A Roman Catholic apostolate to support the dignity and inclusion of transgender laity.

Archive for May, 2014

The Catholic Trans* Problem M, F, B, S, H, and W (2)

Integrating my mind and body was an authentic mid-life transition that many who knew me supported and even called courageous, inspiring, and ethical. But in the eyes of the 99.9% of people who are blessed to have their gender and sex match, this uniquely personal act has been seen as a political statement, a psychological disorder, a character flaw, a weakness, a perversion, and a sin.

In the 17 years since my transition I have become active in working for equality of people  of all genders and find many in the LGBT community question my Catholic identity. Many seem to believe that being transgender and Catholic is incompatible. I believe that reconciliation is the mission of religion so I have researched church policy on transgender people for the past 2 years.In the Catholic Church, as a transsexual woman, I don’t officially exist. Officially, the Catholic Church does not have a public policy on the range of gender expression, but considering their policies on gay men, lesbian women, divorced women, women priests, and women who abort, perhaps I should count myself as lucky that this is the case.

But the unfortunate reality is that, like in most churches, the Catholic hierarchy defers to the most socially conservative views concerning sexuality in an effort to maintain its aging power structure. In contrast, in a recent survey, lay American Catholics, who have learned well that Jesus always cared for the marginalized, show overwhelming support for the protection of transgender people. (“Strong Majorities Favor Rights and Legal Protections for Transgender People,” Public Religion Research Institute, November 3, 2011, http://publicreligion.org/newsroom/2011/11/news-release-strong-majorities-favor-rights-and-legal-protections-for-transgender-people/ )

The popular assumption is that, as a transsexual person, I can expect to be treated poorly by the institutional church hierarchy. Unfortunately, this assumption is borne out in recent news reports of a Vatican document secretly sent to bishops, and by the Pope’s own words. As Jeff Israely reports in a 2008 Time magazine article:

 Without actually using the word, Benedict took a subtle swipe at those who might undergo sex-change operations or otherwise attempt to alter their God-given gender. Defend “the nature of man against its manipulation,” Benedict told the priests, bishops and cardinals gathered . . . .“The Church speaks of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this order is respected.” The Pope again denounced the contemporary idea that gender is a malleable definition. That path, he said, leads to a “self-emancipation of man from creation and the Creator.”

(Jeff Israely, “The Pope’s Christmas Condemnation of Transsexuals,” Time, December 23, 2008, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1868390,00.html)

Respecting the order of men and women is very important to an organization that is controlled solely by persons of one gender. Consider, however, that the Creator does make transsexual (mind/body incongruity) and inter-sexed (anatomic incongruity) people, and that medical science can allow us to lead more normal lives alongside the 99.9% of people who have such trouble understanding these variations. Beyond anatomy, rigid gender stereotyping is important to a controlling patriarchy. For those who seek to maintain patriarchal power, accepting any transgender expression (e.g., cross-dressers, transvestites, drag queens, drag kings, androgynous, bigendered, and gender-queer people) is unacceptable for organizational justification, not a question of morality. 

Excerpt from:Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Husband, and Wife by Hilary Howes

 

an article in-
More than a Monologue Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church:
Volume I: Voices of Our Times
Christine Firer Hinze and  J. Patrick Hornbeck, editors

Volume I: Voices of Our Times Christine Firer Hinze and J. Patrick Hornbeck, editors

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Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Husband, and Wife (1)

Blessed by our Creator with male genitalia and a female brain, I struggled to relate to a society that saw me as male until I transitioned to live as a woman. I share a birth year with Disneyland, so for my 40th we–my wife,daughter and I; planned a family trip there with a special treat for me: I could dress as a woman the whole time. I had been cross-dressing in private since childhood, on occasions with a support group during the previous three years, and in the year before the trip I started adding feminine touches to my male wardrobe. During that year, I had been trying to avoid transition by seeing if just expressing my feminine side, while maintaining my male identity, could work for me. I’m six feet tall and I had always doubted that anyone would accept me as a woman. In a far-off vacationland, we wouldn’t have to worry about rejection from anyone we would ever have to see again. My lifelong fears of rejection and shame, as well as my family’s concerns of social awkwardness of our all female family unit, gradually dissolved as absolutely none of our fears came to pass. I had a wonderful time with my family, relating to them and to the world as a woman for the first time. Disneyland really became “the happiest place on earth” that week, as I came to understand that it wasn’t about “enjoying feminine things” for me. I was a woman, treated with dignity and acceptance by virtually everyone, and it felt so right.

On the drive home, the tears started to flow as we talked and came to believe that I would have to transition in real life, too. I struggled to understand how I could be a woman, a husband, and a father. It took the right therapist, good friends, the wisdom of children, the unconditional love of Mary, my wife, and ultimately just trusting in God to find our path. Now I do live as a woman; my marriage bond is strong; I’m an honest, authentic parent, as well as the daughter my mother wanted after giving birth to two boys.

Excerpt from:Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Husband, and Wife by Hilary Howes
an article in-
More than a Monologue Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church:
Volume I: Voices of Our Times
Christine Firer Hinze and  J. Patrick Hornbeck, editors

Volume I: Voices of Our Times Christine Firer Hinze and J. Patrick Hornbeck, editors

New book gives wives insight

It’s beautiful to see these other relationships surviving transition. but this quote about those that don’t seems fitting: “If you’re married to a jerk, transitioning will only provide additional fodder for your anger, judgment, resentment, and pain.” Some of the stories I’ve heard, I want to say to the women, this has nothing to do with being transgender, it’s because your husband is an immature SOB.

She Was the Man of My Dreams

201405_41_LesliebookcoverI recently received a copy of “My Husband’s a Woman Now” from Leslie Hilburn Fabian, a fellow (sister?) “wife of,” asking that I consider it for my list of transgender resources. It’s been added! There are so few books out written by or about wives affected by their husband’s transitioning (it’s OUR transition too!), so it’s great to see another one to choose from. The long-standing classics are by Helen Boyd, and I devoured those when seeking information. Those delve into quite a bit of gender theory, while Leslie’s story is totally personal and positive, living up to its subtitle: “A Shared Journey of Transition and Love.”

Any woman whose husband or partner is a cross-dresser or who has pondered transitioning, is transitioning or already has, and anyone who cares about those women will get a lot of reading this book. Those not directly impacted will be educated…

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QUOTE TO NOTE: Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn: ‘Not everyone who is born male feels he is a man and the same applies to women’

…As we all know, there is multicoloured variety in God’s garden. Not everyone who is born male feels he is a man and the same applies to women. Such people deserve the same respect that we all have a right to as human beings.’

QUOTE TO NOTE: Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn: ‘Not everyone who is born male feels he is a man and the same applies to women’.  X

 

HHS: Transgender Patients Protected From Discrimination

HHS: Transgender Patients Protected From Discrimination. The catholic view

 

A Few Notes for Context

Thea provides a preface to her trans theology

Catholic Social Teaching And Transgender Issues

Before we can begin to really analyze transgender issues and Catholic Social Teaching, it is necessary to explain who transgender people are and what the Catholic Church teaches about us. I do not plan to go into the science of being transgender at all, and I am definitely not going to evaluate any critical theories. I want to explain, in as plain language I can, who we say we are to give context to later blog posts. Essentially, a transgender person is someone who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.  From GLAAD’s Transgender 101 page; “Gender identity is someone’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or as someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the [gender] they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.”[1] Transgender people identify as men, women, and often as…

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Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching

Introduction.

Welcome sister to the growing movement of catholics (lay and ordained) working for the full inclusion of transgender people in the Church. We need your expertise and training to make valid arguments that those who do not already understand our spiritual path. I hope that you are able to join us on May 17th in Washington DC for a workshop specifically about this.

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