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Newsworthy: Not every one of Pat Robertson’s opinions is detestible!

Given his history of racism, misogyny, his anti-science doublethink, ludicrous take on suicide, his belief that gays and feminists and the ACLU cause natural disasters, his belief that you should exorcise second-hand goods, not to mention his opinionation on the cause of the forever-ongoing Haitian hardship, you might be forgiven if it comes as a surprise to you that once in a while, Unky Pat has a viewpoint that isn’t completely damaging to the human race.

It should come as absolutely no surprise to you, however, that the non-odious viewpoint he’s just evinced has got his brothers-in-Christ all up in arms.



Ignore his oversimplified attempt at giving suggestions for a friend of someone who’s suicidal; ignore his nonsense about tithing after his initial correct assertion that you won’t go to hell for not doing so (because he’s wrong about WHY). The meat here starts at 2:30.

While he equates transitioning with “having certain parts amputated”, he’s still evincing a surprisingly progressive and open-minded view on transgender issues. No wonder LifeSiteNews, virulently anti-gay Christian news site, is less than sympathetic of Pat’s views on the matter.

Traditional Christians have condemned such actions as a form of self-mutilation since the days of the ancient church.

Speaking specifically of castration, the Apostolic Canons, a fourth century Syrian document, states, “If a layman mutilate himself, let him be excommunicated for three years, as practising against his own life.”

More contemporary teachers uphold the Christian admonition to maintain one’s biological gender and respect our bodies.

“To destroy organs purposefully that are healthy and functioning, and to try to create imitation organs which will never have the genuineness and functioning of authentic organs lacks charity,” said Fr. William Saunders, professor of Catechetics and Theology at Christendom College’s Notre Dame Graduate School. “Such surgery which purposefully destroys the bodily integrity of the person must be condemned.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center wrote, “Changing one’s sex is fundamentally impossible; these procedures are fundamentally acts of mutilation…Doing violence to one’s body when there is nothing wrong with it is an unjustifiable mutilation.

Emphasis mine.

What charming views. And way more in line with what I was expecting to hear from Robertson if you’re going to be internally consistent about what differences you’re willing to accept and what you’re willing to treat as grievous sins against your god. No wonder they aren’t happy with Pat.

The one thing I’ve learned about trans identity issues that matters most is that there is, in fact, something “wrong” (to use LifeSiteNews’ language) with you: that your gender identity does not match your biological sex assignment. And since your “you” is your mind, and your body is just a carrier for that mind, the most mutable of the two choices is obviously the meat part. If you change a person’s mind, you’re changing THEM. If you’re changing their body, you’re changing only how others PERCEIVE them, and how they perceive themselves. So “mutilating” one’s organs to create more appropriate ones when they do not accord with one’s view of one’s self is entirely valid — especially if you measure a person’s well-being with respect to their mental state as opposed to merely their physical state.

Consider for a moment how humans who’ve had amputations still have a mental “map” of those limbs and how phantom limbs can be sensed even in the absence of actual body parts to go with it. It’s like in computers — if you have a Hardware Abstraction Layer that lets your computer programs go about their business making calls to hardware in a standardized way, they don’t have to worry about getting every little detail about how to do it right. People with body integrity image disorder often feel as though their world is askew where their HALs don’t have “drivers” for an arm or a leg. If our brains have a Hardware Abstraction Layer that corresponds with our bodies, and that HAL can be different from our actual meat, why CAN’T a person see themselves as having been born with the wrong sexual organs? And why shouldn’t they want to make their meat conform with their identities?

The Bible doesn’t actually provide any real insight into humanity, science, or our evolved brains, and it includes no “revelations” about reality outside of some rather blinkered nonsense that reads like a fable crossed with an opium-fueled fever dream. Given all that, it’s no surprise that the Bible’s fandom is filled with people trying desperately to find something that actually touches on trans identity issues and, having precious little information on trans identity to begin with, coming up nearly empty save for a passage about self-harm. It’s a thin gruel excuse to damn someone for being different, but then, so is any religiously motivated excuse.

Comments

  1. Jean says

    Jason,

    I’m really not that well informed on the subject but if you haven’t done so, it might be a good idea to have someone more personally informed (maybe Zinnia?) read your post. From what I’ve read from her and Natalie Reed, the way you present things might need serious adjustments starting with the statement that there is something fundamentally wrong with them.

  2. says

    That is not a bad idea at all. As I’ve stated elsewhere, trans rights issues are the issues I know the least about of all the social justice causes I’m interested in.

    To be absolutely clear, I don’t mean “something’s wrong with them” as in their state of being is different from “normal”, e.g. THEY are problematic. I mean the mismatch they experience between their mental image of themselves and their biological selves is problematic for them.

  3. Jean says

    Then you may want to remove the “fundamentally wrong” part because that made me cringe and I’m basically clueless about trans issues. And from what I read from Zinnia, the mismatch is not always an issue but she would be much in a much better position to critique your post.

  4. says

    Yeah. I was echoing LifeSiteNews’ language to suggest why it’s simply wrong of them to say it’s horrible to alter a body that “there’s nothing wrong with”. If you choose to alter your body to comport better with what you feel is YOU, then there WAS something wrong, until you FIXED it.

    So I got rid of the “fundamentally” and scarequoted “wrong”, and pointed out that I was using their own language.

  5. Silentbob says

    And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
    And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    Matthew 5:29-30

    Jesus must have missed the memo on the evils of self-”mutilation”.

  6. Nepenthe says

    Focusing on genital surgery really erases the vast swath of trans* experience. Relatively few trans people have had it: about 20% of trans women, and 5% of trans men in the US.* But we cis people focus on it because genitals = gender, right?

    *Compare with hormone therapy, which 2/3 of trans women in the 25-44 age bracket have had. Statistics from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which is USian.

  7. says

    Right, exactly, Nepenthe. I’ve noticed people complaining about trans folk only fixate on surgery. It’s the only place they can find purchase, and even then they’re barely coherent or in-line with their own theologies.

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