Okay – time to talk gender and orientation.
Before reading the rest of this post, please listen to this podcast. The entire thing is a fantastic listen and I couldn’t recommend it more, but specifically check out the segment running from 16:30 to 24:55. Keep in mind that this is from The Liturgists Podcast, and comes from the point of view of someone who considers himself a religious individual, albeit a scientifically minded one.
As is the case with most of my posts, I know that a majority of my audience feels roughly the same way I do with regard to this subject. I am hopeful that some of you with differing views will contribute your voices, even if you’re worried they might be unpopular in this crowd.
The HB2 law recently passed in North Carolina has been in the news plenty lately. For the unfamiliar, the law basically serves to remove protections for the LGBTQ community by disallowing their rights to use a bathroom corresponding with their professed gender identity, instead restricting them only to those facilities matching the gender indicated on their birth certificates. It is – inarguably – discrimination. Whether or not one may feel that such discrimination is warranted is another question (even if it’s one I think has a pretty obvious answer). So…let’s discuss it.
Never mind for the moment that a bathroom door never kept a pedophile or rapist from carrying out a heinous act (bathroom doors don’t hurt people; people hurt people…right?). Or that young boys are just as much at risk around strange, grown men as young girls would be. Or that grown women could be sexual predators of either sex as well. Or that someone who is mostly or fully transitioned could potentially be seen as more of a threat if they are forced to use a bathroom where they physically do not appear to belong.
All that aside…I don’t see a way to ethically or rationally defend this law because, as is discussed in the podcast linked to above, we do not all fit into a binary. Gender identity, like sexual orientation, is not imaginary. It is not something that emotionally confused individuals invent or grab onto to steal attention, or to cause trouble, or to mask their criminal tendencies. There are, occurring in nature, examples of people born with both sets of genitalia, people born with neither set of genitalia, people born with a set of genitalia that partly resembles that of both sexes, animals that physically change from one gender to another to facilitate reproduction…if there can be this much ambiguity over a person’s gender, how can you then also judge someone on the basis of orientation? If it’s not scientifically clear whether someone is male or female, how can one definitively say that – even if they wanted to “do right in the eyes of the Lord” – they should copulate only with a given sex?
And yes, a vast majority of us do fit cleanly into either the male box or the female box (no snickering, please). But it’s not such a vast majority that those with gender identity issues are to be considered mutants, or even fringe cases. There IS such a thing as being born with male parts but identifying as a woman, and vice versa. Asexuality and bisexuality are both entirely valid. We need to stop assuming we can proclaim a verdict in cases where we haven’t heard or considered all of the evidence. If you are someone who believes that “gender identity” is hogwash, or that heterosexuality is the only way to go, I want to hear from you. Please join the conversation here.