God Does Not Love Trans People

He doesn’t love anyone. He’s not there at all.

I’m sorry.

Lately there have been a number of posts circulating throughout the trans blogosphere making statements to the effect that God loves and accepts His transgender children, and that being trans is not necessarily in conflict with being a religious believer, or even a Christian, Muslim or Jew. While I perfectly understand the motivation behind these posts, and why people feel such a strong need for this message, I nonetheless find it very deeply problematic, and kinda sorta feel a bit of a compelling need to address it. See, I honestly believe that religious faith is inherently dangerous and harmful, that we, the queer community, often are especially victimized by it, and especially ought to understand its potential harms, that the danger is an element of the underlying definition of religious faith itself rather than simply particular sects, beliefs or institutions based upon it, and that we are doing ourselves a pretty big disservice in constructing apologetics (or encouraging them) designed to ease the dissonance between our identities and the belief systems we hold dear.

That dissonance is a gift. [Read more...]

“Shut Up, That’s Why” – A Follow-Up

So having a bit more fun with taking things Greta Christina said really, really well and beautifully in regards to atheism, and applying those concepts to things I’ve observed in terms of how other minority groups are treated, like in my Catches Twenty-Two post…

I’ve been thinking for awhile that it would be interesting to talk a bit about how the “Shut Up, That’s Why” non-arguments she once elegantly described being used against atheists also show up in tactics used against other unpopular ideas and movements, like feminism, queer rights, or social justice.

“Shut Up, That’s Why” was right away one of my absolute favourite things Greta had ever written. Given how much I adore her work, and how she has been possibly the single most influential atheist blogger for me, personally, that’s pretty high praise. But in all honesty, the kinds of tactics she was describing I had come across far more frequently in the context of feminism than atheism, and resonated with me on that level more strongly than on the level of being an atheist. Maybe it’s just because I do a generally lousy job of being truly outspoken as an atheist, but still… I always thought it would be interesting to explore that a bit, and talk about how “Shut Up, That’s Why” shows up in other contexts. So this is me doing so. [Read more...]

Coming Out (Fourth And Final Part): Why Coming Out Matters

A closet. A metaphor. Articulating a concept of identity.

If coming out of the closet can sometimes be nothing more than an act of constructing a new false identity so as to further bury the truth of what you’re experiencing, if the closet metaphor only really adequately describes certain particular kinds of queer narratives but is dangerously and indiscriminately applied to all of them, if even when being “properly” used the closet still poses a constructed and particular identity that leaves one just as limited as before, if it dangerously posits a type of human experience defined by behaviour, action, relationships, love and pleasure into a category of person, if it totally fails to describe the actual complexity of articulating our endlessly changing states and degrees of trust and honesty we provide those in our lives, if we can’t possibly reduce this complex, shifting dance of how we present ourselves to a simple “closeted” versus “out” dichotomy, if the responses we receive to the act of “coming out” can terrify us to the extent that it takes us years to once again recover the confidence to confront the truth of ourselves and permanently compromise our ability to trust the love of others… why do we have this metaphor? Why do we continue to use it?

Because it’s still too bloody useful to abandon. [Read more...]

Target Audiences And Playing Nice

There’s been some really interesting discussion in and around FTB lately about the issues of different approaches to blogging and different kinds of target audiences. A lot of this came up in response to our new blogger Libby-Anne (of Love, Joy, Feminism) making a post in which she requested that the FTB natives maintain an extra level of civility when commenting on her blog as she feels the people who will most benefit from her work, and a group she is specifically trying to engage, are those who are still involved in religious and patriarchal communities and beliefs. She feels (and I agree) that if the same take-no-prisoners approach that’s adopted at a blog like Pharyngula were applied at her’s, it would intimidate or drive away most believers, or simply shut down the dialogue and make it impossible to communicate with them. This would be directly detrimental to Libby-Anne’s goals for her work.

I’m completely and totally with Libby-Anne on this. It’s her blog, her house, her rules. If she has certain goals, and needs to set a certain tone in order to pursue those goals, she has every right to ban or moderate commenters who aren’t willing to adapt to that tone. See, one of the main things that bugs me about accommodationists like Chris Stedman is their insistence that there is only ONE possible way to go about atheism… their way. The rest of us, to them, are doing it wrong. I believe our movement is strongest when we recognize the value of multiple approaches, multiple specific goals or priorities, and multiple perspectives. Even if we focus strictly on the micro-issue of attempting to deconvert individual believers, different believers are going to respond best to different kinds of approaches. It’s kind of like how a bio-diverse ecosystem is a whole lot more likely to survive than a homogenous one if there’s a significant change in the environmental conditions.

It’s one of the things I love about Freethought Blogs. We have an extremely diverse set of writers, each coming to this from different angles, with different backgrounds and specializations, different identities, experiences and perspectives, different priorities and interests, different skills and styles and tones, and each doing certain things particularly well in particular ways. It’s like a good, functional Dungeons & Dragons party. You’ve got your fighter, your wizard, your thief and your cleric, each playing different roles… killing goblins, lighting darkened passages, picking locks, and healing the goddamned fighter.

So why am I commenting on this, if this is just one of those little happy things I’m totally cool with? Well, lately things have gotten kind of strange. John Loftus, former FTB blogger, has recently written a number of vague and somewhat nasty (in the JREF Steve Cuno “sea monkey” kind of way) comments over at Camels With Hammers about the “mean-spirited” atheists back here at FTB and has openly threatened to “turn his guns” on such atheists. This is where things stop being cool for me. [Read more...]

MRA Gets Around

So I managed to get two posts done before crashing last night. That’s not bad, right? It’s not the full three, sure, but now I’m freed up to talk about the absolutely batshit rant I woke up to find circulating around the blogowebz. I’m a little behind on this compared to my FTB colleagues, on account of time zones and the human physiological need for sleep and other inconveniences, but I’ll take a go anyway.

Last night TJ Kinkaid, known more popularly as The Amazing Atheist, went on some kind of incredibly vicious tirade on reddit, deliberately trying to provoke a trigger response in a redditor who’d expressed once having been a victim of rape. This was apparently all motivated by his disagreement with the use of trigger warnings on the internet (almost as stupid and useless as NSFW, amirite!?) and how incredibly angry he was that the dogmatic, intolerant feminazis were trying to “control sexuality” and ruining atheism and blah blah blah we’ve heard this all before. Though usually without the same horrifically violent, degrading, hateful exploitation of rape and trauma to “make a point”. Various wonderful rebuttals to his arguments are currently scattered all over the FTB today, so I’d mostly just like to direct you there. I don’t much feel like retreading ground that has already thoroughly been covered. And landscaped. And set up with a little garden.

Instead I’m going to tell you about something kind of spooky. [Read more...]

Is Religion Inherently Dangerous?

My sincere apologies if this post comes across a bit scatter-brained and rushed. I’ve had a rather weird and scary night. One of my roommates fell off the wagon. Hard. He’d almost undoubtedly been on a bit of a crack binge (I’m not joking) and was pacing around the house slamming cupboards, tossing things around, and snarling “Fucking cunt! Fucking goddamn cunt! Cunts and assholes!”… with a few semi-jubilant cries of “I’m back!” thrown in… which later progressed to “Fucking freak! Fucking goddamn freak cunt!”

I did NOT want to take the chance of sticking around to find out whether I was the freak / cunt he was angry about. I have absolutely no idea why, and it’s almost pointless trying to hazard a guess about the motives of someone in that frame of mind. Maybe because I turned him down for sex seven months ago, when he slipped an extremely creepy note under my door?

Saddest part is that this is not by any means the first time I’ve dealt with something like this. I lead a charmed life, don’t I?

Anyway, like I said, I didn’t want to stick around to find out how the episode would play out. Fortunately, there was a Cafe-Sci happening downtown amongst the Vancouver skeptics, where a climate scientist was giving an awesome lecture on massive coral bleaching events. And The Crommunist ended up offering to put me up for the night. I’m posting this from his apartment!

I have very, very awesome friends.

Now, for the article I had intended to write for the morning: [Read more...]

How I Became An Atheist

I’ve been following and enjoying Pharyngula’s “Why I’m An Atheist” posts for the last few months. I think they’re great, and really give a wonderful view into the diverse, personal paths through which we all find ourselves at this position, and have managed to move beyond the comforts and security of religious belief. Many of the stories are inspiring and beautiful, full of courage, intelligence, strength, integrity and all kinds of human virtues.

But to me, the phrase “Why I’m An Atheist” has trouble connecting. For me, it has never been a question of why. I did not choose to become an atheist, or notice something about it that suddenly made it seem more appealing than other spiritual possibilities. And there was no definitive moment at which I “converted”. In short, there was no “why”.

What there was instead was a process. A set of events, thoughts and questions that led me to the point where I was able to proudly identify myself as atheist. For me, the story of my atheism doesn’t answer a question of why, but instead a question of how. [Read more...]

Secular Addiction Recovery Part One: Just A Little Endorphin Deficiency

I seem to have somehow found myself in the business of publicly discussing highly stigmatized aspects of my identity, history and experiences, displaying them on the internet for anyone to see. I reconcile the associated risks and feelings of unease by reminding myself that if everyone were stealth, there would be no one left to speak about us, our lives, to advocate from a position of direct understanding and shared oppression. There would be no one left to demonstrate, through simple, visible being, that we do exist and share this world with the rest of you, and that we are, like anyone, complex, multi-faceted, individual, fallible, struggling, confused, suffering, thinking, hoping, feeling, participating, speaking human beings. Though it can spare an individual a great deal of hassle, cultural invisibility has never done any good for a minority group, collectively.

But so long as I’m doing this, so long as I’m being a voice, presence and advocate, why restrict myself to only one aspect of who I am? Why only one particular stigmatized and hated group to which I belong? Why not go for broke?

The thing is, I’m a recovering heroin addict. [Read more...]

The Jehovah’s Witness In The Rain

Vancouver is a wet place. Wet and gray. And often cold. And dark. And full of owlbears.

Except the owlbears are made up.

Or are they?

In my neighbourhood, there’s a very elderly woman who stands at a corner attempting to distribute Watchtower magazines and other Jehovah’s Witness literature to the passers-by. My neighbourhood is largely Chinese and Filipino, and predominantly Buddhist and Catholic as a result, so she is generally ignored. [Read more...]

Fighting Like With Like: The Homeopathic Approach To Debating Theists

 

Zinnia Jones, a very intelligent, very eloquent and very badass fellow internet atheist and advocate for LGBT rights, has a new video up, “Let’s Stop Appropriating Jesus”, in which she argues against the common tactic, when debating or addressing Christians, to point out that their behaviour (bigotry, cruelty, greed, whatever) is allegedly in contradiction with the actual example of Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CUjI5L3_eQ

[Read more...]