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The pope has spoken.  Who am I to disagree?

The pope has spoken.

Who am I to disagree?

Being one of those who are determined to be as dangerous as global warming, who the hell am I to disagree?

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

Originally posted at Docudharma

I'm all with Benedict rehabilitating Galileo after 400 years, just in time to honor him for improving Jacob Metius' new-fangled telescope and thinking to use it to look at the heavens.  If he hadn't done that, some of my academic ancestors might have had to find something else to study.

But almost simultaneously this pope decided that some people are unworthy of study.  In fact, he pretty much decided that none of us were worth studying when it comes to our gender.  Not me.  Not you.

We should probably start by censoring Juvenal.  Clearly this passage from the Satires has to go:

But why
Are they waiting? Isn't it now high
time for them to try
The Phrygian fashion and to make
the job complete
Take a knife and lop off that
superfluous piece of meat?

Men are men and women are women and all that studying that will do is upset the natural order of things.  Because, apparently, transfolk are less than deserving of the phrase "natural."

And current and future generations of scholars shouldn't study gender.  Ever.  Wrapped inside that study, apparently, are the seeds of destruction of humanity.

Says the pope:

The Church speaks of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this order is respected.

[Note:  Most transpeople I know identify as either men or women.  Where we disagree is that men must be born male and women must be born female.]

The pope fears "self-emancipation of man from creation and the Creator."

Does anyone truly think transsexual people have that power?  Does anyone truly think that when we pursue our lives, and search for who we are, it opens up the doors for you to free yourselves?

Can someone tell me how freeing yourselves for millennia of proscriptions is a bad thing?

What keeps the pope awake at night is the idea that human beings might be able to seek out their own sexual identity in a bid to have a happy life.

--Franco Grillini, Gaynet

Whenever I get to this place, there are folks who want to turn the argument on its side and ask me why we should worry about what the pope or James Dobson or any other religious leader says.  The answer ought to be clear:  these people determine how a great majority of the people we are going to encounter in our lives respond to us.  They set the tone for how we are greeted and treated...or, in most cases, maltreated.

In order to open a dialogue with them, we are forced to concede, if only for the duration of that discussion, the existence of God.  And that would be not just any god, but their specific God.  

So let's give it a try.  Assume the existence of the God of your choice.

I've heard some transfolk say something akin to "God made a mistake."  But it has been rare and usually before they have given more thought to it.  Most of us claim, (if we concede the existence of God in order to be able to defend ourselves) that God made no mistake.  And we wonder how anyone else cannot be blasphemous by claiming that God erred in our creation.  Who is it who thinks they know the mind of God?

We are not errors.  We are people.  Do we not have, like any other people, the right of even a modicum of self-determination?  Are we not allowed to know who we are?  Are we even to be shut off from the investigation?

To some of you, it is probable that you are thinking to yourself, what is the harm?

Here's what one of your fellow Daily Kos members thinks:

Pumping someone full of medication for the rest of his life, destroying perfectly good and working parts of his or her body and ignoring all the underlying psychological issues in the name of a political position does not make much sense to me. I am very doubtful that we do the majority of transgendered persons any good if me make this treatment publicly and socially available to anybody who asks for it. But the data on that is still scarce, so I reserve definitive judgement on this until we know more about it.

On the other hand, the Pope's suggestion (stick with nature) seems like a good general rule. YMMV.

This is the harm.

How much lack of understanding about transpeople does this display?  Let me count the ways.  

To this person we have become "a political position" rather than human beings.  What makes sense to this person is more important than what improves the chances for happiness of some of your fellow citizens.  Somehow attaining that happiness is bad for us...not just bad for society, but actually bad for individual transfolk.  And because this person has done no research, he or she believes the data is scarce.  And in supporting the pope, he or she would opt for accumulating no data.  

Instead we should bow down to a pope, who reads his speech through his prosthetic glasses as he tells transpeople to "stick with nature."

If it were just the pope and this individual, this wouldn't be a problem.  But the pope has, in this statement, given the imprimatur to the banning of knowledge about a certain group of people, a group to which I belong.  He has, in effect, declared the words I am writing and you are currently reading, to be sinful.

How much damage is that going to do to people who will discover that they are like me?  How many people will interpret his words as saying we are less than human...and  fair game?

Hanging by a Thread
Weed Control

The man says
we don't matter
except in the ways
that we do harm
to the human ecology

When can I expect
the gardener
to stop by
to pluck me out
of this garden?

--Robyn Elaine Serven
--February 17, 2008

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Fri Dec 26, 2008 at 04:27 PM PST.

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