Tuesday, August 17, 2010

learning to fly

While I don't belong to any formalized religion, I do have a belief system.  It is primarily based on the idea of being good to each other, the whole golden rule thing we are taught in kindergarten.  Which if you think about it, is actually a good way to live.  If we were all polite and kind to each other, most of our laws wouldn't be necessary....as you can tell I'm an idealist.

Most religions seem to agree on the big issues, not killing other humans and holding their followers to be honest, kind and 'moral'.  Religions divert into interesting pathways of what they feel to be acceptable 'moral' behavior.  The view that we cycle again and again with our souls intact attempting to work our way up the ladder to reach nirvana.  And if you find yourself in the body of a female, then you obviously have a long way to go.

I think diversity in all things is, well a good thing, including religion.  Often we get so caught up in the tangled net of different = bad, that we begin to force our personal views upon others.  I don't care what religion you follow, what book you use to learn from that is the sacred words of your G-d, they all can be twisted into 'proving' a point, making a person, a group, or an idea against G-d's word.  Humans are tricky tricky beings who will say and do almost anything to get what they want. Counter that with the fact we tend to be sheep and love to follow behind someone who is willing to lead.

And it really doesn't take much to make others 'suspect' to us.  Something as simple as not having a tv, a cell phone, or desiring sex from any gender can open the door to at the very least verbal abuse.  I've known many people without a tv, or a desire to have one, had no interest in watching movies or listening to music, and once people find this tidbit of information about these fellow travelers, the whispering campaign against them begins.  They are weird!  Odd!  Not to be trusted!  Scratch most of our surfaces and you will find a 13 year old.  We are so worried about being pointed out as different, we begin to camouflage our true selves to blend in, and will often throw the first 'stone' to cause a diversion to keep others from noticing our differences.  No no, not me! I'm normal, it's this guy who you should worry about!

As religions became more organized and more powerful they began to exert pressure on the ruling bodies to align the laws of the area with the legal laws.  Why?  I think it all boils down into two parts.  One, the whole needing a large group of people to be just like us, even if it does require force to mold non-believers into the form of acceptable behavior.  Because if most of the people believe as you do, how on earth can you be wrong?  The few who refuse to live the guidelines must be wrong, or even more worrisome, evil.  These evil beings are liars, tricksters, seducers to a G-dless life.  And funnily enough often decades flow past where this type of person is seemingly not a threat to 'life as we know it'.  Until a tectonic shift occurs in culture and someone must be to blame for a changing world that makes no sense, and so our scapegoats are born.  We are all aware of many of our past and still to some extent, current scapegoats.  We structure our scapegoats from many different building blocks: religious peoples ( jewish, muslim, catholics, hindus, etc), color of skin, origin of country (China, Ireland, India, etc.) and some 'lucky' people belong to more that one group!  Oh, lucky lucky them!

Two, fear pure and simple.  Why fear?  Well, most religions seem to operate at least to some degree on fear.  Fear you won't get into heaven.  Fear that G-d would take offense with your culture if there was not enough adherence to religious law within your population, and do something nasty like flooding the earth, etc.  Fear that what others are doing is 'counter' than how you're living, or at the very least different, and different =bad/evil/worries.

From what I have read, most earth based religions seemingly understand that lgbt people have a place in the fabric that the gods have woven for us, and are accepted and in some cases revered.  It wasn't until the male god religions effectively sidelined many of the earth religions that things got tricky for many groups of people.  Among them of course were/are lgbt, women and children, and the elderly.  So basically if you're not young, male and straight, pffft you are worthless and merely chattel to be able to be treated with little or no regard.  Why?  I truly wished I knew how a society could effectually turn their backs on a major portion of society.

In the past 100 years or so, our country has been experiencing an upheaval in how it views many of citizens.  Black people had to work hard to be accepted as human beings, be allowed to vote, and allowed to marry someone of a different race.  Women struggled to be seen as equal to men, to be allowed to vote, and to be considered to be a 'head of household' for tax purposes.  And each and every time different groups of people struggled to be seen as equal worthy citizens, as needing and deserving rights and protections afforded to others, religious houses have rang with thunderous denouncements about the end of society as we know it.  How this will be the death of our country, the beginning of the end as it were. To be sure, there are always a few out of step religious houses fighting for these downtrodden people, but their voices are thin and fairly ineffectual against the louder din of the popular masses.  And after each group received their civil rights, a new scapegoat was born to fill that need to blame a faceless someone.

And here we are again, listening to religious houses thunder and using up air time, ink in newspapers, magazines and books to denounce yet another group of people who are fighting for equal civil rights and protections, using the same worn out and tired line of the end of the world as we know it.  From what I have personally seen, and reading around in history books, as the din from religious groups grows louder against any group, this is a signal that the tide is beginning to turn for the marginalized group.  As the arguments against allowing lbgt people civil rights become ever more absurd, you know they are scraping the bottom of the argument barrel.  The people who honestly believe the nonsense that is spewed out is getting smaller and smaller every day.  Sadly, one of the reasons for this change in attitudes is the passing of many of our elders, because elders are usually the staunch backbone of change is bad viewpoint.

Even if you're a member of a marginalized group, you're still not "safe" within your community.  Because within each community of peoples are ranks, these are considered "better" and others are surviving below the bottom rung.  And one thing about the people who are "better" in each marginalized community seems to be the ability to "pass" as a member of the majority group.

In the LGBT world, the men who are "straight acting" and "very masculine" and who can "pass" as straight seem to be on the top of the hierarchy, with "femme" men near the bottom of acceptability.  Femme guys can't "pass" as what our society thinks a man should be. Transgender people are below the femmes due to the lack of adherence to gender roles with their expressed sex, or so I believe.  Could it all this hatred of femmes and trans, boil down to something as simple as misogyny?

Several "facts" make me think this so.  One of which is that "butch" lesbians are usually looked at as more capable and dependable than women in general, and transmen assimilate more easily into our society than do the transwomen.  Why? Because it's much easier for a transmen to "pass" than for the average transwomen. Second think about these tasks that a woman traditionally did in the home, cooking, sewing, accounting.  What they all have in common is that once out of the home, women had trouble breaking into these as paying jobs.  Women only in the recent past have managed to make a name for themselves in fashion design.  Yes, yes, I know Coco Chanel is an exception, but there always seem to be those.  As recently as 10 years ago women were still fighting to gain acceptance into restaurant kitchens as equals.  And we all the know the jokes about women not being good with numbers……or with money.

Society has very rigid and tight gender roles, step out of the norm, and there be dragons.  Transgender and femmes are counter to these visual roles, and it makes some people uncomfortable.  If we make a template where men are considered to be the best of society, and women are not as important members, then men who exhibit the characteristics of women would of course be looked down on.  And people who blur the line between male and female would be seen as a threat to society.

Personally I have noticed that since I've started up "butch" up my appearance to downplay my femininity, that I am being treated differently.  I seem to be treated better in hardware stores, and auto part shops.  Men seem more likely to strike up a conversation, and women less.  So, have I joined even peripherally the society of maleness?  I just don't know.  But what I do know, is it's time for us to be more accepting of all gender presentations and roles, and for all of our people to be seen as important members of our society.  To evolve is to live, stagnation leads to death. As for me, I'm going to attempt to evolve, I'm going to learn how to fly.


  1. Not being an organized religious man, though i do have my own beliefs, I think it best to boil down religion into three little words that are the only words that should veer be spoken in church:
    God is love.
    That's all.

    Oddly enoiugh word verification is "tingod"

  2. Great post.

    The moment the idea of "one god" took hold we were in trouble. One god led to one word, one truth, one way. Every one else's god had to be the wrong way, and that belief has too often led to evil.

    You are perceptive in how you see societies response to LGBT people. It comes down to how much of a threat we are seen to be to traditional gender roles. Femme men and transwomen are particularly threatening because they are in the face of traditional men, a constant reminder of how fragile their masculine power really is. That is why I must be on the side of the femmes.

    The golden rule is a fine way to live.

  3. I am from Ireland and for a very long time, the Catholic church was essentially our government and they ruled under the guidance of fear.

    In Ireland, I was always under the impression that Catholicism is a very angry religion with far to much emphasis on penance and retribution.

  4. wholly cow... get out of my head.... lol ... love this piece , you know I feel the same way mostly ! Really well written thanks ...

  5. Well said!

    I guess I can pass for straight, when my hair isn't hot pink, but I really loathe the term "straight acting" and it ticks me off greatly when gay guys bitch about other gay guys being too femmy for their liking. Have they forgotten that they themselves are too gay for society's liking?

  6. You have a very good point, I never could have expressed it this beautiful... not even in my native language.

    To me the most important issue of religion is 'respect'. Respect for the individual. Respect for the choice of love. Respect for the individual's choice of life to live. Unfortunately most of the major religions out there seem to have a total lack in this. There are too many extremists forcing their views upon us.

    I don't think they get it; For each more extremest fighting for their cause (whatever it might be) I get stronger in my opinion to stay clear from religion!


  7. hey

    great post, i'm with you all the way on all of it. very well said. thanks.