Tolerating intolerance II

a-friend-of-order-1964(1)I do not tolerate the homophobe. He does not tolerate the gay person. How is our intolerance different?

The thing condemned is different. He condemns a natural expression of a human being which does no harm. I condemn his condemnation. He attacks others who do not harm him. I defend myself. Even if I were defending someone else from his intolerance, I would be condemning something harmful or useless.

the-big-family-1963(1)And yet, if I say, “he externalises evil, he attacks what he cannot bear in himself, he cannot correct his own life so he pretends to correct that of others”- that applies to me, too. Judge not that ye be not judged. Jesus did not lay down a set of arbitrary rules which would be enforced after death: Jesus described reality. He projects! I say, and find myself projecting, judged as I judge. There are better things to think about.

the-blank-signatureAnd, you persecute others. Should I not defend them?

I carry on a discussion with the tedious bore PS Pruett partly because I do not want to give him the last word. Maybe I should withdraw. He says, I was more interested in why Christians like yourself almost always (in my experience) react by condemning people like me rather than attempting to be inclusive and caring about our spiritual state like they do with others. Most of the “inclusive” Christians that I have dialoged with about this are quite theologically liberal and do not believe in hell, but they seem willing to make an exception in my case.

The idea of Hell is useful, not as a threat to non-conformists about suffering after death, but as an image of spiritual reality now.  He wants me to care about his spiritual state, as he claims to about the gay people he “loves”. I care that the truth is found, through dialogue. Jesus could be terribly, terribly rude.

And yet, bothering with all this can hurt me. I get myself all riled up, rather than proceeding with my own concerns. If it is a stage I am going through, of self-acceptance through rejection of homophobia, it is a stage I would like to pass.

Love the sinner?

If I say “Love the sinner, abhor sin” about someone’s homophobia, it makes sense. His homophobia is a wrong opinion and a wrongful emotional reaction, which he could correct, and be a better man for it.

If the homophobe says “love the sinner, abhor the sin” about homosexuality, it makes no sense. She rejects the gay person, because the sexuality cannot be removed from a person without blighting them.

How do you tolerate intolerance? By bracketing it, by realising that the intolerant one perhaps could not know better, and that not all his beliefs or actions are as wicked.

To be intolerant of a person, because of who s/he is, is wrong. To be intolerant of a belief, because it is false and harmful, is right. A refusal to tolerate homosexuality is a refusal to tolerate a natural characteristic. That is wrong. A refusal to tolerate homophobia is a virtue, because homophobia is stupid and harmful. We’re right and they are wrong. Simple.

Another thought. I imagine myself unintelligent, because I make connections and wish I had made them earlier, then kick myself. Better to think, How wonderful to make the connection now!

Nothing more to be said, so here is some more Giovanni Boldini. Just look at the hands!


Couple behaving naturally, not "flaunting", at Bologna Pride. Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto Here is a woman who only asks to be tolerated. You want tolerance, but you’re totally and completely unwilling to be tolerant in return. Be tolerant of my disagreement with your sin. It works both ways. Otherwise it’s just a double standard.

There is no equivalence here at all.

On the one hand, I do not ask even for “acceptance”. I want your acceptance of me to be so complete and immediate that there is no thought about it. Why? Because this is who I am. I am transsexual. I struggled for a long time to make a man of myself, and could not. So I do not try any more. No,  I do not understand either why a person might have a Y chromosome and develop normal testicles and want them cut off and want to express herself female, leave alone why I should still be attracted to women rather than men (a lot of people find that last bit completely mindblowing). I do know that it is not a mental disorder. I do know that it cannot be changed, or I, with my consciousness of “sin”, passion, energy and obstinacy, and desperation to be normal would have changed it.

This is who I am. I am a human being. I do my best in life, seeking to do good and avoid harm or sin, worshipping God. I do not “flaunt” my identity, but I will not hide it either.

On the other hand, Daughter of the King of Kings asks tolerance of her opinion. It means a lot to her, this opinion: that all homosexual acts are always sinful. She thinks it is part of her religion, which she will not betray. Holding that opinion is an inseparable part of showing proper respect for the Bible. When that opinion is disrespected, she may feel as hurt as I did when called a “man”. She is mistaken. It is only an opinion.

There are Biblical scholars who sayPsalm 85: "Kindness and truth will meet, justice and truth shall kiss." (KJB) that the Bible does not condemn all homosexual acts, only acts which we would condemn if heterosexual: such as, gang rape in Genesis. If the crowd had raped Lot’s daughters as Lot suggested, that would have been equally vile. So, her opinion is not necessary to show respect for  the Bible, or to follow the Christian religion.

Second, her opinion is morally obnoxious. It calls a group of blameless people to be celibate, specifically against Biblical teaching, for example, “it is not good for the man to be alone”. If she does not take an equally strong stand against a couple who are divorced and remarried in her church as she does against a gay couple, she is a hypocrite, judging other people’s temptations as morally worse than her own.

But if I express my disgust and horror at her opinion, it is a part of her which she may change. No-one is born with evil opinions about morality. Children only feel disgust at those who are different, such as gay people, if taught to. It is different from her being disgusted at my very nature, or demanding that I hide that nature.

Nor does free speech support her. I support absolutely her right  to state her evil opinion, but that does not stop right-thinking people from mocking it and expressing disgust and horror at her for holding it.

Shrugging it off

Again back to that tolerance/ acceptance/ questioning thing.

Naive questions are a bit of a pain. “Being transsexual- what is it like?” “Have you always known you were a girl?” “Have you had the operation yet?” Tolerance- “I’m such a liberal sort of person that I can even tolerate people like you” is worse. Acceptance is alright, though I would prefer that it just happened, rather than needed to be a conscious process. My reaction depends upon my mood: yes I want people to understand my kind, for understanding promotes acceptance, but sometimes I am just too tired to engage.

I do not want you to work through your stuff with me. Round about transition, “Are you really sure you are doing the right thing?” was a bearable question, but not if repeated. Take yes for an answer. Yes, I have thought about this. For years. Yes, I know all sorts of ways in which it could go wrong. I have considered all the options, and this is the one I choose. And I choose how to work it out for myself- offers of a listening ear are welcome, but I have to choose when and whether to take that offer up.

My response to judgment may be short and rude. “I find you particularly masculine”. “Fuck off”. Actually, at the moment this is an aspiration. I have not got there yet. I get upset, or I withdraw. It is possible for me to improve my sense of self-worth and entitlement, to make it more appropriate. I am entitled that you keep your judgment to yourself, and use the correct name and pronouns. And, in one case when the woman later revealed her own vulnerability, I could open and relate.

That might be it. “I find you particularly masculine.” That is reaching out and touching my vulnerability, one I have perhaps not chosen to bring up, in a way which is not on my terms. I am still healing, this still gets to me, though not as much as before.


In childhood it got to me completely. However feminine I am innately, I learned early that my feelings and my spontaneous reactions were wrong, and that if I did not pretend to be normal masculine I was in trouble. So I observed male, seeking to copy it.

When I started going out female, a chance insult in the street meant more to me than all the acceptance of my Quaker meeting and work colleagues. It could crush me for days.

Now, it still gets to me, though far less. I have the idea that I may in future shrug it off, that it genuinely will not matter, that I can see the other clearly and feel compassion for his struggles. Not quite yet.

Tolerant, accepting people

Before I started to live full time, I went for dinner after work with colleagues, expressing myself female- testing the water-  and after dinner we went to the meat market, aka the Eighties disco. Divorcees on the pull were bopping away, and I sat in a corner with a drink. A man came to talk to me on the subject of how liberal, enlightened and tolerant he was. He was so liberal, he could even tolerate people like me. Back then, I was lacking in confidence and in need of having my consciousness raised, but even then I thought this was a bit off.

I told my vicar I could no longer worship God disguised as a man, and he said that he would try to stop me being driven out of the congregation. He did not realise that it was his own discomfort with me he was projecting onto other people. When I returned to the church for a wedding a couple of years later, I was welcomed by the congregation.

Since starting to live full time, I have come across a couple of people who have explained to me how liberal, mature, tolerant, accepting etc etc they are, but how not every woman is as tolerant and enlightened as they, and how they need to protect these less enlightened women from me. So, no, I cannot join this women’s group (or whatever).

If you read further on this subject here, you will see that English law permits discrimination, but this permission is limited. So, if you feel the need to protect Other People from me, do your worst, but I will not condone or collaborate with such action. And ask them if they think I am less than other human beings, and therefore I should be treated differently. They might be insulted by your “protection”. As for me, I do not want to be tolerated, I do not even want to be accepted, I want my acceptance to be as taken for granted as it is for any other woman.