Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pray the Trans Away?

It's a sad fact that Christianity and other religions have a history of demonizing gay people.  Whether you are reading the original texts the religions are based on or witnessing the actions of the current religious zealots, it's pretty clear that religion tends to find homosexuality "icky".  I used to believe this was unique to the Abrahamic religions, but after studying the five major religions in college I've since learned that all of them, at least in their original iterations, see same-sex attraction as worthy of second-class citizenship with varying degrees of condemnation.

Of course, you can find queer-friendly religion out there.  Even the denomination I escaped from has since come out in support of gay and trans people.  It takes some apologetics and interpretations to get there, but as long as people are being supported then I'm happy.  Even I've been known to pull out my knowledge of the Bible to help a kid argue with their homophobic or transphobic parents.  Though I think Butters from South Park pretty much summed it up best:

I won't lie, Butters is my favorite character because he's pretty much me in elementary school.
All of that progress is great, but there are still "ex-gay ministries" out there.  And now it seems that there are "ex-trans ministries" as well, often combined with the ex-gay garbage.  This is because they conflate gender identity and sexuality.  The see being trans as just an extreme form of homosexuality.  Here's a quote from an "ex-trans" person, Sy Rogers, for an example:
There was a time when I would never have believed such fulfillment was possible for me. Only three years earlier, I was lost in pursuit of my identity, desperately seeking love and acceptance. I was transsexual – or at least that’s what my psychiatrist called it. Although physically a man, I felt “trapped” in the wrong body. I was obsessed with the desire to change my outward gender and conform my body to what I believed I really was – both mentally and emotionally. I convinced myself, and worked hard to convince others, that sex-change surgery was necessary for me if I was ever to lead a fulfilled life.
Unlike many transsexuals, however, I was also very homosexually active prior to my sex-change efforts. I began having homosexual encounters before I was ten years old. I was aware of an intense desire to be intimate with men, and I wanted men to desire me too.
 Sy Rogers is one of the more tame ones out there.  He doesn't outright condemn transgender people or SRS, but still believes it's something to be conquered to be a Christian.  Others out there are not as understanding or forgiving.

The funny thing is that an "ex-trans" minister is pretty difficult to find.  Then again, many "ex-gays" ultimately come out again, such as Michael Bussee, one of the founders of the infamous Exodus International:

There has been a lot of progress made against the "ex-gay" movement.  Therapists can no longer endorse "reparative therapy" and be accredited by the APA because homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder.  And now with the new DSM, the same goes for "Gender Identity Disorder".  So no these groups are forced to hide behind religion.  And that's fine.  Really.  I'm okay with that.  As long as the only people deluding themselves are adults.

The problem I have with all this "ex-gay/ex-trans" bullshit is when it is forced onto minors who have no legal power.  I feel just as disgusted with parents who attempt to shame their children with these programs as I do with parents who let their children die rather than seeking medical attention.  And both of these horrendous acts are excusable if the parents claim a religious motivation.  I think that's something that needs to be stopped.  Yes, we all have freedom of and from religion in this country, but when you use that freedom to hurt your child you forfeit your rights to have children.  End of story.

Because I'm the one who has to pick up their pieces and help with the damaged goods.  I'm the one who has to tell their children that they are human beings worthy of respect and love.  And I am willing to bend my personal beliefs (or rather my disbelief of gods) in order to soothe and help those children.  If a youth asks if I think god hates gays or trans people, I tell them "Absolutely not.  If there is a god, then that god made you perfect the way you are.  You have worth.  You make a difference in this world in ways you can't even comprehend.  You are a treasure."  I don't tell them that I personally don't believe in deities or the supernatural, or that the Bible could be read to condemn us.  I tell them what they need to hear.  Because that's what you do to help children grow.  Not damn them to hell unless they act the way you want them to.  That sort of behavior almost makes me wish there were such a place so that all the parents who do not offer their unconditional love could experience the pain their children feel.

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