Monday, May 4, 2009

Why Do We Need the T?

Why do we need the T in lgbt? That was the question we started with at the HRC clergy call today. And well we should examine this. One of the hard truths being told here is that HRC hasn't always been a strong advocate for transgender people. Another hard truth is that it's still not always easy to be transgender in Uu congregations, even "Welcoming" ones. This is still our cutting edge.

One answer is that transgender people help us to break out of the tired question about whether or not sexuality is a choice, and move us to a question about the societal construction of gender, breaking us out of binay paradigms.

One speaker pointed out how many places where sexual orientaion is becoming a protected status, where gender expression is not. Even repealing"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will not protect a transgender person in the army. And in Jackson County, we know well how easy it is to fire someone for being transgender.m

4 comments:

Chalicechick said...

I suppose that "because it's really freaking obviously the right thing to do" is too simplistic an answer. It is still the correct one, though.

I'd say part of the issue is that we need it to keep ourselves honest. The snowball that is gay rights has hit a few bumps but is still on the whole picking up speed. If it hasn't rolled across your town, it's pretty clear that it likely will sooner or later.

We need the harder battles to remind us to keep fighting and not to coast on our victories.

There are still battles to be fought, even within our churches. A minister I know casually announced to her board once that a transsexual would be speaking and the board was concerned that it would be a "freakshow." Not cool.

Gay rights is becoming an easier battle. And easy battles aren't where courage comes out.

CC

Cynthia Landrum said...

Amen, CC. Exactly. And we need to be talking about these instances of transphobia in our congregations, which are all too common.

Robin Edgar said...

"Gay rights is becoming an easier battle. And easy battles aren't where courage comes out."

Amen to *that* again.

Heck there's still plenty of homophobia in some U*U "Welcoming Congregations" it's just kept closeted. . . How ironic.

And God forbid that you are a Christian oriented GBLT person in a Humanist dominated "Welcoming Congregation". Chances are pretty good that you won't *really* be all that welcome. Indeed if their are a few intolerant "fundamentalist atheist" Humanist U*Us in the congregation you are likely to find yourself to be considerably "less than welcome".

Now *there's* a not so easy "battle" that U*Us have yet to responsibly address at the national level in spite of repeated requests that they do so. In fact it's a "battle" that at least one UUA presidential candidate seems to want to conveniently ignore.

Robin Edgar said...

For the record. I have seen at least two or three transgendered persons, or at minimum "cross-dressers", fairly regularly attend a certain unmentionable "Welcoming Congregation" during the last decade or so, but these T people don't last long. . . At best they attend this Unitarian church for a few months before ceasing their attendance from what I have seen. To be fair, this particular Unitarian church did have its previous incarnation razed to the ground when its transgendered organist set the church on fire in May of 1987, but I am not sure that the situation would be all *that* different if this tragic event had not occurred at all.

I was perhaps the only straight male on this Unitarian church's Welcoming Congregations committee in the mid-1990s, and I well recall how very few straight males participated in that program. Those U*Us attending the Welcoming Congregation sessions were mostly women or gay males. As I recall there were only one or two other straight males from who participated in the Welcoming Congregations program and one of them did so because his wife was bisexual and they were both members of a different U*U church in any case. I also recall the critical and negative letters that the Welcoming Congregation committee received from church members deploring the possibility that it might become a "gay church" yadda yadda yadda. OTOH To be perfectly frank and honest, there are times when I think that GBLT people *may* be somewhat over-represented amongst U*U clergy. If, and I do mean *if*, fully one third of U*U clergy are GBLT people, as one U*U minister is on public record as claiming, I think that the UUA may be overdoing its "affirmative action" of ordaining GBLT clergy a bit. My own feeling is that GBLT people should be fully welcome as U*U clergy but should not be *too* over-represented in proportion to the number of GBLT people in overall population, otherwise the fears expressed in those letters might not be all *that* unfounded. The proportion of GBLT people in the overall population is of course open to some debate but, *if* fully 33 percent of U*U clergy are GBLT people, as this minister has claimed in his testimony regarding gay marriage to the Quebec government, I think that this percentage is well above the percentage of GBLT people in the general population.