The Quixotic Pastor

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thinking About The T in LGBT

Tuesday, November 20th, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance --which means that this Sunday, November 18th, at the one church at which it is possible, we'll be remembering our transgendered friends who have died from transphobia as well as those who continue to struggle against it. [Shout out to Rainbow Pastor, who reminded me our denomination has worship resources available for this.]

There are also several vigils scheduled in various places throughout the state on the actual day itself.

Throughout the nation, this year's remembrance is particularly poignant since ENDA, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, most recently passed the House without including protection for "gender identity", i.e. protection for those whose gender presentation is different from that of others.

This year's remembrance in the state of God's Left and Right Hands is particularly poignant because a transgendered youth from the state's western side, Ian Guarr, committed suicide last month. Ian, unlike most transgendered youth, had a very supportive family and a network of supportive friends --yet the difficulty of navigating through life as a transgendered person in a world that assumes that gender is always either entirely male or female and strictly based on genitalia still proved to be too much for Ian.

That last sentence might cause a certain amount of discomfort for my readers, all four or five of you. Gender isn't either male or female, with nothing in between? There's more to gender than genitalia?

Did you know that, in human beings, there are many different markers of gender? The most obvious marker is genitalia, but even that marker is not as definitive as we might believe, given that some children are born intersexed, with ambiguous genitalia. But there's more markers beyond that. Chromosomal, XX and XY ... but also XYY, XXY. There's internal reproductive structures, which don't necessarily match in a typical manner with external reproductive structures, so there are girls who have vaginas and undescended testicles. There's hormonal levels. There's brain chemistry ... and beyond all of that, there is that profound sense of one's own gender identification which is difficult to measure.

Gender is not like a on-off switch. Gender is much more like a rheostat or the slider type of control you might find on the equalizer on your sound equipment. The idea that a person's gender must always be either entirely male or entirely female is a social construct that frankly distorts the totality of human experience.

If you are interested in exploring the subject of gender, visit the Center for Gender Sanity website, especially the diagram of sex and gender.

Another outstanding resource for those interested in exploring the idea of gender as a social construct is the book Omnigender, A Trans-religious Approach, by Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollencott.

I'll be writing more about this as the week progresses. I certainly welcome the thoughts and comments of my readers ... all four or five of you.

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2 Comments:

  • At 2:25 PM , Blogger leah sophia said...

    beautifully written, thank you! and every one of us lives every aspect of our lives - not solely gender and sexual expression - somewhere or another along an extremely broad, sometimes equivocal continuum, often in different places at differing times and spaces. when will the world ever acknowledge that fact? thanks again!

     
  • At 10:33 PM , Blogger Mother Laura said...

    Yes, thank you so much. I will be linking to this post (and probably later ones) at my blog since this is something I know little about myself but want to mark.

     

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