The root of Catholic transphobia

We should listen to each other, not talk at or past each other, says Leticia, so reasonably. Every Catholic is to respect the dignity of every person. She seems so nice that it is hard at first to put my finger on her transphobia.

Leticia has had a hard time. Brought up Southern Baptist, she was sexually abused aged 5, and carried guilt for that for many years. She started having sex aged 14, and now calls her promiscuous self a “hoe”. Christians were keen to be “clear” about particular sins, and that made her hate herself more.

Then she found God’s Love, and wants to communicate it. That is the Gospel. People do not need to be told particular actions are Sin, they know already, and have a conviction they are not good enough. Loved, they may begin to heal of their sin: the first message is Love. She cites Vatican II in support of this idea.

So, she says that she is happy to “respect” Caitlyn Jenner. She would use Caitlyn’s real name, and the correct pronouns. How loving and generous of her! She has been reading St Augustine, and with him believes that all human beings search for happiness. She assumed, wrongly, that I had not read him. “I should find happiness only in Thee!” cried Augustine in his Confessions, one of the quotes I remember.

One ghastly man, Edward, does not understand what she says. She struggles with her own sins, with the help of Jesus and her priest, too much to condemn another. He says he must “stand for what God has ordained” by referring to trans women with male pronouns. He compares us to SS officers, which makes a change from paedophiles. He then complains of her using the word “fuck”, which in context was beautifully vulnerable of her.

Unfortunately, Leticia is unable to love us, because she is unable to see us or hear us. “Dialogue requires listening”, she says correctly, she wants people to hear each other. I am happy to hear her talking of herself, and when she calls her former sleeping around sinful I can value that. I see no value in what she has to say about trans folk: though some of her best friends are LGBT, she still imagines that blocks our way to God.

She has the experience of having desired something, a promiscuous lifestyle, which now she finds unfulfilling. Chastity with her husband as commanded by the church fulfils her. She imagines that other things her church vilifies, such as transition, are similarly unfulfilling eventually: we think we want them but we must be mistaken, just because she was.

This is the root of her transphobia. She believes in “Objective truth”. I believe there is one truth, too, but it is so complex it can only be known in the mind of God. We see through a glass darkly: we can only know a small part of the truth.

She believes her church knows the truth, and unfortunately that includes evil rubbish the fuckwit Maledict wrote about being gay and about transsexuality. It is hard to bring her to know the truth, because she imagines she knows it already. Human beings do not just seek happiness. We heal. Just as my body heals without my conscious will, so does my psyche. My healing journey has taken me towards self-actualisation through the long process of transition. Thanks be to God.

Murillo, two women at a window

14 thoughts on “The root of Catholic transphobia

  1. I so agree Clare with you: there’s only one truth and that truth in only known fully in the mind of God. Our worldly churches, of whatever denomination, have twisted that truth – which they never knew in the first place – turned parts of it into religious rites and standards and sins so much that those who choose to follow their church to the letter eventually end up far away from God’s truth, which is, I think, love your fellow human being unconditionally, don’t judge him/her….

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  2. You have to forgive the pronoun thing a little bit. I’ve gotten that wrong by accident a number of times, and then only realise I did it in retrospect. Especially if we’re talking about the transition phase. I know I’ve referred to Bruce Jenner as he a number of times in the past week- mostly because I’m still assigning the name Bruce. As I get used to Caitlyn, I’m sure that’ll change naturally.
    Catholic transphobia is tricky. I think we have to make correlations with individual cultures. Female impersonators (yes, I know it’s not the same thing, but that was sometimes the only option for a trans person in the past) are widely accepted, I’d even say embraced, in the Catholic cultures of Spain, France, Brazil and Italy. Unfortunately this generally depends on someone’s beauty, but it’s something.
    I think even more importantly is you have to keep in mind that for the people you mentioned above, it isn’t even about transgenderism, it’s about what they perceive as a ‘transgressions’. In the 60’s and 70’s they were complaining about men with long hair and skirt length. Anything they can pinpoint that will rearrange social hierarchy so as to push themselves up even if it’s at the expense of another person.

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    • Hi pinkagendist! I’m not sure what Clare would say, but I think it’s important to make a distinction between pronoun mistakes–which are inevitable and totally forgivable, especially during transition–and pronoun rejection–when a person knows exactly which pronouns they’ve been asked to use and insists on using the wrong ones to make a point. The latter is transphobic and mean-spirited, and I think that’s what Clare describes here.

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        • After the leak, but before the Reveal, I hated the references to “Bruce” Jenner. The rumour was she would use the name Belinda, which I preferred.

          However, I am very glad to have lost my Big Red Button. At one time, people could reduce me to jelly by saying “Clare, I find you profoundly masculine” or using the wrong pronouns. The last time someone insulted me like that, the man’s friend was very embarrassed, and I told him, “Julie is embarrassed because she is your friend. I am not, so I don’t mind you making a tit of yourself.”

          On Friday I met a friend who told me I had a characteristic she particularly craved in a man- but not a penis, and she needs a penis in a relationship. I took it as a compliment. It was a particularly lovely one.

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          • We all have our sensitivities. Mike once told me I had an ‘on the waterfront’ body, I think he even used the words chunky and cornfed . One was not pleased with that characterization at the time. Now I’ve fortunately reached the ‘this is what there is’ phase of life. Thinning hair, the distichiasis is on it’s fourth row of eyelashes. I’m far removed from the way I once looked- and it’s okay. I’m okay with it.

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  3. This is hardly “the root of transphobia” in the Christian Religion: here’s the real story: When Christianity first began getting big and decided to become the “only” religion, it’s major competitors were still the ancient near-eastern pagan religions that had been around for thousands of years before them. In many of these pagan religions, transgender individuals were not only accepted, in many they were considered “holy.” This was arrived at by the simple pagan belief that in order to create life, God could not be simply either Male, or Female, he would have to be “both.” As such, it was believed that there was a little bit of the “divine” in individuals that contained both male and female.

    Some pagan religions devoted more emphasis to this belief than others, but many devoted a lot of emphasis to it. So much so in many religions like the worship of Cybele, being considered holy, what we would consider transgender individuals, were the chosen “priestesses” of many of these religions. In other words, males who dressed and lived as women, and often even castrated themselves to make themselves more feminine.

    These were the leaders of the other religions that Christianity made enemies of when it tried to eradicate them and replace them as the only religion. Needless to say, these transgender priestesses became the most bitter, motivated, and effective enemies of the early Christian Church, and the Christian Church returned the favor. They were slandered, called evil, and demons, and where they could get away with it, were even murdered in torturous, horrific ways. And though the church eventually, by this day has perhaps forgotten the reason for it’s transphobia, it’s hate for it’s first enemies (victims) lives on, as only hate can do.

    Here’s some more unknown trivia: Why do Catholic Priests to this day wear the long, colorful fancy gowns they do? Because in the early days when they were competing with the transgender priestess of the pagan religions, they also discovered that they had to compete with those religion’s pageantry! Pagans knew how “to put on a show!” And in those days, that’s what people came to see, and expected of a religion: a good show. Catholic priests wear the gowns they do, because they adopted them way back then in imitation of those pagan male “priestesses” who were men who wore beautiful and elaborate feminine garments. So the early Christian/Catholic priests put on dresses too, in the hopes to attract more followers to their “shows.”

    Catholic priests, are in essence, in “drag” during their masses.

    Now you know.

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    • Si non e vero, e ben’ trovato.
      Christianity inherited its attitudes towards sex from Judaism (as well as its conviction that is was unique), and it happened when the Church was still tiny. This is recorded in the earliest Christian documents, the writings of Paul.
      The Roman Church avoided using distinctive liturgical garb for clergy until the sixth or seventh century, several centuries after pagan religions in the area were extinct.
      The main theory for how liturgical clothing developed is this: as barbarians came in, global temperatures dropped and Roman Europe faded into the Dark Ages, clothing changed too, but old-style Roman clothing was considered a way to dress up for special occasions, like celebrating a Mass. Then little by little it took on post-facto theological significance, referring back to the specialized clothing of the Jewish priesthood reported in the OT.
      As a result, Catholic priests to this day get to be fabulous.

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