Actually, There is a Difference

13 10 2015


I find it interesting that the persons I’ve heard who insist there isn’t any difference between the Left and the Right, between Liberals and Conservatives, have so far always been white men who are (seemingly) cisgender. The most recent statement I’ve encountered occurred in a sermon I heard over the weekend.

The allegation had been made that Conservative Christian theology and Liberal Christian theology are, in essence, two sides of the same coin if not actually the same. The preacher, whom I’m choosing to not name, stated that both sides are very concerned with rules and dogma. And yet, I’ve yet to encounter a Liberal Christian church that has said that trans persons like myself aren’t welcome. I fully accept the possibility that they exist, but I haven’t encountered them yet. While at the same time, there are seminarians in my cohort at PSR who have challenged not only my fitness to be a minister because of my gender and orientations, but also my fitness to be Christian. And before you ask the answer is, “No, these persons are not by any stretch of the word liberal.” My places at seminary and the communion table have only been questioned by those who can be described, self-described at times, Conservative Christians.

The most important problem with what this weekend’s preacher said was that he made a blanket statement, failing to take into consideration variances. If he had qualified his words, saying something like, “There are those Conservative and Liberal theologies that are very similar, treating each other as the Other,” I would probably would not have made this blog post. But rather than allow for difference, he made blanket statements regarding both sides.

I will not make a blanket statement regarding Conservative Christian theology in general. That said, my experience thus far has been that this group of theologies is far more exclusive than Liberal theology. Furthermore, I’m certain I’m not the only Liberal (or Progressive) theologian who would welcome into my sacred space and to my communion table my “enemies.” No. Though it would be tempting to exclude them, it would be theologically incorrect. At the same time, it’s worth noting that my friend and mentor, Rev. Gina Pond, has advised, “Radical inclusion doesn’t mean no boundaries.”

National Coming Out Day was this past Sunday and Matthew Shepherd Day was yesterday. If a Liberal church were to celebrate these things, how would the rabidly anti-queer and anti-trans be welcomed into such a service? True, such persons have a place at the communion table in general, but if they are actively attempting to disrupt and oppress others can they be allowed to take a place among the oppressed?

There are times when the boundaries do not exist to make the opposition feel like they are the Other, but rather to protect those who are repeatedly beaten down, metaphorically and literally.

REBLOGGING: some reminders

5 10 2015

Here are some reminders regarding the asexual community.

#30daysofsocialjustice 30: Radical Inclusion

30 09 2015


What is radical inclusion? The answer to that question probably depends on whom one asks. For my part, I would say at the very least radical inclusion means welcoming trans and queer persons. But, that’s a rather narrow definition based on the primary ways in which I experience marginalization and oppression. My coven’s “About” page describe radical inclusion as:

We are intentionally radically inclusive and welcome all persons of any race, color, age, ancestry, sexual or relationship orientation, body size, gender, religion, or any other difference.

But how can this be applied in the real world? For instance, would a person who had been raped be welcome in a rape survivor’s group if that person had once committed date rape themself? Can a queer and gender expansive community of faith really welcome persons who are most staunchly against queer and gender expansive persons? My friend and mentor, Rev. Gina Pond, once told me: “Radical inclusion doesn’t mean no boundaries.”

It seems to me that radical inclusion would be working to address the various social justice issues in this blog series.

It’s not remotely easy. It requires us to confront our own “hungry ghosts,” to borrow a phrase from Buddhism, and to give grace to the hungry ghosts of others. It requires acknowledging that any given person can be privileged and marginalized at the same time. It requires a great many other things that I haven’t mentioned or learned of yet.

And that, to me, seems to be the key: radical inclusion is based on learning.

Be well, and Be Blessed.

#30daysofsocialjustice 29: Orientations and Asexuality

29 09 2015


LGBT. LGBTQ. LGBTQA. LGBTQIA. Maybe with a plus-sign on the the end. Many of these letters are designations for orientations. But, what kind of orientations?

There are those persons for whom sexual and romantic orientations are not the same. For some reason that I don’t understand, this causes eye-rolling for those LGBTQIA+ persons who are in the dominant culture under the rainbow. That is, those who are white, homosexual, and often (though not always) cisgender.

There was a time when I thought of myself as bisexual, but that was before I was really aware of the variations in the gendersphere. Bisexual, as I first learned of it, meant attracted to men and women. As my own gender transition began, I found that some said “bi” means two or more, so bisexual meant attracted to two or more sexes. Another definition was attracted to 1) persons of the same sex and 2) persons of different sex(es). But as a trans woman who is pre-op/non-op, what is my same sex? Would that be other pre-op/non-op trans women? But at about this time, I also learned of the term pansexual meaning being attracted to persons of all sexes/genders.

I shouldn’t even have to add this part, but that doesn’t mean I’m sexually attracted to all persons. In fact, I might find a visually stunning person complete unattractive depending on their personality.

But all this is in reference to sexual attraction. And I’ve learned that sexual orientation is not always the same as romantic orientation. I’ve met a woman who describes herself as an aromatic lesbian. That is, she doesn’t experience romantic attraction to anyone, but is sexually attracted to women. I’ve met another woman who describes herself as a homoromatic bisexual. She only experiences romantic attraction to women, but experiences sexual attraction to her own sex and persons of a different sex.

Aromantic and asexual are words used to describe persons who do not experience romantic and sexual attraction, respectively. From what I’ve learned, asexual persons aren’t necessarily sex-aversed. In fact, they might enjoy sex. It’s just that the don’t experience sexual attraction.

This is the group is often finds themselves erased by the LGBTQIA acronym due to many saying that the “A” stands for “ally.” The “A,” as I’ve been assured, is supposed to be for asexual and aromantic. These persons often find themselves marginalized by the queer communities for not being queer enough, especially for the cases of heteroromantic asexuals or aromantic heterosexuals. The fact is, they are queering what it means to be “straight.” To my mind, that means that they do have a place under the rainbow, even as these two groups do have their own pride flags as well.

Aromantic and asexual are spectra unto themselves. Persons who identify as such are not “adding to the confusion,” “special snowflakes,” “ludicrous,” or “cacaphony.” Yes, it means that those who engage in ministry and activism for persons marginalized for the orientations have to learn “new words.” Deal with it.

Bishop Yvette Flunder has said, “Even the margins have margins.” Then we need to push those margins out farther and farther by taking people seriously when they describe their orientations.

#30daysofsocialjustice 28: Sexism

28 09 2015


As with misogyny in particular, there are those who have said, and will say, that I am not qualified to speak about sexism in general as I’ve come into womanhood too recently. That is, when my womanhood is even recognized. In fact, when I’ve pointed out the ways in which women can also be sexist I’ve been treated to such comments as, “Just because you used to be a man doesn’t give you the right to defend them.” Seriously; double-U, tee, eff?

Years ago, I was told I was “weak” because I was a husband whose then-wife had the higher income. I was told this by a woman, not a man. You see, gender roles have never meant all that much to me. If my partner made more than me, so what? We were working together to keep our family housed, fed, and clothed? Yes. So, that was all that mattered. But it was very upsetting to many around us that the wife was making more money than the husband. The main reason for those around us being upset was that it was a violation of gender roles: men were supposed to make more.

Oh, and we shared the household chores. I’ve always loved to cook, and dinner was my responsibility. This, too, was a problem for a great many people around us.

Sexism limits everyone by primarily defining what is “right” for men and what is “right” for women. This is usually accomplished by giving men that will builds their esteem in society and relegating women to lesser roles. The tension between so-called stay-at-home moms and working moms is a twisted form of sexism that pits women against other women.

And also, sexism lifts up men who were designated male at birth and women who were designated female at birth as being greater than persons of any other possible gender, when those genders are even recognized.

Misogyny and cissexism (aka transphobia) are only two ways in which sexism takes form.

#30daysofsocialjustice 27: Microaggressions and Trigger Warnings

27 09 2015


I once heard an activist’s podcast start with, “This might be triggering to some of you, and I don’t care.” And yet, I’ve heard this very person talk about being triggered. They went onto call people out for not adhering to the Golden Rule, which seemed odd considering how they started that podcast, but that’s for another blog post. Furthermore, this podcaster dismissed my trigger when I was trapped on a bridge due to a protest. Being a person who survived a couple of near-drowning experiences (both during swimming lessons as a child), it was very triggering to be stopped on a bridge in earthquake country. I was told that my trigger didn’t matter as much as the message the protesters were trying to send. And I was told that by a person who expected their own triggers to be taken seriously by the people around them.

These comments this podcaster made regarding the triggers of others could be deemed microagressions. Microaggressions are subtle, everday ways in which people are marginalization and oppressed. They could be intentional, though than can just as easily be unintentional. The presence of public toilets that are only labeled men or women without the presence of any gender neutral facilities is an example of a cissexist/cisnormative/transphobic microaggression. Others include but are not limited to such “compliments” as:

  • That person is attractive for a fat/trans person.
  • That person is very articulate for a person of color.
  • I had no idea so-and-so is trans!

And I must admit that I am guilty of the third item in the above list. It is not, of course, my intention to be cissexist. And yet, I find myself doing this. It’s not that when I do this I’m surprised that a person passes for cis. It’s more that I’m excited because I’ve found another member of my community. The process of reprogramming myself continues.

I’ve also encountered recently a backlash against the use of trigger warnings. This is something I marvel at. When combat veterans ask to have their triggers respected, our military-worshipping society will stop at nothing to accomodate them. Let a woman who spent her childhood being repeatedly being raped asked to have her triggers respected, people will often go out of their way to be sure that she is triggered in the worst possible ways.

People should be treated with respect. Doing so can help eliminate microaggressions and help reduce the need for trigger warnings.

#30daysofsocialjustice 26: Racism

26 09 2015


Part of me wants to ask, “Is it really necessary to blog about racism when it’s so obvious that we most certainly do NOT live in a post-racial society?” But then, I look back over the other social justice issues in this blog series and I know the answer to my question: It is because that we do not live in a post-racial society that it is necessary to blog about racism.

And yet, I’ve been warned about the way in which I use my voice in this cause. Being white, I am called upon to resist and speak out against racism without making my voice louder than the voices of those persons of color and interracial persons who actually experience racism. As I am not a person who faces systemic and systematic marginalization and oppression because of my race, it is almost better that I don’t actually write about this. In fact, I will refer you, O Reader, to a blog post of my friend and mentor, Rev. Gina Pond, in which she lists many of the podcast interviews she had done with persons of color who have directly experienced racism.


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