos, salamanders and Whiptail Lizards, for example, are parthenogenetic (able to clone themselves) and can reproduce without help from males. Biologists have identified over a thousand of such parthenogenetic species worldwide. Among snakes, both homosexual and bisexual behavior has been observed and studied. Most animals attract and find partners primarily through pheromone or scent signals and when snakes or other animals are homosexually attracted they are simply following these natural signals. In some species such as Garter Snakes, certain males will produce the female pheromone, thus adding to the complexity!

In birds and mammals, methods of reproduction are consistently dimorphic but social interaction and behaviors such as courting, mating and nesting become increasingly diverse. It is among these species, therefore, that the greatest amount of homosexual, bisexual and transgender behavior is found. Homosexuality among avian species is quite common and has been observed in nearly all bird families including waterfowl, sea birds, penguins, parrots, songbirds, finches, swallows, sparrows, crows, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, game birds, birds of prey, flightless birds and so on. Birds are similar to humans in the sense that they typically mate and nest in pairs. Thus, homosexual birds also court each other, pair off, mate and build nests together. Quite a few also become involved in raising chicks—penguins, swans, flamingos, parrots, songbirds, gulls and others have all been observed taking eggs or finding hatchlings to rear as their own. Some birds also engage in same-sex group behavior. In Mallard Ducks, for instance, where homosexuality and bisexuality are quite common, “gay” drakes socialize primarily among themselves and form what biologists refer to as “clubs.” Other birds are transgender—certain female Hooded Warblers can be found bearing the markings and singing voices of males while in other species, such as Ochre-bellied Flycatchers, certain males will mimic the courting behavior of female birds to attract other males. Such types of transgender birds (with mixed gender markings and behavior) are commonly observed by ornithologists and referred to as “marginal” males or females. Intersex conditions are also found among avian species and over forty cases of gynandromorphism, wherein birds have split male and female plumage, have been reported in species such as pheasants, falcons, and finch. In some types of birds, significant portions of the population never mate or reproduce; for instance, twenty-five percent of Long-tailed Hermit Hummingbirds remain single and nonreproductive throughout their lives, and as much as one third of Common Murres (a seabird) and Kestrels (a type of falcon) do the same.

Among mammal species, homosexual, bisexual and transgender behavior is even more common and has been documented among small rodents and insectivores (mice, rats, bats, squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, hedgehogs, etc.); marsupials (wallabies, kangaroo, koalas, dunnarts, etc.); carnivores (lions, cheetahs, wolves, foxes, bears, hyenas, mongooses, martens, raccoons, etc.); hoofed mammals (deer, elk, caribou, moose, giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, pronghorns, wild sheep, goats, buffalo, bison, musk-oxen, zebra, horses, pigs, llamas, elephants, rhinoceros, etc.), marine mammals (river and salt-water dolphins, porpoises, Orcas, whales, seals, sea lions, walruses, manatees, dugongs, etc.) and primates (Bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, Orangutans, gibbons, langurs, Proboscis Monkeys, macaques, baboons, Squirrel Monkeys, capuchins, tamarins, langurs, bushbabies, etc.).

Homosexuality in mammals is quite complex and has been well studied both in captivity and in the wild. Bonobos (Pygmy Chimpanzees), for example, have been found to exhibit a wide variety of different homosexual behaviors and emotions, and in small mammals such as mice and rats, scientists can induce homosexual behavior through the manipulation of their hormones during gestation. Bisexuality is very common among mammals and has been observed in many species outside of their normal breeding season such as Walruses, Bottlenose Dolphins, Bison, Bighorn Sheep, Giraffes, etc. Transgender behavior can also be observed among mammals—in Bighorn Sheep, some rams identify as female and herd themselves with the ewes. While Bighorn rams typically engage in homosexual behavior all year long, the transgender rams will only allow themselves to be mounted during the mating season when the “other” ewes are in estrus!

Many varieties of intersex conditions are found in mammals such as primates, bears, whales, dolphins, marsupials, rodents, insectivores and others, and quite a few mammal species have large numbers of individuals that are nonreproductive and never breed. For instance, more than fifty percent of American Bison and Right Whales, 75 percent of Blackbucks and Giraffes, and 80-95 percent of New Zealand Sea Lions and Northern Elephant Seals never mate or reproduce with the opposite sex throughout their entire lives.

Ratios of heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual animals vary from species to species and in many cases the homosexual populations of animals exceed those found in humans. Human populations are roughly estimated to be 80 percent heterosexual, 15 percent bisexual and 5 percent homosexual (80-15-5), but among animals these ratios can differ considerably. Female Silver Gulls, for example, have been found to have a ratio of 79-11-10, respectively, while male Black-headed Gulls have a ratio of 63-15-22 and Galahs (a type of cockatoo), 44-11-44.

There are so many examples of gender-variant creatures in the animal kingdom that it is impossible to do them justice here. Why such creatures exist or what purpose they serve may be debatable or even beyond our understanding, but clearly the natural world, when put under the microscope, is amazingly diverse. Biological life is so exuberant it seems to diversify at every possible opportunity and in every conceivable way, thus reflecting the very nature of Godhead itself.

Those who attempt to limit nature, limit God. In scientific journals from the nineteenth century, early zoologists typically imposed their own homophobia on the animal kingdom. While praising the mating of heterosexual creatures as “beautiful representations of God’s glory,” they simultaneously condemned the homosexual behavior they witnessed among animals as “unnatural” and “so monstrous as to be unworthy of record.” Initially, many zoologists tried to explain away homosexuality in the animal kingdom, hypothesizing that the creatures were simply deprived of opposite sex partners, mimicking heterosexual behavior, reacting to artificial environments, defective in some way, confused, or so on. All such rationalizations, however, have since been disproved and unbiased research into the animal kingdom has disclosed to modern biologists what indigenous cultures of the world have known all along—that nature is awe-inspiring and inconceivably variegated in terms of sex and gender.

Edit: The source is http://www.galva108.org/aroundtheworld.html

Trans reparative therapy

I found this lengthy article that responds critically to the work of Jerry Leach. I'm not well versed enough in psychology to vouch for it's accuracy, but it appears good. A lot of similarities with ex-gay reparative therapy, of course.

More on ChristToday

In the previous post, I nitpicked all the errors and misleading language used in a Christianity Article today article on transexuals. I didn't recognize there was an accompanying mini-article written by the same author. You read this article online as well.

This one is much better; no need for a long list of my corrections. I think if the article was more than half a page with fewer outside quotes and stories Kennedy would have made just as many mistakes. But he didn't, so I'm happy.

This article does upset me greatly in its attitude of the relationship between the Church and trans people.

Cumings and the elders wrestled at length with many questions: Is it right to reject an isolated, deeply troubled person who is seeking the Lord? Is it wise to allow other members to walk out if they can't handle accepting what they perceive to be an exhibition of perversion? "We tried very hard to walk a fine line between biblical authenticity—faithfulness to our understanding of the Bible—and compassionate concern," Cumings says.

I hope Cumings was seriously questioning whether to reject " an isolated, deeply troubled person who is seeking the Lord." Isn't that Church 101? Don't reject people? Hopefully that was some poorly executed literary technique.

But Cumings seriously considers he has some duty as a pastor to keep his church members isolated from anyone who, at best, challenges their morality, at worst, makes them uncomfortable. I always thought Church should challenge people and make us and make us comfortable. God does. Let's say it is perverse. But perversion is all around us and, while it will and should offend us, it won't really hurt us until we affirm it. I know it's contrary to popular Christian belief, but physical proximity to transexuals won't hurt you! But the Church is believing she must do more than just not affirm it - but it can't figure out what. If only she'd realize that. Maybe without her obsession for action, we could gather at the Table and really talk this thru.

And I always wonder, what about those allies who affirm trans people but are not trans themself? Would the Church discipline them like they discipline trans affirming people who are trans? Like deny leadership roles? In what I've seen, she doesn't discriminate between those who affirm and those who don't affirm, unless the affirmer is themself trans. Thus she's acting not on the belief, but the person - exactly what she denies. That is, the Church says she denying Nemecek her job and ordination not because she's trans but because she's trans affirming. I suppose isn't the combination which results in behavior the Church works against. Somehow someone's theology is far less important than what she does. Yes, I suppose that's it. I just needed to think out loud.

Tuesday, February 19

Trans article in ChristToday

I'm excited to say that last week Christianity today featured a lengthy article about on trans people! The full text of The Transgender Moment. Not that the article is particularly good, but I praise any good attempt that doesn't use the p(erv*rt) word. I want to remark on it, first the postives:

  • The article begins with the story of J. Nemecek, a MtF who transitioned while a prof at Spring Arbor University, a conservative Christian college. Always nice to start with a real person and a real experience.
  • Another story is of Bill Gray, a MtF, whom a Florida church embraces and even gets a job.
  • The story of Drew Gordon, a FtM and current Methodist minister and even allowing her quote that the Holy Spirit led her to transition.
OK, now the long list of negatives: the lack or research, hidden agendas, and weasel words.
  • I'm not sure about the title "Trans Moment." Feeling transgender stays with a person for life and in our culture it will only become more prevalent thru out this 21st century. I won't say the title is trying to minimize something about the trans issues, but it is suspicious.
  • Even the title tries to minimize us.
  • The whole article assumes that transgender=transexual. Wrong. I love and support my transexual brothers and sisters just as my cisgender siblings, but we are different. By ignoring the variety with the trans community, you stereotype us.
  • Page 1: "Advocates say transgendered individuals are at great risk . . ." Fact - but misleading. The US census even says that trans people are at great risk. We are more at risk than gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, and we're even under-reported compared to every other group.
  • Page 2: "In order to be diagnosed with gender identity disorder, there must be a strong desire to be the other sex . . ." False. First, the author, Kennedy, implies that trans=GID which is false. I am trans but would not be diagnosed with GID. Second, desire to change sex nor body is not required for diagnosis.
  • Page 2: " some 13 states have laws prohibiting employers and landlords from discriminating" Wrong. It's 12. The number 13 is often thrown around because Wash DC has this law.
  • Page 3: "Whether mentioned in Scripture or not, the transgender movement clashes with traditional Christian theology that teaches the only God-given expression of human sexuality is between a man and woman who are married." There are so many levels of problems with this statement, I could write a book! To be brief: 1 it is a straw argument that trans people are homosexual! 2 it is hypocritical of CT, a Protestant publication, to use tradition as argument when they don't like something but ignore tradition when they deem it negative. (For Protestants, that's most of the time.) Sola scriptura, my dear Protestants, anyone? 3 Church Tradition has little or nothing to say about trans people now or ever because it has always assumed that trans people didn't exist, at least not in the Church. No wonder the theology doesn't accomidate us! I love Tradition, but to talk about trans issues, we need new wineskins.
  • Page 3: CT quotes Warren Throckmorton. Throckmorton had his own criticism on the usage of this "quote," so I leave it to him to explain.
  • Page 3: "Individual evangelical congregations across the land are trying to figure out how to welcome lonely, hurting, seeking visitors who exhibit GID without offending long-term members." First, if they're afraid that welcoming an outcast in the name of Jesus will offend some members, then for the sake of Christ, please offend them! Did Jesus worry about offending when He welcomed whores? Samaritans? Tax collectors? Lepers? Did Philip worry when he welcomed a eunuch? Offend them! Perhaps their political correctness is the reason I've never heard of these churches. Perhaps that's why trans people think Christians hate us. I know the elders of the church is your family, but Jesus said if you cannot hate your own family, you cannot be His disciple.
  • Page 4: "American Psychiatric Association, which declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, still classifies the condition of transgender as a disorder." OK, common mistake, but still wrong. The APA answers this exact question on their site.
  • Page 4: "Barber says the political left wing is facilitating more gender confusion by counseling the afflicted to feel good about themselves rather than find a treatment for this disorder." If Barber had read what the APA says, Barber would know we're doing exactly that.
  • Page 4: ""You are what you are—male or female," Barber says." Only ignoring the 3% of people who are intersex. And if you ignore .05% of the human genome, you get a monkey.
  • Page 4, using a Family Research Council quotes. Funny, Kennedy doesn't mention the sole function of FRC is lobbying. I don't think a group that first denied global warming exists, then denied human are responsible, and is made of lawyers, not scientists anyway should be talking about Scripture and science.
  • Page 4 "Outside quote: "The pressure for acceptance is ultimately a challenge to the authority of Scripture and a violation of natural law." What? I thought there was no Scripture relevance? Regarding natural law, see previous bullet point.
  • Page 4 Same guy In the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender movement there is a tendency to continually push the envelope in trying to demand the acceptance of what most people perceive to be unusual behavior." This sick accusation that the LGBT movement is moving from gay to trans to polygamy pedophilia to beastiality to marrying your toaster is absurd and totally unfounded. Check our record: the gay movement include trans from the beginning and vice versa. Remember Stonewall? Trans people started that. We've never pushed other things. The only move to plural marriage comes from Mormons (Christians!) and the move toward pedophilia from cisgender people.
  • Page 4 In a couple ways strongly implying that trans=gay, including a quote from Alan Chambers. Hands down, psychologists agree that transgenderism is not homosexuality. Chambers's organization, Exodus, seems to agree: http://exodus.to/content/view/60/55/
  • All of page 5 is about Jerry Leach. Leach is the only person I've found in the "ex-trans" ministry. I thought he disappeared because he website was down for so long, as recently as a couple months ago. Some day he'll even get a real email. Or real website, or office, or book besides what comes from his home printer. Until then, he's not only the best ex-trans ministry, he's the only thing. He's removed his biography from his site, but I'm quite sure he has no education in counseling. His only claim to authority is being himself ex-trans and that no one else is rivaling him. If I were suddenly to reject my gender, I'd be just as qualified as him. Of course, CT only describes him as a "director" of an ex-trans ministry and gives him more space than anyone else in the article. Meanwhile, there are affirming trans people with PhDs, ordinations, and published books under their belts. Yet CT implies Leach is more qualified.
  • Whole article: over-usage of the word activists when referring to trans people and groups. If you haven't caught on, "activist" is EV-speak for "evil manipulator who will pillage and destroy to manifest your nightmares." Or more realistically, "manipulator." Like I said, we're too poor and shy and too jaded by the Church and others' own manipulation of us. But if by "activist" you mean trying to change laws and the status quo, Yes we are. So is CT itself. And FRC, Exodus, and Focus on the Family. Evangelism, too, is activism.
  • I might say the biggest mistake of this article is not to address transgender intersex people. The crux of the Church's current criticism with trans people is that "they deny their bodies." Trans intersex people make that impossible, making the Church's whole theory of gender impossible. But I guess that wasn't worth the one paragraph to mention?

Speaking of throwing babies out, the article does the same with cross dressors, drag queens, and some genderqueer people. Cross dressors and drag queens aren't denying their bodies, they're just pretending and having some fun. Some genderqueer people love their bodies as much as anyone - it's the gender attached they don't like. But CT can't acknowledge their presence either because they haven't figured a way to criticize them yet.

There's one more poor quote, but I won't blame CT since it was an outside quote and a very common mistake. Page 3: "Creech says. "Scripture doesn't address the issues of transgender experience." It does: eunuchs. See Peterson Toscano's blog entry on the CT article and eunuchs.

Now, notice I not once criticized Kennedy's point of view, just showing that it is irrational. There's a lot of bad research. Is he an idiot? Readers of CT more devoted than I can compare his other articles to see if he's just innocently stupid. Is he lazy? Writing on transgenderism requires a lot new ideas and weeks of work if you're new to it. If he's lazy, that could explain it. The last possibility is that he's just lying.

Update: A second article on Christianity Today.

Update: See strike-outs.

Update: Julie Nemecek points out even more factual errors.
  • I never appeared on campus as me until after the settlement. The “wig and dress on campus as a reason for dismissal” was a total fabrication by a usually reliable journalist. This was then repeated by journalists who piggyback on the work of others rather than do their own fact checking. Had I seen the story before publication, I could have prevented the continuing life of this falsehood.
  • My name change was in 2007, not 2005.

Wednesday, February 6

LTBG in 08 primaries

LGBT issues seem non-existent in this campaign in the mass media. I hear it LGBT spheres and Evangelical spheres, but no where else. I see that as good since people will have a clear mind without others shouting.