03 October 2009

Trans-phobia and religion

In an article that actually refers to the transman by the right pronouns (for a nice change), we learn that a Catholic school board in Edmonton fired a man for letting them know he was changing his declared gender.

The Catholic school board is publicly funded, so they shouldn't be able to fire a teacher for being trans. However, if they're anything like the Regina Separate school system, they have a "conscience clause" in their contracts that allows them to fire an employee for behaving in a way that isn't consistent with the Catholic faith. So a legal challenge may fail.

On the religious issue, it violates the Catholic faith to live as a gender that doesn't match one's sex organs. (Men in dresses telling others not to cross-dress, I know). It comes down to Deuteronomy 22:5(King James Version) The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.

So, the first thing to look at when studying the Bible is the historical context. Why was this a rule in that day? Was it that God hates queers? No, not so much. Was it that the writer of Deuteronomy hated queers? Again, probably not (though he probably wasn't as accepting of it as God). So what gives? One theory is that it had to do with pagan rites in which the worshippers dressed as the opposite sex. So it is possible that the rule had to do with idolatry and worship of pagan gods, which of course, would have been an abomination. Another theory is that dressing as members of the opposite sex would be an issue with regard to the property laws of the day. Because property was very much tied into the Jewish religion, and women and men had different rights, dressing as a member of the opposite sex would be a major problem.

And then there's that word abomination. It doesn't mean what most people think. I mean, today, child molesters are abominations, right? But keep looking at Deuteronomy, and you'll see it's used 16 times (KJV), most often in terms of idolatry. And of course, there's the oft-quoted Leviticus 11:12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. So, God hates shrimp, right? Right? Now, sure, it says that the water creatures shall be an abomination unto you, not unto God. But that doesn't mean that I'm supposed to go out and make all the non-scaled, non-finned water creatures into fish, or destroy them, now does it? No, it doesn't. It simply means that I shouldn't eat them.

The Jewish people who still keep kosher don't require, or wish to require, anyone who is not Jewish to keep kosher, even thought the scripture says non-kosher food is an abomination before God. So if the bible says that queerfolk are an abomination before God, it says NOTHING of you. It doesn't say you must also shun them. It says God will. You are not God. Get over it.

I do not take the Bible literally. It is impossible to live biblically, ethically, and legally. Impossible. And stupid. People who claim to view the Bible as literal truth are simply ignorant of what is actually in there, and just listen to the shit their pastors spew. Harsh, I know, when I'm a self-declared tolerant person, but I do not, and will not tolerate hate. And that is what those people teach. There is nothing more against the spirit of Jesus's teachings than hatred and intolerance.

For me, the Bible is part historical document, part transcribed oral tradition, part divinely-inspired writing. I try to live in a way that I think would make the Jesus figure happy. Beyond that, I'm just guessing, hoping, and believing. And I don't for second believe that Jesus would want someone to lose his job, his livelihood and his dignity because his gender didn't match his sex.