Sunday, February 15, 2015

Neurological Intersex?



Having talked a lot about the need to include trans voices in the conversation, I'm thrilled that one of my friends offered to do a guest post. Edie is a transgender Catholic studying for a Masters in Theology.

by Edie Fetch


Recently, Carlos Flores of UC Santa Barbara wrote an article that’s been making the rounds among those sectors of Internet Catholicism concerned about trans issues. I felt that, as a transgender Catholic who is at least making a healthy go of trying to be both, it would be beneficial to engage Flores directly.

This is obviously something deeply personal for me; it is not solely an academic question but speaks about my deepest experience of myself. It has been an ongoing existential challenge for me, and one which I spent years deeply resisting. I even spent a year in seminary as part of my attempt to reify and strengthen the hard walls of the strict binary which I found myself constantly straining against.

That said, my goal here is not polemic; neither is it entirely personal. I am addressing Mr. Flores as a fellow ethicist and traveler, and assume nothing but the best of intentions.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Neither Man nor Woman


I've written a few posts about trans issues here and at Spiritual Friendship, and I've realized from my com-box that I probably need to help readers understand better where I'm coming from so that hopefully more of my Catholic readership will be able to follow me.

When I started looking at this issue I had a fairly typical traditional conservative Catholic point of view. I believed (and still believe) quite strongly in sexual complementarity, that sexual identity – male or female – matters tremendously in terms of the formation of personality, and that there is a serious theological dimension to the creation of humanity male and female.

It seemed to follow from this that people should clearly and simply fall into one category or the other, and that becoming oneself would always involve embracing a sexual identity based on more or less obvious bodily characteristics. I didn't have a well thought out position on trans issues; in so far as I thought about them at all, I simply adopted the position that I encountered in most Catholic media. I felt that acknowledging trans identities, legally or personally, would involve co-operating with delusion. More importantly, I feared that such acknowledgement would undermine Scripture and present a serious challenge to the Church's teaching on a variety of issues from marriage and sexuality to women in the priesthood.

So how and why has this changed?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Absurdity of Transgenderism: A Stern But Necessary Critique of The Witherspoon Article



The Witherspoon Institute recently published an article by Carlos D. Flores that bills itself as “a stern but necessary critique” of the “absurdity of transgenderism.” The article attempts to refute the most common defences of trans identities, arguing in particular against the proposed legislation known as “Leelah's Law” that would attempt to prevent parents from forcing trans kids into therapy to try to correct their gender identity.

The arguments that Flores presents are flawed on a number of levels, but there is one example that he discusses at some length that I would particularly like to engage with because it might provide a more helpful way for conservative Christians to think about and understand how we ought to respond to folks with trans conditions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In Defense of Single Parents



Katrina Fernandez' recent post at The Crescat initially made me kind of frustrated and a little annoyed. Fernandez seems to resent the fact that the “gifted gays” got so much Synodal attention while single parents got only a one line mention. My first reaction was: Why do we feel the need to fight over the crumbs from the family table? The folks who kindof, sortof got maybe a little recognized (tentatively...) at the Extraordinary Synod are mostly people who have been routinely sidelined and marginalized within our community. Agreed, single parents are also in that boat. But why can't you say “Hey, we need recognition too” without implying that other people don't need recognition as much, or don't deserve the modicum of acknowledgement that they've received?
Then I read the com-box.
Then I thought some more.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane


This is one of the talks that I gave for Trinity school for Ministry over the weekend.

Beyond the Culture Wars: Listening to LGBTQ people in the Parish Today

I've been told that there are two types of people in the world. There are people who work from the particular to the general: they start with a single concrete example and then they work out from there, deriving principles along the way. A lot of contemporary writing, especially writing for women, is in this style. You pick up a woman's magazine and the story almost invariably begins with a little slice of life, someone's particular story, or a cute event that happened while the author was baking apricot crumble. There are other people who work from the general to the particular. They start with grand universal theses and then slowly focus in their particular area of interest. Everyone who has ever attended high-school knows that this is the way that we are taught to write the introduction to a formal essay. You start with a grand statement like “Star-crossed love has been a perennial fascination since first human beings began to tell stories around the fire,” and you end up with a tight, focused thesis like “Romeo was a trumped up playboy, and Juliet was a ditz.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Transmisconceptions


I've been rooting around on the internet for Catholic resources aimed at helping transgender people and their parents. It's a bit of wasteland. Most of the articles that you can find aren't even intended to be helpful to someone who is dealing with this – as a community we seem to be more concerned with defending Catholic sexual ideology than with ministering to trans people.

I think that there are several key misconceptions about transfolks that fuel that largely negative response. I'd like to briefly treat six of them here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Homeschooling and Paranoia


13 years ago, when I was a young mother standing on the pro-life picket line I was in an unusual position. Because I had a baby I was treated as one of the adults by the older members of the group and was therefore privy to all of the adult conversations about child-rearing, homeschooling and the dangers of modern society. As a 21 year old I was also accepted by the teenagers who had come along with their parents, and I encountered a curious effect. The parents raved about the advantages of homeschooling, particularly how they had been able to shelter and protect their children from all sorts of malign influences – especially too-early exposure to sexual information. From the teenagers I heard about how they had to shelter their parents from the realization that actually, secretly, they knew the same stuff that the secular schoolkids knew.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pain, Labour and Suicide



The internet has been awash for the past couple of days with discussions of suicide. The discussion seems to break down into three basic groups: people who have actually experienced suicidal depression who are trying to explain what it is, people who have never experienced it but who are trying to offer compassionate support, and people who have never experienced it but are pretty sure that people who do are whining narcissists.

At the heart of the debate over suicide is a basic disagreement that has troubled philosophy for as long as people have been asking the Big Questions: Is it possible for a person to experience suffering of such intensity that they become functionally incapable of rationally exercising their moral free will?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Eros & Thanatos



In these philosophical dialogues, questions of love, sex, death and retribution are explored by a group of characters representing a wide diversity and experience.

Unlike many books with a dialogue format, this one doesn't have a Socrates character who is always right. Each character brings some aspect of truth to the table and it is only through a clash of ideas and insights that they approach a solution to the problems they confront.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Criminalizing the Buying of Sex in Canada


Many political conservatives in the United States are accustomed to looking at Canada as a hotbed of liberalism, where the consequences of the sexual revolution have progressed further than they have at home. So it’s nice to be able to write about something that Canada is doing right.

Bill C-36, the Conservative government’s proposed prostitution bill, is currently being fast-tracked through Canada’s legislative system following a decision by the Canadian Supreme Court to strike down the existing prostitution laws late last winter. The existing laws were challenged on the basis that they endangered prostitutes in order to advance a Victorian agenda of social decency.

Read the whole article at the National Catholic Register here.