Monday, October 15, 2007

Crossing the gender divide

“It allows me to live the life of Christ in fabulous make up and heels”

No mea culpas at Most Holy Redeemer: parish publishes thank-you note from member of group condemned in archbishop’s apology

Just three days after Archbishop George Niederauer issued a public apology for giving communion to two “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” at Most Holy Redeemer church in San Francisco, the parish bulletin published a thank-you note from a member of the “leading order of queer nuns” who attended the Mass.

The Oct. 14 parish bulletin contains the thank-you note on page 1, entitled “An Email from One of Those Attending Mass,” written by “Delta Goodhand,” listed on the web site of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as “Sister Delta Goodhand.”

In the message, “Sister Delta Goodhand” writes:

To all the Folks at Most Holy Redeemer,

Just a quick note to recognize the wonderful Mass yesterday at your Church to welcome Archbishop Niederauer. Your entire congregation was so welcoming and it was great to be able to participate in the Mass. The service was absolutely beautiful and I know that I personally walked away very inspired by both the Archbishop’s message and the angelic voices of your choir ringing in my ears! Amazing!

Afterwards, one of the parishioners offered us a blue “MHRC: An Inclusive Catholic Church” pin that I was proud to wear through the Castro Fair. You are a wonderfully inclusive church!

In the “Meet the Sisters” section of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence web site, “Sister Delta Goodhand” says he became a “fully professed sister” in June 2007. He learned of the “order” after seeing other members at gay bars in San Francisco – “Sister Edith Myflesh” and later “Sister Roxanne Roles.”

“Sister Delta Goodhand” says in his profile, “…I am a gay Catholic. I find it unfortunate that so many people have not been able to understand or want to allow me to be a gay Catholic. Jesus told me himself he has no problem with my being gay.”

Why did he join the transvestite nuns that mock Catholicism? “My personal calling as a Sister is actually a beautiful manifestation of my Catholic faith,” he says. “It allows me to keep God ever-present in my life and ultimately, live the life of Christ... in fabulous make up and heels, of course!”

In an Oct. 11 apology issued by Archbishop Niederauer after he gave communion to two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at an Oct. 7 Mass, the archbishop condemns the group: “The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries,” said the archbishop. “The citizens of San Francisco have ample reason to be grateful to women religious for their unfailing support of those most in need, and to be deeply offended when that service is belittled so outrageously and offensively.”

A view obviously not shared at Most Holy Redeemer.

A civil rights abuse or not?

by John Aravosis (DC)

There was an article the other day in the NYT about a male-looking lesbian in NYC who was kicked out of the women's room of a bathroom in a restaurant. Apparently, the female patrons on the restaurant freaked out, thinking a male pervert was prowling around the woman's room, and ran to the management. The male bouncer went to the restroom, banged on the bathroom stall and demanded the "man" (who was really a woman) leave. She told him, I'm a woman, let me show you my ID. He said no, no ID, get out.

This case is now being used as proof of why we need to include "gender identity" in ENDA (the gay rights bill that would outlaw job discrimination against gays). This fits into a larger argument/concern that the trans-inclusive ENDA side keeps raising - that if we don't include gender identity in ENDA, employers will fire effeminate gays and masculine lesbians for being effeminate or butch rather than being gay, and a GLB-only ENDA, the argument goes, would allow this.

First, let's consider the case in NYC. At first, the case horrified me. Then I put on my lawyer hat and thought about it. The concern of the trans-inclusive ENDA side of the argument is that your boss will either:

a) Know you're gay and try to use your masculine or feminine attributes as an excuse to fire you when he really wants to fire you because you're gay.

In the story above, the discriminator didn't know that the woman was gay - he wasn't participating in any ruse at all. He didn't even know that she was a woman. He did not have any animus towards the class that we want to protect - he didn't dislike her because she was a butch woman, he didn't dislike her because she's gay. He went after her because he honestly thought she was a man who was stalking women.

b) The other concern from the trans-inclusive ENDA folks is that your boss may legitimately like gay people, but he still doesn't like butch women or fey men and he'll fire you anyway, and without gender identity, this would be legal under ENDA, or so they claim.

But again, in the story above, this isn't a situation in which the bouncer didn't like butch women. He thought the woman was a man, and thought that the man was about to sexually molest women in the bathroom. Had he said "I know you're a woman, but get out anyway, you're too masculine," then you've got him. But that's not what happened.

Now, the bouncer obviously should have looked at the woman's ID when she offered it. Having said that, IDs can be faked, and he was convinced some perv was stalking women in the bathroom. The guy hardly had a bad motive - or animus, as we call it in the law.

So, the question remains, is this the kind of thing that we want to cover in the law, and is it the kind of thing that we want to cover in ENDA? I'm just not sure. In every civil rights case I can think of, the bad guy is going after you expressly BECAUSE you're a member of a protected class and he knows it. You're kicking transsexuals out of the bathroom because you KNOW they're transsexuals, and you don't like it. You're firing the gay guy because you don't like gays or you don't like effeminate men. You don't serve blacks in your restaurant because you hate blacks. In each case, you have a problem with the class in question. Is this case really the same, and is this really what ENDA was meant to protect?

I'll make one final point. Part of what we do in the law is create incentives for good behavior. I.e., we might cover the above scenario in ENDA because we want bouncers to think twice about whether the man in front of them might really be just a butch woman. But including this under ENDA will have one other effect - it will make men think twice when rushing to the aid of women who they believe are being sexually molested. And before anyone scoffs, that is exactly what the bouncer thought. The next time he gets a report that women are being attacked by a man, he's going to think twice. Is that the lesson we want this guy, and others, to take away?

It's a tough case. But I'm just not convinced that it's a civil rights case.

PS I do find it interesting that in this case, the problem is that the woman did too good a job of not conforming with her gender, which is what gender identity is all about, or so we are told - the right to non-conform to your gender. But if gender non-conformists do such a good job of not conforming, of looking like the other gender, or something in between, then how can we blame society when someone believes their non-conformity?

Let me give you another example. Would the following, should the following, be covered under a civil rights law:

A transgender anatomically female person (i.e., born with female genitalia), dressed as a man - and looking like a man, no one would know they were transgender - enters the ladies room at some public venue. Again, the powers that be freak out because a man is prowling the woman's bathroom. Do we really expect a security guard's first reaction not to be to tackle the man who is in the woman's room? And if the security guard does this, is he guilty of discrimination, and should this be covered by civli rights laws? Is it really the same thing as the security guard saying "I know she's really a woman, but I don't like that she looks like a man?"

Just curious what folks think since this article is being quoted, a lot, to "prove" that gay-only civil rights laws don't protect butch lesbians and fey gay men. . . .

POV, Critique, Opinion: "Mom" and "Dad" banned in California Schools

By Bob Frazier

Is this country going mad?

""Mom and Dad" as well as "husband and wife" have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose."

So reports World Net Daily. Funny, it does not seem to be getting a lot of "airplay" in the Main Street Media. This is a group of state bills signed by Arnold the terminator. For those of you who supported Arnold over McClintock because "he was electable" the chickens are now coming home to roost. (Is there a lesson here?)

The bills include SB777, which bans anything in public schools that could be interpreted as "negative" toward homosexuality, bisexuality and other "alternative lifestyle choices." There are no similar protections for students with traditional or conservative lifestyles and beliefs, however.

Schools across the nation will be impacted by the decision, since textbook publishers typically base their texts on the rules set down by their largest customer, which often is California.

When did our public schools cease to be a way to give children a good education, a headstart in life, and become indoctrination centers to teach the beliefs of our left wing "elite"?

Also signed was AB394, which targets parents and teachers for such indoctrination through "anti-harassment" training.

This is right out of the old communist re-education center handbook. And you thought it could never happen here. They are starting with the children.

Schwarzenegger had vetoed almost identical provisions a year ago, saying existing state law already provided for penalties for discrimination. Obviously these new laws go way beyond that. . . .

Another Woman

Date: Sunday, 10/14/2007
Time: 5:00 pm
Venue: E Street Cinema
Tickets: $10 Buy tickets online

Type: Feature presentation
Language: French with English subtitles

Metro Weekly Rating: starstarstarstarstar (5 out of 5)

by Will O'Bryan

WATCHING ANOTHER Woman, and thinking back to Thelma from the 2003 Reel Affirmations festival, one could reasonably wonder whether France is making a 21st century cinematic name for itself with movies about transgender women set in Switzerland.

Though produced a year earlier than Thelma, the made-for-TV Another Woman returns us to Switzerland, where we meet Léa (Nathalie Mann) in a tale ''liberally based on a true story,'' which is both gripping an masterfully delivered with just enough drama to keep audiences thoroughly engaged, but not so much as to be bombastic.

Director Jérôme Foulon opens the film beautifully with a body of unknown gender in a shower, following rivulets along plains of flesh, around curves. It's a loving tribute to this asexual collection of cells that come together to equal a human body. Only after rising to the breasts can we be certain that we're watching a woman. But are we?

Foulon continues the theme of ambiguity as long as Léa remains in Geneva. The landscape remains gray, continuously reinforcing a theme that the world is not as black and white, and male and female, as binary as our culture tells us it is. The gray dissipates nearer the end of the Another Woman, as Léa finds herself back in Paris, where she last lived a decade earlier, unable to resist the compulsion to reconnect with her children. The sunny clarity comes as characters realize the absolute importance of humanity and acceptance and kindness, versus the less reliable ''certainties'' of body parts.

Another elegant touch, we can only hope was intentional, is multiple scenes including spiral staircases, reminding us of the DNA strands that instruct our bodies just how to construct themselves, for better or for worse. Certainly intentional is the script's use of ''monsters,'' which both captivate Lea's young son's imagination and offer a metaphor for transphobic cruelty.

Beyond this tale of homecoming are the layers of complication that can accompany a transgender person's transition, particularly in border-laced, bureaucratic Europe. Watching Léa's journey from respected male doctor to transsexual detainee with a forged passport is enraging.

Adding to Another Woman's strengths, the supporting cast deliver as well Mann, particularly Micky Sébastian as Anne, Léa's once upon a time wife, and Lizzie Brocheré as daughter Emma. -- WOB