Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bryan Fischer wants Women to shower with Trans Men

Just this past week, I turned my attention to the American "Family" Association's Bryan Fischer, and showed that he is neither a real Conservative or a real Christian. Thanks to my friend Zoe Brain, I've just been exposed to more of Fischer's inability to understand sacred scripture or science, in a blog essay over at the American "Family" Association's "Rightly Concerned" Blog, entitled "Barney Frank: ENDA is about men showering with women."

Fischer starts out showing his inability to comprehend Christian sacred scripure. His first two very short paragraphs are an attempt at scriptural exegesis:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine).

According to both Scripture and biology, there are just two genders, two
and only two, male and female. Period.

The emphasis was Fischer's, but it may as well have been mine. And his conclusion is totally and completely incorrect.

First, as I have pointed out on numerous occasions, Genesis 1:27 has an "and" and not an "or" connecting "male" and "female."

Second, this scriptural passage connotes that the very image of God is "male *and* female." All Fischer needs to do is read about the (allegorical, true, but this is a bigger point for a biblical literalist) creation of Adam. Adam was created in God's image, "male and female" in one being, and then split into two people. This does not mean that every person created by God is "split" in exactly the same way. From the perspective of scripture, transsexual people are created by God with natures that are different - not entirely male, and not entrely female. In a way, we're possibly more "God-like" than most people, though we are not "all male" and "all female" in the way that God's image and likeness is. For more on the image and likeness of God, and how this relates to the Name of God, I'd refer Bryan to Rabbi Mark Sameth.

Third, scripture contains references to people who are male, people who are female, and people who are "other." Those "other" people are called "eunuchs" in sacred scripture. Is Bryan saying that sacred scripture is untrue? That there are no people who are different?

Jesus Christ knew more about transsexual and intersex people that Bryan Fischer. We have one biblical verse in which Jesus mentions us, using the term "eunuchs" but that term is fleshed out. Let's look at Matthew 19:12, which together with passages from Isaiah and Acts constitute a triple reference that should tell Bryan that trans people are specially loved by God.

In Matthew 19:12, we hear the words of Jesus:

"for there are eunuchs which have been born thus from [their] mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs of men; and there are eunuchs who have made eunuchs of themselves for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens. He that is able to receive [it], let him receive [it]."

I've used Darby here, but I could have used any of the literal translations.

So let's examine Jesus' words more closely, since people like Bryan are incapable of taking more than a few words in at once and not making a jumble of them:

"for there are eunuchs which have been born thus from [their] mother's womb; . . ."

In this first phrase, Jesus makes it clear that He, unlike Bryan, understands that transsexual and intersex people are born different.

". . . and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs of men; . . ."
While this second phrase may refer to those who are castrated as punishment for a crime, or to make them sing as sopranos in the Vatican choir, or for those who entered into government service in China or the Eastern Roman Empire, it also refers to things like genital reconstructuin surgery, performed on some trans and intersex people so that they can fit more easily into the artificial societal construct of sex that is imposed on the diversity of nature, to match the way their brains developed.

". . . and there are eunuchs who have made eunuchs of themselves for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens. "
This third category of eunuch has from early Christian times been misinterpreted as referring to priestly celibacy, in a reaction to those Chriistians who took literally Christ's admonitions in Matthew 5:30 and 18:8, and Mark 9:43-45, and, like the theologian Origen, castrated themselves to avoid succumbing to their sexual urges. Paul of Tarsus offered marriage as an alternative to Christians who could not make themselves be celibate - teaching that Christians should be celibate, but those who cannot control their sexual urges should get married. For true Christians, based on Paul's teaching, getting married s an acknowledgment of an inability for the parties to sexually contain themselves. (of course, not everyone is a Christian, and not all Christians are faithful to Paul's teaching, but it is at least a rebuttable presumption that any married Christian is unable to control their sexual urges - otherwise they would have chosen to be celibate, like the Shakers.)

In actuality, the third category of eunuch in Jesus' words, is a reference back to Isaiah 56:4-5, in which the Lord says:

". . . Unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast to my covenant,

even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off."
Jesus, a great scripture scholar, knew that God has a special place in God's own House for those who are transsexual and intersex.

We already knew that Bryan Fischer fails in his theological understanding of sacred scripture. I just wanted to make it absolutely clear that he is wrong about Genesis 1:27. There can be no doubt of this among reasonable minds.

Let's turn to biology, shall we?

We've clearly established that Fischer nows nothing about scripture; he apparently knows even less about biology.

His third paragraph is a gem:

"Pro-family advocates have from the beginning opposed the normalizing of transgenderism because it does gross violence to any rational view of human sexuality, and, even worse, will force women to share shower, bathroom and locker-room facilities with biological males. "

First, he mischaracterizes his cohorts as "pro-family advocates." That is an utter lie. He and people like James Dobson are about as anti-family as they come. The only families that they support are families like their own. They believe that families that are different are to be feared and hated. That is not pro-family, just like the National Organization "for" Marriage is not for Marriage but is against it.

Second, Fischer does not have a rational view of human sexuality, or biology. He fails to understand that nature is more diverse than society, and that there are people who do not easily fit into societal definitions of male or female. For people who hew to the narrow view of sex assignment, anyone who does not fit into that view perfectly is abnormal, deviant and pathological. It's also why people like Fischer conflate homosexuality, which is a sexual orientation, with transsexualism, which involves gender identity seated in the brain, and its relation to sex assignment. These are different issues, but the T is associated with the LG and B because we are all *different* from the sexuality expected by the majority, and as a result, elements within that majority feel no compunction about singling us out for persecution just because we are different in some way. Bullies like Bryan Fischer have no sense of morality or decency. They lie like snakes in the grass, and strike with their venom, their lies, and their deceit. They delight in whipping up of gullible and ignorant straight cissexual people into a frenzy of fear that is rooted in their fear of people who are not exactly like them, ghoulishly raking in their contributions to fight against justice and decency.

Human sexuality is diverse. It is society that imposes the two-sex view on nature.

If society insists that there has to be two and only two sexes, then society has to accommodate those who are different and do not exactly fit into the narrow view, in a reasonable way.

Forcing women to bathe with men is not reasonable. But THAT is what Bryan Fischer wants! He wants to force transsexual men to use women;s shower facilities. Because Bryan does not recognize genital reconstruction surgery as being effective, he wants men - men with beards, deep voices and male pattern voices, some of whom have larger penises than others, to shower with women, just because those men were born with a developed mullerian duct system and have or had uteruses.

Just because Bryan thinks of women as merely walking uteruses and sperm depositories, does not mean that such a viewpoint is universally shared. I am sure that when Bryan is not busy opposing reasonable treatment for trans people, he must be out there shaking jars of formaldehyde with fetuses at women going to see their doctors for medical treatment. His reduction of women to the mullerian duct system, as mere cows who exist for the purpose of bearing children to the men who think they own them, is shameful.

Then he wants to force women to share showers with trans men. Shame on him! There is no rational basis for his position. He apparently thinks that there are only transsexual women out there for him to degrade and abuse. He does not seem to realize that there are transsexual men, too - and that when he forces women out of the showers and locker rooms, he is forcing real men into those same places!

Bryan does not want those gullible and ignorant followers of his to know the truth - because if they knew the truth, they would realize just how ridiculous his position is. No - Bryan is relying on the idea that trans men will be too afraid to use women's facilities because they would be openly challenged by the women, even though Bryan insists that this is where these men belong.
What he really wants is for trans people to be relegated to the shadows of society and not be seen in the daylight lest we offend people who are afraid of people who don;t fit into their preconceived binary notions of reality.

The reality is that even under ENDA, women-born-female (WBFs) would not be forced to shower with pre-op/non-op women-born-transsexual, at the same time. Women who have, or still have, penises, would either have private showers in the women's area, or if there are only open showers, can be accommodated by way of "time-slicing" so they have access at different times from women who have an objection. Post-op women should not be subjected to any limitation.

When it comes to bathrooms, privacy is at the stall level. Pre-op and non-op women can and dod safely use public bathroom facilities every day without a problem. It's usually the butch lesbians who get hassled by other women in the bathroom because they sometimes get mistaken for men, depending on what they are wearing.

Bryan goes on to paint a distorted picture of trans people:

Transgenders are people who are so psychologically and mentally confused they think they are trapped in a body of the wrong sex.

So we are talking here about biological males - males in every single cell of their bodies, with every strand of DNA male to the core, males according to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” - who are convinced that they are women trapped in male bodies. Consequently, they want to act as women, dress as women, and use the same facilities women use, including bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.

Do you notice how easily and quickly Bryan makes the inconvenient trans men disappear? That's because he wants to foist these men onto women in women's showers and other facilities.

But that isn't the primary point. Bryan shows he doesn't have a clue about science, much as he proves over and over again that he does not have a clue about Christian sacred scripture.

Trans women are not and never are men. Not even when they got the blue blanket in the nursery because the obstetrician saw an "outie" rather than an "innie." Just because many may have an XY 23rd chromosome pair does not make them male. There has been scientific research that shows that there is an SRY gene that is one of the primary blueprints for male development. There have been genetic situtaions that have been discovered that explain at least some cases of transsexualism. In the past couple of years, a gene has been found that results in a "long androgen receptor." This may explain some of the brain development of trans women as female, while the recepptors work well enough to cause the wolffian ducts to develop rather then the mullerian ducts. For trans men, a gene was found that causes testosterone to be processed much more efficiently - and thiscan have an effect on embryonic and fetal development.

Bryan does not seem to realize that the "default" blueprint for the human body is female, and that any male development is the result of deviance from that default. In essence, before sexual differentiation, embryos are, as the bible points out in Genesis 1:27, "male *and* female." They have the capacity to develop in either direction, depending on how the blueprint reads, and the construction process moves. Transsexual embryos/fetuses get some parts that develop along male lines, and some parts that develop along female lines. Other intersex embryos/fetuses have developmental differences that range from developing fully in accordance with the "opposite" blueprint - complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) is an example, in which an embryos that would be classified as (unsing Bryan's words):

"males in every single cell of their bodies, with every strand of DNA male to the core"
develop phenotypically as female, because even though their bodies are full of testosterone, their cells have testosterone receptors that do not work. Remember, the default development is female, so that explains why the female form is used in the construction when the testosterone does not work.

Returning to trans women, or rather, fetuses that develop along those lines, the long androgen receptors may or may not be sufficient to cause female development in the brain or parts of the brain. The result is likely that not everyone who has this genetic feature will turn out to be a woman-born-transsexual. But enough of us do.

The studies do not claim to have found the only source of these developmental differences, but they point out the fact that who and what we are is biological and not merely psychiatric.

While the APA still classifies 'gender identity disorder" as a mental disorder, Bryan's take on it is pure prejudice and not scientific at all. The only reason for the mental disorder classification is so that trans people can get treatment. There are better models, medical models, that would be just as effective and less stigmatizing. The appropriate treatment, from the standpoint of a society that demands that there be only two sexes, is hormonal and surgical treatment to allow the trans individual to fit into society.

But Bryan and his ilk would have none of this - they'd rather have all trans people just commit suicide for lack of treatment, or push us off to the quacks who still practice electroshock and other "conversion" therapies that have been proven to be ineffective.

The only perversion I would not want to have people exposed to is Bryan's perversion of Christianity into something hateful and malignant.

Bryan quotes from Barney Frank, who, while a member of Congress, and a gay man, is no expert on transsexualism. Barney only showed in what Bryan quoted that even our allies need to be educated. But at least people like Barney Frank are likely to be educable, unlike bigots like Bryan, who perhaps should try electroshock therapy themselves to eliminate their harmful religious delusions. Not all religion is delusional, I hasten to add, and not all religious delusions are harmful. But when people like Bryan twist sacred scripture and science to fit their bigotry and prejudice and genuinely believe that they are right, they prove they are in serious need of professional help.

Incredibly, Bryan has to go back to 1999, when Rep. Frank was even less knowledgeable about trans people than he is now, to dig up his quote. In 1999, the first BSTc study was only four years old and was not widely known outside of specialized scientific circles.

Being gay does not make Barney Frank an expert on transsexual people, even now, but he's better today than he was in 1999, even if he still does not quite "get it."
And even in 1999, Barney was explaining that it was society that he saw as not ready to accept trans women as women. Things have changed - and those people who feel that way are increasingly in the minority.

Even most transsexual people ourselves are not experts on what it is that makes us tick - in part because we've all been educated in the same societal system that expects the sex binary to be a reflection of nature. We just know that the initial sex assignment was wrong. Once we realize that nature is more diverse, it's still difficult to let go of the societal expectations. Indeed, unless society changes, those who transition rather than trying to "gut it out" as something like "genderqueer" may have a better chance at coping with society, provided society meets us part way with reasonable accommodations.

So, when it comes to "protecting our wives and daughters," just remember that it's Bryan Fischer who is the one who really wants us women sharing the facilities with trans men. He just doesn't come out and say it openly, because it would scare away all those pretty donations that line his pockets.

ADDENDUM - August 30, 2010:

For those who want to know more about biological issues in the gray area that the "society" has historically ignored, and Bryan Fischer wants to continue keeping in ignorance, I suggest that readers take a look at numerous entries over at Zoe Brain's blog (you can find it in the column to the right).

Here are some examples of medical scientific studies that Zoe has provided information about:;

There's more in the comments at;
e.g. Frydman, R. et. al. (1988) Pregnancy in a 46 XY patient. Fertil. Steril., 50:813-814. Kan, A.K.S., et. al. (1997)

Two successful pregnancies in a 46, XY patient. Hum. Reprod.,12(7):1434-1435. Selvaraj, K., et. al. (2002)

Successful pregnancy in a patient with a 46, XY karyotype. Fertil. Steril., Aug.; 78(2):419-420.

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