Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Transgenderism: God Is The Tail That Wags The Dog

When the only tool you have is the hammer of your religion, everyone's problems look like a spiritual nail.  And today, we see this in the arguments about transgenderism offered by Christians. But this is not the first time the Catholic Church has used the hammer of it's religion to nail people to the cross of it's own mistaken beliefs about what it means to be human; and in doing so, it has tried to use the tail of it's beliefs to wag the dog.  

Fr. Mike, along with the Catholic Church in general and plenty of Christians as well, argue that transgendered people are suffering from a "delusion," some purely spiritual and/or psychological pain that has lead them to be as confused about their own gender as Fr. Mike's nephew was confused about being a dog. Yet in the same way Fr. Mike simply chooses to ignore the wealth of genetic contributions to gender his "God" has provided for him, so that he may understand "truth," Fr. Mike also ignores how often beliefs in "God" can lead people like himself to think people can turn into dogs. 

On the one hand, this idea of "pain and suffering" -  which religion has turned into the centerpiece of its religion and its ethos about life in the form of the celebrated human sacrifice of Christ, one that has turned an instrument of torture into a icon of worship (like parents of the children of the Sandy Hook massacre hanging a gun on their wall and praying to it), and which has driven far more people into religion and to commit countless homicidal acts for their religion - has also been the very thing people have argued contributed to the pedophiles in the Catholic Church. The reasoning here was that, the sexual repression that came from the Catholic Church's requirement of priestly celibacy, which only denies people something as fundamental to their mental health as sex, drove these priests to develop mental disorders and eventually pedophilia. And there is no doubt that Fr. Mike rejects such claims, even as he has no problem essentially making the same claims about transgendered people, just so he can sell his "beliefs" about "truth."

On the other hand, Christians were so convinced of their “beliefs” in witches, in fact, that some of their most learned scholars of the time codified the means by which to deal with them in a book called the Malleus Maleficarum, otherwise known as the “Hammer of Witches.”[i] That ghastly tome helped some of the most learned minds of the day execute an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 people.[ii] In the same way that the very existence of the Bible is often used to reinforce and validate homophobia and binary stereotypes about gender, so “The Malleus Maleficarum was used,” as Linguistic Archeologist, Edo Nyland explained, to reinforce and validate “Catholic beliefs” in witches, “which led to the prosecution, torture, and murder, of tens of thousands of innocent people.”[iii]  Nearly all of the accused where women and “consisted primarily of outcasts and other suspicious persons,” Nyland continued, “including Jews, Poets, Gypsies” and “anyone who did not fit within the contemporary view of pious Christians.”[iv]

In this way, the hammer of religion allowed Christians to feel they were doing gods works, even as they were burning the “least of his children” at the stake. And today, that same hammer is being used by Christians (and Muslims) to vilify people that make Christians uncomfortable, into binary gender roles, while allowing such Christians to declare that anyone who refuses to conform to their dictates must therefore be suffering from an emotional or mental problem.  These same Christian claims were also made by Samuel Cartwright in 1851 about slaves who ran away from their masters.

As Cartwright saw it, since the Bible clearly states that the black slave should be kept “in the position that we learn from the Scriptures he was intended to occupy, that is, the position of submission,” slaves should therefore be content to serve their masters.  As such, any slave that ran away from their master must therefore be suffering from a mental disease he called “drapedomaina.”  And much like Cartwright, Christians today likewise argue that anyone who runs away from their binary gender definitions must also be suffering from a mental disease.

Fr. Mike's conclusion that anyone who identifies as being transgender is suffering from a mental problem is incredibly ironic, therefore, since it was Christians who once "believed" that people who were actually suffering from real mental problems were witches.

And this irony is only compounded by the fact that Fr. Mike chose to compare transgenderism to his nephew pretending to be a dog, since only a few short centuries ago, those same Christians "believed" that those they feared and labeled as "witches" possessed the power to turn themselves into dogs. And perhaps what's most ironic of all, is that religious people are claiming that such people are suffering from a mental disorder, when The American Psychology Association has said that extreme religious beliefs are either a mental disorder or a con or both.

Although our collective understandings about "witches" and mental health have progressed a great deal since the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the Church's understanding about gender in general, and transgenderism in particular, has hardly budged a single inch in over two thousand years. So, like those who believed that the Bible supported slavery and the geocentric universe, perhaps it is the binary gender paradigm that such Christians cling to out of fear and desperation (despite the fact that their own Bible has nothing to say about gender, and other religions see "gender" very differently indeed) that is the real problem, and not transgenderism. 

Because Christianity is so obsessed with wanting, indeed often like ISIS even demanding that, everyone must be like a god named Jesus, they often end up crucifying people for just being human. So perhaps the real problem comes from how often people who believe in "God" keep projecting their own fear onto others by likening them to dogs, even though its their own male catholic priests who so often walk around in a dress.


[iv]. Id.

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