• I’d prefer it to be a more comprehensive Medicaid for all.

    But you’re absolutely right, Pam, it certainly would not be “free stuff from the government – and it would be exactly like requiring everyone to buy medical insurance, except it eliminates the profiteering bloodsuckers and their death panels, making it less expensive, and it would likely include a government control on the amounts that health care providers can charge for services, goods and medicine, which would go a long way toward reducing the inflation in these costs.

    There is no reason that the Medicaid for All plan couldn’t include a copay for doctor visits other than annual checkups and tests (which, even in a small amount, could deter unnecessary doctor visits – but should be pegged to an amount that wouldn’t deter the necessary visits, particularly for those at poverty level).

    I realize that there is no chance as long as Congress is controlled by reactionary fascists, but who knows what the future holds?

  • Joann Prinzivalli commented on the blog post Happy birthday to me — 49 and counting…

    2012-07-09 05:45:08View | Delete

    A slightly belated Happy Birthday, Pam!

  • The bishop explained that this issue is of crucial importance because “we cannot have two different definitions of marriage simultaneously in the country.”

    In addition to referencing a study that he must know is fatally flawed, and making numerous other intentionally false and harmful statements in his statements in the interview, Bishop Cordileone also misrepresents the impact of amending marriage laws to make them gender neutral.

    In those jurisdictions that have amended their laws to make marriage fully gender-neutral, allowing the right to marry (the connubium right) for same-sex couples is the last step in a process that actually started in 1836, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ernestine Rose first started petitioning the New York State legislature for the adoption of the first Married Women’s Property Act.

    Up until 1848, the chief principle of Anglo/American common law relating to marriage was that “the two become one, and that one is the husband.”

    The adoption of the first Married Woman’s Property Act in NEw York in 1848 dealt only with giving married women legal control over their inheritances (benefitting only womwn in wealthier families); a follow-up act in 1860 enlarged the property right of women so that they could control their own wages.

    The women’s movement continued to work toward equalizing the rights and responsibilities of spouses in marriages over the years.

    In the 1970′s, what had been conceived as a “family right to privacy” in Griswold v. Connecticut (which dealt with access to birth control), was reiterated as a woman’s right to privacy in Roe v. Wade, which dealt with women’s reproductive rights, in connection with the right to terminate (or continue) a pregnancy. This took this aspect of reproductive rights (but not the obligations of responsibility for child-rearing) out of the marriage equation, and made it a woman’s individual right.

    By the 1980′s, in many states (in New York, it was 1986, with the adoption of its Equitable Distribution Act), the rights and responsibilities of spouses had become equal – the rights and responsibilities of a husbansd in a marriage became exactly the same as those of a wife.

    At that point it actually became possible to conceive of the idea of allowing connubium for same-sex cuples. If the rights and responsibilities of spouses had evolved over 150 years so that they were gender-neutral, there was no reason left to prohibit same-sex couples from participating in an essential legal building block of family creation.

    It took nearly a generation for the idea to sink in and stargt actually happening.

    But the Roman Catholic Church Magisterium has always been slow to change – and on this topic, it is as out of date as it was when the Inquisition was grappling with the idea of heliocentrism and condemning Galileo.

    It took them until the early 1960′s to stop officially defaming all Jewish people as “Christ-Killers” (The prior teaching was based on Mt. 27:25 – “25 And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and our children.” – and unfortunately, there are a lot of Catholic prelates out there who are itching to get back to the old teaching . . . )

    There are members of the Magisterium who prattle about “the Unchanging Church.”

    In April 2009, I wrote an angry Open Letter to then-Archbishop Dolan (it appears on my blog at:

    http://trans-cendence.blogspot.com/2009/04/open-letter-unchanging-church-and.html )

    Were I to write it today, I might consider dialing back the “apostate” angle (I had not at that time completed my religious transition to Unitarian/Universalism, so I was writing as if the “Mystical Body of Christ” had stayed with me after they threw me out), but that doesn;t take away from the analysis there – which is correct – the dirty little secret is that thye Roman Catholic Church can change – and sometimes in surprising ways. It isn;t quite as easily arranges as a revelation from the Mormon elders, but still, the Church is far from “unchanging.”

    It wouldn’t be terribly difficult for the Church to reclaim the rites of early Christians who blessed same-sex unions (see Boswell’s Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, for examples of these rites.

    I note that the main religious difference between a same-sex marriage and an opposite-sex marriage, is that in the opposite sex marriage, “the two become one flesh,” but in the same-sex union ceremonies uncovered by Boswell, as in the marriage between David and Jonathan, the two become “one soul.” There is an opportunity out there to recover and develop a Roman Catholic (and Christian) theology that incorporates marriage between same-sex spouses – and while these may be legally equal and identical on a secular basis, they actually can have a sacramental difference based on the “one flesh” and “one soul” theological distinction.

    It’s perhaps too bad that the RCC isn’t likely to move in that direction any time soon. Perhaps the Episcopal Church in the United States might be able to lead the way.

  • Joann Prinzivalli commented on the blog post Matt Barber – The audacity of a fake Christian

    2012-07-02 18:31:36View | Delete

    Last week’s issue of Westchester Guardian, a local weekly newspaper, ran Barber’s essay as an op ed column – I responded at first with a short letter to the editor, which apparently intrigued the editor enough to ask me to expand it to a full column.

    The latest issue of Westchester Guardian has my column on pages 15-16, immediately followed by a letter to the editor from the Executive Director of my local LGBT Center:


    In it, I do a thumbnail sketch of some of the theological underpinnings for an LGBT inclusive Christian mythos that provides an interpretation of sacred scriptures that is different from that used by inhospitable folks like Matt Barber. (And I didn’t even touch the “theology of trans” areas in which I do my best work.)

  • It seems that Rush Limbaugh’s “dittoheads” among the right wing have been rushing to character assassinate Sandra Fluke with lies and calumny. One thing that seems common to the attacks is the idea that a woman’s use of birth control pills is evidence of sexual activity, and that women need to take apill when they are going to have sex, rather than on a regular daily schedule. Apparently, Limbaugh and his dittoheads are ignorant on how birth control works, preferring to analogize on the basis of the kinds of pills that Limbaugh and other otherwise imporent men are otherwise familiar with – Viagra.

    On another front, the right wing seems to have discovered other things about Sandra Fluke, most notably that she edited a law review note that discussed Mario v. P & C Food Markets, Inc., 313 F.3d 758 (2d Citcuit, December 20, 2002)


    In the note, there was advocacy for the idea that health insurers should be required to cover transgender people for their medical care.

    The right wing critics of Sandra Fluke see the very idea that trans people’s medical care should be covered by health insurance as just as “morally wrong” as the idea that women’s reproductive health should be covered.

    Some examples of the criticism:



    and the apparent “discoverer” of Ms. Fluke’s published note:


    The Republican War on Women is tied to the Republican War on Trans People, and the Republican War on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People as well.

    These people cower behind a claim of religious liberty that they believe should only apply to themselves, and not to people who believe differently from them. They attempt to justify their misogynistic assault on women, trans people (and since trans men are usually invisible to them, that is a part of their assault on women) and gay people (similarly, their stereotypical hatred of gay men is also rooted in the same sort of misogyny exhibited by the Men of Sodom), on what they see as “moral” grounds.

    When they proclaim that Catholic employers should have a “religious liberty” right to deny medical coverage to their employees, they make short shrift of the religious beliefs of the employees, as well as their legitimate medical needs.

    As has been pointed out in other forums, no one ever hears Jehovah Witnesses calling for laws banning all blood transfusions because their religious beliefs see them as immoral. Only Catholics, and some Evangelical Protestants, seem to be making the argument that their religious beliefs should be applied to everyone.

    Meanwhile, the mainstream media seems to be ignoring the right wing attack on Sandra Fluke that relates to transgender medical care – perhaps this is a can that needs to be fully opened, examined and addressed. Sooner or later, justice will prevail. It’s good to know that Ms. Fluke is on the side of truth, justice, fairness and reason.

  • Anyone holding themselves out to the public as being in a business that is open to the public has a right to be in business that is balanced by the obligation to not discriminate unlawfully in the provision of goods or rendering of services.

    The existence of their right of “freedom of religion” only serves to temper the kind of business they can conduct. If provding goods or services of the nature of the type that they provide can violate their religious beliefs, they are free to pursue a different business.

    For example, a Catholic pharmacist who feels morally bound to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control pills shhould close up shop and find another line of work. Driving a school bus would likely not involve any moral dilemma.

    I am troubled by laws that create so-called “conscience clauses” that allow this kind of discrimination.

    One example of an exception I *could* make for a conscience clause: A police department is required by its local law to provide community policing. There is a relatively large Hassidic neighborhood in the community. While the union contract requires police officers to wok on rotating shifts that often enough include working during the hours between Sundown Friday and Sundown Saturday, no Hassidim have been able to apply for the position because the job requirements violate their religious laws.

    In such a case, hiring a Hassidic officer could be accomplished if the union allows a modification to the collective bargaining agreement, or a court orders a modification to the agreement because the agreement is in violation of the community policing law.

    Still – does making this exeption create a situation where a devout Christian could then be exempted from Sunday work?

    The question becomes one of to what extent an accommodation can be made for religious “moral” objections.

    Take one of those New York Town Clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses for gay couples. One possible workaround is to strip the clerk of the power to issue any marriage licenses and to assign another full time Town employee the title of “Assistant Clerk – Marriage License Bureau” – and all marriage licenses would be issued by that clerjk.

    The pharmacist in my example could simply hire a pharmacist employee of a different religion, who would fill the birth control prescriptions.

    Maybe the baker in this case could simply subcontract out the work. If they have a moral objection but want to stay in business, subcontracting this work to another baker should be an acceptable alternative to refusing the business. And if the other baker is anti-Semitic, that baker could subcontract to this baker any cakes to be baked for Jewish or Muslim customers.

    Let them buy cake!

  • My observations:

    Gennifer Flowers and the other indicators of Bill Clinton’s extracurricular sexual activity did not derail his 1992 campaign. What makes Cain a bit different is that his accusers are indicating that his attentions were unwanted.

    Rick Perry’s goal seems to show that he is “more” of just about aeverything than George W. Bush. as Texas governor, he has signed the death warrants for more executions, has shown in other ways that he is more extreme that GWB, and he’s now trying to prove that he is “more” unintelligent than GWB.

    Next to Rick Perry, George W. Bush comes across as articulate and intelligent.

    None of the Republican candidates are qualified to be president. The incumbent president, even though he has been maddeningly conservative (while being accused by the troglodytes of being a radical socialist muslim Kenyan communist atheist) on a number of issues, is better qualified than anyone else running. I’d only wish he would step aside for Hillary Clinton, though, who would have been a better president these past four years. But that is not about to happen, so what would make me happy would be if he switched Hillary into the vice presidency, and put Joe Biden in as Secretary of State, for term 2. Putting Hillary on the ticket would improve things a bit.

  • I somehow missed that phrase: “any person while acting as an employee of the Church.”

    Since it doesn’t say “any person employed by the Church” it likely means acting openly in their capacity as a Church employee.

    Now I get the example of the organist who might play piano for a gay wedding. Here’s my take on that. This is related to the whole “creating a scandal in the Church” attitude that drives the hierarchy’s decisions in these areas.

    If the program for the wedding involving the same-sex couple identifies the pianist as “George Smith, the organist and choir director for Saint Athanasius Catholic Church” – that would likely viloolate the edict.

    If the program for the wedding simply states that the pianist is “George Smith” then there is no open and notorious connection being made that would imply that the pianist is playuing in some way in their official capacity.

    It may be that the priest who might attend his sister’s wedding to a woman might feel constrained to leave the Roman collar at home and keep a low profile.

    In either case, if the buzz got out, the “scandal” occurs, and then, even if the parties tried to be quiet about their participation, it could result in “scandal in the Church” repercussions.

    I think you may be right, though even the baking cookies situation won;t be an issue unless something is made of it.

  • Hey, everyone, relax, it’s okay. All Archbishop Dolan is doing is reiterating the existing rules as expressly permitted under the Marriage Equality Act.

    Number 1 relates to priests or deacons. Essentially, even though a Catholic priest is technically permitted by state law to preside at non-sacramental civil wedding ceremonies, this is now expressly forbidden. Although it seems to prohibit a Catholic priest or deacon from even attending the wedding reception (celebration) of a gay relative or friend or even giving a gay couple a wedding present (goods), I doubt that the intent was to go quite that far. (Then again, it very well might have been so intended)

    He is also making sure that there are not any Knights of Columbus “benevolent orders” chapters that might actually rebel and allow their facility to be used for a wedding ceremony for a same-sex couple. However, unlike #1, which includes the word “celebration,” it appears that thyere is a loophole for receptions as long as the ceremony isn’t performed at the venue. That’s likely something that might be addressed in a revised threat, err, statement of policy.

    All in all, with the exception of the apparent prohibition against priests and deacons attending a wedding of a gay family member or friend, or even giving them a gift, it’s really not out of the realm of expectation from an unrepentent Magisterium.

  • I’m one of the relative minority of trans advocates who sees marriage equality as a trans issue of equal importance with housing, employment, etc. I also think of ENDA itself as a day late and a dollar short when what is needed is a full Civil Rights Act covering housing, employment, public accommodations, etc. In addition to marriage, and the way the current law in many jurisdictions in its effort to deny gay and lesbian people rights provides a back door to gay and lesbian trans people (because society often sees straight trans people as gay!), a federal Gender Recognition Act would be very nice – in addidion to the necessary state laws (since recognition of our correct sex is something that is a whim of state law).

    Access to proper and fair medical care is paramount, as well, and the waythose of us who are imprisoned are treated is often the picture of cruel and unusual punishment.

    So yes, marriage is and should eb a part of a comprehensive effort on behalf of trans people. The issues like trans medical care, birth certificates, etc, that we don’t share with cis LGB folks still ought to be in the comprehansive package.

    I’d like to see a complete rewrite of GENDA into an omnibus Civil Rights Act that encompasses the whole package (and include immigration equality, while we’re at it, too).

    Sure it won’t pass in the current congress, but that is not the point. I am sick of incrementalist approaches.

    So I’m not looking for an inclusive ENDA, I am looking for an inclusive Civil Rights Act, and congresscritters with the gumption to intropduce and push such legislation.

  • I think that was my fault. My fingers somehow translated Meghan into Marilyn while I was typing.

  • I am deeply disappointed in Archbishop Nein-stadt (name slightly respelled to show it’s real meaning – “No State.”) His very *name* reeks of the idea of the Catholic Church Magisterium’s deep desire to crush the principles of freedom, justice, and equality that form the bedrock of the American Experiment. The Archbishop and his evil minions (and there is no doubt that this particular Archbishop has been corrupted by a complete lack of a competent moral compass. From his position of power, he seeks to corrupt others to his evil, and to create a bloc of voters who will obey the insane ravings that come from the Vatican on issues that relate to its odd views of morality, ravings that are based on a debased and corrupt view of natural law.

    Nein-Stadt should be ashamed of what he is setting in motion, but powerful clerics like him have no shame for the harm that they do, or that is done in the name of the Church that their actions profane. His dark path does not lead to the top of the mountain, but straight to the cesspool. When the day of Judgment comes, he will be among those goats bleating the loudest, wondering what he has done to the least of the People – yet knowing full well that he is leaing his flock to perdition.

  • I honestly do not understand the hubbub over Marilyn Stabler’s marriage – the criticism should be aimed at the San Diego newspaper’s characterization of what Ms. Stabler did.

    A marriage involving a gay man born trans, r a lesbian women born trans, taking place in a jurisdiction that denies heterosexual trans people the right to marry or denies the right of trans people to have the correct sex designation on their identity papers, is not only justifiable, it is a protest against a system that is aimed at discriminating against gay and lesbian people, but is turned upside down when it comes to trans people.

    The absurdity of the system on both levels – denying the correct sex designation to the trans individual and attempting to deny the right to marry to same sex couples – is amply illustrated by individuals like Ms. Stabler (or myself) going ahead and getting married.

    As it is, it also creates a DOMA issue – my spouse and I have filed our taxes jointly, and we’re just waiting for the IRS to notice. If there is an IRS challenge, I can assure you that there will be another DOMA case in the works.

    The way it is – there is no guarantee, exept in those states that have marriage equality, that *any* marriage involving a trans individual, regardless of the sex of their spouse, is going to be recognized, when push comes to shove. Getting a marriage license is one thing – but overcoming the challenges of insurance companies and predatory families involved in wrongful death cases, and cases involving legal inheritance, or even in matrimonials, is quite another.

    Ultimately, trans people actually have much at stake in the marriage equality struggle – and because trans people turn sexual orientation upside down when seen by cissexists (i.e., people who are birth-genital essentialist when it comes to sex assignment) – the only way to show how absurd it is is for the trans people who can get married, to do so, and do so in a very public way.

    The problem here is with the cissexist coverage in the San Diego LGBT Weekly, mischaracterizing Ms. Stabler’s situation as involving making a “legal declaration of her gender as male.” The fact that one is named as “husband” on the license is not a legal declaration of anything.

    For that matter, the only reason Texas clerks will issue this kind of license is because of the adverse decisions in Littleton v. Prange and in the more recent Araguz case. Show them their laws are absurd.

  • Just to let you know how ironically fitting it is that this took place in Buncombe COunty, North Carolina:

    The etymological source for the terms bunk or bunkum, meaning nonsense, comes from Buncombe COunty, North Carolina. It has been reported (see http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=bunkum )that the usual story of its origin is this: At the close of the protracted Missouri statehood debates, on Feb. 25, 1820, the Honoralbe Representative Felix Walker of North Carolina began what promised to be a “long, dull, irrelevant speech,” and he resisted calls to cut it short by saying he was bound to say something that could appear in the newspapers in the home district and prove he was on the job. “I shall not be speaking to the House,” he confessed, “but to Buncombe.”

    While one might consider this couple’s reading of the list of federal rights and responsibilities (one would wish they had the North Carolina state list as well) to be “speaking to Buncombe” one would hesitate to call it bunk.

    INdeed, the current North Carolina law with regard to marriage is bunk, and the proposed Constitutional Amendment is purer bunkum than anything.

    North Carolina is the home of arrant nonsense like denying the connubium of marriage, on a gender-neutral basis, to consenting adults not otherwise under a disability (such as an existing prior marriage).

    State and federal laws as they relate to marriage no longer discriminate in any other way on the basis of the gender of each spouse having separate gender-based rights, responsibilities, duties, priveliges or obligations as they relate to marriage. There is no sense, logic, or legitimate public purpose in denying the “right to marry” on a gender neutral basis as well. Any such denial, is pure bunkum, and hokum, and bologna of the most putrid odor.

    So it is fitting that this couple staged their protest in the etymological home of bunkum, Buncolmbe County, N.C. I salute the Rev. Kathryn Cartledge and Elizabeth Eve for their protest!

  • In 2009, my spouse and I decided to get married in New York. We wanted to get married. We wanted to do it in our home state, and we knew I had a loophole. Rather than go to Massachusetts or Canada, we intentionally chose to get married in New York to show the logical absurdity of the then-existing law.

    Right off the bat, I had trouble getting a copy of my birth certificate, necessitating the obtaining of a court order (and the lawsuit I started then included a “kitchen sink” of causes of action, including a challenge to the NYC birth certificate regulations that is still going on).

    Then the White Plains City Clerk refused to allow us to fill in an application for a marriage license – so rather than yet another lawsuit, we went to the New York City Clerk in Manhattan, where it took three hours for counsel there to get a second opinion based on the 1970′s caselaw I had with me that voided a heterosexual marriage for a trans individual. My reasoning was that if someone like me could not marry a man, I should be able to marry another woman.

    We got the license.

    We got married with about 100 people in attendance, including a key state senator – who understoofd just how absurd the existing law was.

    It did not require declaring a gender identity other than my own. All I had to do was show that I was assigned male at birth. For purposes of marriage in New York at the time, the birth certificate assignment takes precedence over the driver’s license assignment – thus it was possible to be legally male” for purposes of marriage and legally “female” for those purposes for which a driver’s license is sufficient proof.

    There are different regulatory requirements involved. It’s not a matter of denying my correct sex (the birth certificate is in error, and the lawsuit, I hope, will be able to prove that).

    When we had the oral argument on the city’s motion to dismiss in December 2009, the judge told me that if she were to agree that my birth certificate was in error, that it could result in my marriage being voided.

    My answer was that I understood that, but that I fervently hoped that the state legislature would moot that particular question before that issue was finally decided. (As we now know, the legislature failed in 2009, but in June of this year, it made the connubium gender-neutral, so that the entire domestic relations law in New York is now gender neutral.

    My marriage still points out the absurdity of laws that conflict on the assignment of sex. Neither the DMV nor the Bureau of Vital Records should be the arbiter of something that should be within the province of modern medical science.

    The assignment of sex on birth certificates is based on a cursory examination of newborn infant genitalia. It has the advantage of being a quick, inwxpensive and largely accurate methodology. However the law and regulations should provide for a relatively easy method for an individual and their attending physician to effectuate correction to the record.

    As to marriage – the women’s movement has been pushing since 1836 (when Ernestine Rose and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first started petitioning the New York legislature to enact the first Married Women’s Property Act), up to nearly the present, to make the rights and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage set forth on a gender-neutral basis. The movement to also extend the connubium - the “right to marry” -on a gender neutral basis is the culmination of that work.

    A move by trans indivduals to enter into same-sex marriages in jurisdictions that do not recognize either a heterosexual marriage for trans individuals (Texas, Florida, Kansas) or does not recognize the correction of sex on birth certificates (Ohio, Tennessee, Idaho), is a proper form of protest against the absurdity of the laws that do not provide for connubium on a gender-neutral basis.

  • I don’t believe in the death penalty. It’s too merciful.

    However, perhaps the only way to change public opinion on the topic is for death penalty opponents to insist that if there has to be a death penalty, that it be done in a very public manner, say at football games during halftime, or during the 7th inning stretch at a baseball game, as well as being required to be carried on all television stations.

    Perhaps it should be carried out in the most horriffic manner imaginable, for the entertainment of the crowds, to whip up their blood-lust.

    It’s not different from a vegan’s approach to the sale of meat – one might want to consider laws that require shoppers who want to buy chicken to personally wring the chicken’s neck. (As to beef, it might be a matter of obtaining an annual permit certifying that you’ve been to a slaughterhouse and personally pressed the button to shoot the bolt into the head of a cow.)

    So much of our existence has been so sanitized and shrinkwrapped. As a member of a generation in which many felt traumatized as children by the death, in a cartoon, of Bambi’s mother, such changes in policy might actually drive more people into eating things they don’t mind killing (like lobster or fish) – or into actually abolishing the death penalty.

    Keeping the death panalty behind closed doors in a sanitized, germ free enviornment and using a pseudo-medical mechanism intended to be pain free only prolongs the problem.

    I don’t believe in the death penalty – but if there is one, it should be horrific enough, and public enough, so that the great weight of public opinion would either turn toward abolition, or prove exactly how barbaric and uncivilized we are as a people.

  • We have a few words for people like Wooden and the NOM Nuts:

    We have to block the use of euphemisms when we talk about Christianists who misuse sacred scripture for their own evil bigotry. They are not Christian. We’ve got to use terms like ‘heretic,’ ‘apostate,’ and ‘hypocrite.’

  • Joann Prinzivalli commented on the blog post We Don’t Have A Word For “Apple”

    2011-09-13 14:18:03View | Delete

    Hi Autumn, I think we’re discussing “apples” and “oranges.”

    To the extent we’re talking about *classifications,* it doesn’t matter how the individuals identify – if they have the defined characteristics, they fit the classification.

    TO the extent we’re talking about *identities,* that’s a completely diferent subject – and while someopne may well fit in a classification, they may not *identify* as having a membership in the group. (I will define classifications as make sense, but will also respect an individual’s honest self-identification.)

    Even with classifications – the classifications themselves are only as good as the definitions that are used. There are more different, confusing and conflicting definitions for the terms that we use, that it becomes nearly impossible to communicate without indicating which definition one is using – and even then, there are people who will ignore the stated definition and react as if *their* particular definition of the term is being used.

    For example, much of the time, when I define “transgender” I include anyone whose gender identity (“Sex identity” for those who think of gender as performance) is different from that associated with the sex assigned at birth.

    This definition leaves out gay men who identiofy as men, but who do drag, and it leaves out those crossdressers whose crossdressing is motivatated by clothing as a sex object (fetish) and do not have a gender identity at variance with their assigned sex. The definition includes everyone who might be classified as transssexual, even those who see themselves as post-transsexual.

    Other definitions could vary the population covered under the definition.

    Taking another example, both the Roman Catholic Church and radical feminists define male on the basis of a certain form of birth genital essentialism – male, to them, includes all persons who were born with a penis, who will under their definition always be male.

    Definitions should not eb arbitrary – but unfortunately, it’s difficult sometimes to perceive where a definition is arbitrary.

    In 1965, for example, the Roman Catholic/radical feminist definition of male is likely to have been commonly accepted. Today, a mass of scoientific evidence suggests that this definition is unacceptable.

    My definition of transgender seems to be just fine to me – but there may well be a further nuance that might be required, or material fact that is missing.

    Still – classifications can be “apples” while identity gets to be “oranges” – the fruit (or creatures) we classify don’t have an opinion as to where they fit in – people do.

  • Joann Prinzivalli commented on the blog post Transgender? Transsexual? Trans-Ghettoized?

    2011-09-02 07:13:14View | Delete

    I forgot to include the URL for Rabbi Sameth’s article!


  • Joann Prinzivalli commented on the blog post Transgender? Transsexual? Trans-Ghettoized?

    2011-09-02 07:12:38View | Delete

    I am hoping that the issue of problematic terminology will continue to be considered on a contextual basis.

    For example, one of the prohibited terms, “he-she,” is often used as an epithet. *But* there is a context in which there is a legitimate usage.

    Rabbi Mark Sameth of Pleasantville, New York, wrote a wonderful article about God, in which he refers to a name of God being “he-she.” This article is very relevant in trans theological discussions – and if the term is banned on a “zero tolerance” basis, the discussion becomes impossible.

    Similarly, we’ve had discussions on the appropriate use of the terms “cisgender” and “cissexual” (which are retronyms to describe a non-trans person, so that the opposite of “trans” isn;t assumed to be “normal”). Now, there *is* a term suitable for attention in terms of a probleamatic term – “cissexist” – that is, like “heterosexist,” a more accurate and direct description of some attitudes than “transphobic” or “homophobic.”

    We might not have a problem referring to third parties not at the coffeehouse, and not likely to be there, as homophobic, transphobic cissexist and/or heterosexist – (say, a Bryan Fischer or a Maggie Gallagher). But then what happens when the third party might just be someone who *does* happen to post here.

    There might be a difference between calling a person “cissexist” and referring to a statement as “cissexist.” The former, unless it’s clearly aimed at people known to be anti-LGBT in the public square, woudl be inexcusable. The latter, though, might well be a legitimate part of the discussion.

    Of course, then we get to terms that hit different people in different ways – I remember back in 2001, a discussion with the then-executive director at my local LGBT Center over a term actually evolved into a presentation we made at that year’s Healing the Hurt Conference (nka PrideWorks).

    The term?


    Yes. Gay men will call each other “girl,” and in some segments of the trans community, “girls” is an acceptable term.

    To the E.D. at the time, a lesbian, to see the word “girls” used in the context of a meeting report form prepared by the trans group’s other co-founder, as to the number of people in attendance at the previous meeting, the usage seemed to be belittling and demeaning. And from her perspective, it was – but she asked me about it. I explained that in some segments of the trans community, the word was not offensive, and that the group co-founder did not mean it in an offensive way – but we agreed it was inappropriate for a formal report to the board of directors.

    It led to a fascinating discussion of other terms, that could be offensive, depending on context , and that led us to developing the workshop.

    Anyway, Autumn, thanks for reposting – and thanks for policies that are not “zero tolerance” but contain some wiggle room for reasonable contextual interpretation.

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