Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Some citizens of Largo, Fla., cited religious grounds for the dismissal of Susan Stanton, the transgender city manager. Would Jesus really have terminated her employment? This and other transgender tales from the Bible.
By Joanne Herman
An Advocate.com exclusive posted June 5, 2007
With dozens of citizens speaking at the February hearing that would ultimately lead to the dismissal of Susan Stanton, the transgender former city manager of Largo, Fla., the media needed a pithy sound bite, and it found an especially good one: “If Jesus was here tonight—and believe me, I know the Bible—I can guarantee you he’d want [Stanton] terminated.” Those words were spoken by the Reverend Ron Sanders, pastor for the Lighthouse Baptist Church. Never mind that his church has only 30 members; his words were broadcast around the world. Why? Because we (or at least the media) tend to assume that any one clergyperson may speak for all religious people.
Meanwhile, in an interesting coincidence, Newsweek ran a story about Boston University professor Steve Prothero’s new book Religious Literacy. A prime tenet of Prothero’s book is that while more than 90% of Americans say they believe in God, only a tiny portion actually know anything about religion. Newsweek says that almost everyone fails Prothero’s religious literacy quiz on the basics, such as the names of the four Gospels. (You can take his quiz on the Newsweek Web site.)
If Prothero’s assertion is correct, many Americans must be relying on others to interpret religious tenets and, even worse, may be unable to recognize when clergy are embellishing a bit, to put it politely. As one of the citizens at the Largo hearing said, “I wanted to quote the story of Jesus leading the mob to come take someone’s job, but I couldn’t find that passage in the Bible.” . . .
"A Wild Elegance" is published and edited by Donna Dawn Konitzer.
6/06/2007 6:44:15 PM
The transgender liberation movement in the West came into its own in the 1990s, but other cultures have their own take on sex and gender diversity, writes Katrina Fox.
From ancient Greek cults to Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism and even early Christianity, the concept of transcending or blending gender has been around for centuries. In the West, the German-born sexologist Dr Harry Benjamin coined the term 'transsexualism' in 1966 to describe individuals who were born biologically one sex but believed they were the other (such as a woman 'trapped' in a man's body and vice versa).
Transsexualism was subsequently hijacked by the medical profession and deemed a pathology, for which the solution was to undergo psychiatric assessment, take hormones and eventually have genital realignment surgery. Transsexuals were required to comply with stereotypical dress codes and behaviours attributed to their opposite gender, and under no circumstances were they allowed a sexual orientation outside that of strictly heterosexual.
Enter the 1990s and the birth of the 'transgender' and 'genderqueer' movements, in which a plethora of sex and gender identities emerged. Some people identified as having no sex or gender, some considered themselves male and female, and others claimed they were a 'third' or 'other' gender.
Such concepts of third, fourth and more genders are not new to non-western cultures, however. . . .