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A Secular Argument for Transphobia

trinity-150Guest post by Trinity Pixie

Trigger warnings: Abuse, isolation, transphobia, homophobia, racism.

My previous post, Green, which I presented without comment, was actually a piece of creative nonfiction. It was about my family’s response to my transition: taking advantage of my disability to isolate me.

I lived in a place somewhere between rural and suburban. Many houses, few businesses, no public transit. There was a convenience store about a mile and a half away, a grocery store about ten, and in between were a number of people who would likely recognize me from pre-transition – many of whom were happy to attack me previous to transition, without the excuse of queerness thrown in.

I was explicitly not invited to family functions, and forbidden from telling anyone, even my siblings, of my trans status. I had access to medication and health care used as a bargaining chip, was told that I was faking the severity of my disability. I had my own father threaten me with physical harm and make me fear for my life, all the while being told I was the one harming the family.

My parents are atheists. They have used labels like secular humanist to define themselves. They don’t believe in a god, a savior, or a holy book. The reasons, the arguments they would use to defend what they did, how they treated me, are secular. They are also just as valid as any secular arguments against abortion, so why is it that a leader of the secular movement will acknowledge those arguments, but not acknowledge my parents? Aren’t these the type of people you’re trying to attract to the movement?

Why are you comfortable with violations of the rights of cis women, but not with people like my parents? My parents, who vote Republican, choose to give their money to companies like Chick-fil-A, and likely (I’ve admittedly never discussed it with them) are anti-abortion. Who believe slavery should have been a state-by-state issue, and have a secular argument for that. You need to ask yourself: why are you comfortable drawing the line there?


Trinity Pixie is a member of the Secular Woman advisory board.

Comments

  1. Marc Norton says

    Some people need to remove the word “Humanist” from their label. If you aren’t humane to all humans, you aren’t a Humanist. Maybe “Humanist, Unless…” would be more accurate.

  2. jeffreyfalick says

    I’m so sorry for what you are going through. Your parents are not secular humanists. Secular humanism proposes that we can discern what people really believe by their actions, not their words. Their actions belie their humanistic claims.

    The abortion debate is not about being pro- or anti-abortion, of course. It’s about being pro-CHOICE.
    Secular humanism means that each person is autonomous, acting as their own authority, particularly in choices that concern their own bodies. That’s a pretty bold line. On what basis can a secular humanist propose to outlaw abortion? Don’t like abortion? DON’T HAVE ONE. (Interesting how these same people – at least in my culture – are completely pro-circumcision for non-consenting infants).

    As for your situation, transphobia is also 100% contradictory to secular humanistic principles. All the evidence available – and it grows all the time – demonstrates that gender is a highly individual matter and NO ONE has the right to tell someone else who to be or how to be. You get one life and you make it how YOU want to it to be.

    You are an inspiration to many people and, though I have not previously been famiiar with your work, I am going to make it my business to do so now. I wish you and your family great joy and happiness and the strength to keep negativity at bay.

    Humanistic Rabbi Jeffrey L. Falick, http://www.TheAtheistRabbi.com

  3. besomyka says

    You’d think that after arguing with religious people about how they cherry pick bits and pieces of their faith in order to justify the thoughts they *already had*, you might realize that everyone rationalizes their opinions with whatever tools they happen to have on hand.

    No one wants to feel like a bad person, so when we act like little shits, we make up stories and reasons to make ourselves feel better. It’s very, very difficult – and usually painful – to challenge that habit.

    It’s also why arguing with people isn’t always too effective. The reasons that people say they believe things almost never is really why they do, so taking apart the scaffolding that they erected to justify whatever, doesn’t really stop them from building another. The justifications offered are not the important bit.

    Pick a worldview, and there’s a way to justify *anything*. It might be convoluted and unsound, but it’ll be there.

  4. Schlumbumbi says

    The reasons, the arguments they would use to defend what they did, how they treated me, are secular.

    Well, why don’t you tell us what their arguments were ?

    • says

      I’m pretty sure she was aiming to relate a difficult experience in her life that was relevant to current events, not engage in an extended defense of her own existence.

      • Schlumbumbi says

        They are also just as valid as any secular arguments against abortion, so why is it that a leader of the secular movement will acknowledge those arguments, but not acknowledge my parents? Aren’t these the type of people you’re trying to attract to the movement?

        Hm. Looks to me as if she tried to argue a point. It’s hard to comprehend the comparison, if the middle part is missing.

        • Trinity Pixie says

          I think what you are missing is the context. Dave Silverman has acknowledged “secular arguments against abortion” exist but won’t acknowledge secular arguments for other things. He has drawn a line here for some reason. The point is the existence of the arguments, not their content, and seeing as how you can probably imagine this was already a difficult piece to write, I felt delving too deeply was unnecessary.

          • R Na says

            Obviously, Schlumbumbi has the idea that rationality is where all things begin, pros and cons of a viewpoint, are the main topic, whereas, those things come second. On hearing stats like 41 states have laws that allow employers to fire employees just for being who they, attracted to same sex, or to both genders,and for Trans it’s even worse, there’s only compassion for those who suffer such bigtotry and exclusion for..get this, no good reason, There is none, none that makes sense anyway, but there is understanding of others, and caring for them, you, in this case, in their injustice to you, as well as those folks in the 41 states damaged by the misguided laws. The fact that your family treated you as they did, they are deserving of contempt for their position, whatever they want to call themselves, but the sad fact is the suffering they caused you that wasn’t the usual religious persecution source, but those who normally feel for others and are concerned for how life is for them. For David S to not clarify his ‘secular anti-abortion argument’ sounded as though the argument of a secular nature was reasonable and had the same justification as Pro Choice arguments. Your parents, though calling themselves atheists/humanists, clearly they are not of the usual mold of the labels, Atheists I’ve read, some are, and surprising to me, white supremacists and outrioght racists big time.But just as the corporate media like to think they give good arguments by repeating what a Repblican said, and then what a Democrat said, IMHO, one side is more correct than the other, and rarely is that side Republican, so I get what you mean about your parents, they should have loved cared for you, never neglecting you, and been there to help you up when you fall, and they were not, and I am sorry as my childhood was spent as a ward of the state you might say, where it’s expected for the staff to just do their job and loving and caring for the kids, just wasn’t it.
            Society will have really grown when I don’t have to disclose this, I’m a heterosexual man, white, a liberal, bleeding heart at that, and injustice is a far worse enemy than one’s gender, color, sex, though those play into injustice for folks who ill deserve it.
            Is there a ‘reasonable’ secular argument for anti-abortions?David S, ought to have said so, he’s selectively drawing lines, and giving meaning to non meaningful.

  5. Christoph Burschka says

    I don’t want to be all “No *True* Humanist etc.”, but… it’s right there in the word. How could someone treat humans like crap and call themselves “humanist”?

    … just ugh.

  6. Meggamat says

    I admit that I am no expert on the history of your nation, but why would letting slavery be a state by state issue be so bad? If you do it as a federal (I.E all states at once ) decision, then if it goes the wrong way, all of your states would have slavery. If do it state by state, at least some of the states would have had no slaves. It seems to my mind a case of distributed risk vs concentrated risk. Why would the distributed risk be bad in this instance?

    • karmacat says

      Meggamat, you need to do more reading about the US civil war before making that comment if you don’t want to be seen as stupid

    • Trinity Pixie says

      I should make this more clear: He believes letting it be decided state by state is preferable to the actual outcome of the sweeping federal ban. He believes that states rights in cases like this, trump human rights. He’s right wing, big business, trickle down economics. He’s as far to the right as you can get, yet is an atheist. The fact that he is an atheist doesn’t magically make him a good person.

      • Meggamat says

        I see. Yes that does seem like an immoral position to take. Societal values should not trump individual liberties.

  7. lokicleo says

    Thank you for posting this. ‘Why this but not that’ is exactly how I keep feeling, but the way you connected it to your experience with your family is really powerful and direct… Thank you.

    For me, ‘why this but not that’ applies equally to Dave Silverman, Hemant Mehta, and the entire ‘everything is up for debate’ crowd. They say they’re pro-choice, but their words & actions are evidence that they aren’t really bought into it. They are pro-choice only in a vague, hypothetical way. Like anti-choice policies don’t have any real-world impact, like it isn’t happening right now, like it doesn’t really matter. They have an instant gut reaction to anti-gay and anti-vax arguments, but abortion? Eh. Shrug. That’s an interesting thought experiment. Let’s talk about whether you should have that right taken away or not, with the people who are passing laws to do just that. Reminds me of the torturer in Princess Bride trying to engage Westley in the details of his own torture while sucking the life out of him. Westley screams. He says “Interesting.” Its funny because it is absurd to expect a person to calmly and rationally discuss a terrible thing that is happening to them, with the person who is forcing it on them. Too far?

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