Let’s honor and protect our transgendered youth.

7/6/13. Gil Bailie writes:

Prepare for more of this.

AB 1266, also known as the “Bathroom Bill,” serves as an amendment to the Education Code and requires all schools in the state to comply with its mandates.

Under the bill, “A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records,” the legislation reads.

The bill was approved by the state Assembly earlier this year. On Wednesday, the bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate 21-9.

Similar legislation is pending in other states.

Timothy Brock responds:

La Vie en Rose

Ludovic, in the 1997 French film, “Ma vie en rose”

Gil, I fully understand California’s AB 1266, but I don’t understand why there is any opposition to it. Is there, in the popular imagination, a suspicion that somehow transgender youth are actually voyeurs who are “shamming” transgenderism so that they can spy on students of the opposite sex? Or perhaps the suspicion is that they are just wayward and perverse in their refusal to “get with the program” of normative gender identity? In either case, these students stand accused of ulterior motives—evil motives, and they thus become even more vulnerable to scapegoating than before.

How is it that their persecutors are regarded as victims?

How is it that a disciple of René Girard, who wrote one of the finest studies of scapegoating ever published, cannot see or acknowledge the scapegoating of transgendered students in public schools?

Let’s care for all our children. They are beautiful, and every one of them has a family and friends who care deeply about them. We should as well, and we can do so if we fully identify with the Savior who cared about us all.

Transgendered students are at greater risk of dropping out of school. They are excluded from school activities such as physical education and athletic teams. They are humiliated on a daily basis in the schools, and their educational experience is negatively impacted. They are bullied and harassed even more than lesbian and gay youth.

What do you think should be the Catholic Church’s role in combatting these inequities? How can you and your church work to foster understanding of transgenderism?

If there was ever a time for application of Girard’s mimetic theory in the real world, this is it. Let’s combat the scapegoating of transgender individuals.

Ben Occupylife Hartford:

I have temperance and compassion towards all people. Just not towards all actions.

Brinck Slattery:

Um… my college had a womens rugby team, and we wrestled against schools with female wrestlers. This isn’t about guys putting on dresses to go to the girls’ locker room, it’s about people who already have a tough enough time going through adolescence being able to have some semblance of a normal time rather than having every structure of authority in society (particularly the government mandated one they must, by law, attend every weekday) deny their identity.

 

Chis Kelco:

Out of genuine curiosity, why does this action not agree with your ideologies? (Not being a smartass, just want to better understand the opposing standpoint)

 

Ben Occupylife Hartford:

Well, to start with, I need to make something clear.

I do not oppose this law (or laws like it) on religious grounds. I, of course, approach all things informed by the teachings of my faith. I did not bring up religion. Unless the law has a direct effect on religion (curbing religious liberty in some direct way), I do not bring it up, unless I know I am speaking to others who share my faith.That being said, God made us in His image. We are all perfect in our imperfection. Therefore, to live in any way you are not created to live is inherently disordered and to be avoided on the penalty of sin. This applies to transgenderism, homosexuality, and other (much worse to any human, but equally sinful to God) acts such as cannibalism and incest.

To approach sexuality in any way that does not keep potential life and external love guided by God at its core is also sinful but necessarily inherently disordered. Adulterous vaginal intercourse isn’t inherently sinful, for example, because the act being performed is perfectly spiritually (as well as physically, obviously) wonderful under other circumstances. But it is sinful. And equally as sinful as murder and lying and homosexual acts, by the way – to a perfect God, all sin is equally debased. Therefore, transvestism is not inherently disordered but transgenderism is.

Now. Take that with the fact that my faith teaches that I am to live it actively in every aspect of my life and I take that as a command to oppose laws that go against those other teachings. That does not mean, however, that I argue on religious grounds. I argue on common sense grounds. When we change the law to allow a fraction of a minority (transgender an tramsvestite individuals) to do something that is likely to put a larger minority (children) at risk by a separate but very dangerous minority (predators), I will oppose that law.

 

Timothy Brock:

Ben, we’re talking about children and youth here. I don’t think it is very kind to stigmatize them as “disordered” and “sinful.” Such treatment only makes their lives more difficult and leaves lasting wounds. By the time transgendered individuals are adults, they are often so stressed out, and their self-esteem has been driven so low, that they can never make meaningful contributions to society or realize their full potential as human beings. This is a tragic waste of human resources, and it is cruel.Mr. Bailie has said in the past that these individuals should “get help.” But pediatric professionals agree that the best help for them will come from their communities, not from psychologists. Communities need to be aware of the needs and feelings of transgendered persons and reach out to them with empathy and understanding. Is this too much to ask?

Maybe what is “disordered” and “sinful” is a society that shuns these individuals and drives them into lives of loneliness, unemployment, homelessness, and, in a disproportionate number of cases, suicide.

I doubt any transgendered child would understand any of your arguments, and it would be callous, cruel, and abusive to tell such a child that he or she is like a cannibal or a murderer.

Remember what Jesus said: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” —Matthew 18:6.

Chris Kelco:

I’m really trying to avoid a pot shot here but all demographics have sexual deviants (including priests of certain congregations…), it doesn’t mean all priests are sexual predators who are a danger to children everywhere. The same can be said for all demographics.

I’m personally friends with 3 individuals who are in various stages of trans gender, and all 3 of these people are amongst the kindest, gentlest souls I know.

They’ve been treated most of their lives like it is their choice to be the way they are. I’ve learned from them that, that couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. From the day they were born what was on the outside didn’t reflect what was on the inside. I think at some point in everyones lives they can relate to that sentiment. Imagine that inner turmoil magnified and constant and openly expressed against you by most other people…

I can appreciate the opinion that you were made to be who you are and there is nothing wrong with that because all life is beautiful. Although it feels hypocritical for me personally to turn around and in the same breath try to deny another person’s rights because they are unable to experience happiness due to a system that attacks them for being who they truly are.

 

Ben Occupylife Hartford:

Did I ever once say the transgendered individuals are dangerous?

And “you’ve got a penis, pee in the boys’ room” is a long way from an attack.

Timothy, learn to read or go away. Nobody likes trolls. Especially trolls who ignore prices of information so they can vent. I specifically disconnected cannibals from homosexuality, didn’t I?

 

Tim Brock:

No Ben, you specifically connected cannibalism with homosexuality. You said that homosexuality, transgenderism, cannibalism, and incest were all “equally sinful to God.” Imagine if a transgendered child were to hear such a thing! You’re going to tell her that her sin is as bad as cannibalism in God’s sight? You’re free to say such things, of course, but I think you should know that they are like toxins injected into the water supply. Bad for the health of anyone they reach.

Your approach to transgenderism (“Pee in the boy’s room if you have a penis”) does not address any of the problems that I mentioned (bullying, humiliation, exclusion, etc.). You want to preserve the status quo. But what would you DO about those problems? Just ignore them? Expel the bullies? Wouldn’t it just be easier and more effective to try changing hearts and minds? Yes, children can be taught to respect each other’s special needs. They can do so for friends who are blind, deaf, or differently abled; and for friends who speak little English or are new to the community. Why should we just accept that they will ostracize those who identify as the opposite gender?

You think I am “venting.” Actually, I am just trying to stir your compassion.

 

Caroline Gissler:

Which way do they expect the traffic to flow? Boy/girl into girl things or girl/boy into boy things? Will anyone keep stats, do studies?

 

Timothy Brock:

Does it matter?

 

Ben Occupylife Hartford:

I can’t believe I missed this point.

Your entire argument seems to be rewrites of you’re mean to kids. 

To that I say:

1) I am not writing to kids right now. I am writing to adults. I assumed you would be able to parse the information, Timothy. But you seem to exclude disclaimers and place emphasis where there is none.

2) Your law based on don’t be mean to these kids based on how they feel inside (a nebulous ideal at best – what will we include as mean, how do you verify the veracity of the claims…?) does no outweigh, in my opinion, the public’s right to keep all children safe from actual physical harm from predators that are not trams-anything but WILL take advantage of such laws to gain access to their victims.

 

Timothy Brock:

Ben, it is true you are not talking to kids. But you are talking to adults who are parents and grandparents and sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts of kids. You are advising people to treat transgendered children with disregard for their well-being. 

We are talking about public schools, here, not public restrooms. Schools know, or should know, who is transgendered and who is not. I really don’t see a problem with predation in these environments, unless it is predation either by adults or by children who wish to bully others.

 

Ben OccupyLife Hartford:

I am advising the exact opposite. You just disagree with what the outcome will be.

If you think predators do not go to school, you need to buy bubble insurance because the real world is gonna suck.

And how so you propose the schools know? A registry of trans-kids owned by a governmental entity? That sounds like a terrible idea.

 

Caroline Gissler:

See, the stats do matter.

 

Timothy Brock:

Ben and Caroline, the schools will know who the transgendered students are because the school administrations will have cooperated with those students and their families. The State of California is sending a message to these kids and their families that it cares about them and that the schools are on their side. This opens up channels of communication for the benefit of all concerned. I would hope that these children will now feel that the state will protect them from the only predators that really matter from their point of view, i.e., the bullies. 

You and Caroline may have a different kind of predation in mind, i.e., opportunistic sexual predation. If transgendered children and their families are working in cooperation with the schools on these issues, then the schools will be in a much better position to distinguish the transgendered kids from the opportunistic sexual predators. In other words, until a school administration knows that “Tommy” is transgendered, then he has no business being in a girl’s restroom. Now that the state has demonstrated its concern for transgendered children and youth, there may be far more transparency as well as clear lines of differentiation.

It occurs to me that you may imagine the transgendered children themselves to be the predators. If so, I don’t believe the evidence will support you. The transgendered children are the victims, not the victimizers, and they need our protection. I think California has moved in the right direction.

 

Caroline Gissler:

Again, statistics should become available as to how many parents sign up their kids as transgenders with school administrators. It will also be interesting to learn how confidential administrators will be required or even able to keep this information as transgenders appear in traditionally gendered activities. Or if confidentiality is even desirable. Many academic papers are yet to be written.

 

Timothy Brock:

Caroline, I’m sure there will be some statistics. But statistics are not really the issue here. The issue is how to treat these transgendered kids in a way that is compassionate and helpful to them. Statistics should be at the service of those goals. We wouldn’t want to subordinate those goals to statistics, I hope.

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2 comments so far

  1. Ben Boyce on

    OK, since we don’t seem to have succeeded in attracting any of Mr. Bailie’s acolytes over to this site, apart from a brief cameo from Gordon Savage, I will have to take up the slack by offering another take on this topic. I can’t post on TCF, where my perspective on this post might be welcome, so here it is.

    When I read this post on TCF today, I winced, because Gil is right about one aspect of this issue of “the bathroom bill”. As a hardcore political animal, I am keenly aware of how overreach on any position, in the wake of a political win, can create a backlash that can erase all your gains and more. The Republican Party overreach on many social issues has stirred up massive reactions will eventually have political consequences (see Texas legislature). Gaining legal rights for gay folks is a cause which now enjoys majority support in the general population. All those straight, middle-class folks did not sign up for a wholesale re-ordering of all our institutions and long-established customs. They simply came to the recognition that is was unfair and un-American to deny people who wanted to have legal protections for their loved ones.

    The so-called “bathroom bill” is the kind of social issue PC excess that will feed a counter-reaction. I’m all for protecting the rights of transgendered youth to be free from harassment. I don’t doubt the sincerity or motives of transgender youths. I’m also cognizant that gut-level personal comfort zone customs like the little zone of privacy and modesty that comes with the simple act of relieving oneself are deeply rooted and not likely to change in the near future. The sex segregation for public restrooms has an “anthropological” foundation (as Gil would say) and it raises the fundamental question of personal predilections vs. the public good.

    Why should that social custom, practiced forever and appreciated by 99%+ of the population, be overturned to accommodate a very small minority? It seems like a very simple issue: you use the bathroom facilities appropriate to your biological plumbing. There’s no question then. Everyone’s clear on where they stand on that basis. You just have to look.

    Personally, I don’t want to have to run into women in the men’s room. I’m shy enough around other men. Maybe you can make a better case, but I am unconvinced of the wisdom of this as legislation. I see the right-wing winning elections, overriding working people’s economic self-interests, based on the perception that “now they’ve gone too far!”

  2. Gordon on

    Ben,

    Astute point. May I add that those who consider themselves Conservative out of conscience agree with you. These instances of “going too far” empower those who would scapegoat their opponents to gather power. It’s just “red meat” to the accuser who wants to turn his group into an angry mob — and he lurks in every political political party.


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