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What the heck are we doing?

Hi Everyone,

This week has been an up and down week for me. It seems even with history being made in the election of a new President, which I thought would bring more hope to a lot of the nation (except for the ones who voted for McCain of course). It seems to have also started more divisiveness within the LGBT community (at least within the blogging world), which is sad. I’ve never really been the one to like to talk much about politics because it always brings out the worst in some people (which is another sad fact). I recently came across a few blogs on The Bilerico Project which seem to want to blame the blacks for losing to the Prop 8 proponents. Well, I myself will not go there. I’ve seen numbers that suggest that the blame is not on the black community itself, as many are suggesting. I’m sure that the proponents of Prop 8 are sitting around laughing at us as our community begins this infighting, which I’m sure they hope will tear us apart. I do not want that to happen as the right to marry should be for anyone of age.

Cindy Rizzo, a guest blogger, made what I thought were legitimate suggestions to get our rights back in California, Arizona and any other state that gets attacked by such crap. Here is my response to her blog and the comments she received:

Hi Cindy,
I’m a transsexual who recently found this blog. I’m also currently married to an Asian woman who has given me her support for my transition. This support did not come easy, but with time and a lot of discussion between us we have come a long way. You may say why is any of this relevant. She comes from a very strong Catholic background and without taking the time I did (almost 10 years, mind you, not every day) to educate her on my plight I don’t think I would have gotten her support. If I would have taken the route as some here are suggesting, “In your face, you will do what I say or else,” I’m sure I would not gotten anywhere with her. It seems some here want to force their view of the naysayers. How is that any better than what the political supporters of Prop 8 did and are doing? If we want to build more support for equal rights for all, then we need to better educate the public. It will be a hard fight, because the religious organizations do have a strong foothold in many of the communities that we need support from. Am I upset, YES I am. But to me, just sitting here blaming the Blacks, Latinos or any other group without even trying to have a intelligent dialog, I assure you will not get us anywhere. Education will be the key to our success and I believe Cindy has some valid points. We do have to strengthen our support with our allies and try to build up dialog between the ones that are opposed. If we can’t do at least that, I’m almost positive that we will not ever see any positive change for the future and it could even get worse by other states overturning the right to marry. I have a stake in this too as a transwoman; when I change the sex on my legal documents, they could have easily take away my right to stay married to my wife or any other woman. People, let’s join together and at least start taking a look at what didn’t work this time and correct those issues and do some proper education. Thank you all for your time.

I’ll take it even further. Sometimes people have to meet in the middle – now I didn’t see any of the ads supporting Prop 8 (I live in NY), but I’m sure not everything was true in their ads. What I mean by meeting in the middle is that we push for the right to marry, but not try and force a religious organization to do the ceremonies unless they support the right for the LGBT communities to marry who they like. There are other places to get married than a church, such as the courthouse, etc. The right to marry should be a fundamental right to all and not a select few, so I would not bend on that one, but I’m sure you see what I’m talking about.

Will we ever see the rights returned (especially after they seemed to be stolen from the people of California)?  I hope so. There are some blogs I’ve seen that suggest that they can be overturned because they are not constitutional. I really hope that they are overturned, because I really feel we have been burned by the religious right and many other organizations that supported Prop 8.

As I said in my reply to the original blog, I really feel that more education in the Black, Latino, Asian – hell in every community – is really needed. Things are better than they were 20 years ago, but they can get a lot better. If we continue to only attack the naysayers and not approach them with intelligence and dignity, what do you expect to get back? The same attacks and that will not get us anywhere. I hope we do have a better future with Obama for everyone.

Hugs, Michelle Lee

4 Responses

  1. “What I mean by meeting in the middle is that we push for the right to marry, but not try and force a religious organization to do the ceremonies unless they support the right for the LGBT communities to marry who they like. There are other places to get married than a church, such as the courthouse, etc. The right to marry should be a fundamental right to all and not a select few, so I would not bend on that one, but I’m sure you see what I’m talking about.”

    Go check Canada. That’s exactly what we did there. And it makes sense. It recognizes individual religious viewpoints while still giving the necessary rights and privileges to people. I do have one question that I’m having a hard time answer because of my religious background (or lack thereof): would it matter if full rights — the exact same rights — were given but it’s called civil union?

  2. Hi Syrlinus,
    Thanks for commenting. For me I would hope and expect to have the same rights as someone that was married. I would also hope that when I go full time (within 2 years now) that my wife and I would not loose any rights we currently have. If I get extremely sick, I would expect that she would have the legal right to take over while I was down. Having medical decisions being made by someone you trust can be a comforting thing.

    The list goes on. But the point is, I believe that if two people really care and love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of there life’s together, how can that be wrong. And if they are willing to make that commitment (the same as a straight couple), why would they not also have the same rights and responsibilities as someone that is straight. I never could understand why people in this country are so against it. Some people claim its morally wrong, but I don’t see it that way. I’ve met and have been friends with many from the LGBT community and they have morals. In some cases I would trust with my life with them before I would trust the person who claims its morally wrong.

    I’m starting to ramble, lol. I hope you have a great day.

    • August 1999. After 15 years in music ministry with the choir and as the catonr for the 8:00 AM Sunday Mass each week, I was told by Rev. David Clifford, the associate pastor of Holy Name of Jesus parish in Valhalla, New York, that my transition was “causing a scandal in the Church” and I was told not to come back. Some time in 2000, leaked to Catholic News Service (CNS) in early 2003. The RCC Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues a “sub secretum” document to papal nuncios all over the world to provide guidance to bishops should any questions arise about how to treat trans people. In 2003, after it turned out that no bishops ever asked any questions, the Vatican sent a copy, still sub secretum, to all the bishops in the world. One from Australia leaked the document to CNS which resulted in an article that summarized the official teachings: 1. Trans people always “belong” to their birth-assigned sex based on birth genitalia. 2. Surgery is permitted in the most extreme cases to alleviate dysphoria, but does not “change” sex, and church baptismal records must not be altered. 3. Trans people have a mental disorder and are incapable of consenting to marriage to anyone at all. trans people are expected to live celibate lives. 4. Trans people have a mental disorder that prevents them from being ordained to the priesthood or admission to any religious order of monks, nuns, brothers or sisters. (However if a man who was orained later “becomes” transsexual, he still remains a priest and may quietly continue to say mass, etc. unless continuing to do so would “cause a scandal in the Church.” 5. trans people are permitted to be Catholic. Essentially, what happened to me in 1999 went too far, if the document had been in force at the time. Rather than throwing me out, all Father Dave should have done was remove me from music ministry and tell me I could no longer serve as a catonr. The RCC based its document on erroneous advice given it by the notorous Opus Dei member Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders and who has been chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. It was also prepared at least ib part by Urbano (now Cardinal!) Navarette, S.J., most recently noted for the bizarre RCC condemnation and invalidation of baptisms that do not use male-gender-specific terms for the members of the Trinity. It’s okay to be trans and Catholic. But the Church claims to be the source of all the Truth, and a trans person knows that the Church is absolutely wrong in its teachings on trans people, and anyone with a modicum of right reason, a proper moral compass and an informed connscience must know that the Church is also absolutely wrong in its treatment of gay and lesbian people and women. This knowledge that the Church which maintains that it possesses all the Truth has been false in much of its moral theology, also leads the relatively intelligent person with right reason, etc. to questio the Church’s authority on matters of faith as well. Ultimately, faith in the beliefs promulgated by an institution whose hierarchy has turned to the basest evil in so many ways becomes a challenge for even the most tolerant of “cafeteria Catholics.” It is one thing to have a local vibrant, loving, Christian and meaningful parish community with a wonderful pastor who cares for the flock, and quite another when the bishops, the Congregation Propaganda Fideii and the Pope get involved. One can only ignore so much before being called to speak up and shake their dust from one;s sandals. Can a trans person be a Catholci? Yes. But that brings up another question – SHOULD a trans person be a Catholic? That answer may be very different.

  3. I understand people’s anger, but anger is an interim response, not a real solution. In the long term education will always be the best way to effect understand and change. I saw this really clearly in the Japanese context, where the LGBTQ communities are still very hidden (relatively speaking…it’s improving). People often need very little quality exposure to a gay or transgender person to realise that their pre-conceived notions are not very accurate. It’s heartening to watch. In fairness my experience with this is mostly with young people and Japan doesn’t have that Christian core to its culture that lends itself to conservatism. However, they do have very strong, traditional attitudes to gender roles, so it’s not like there are no barriers people need to overcome.

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