May 18, 2009

"He insisted he would not attend his First Communion... unless he could wear a pretty white dress."

"Their church said absolutely not, so the parents found a new one that let them."

Gender identity disorder in Omaha.

182 comments:

Christy said...

Isn't that a vignette out of a movie where the kid grows up to be a pope with a pretty white dress? Somebody help me with the movie name.

dbp said...

"Advocates for transgender individuals argue that once someone like Ben decides he is a girl, he should be called by his chosen female name and referred to as "she.""

I have decided that I am King of the world. I should be referred to as "your highness"

tim maguire said...

I consider myself pretty open minded on this stuff, but I have a hard time believing that an 8-year-old has a gender identity.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Your Highness : I have decided that I am King of the world. I should be referred to as "your highness"

I suppose they could stick the child in a mental asylum for the rest of her life. Is that what you're advocating ?

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

Maybe this isn't the first case and explains why my church made us boys wear a white gown to receive our First Communion?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

MadisonMan said...

It must be very difficult for the parents. I'm glad they've found a solution that works for them and for their child. Kudos to them for that.

Salamandyr said...

I suppose they could stick the child in a mental asylum for the rest of her life. Is that what you're advocating ?I think what he was advocating was not catering to every immature whim of an 8 year old!

Jason (the commenter) said...

tim maguire : I have a hard time believing that an 8-year-old has a gender identity.

Think about it. Barbie doesn't market to boys and GI Joe doesn't market to girls.

traditionalguy said...

I expect that the parents don't plan to pay for the Sex Change Surgeries comin up soon. That is tragic stuff any way you believe.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Salamandyr : I think what he was advocating was not catering to every immature whim of an 8 year old!

After six years it's hardly a whim. Plus this is the kind of thing that causes some people to kill themselves, so I hardly think it poor parenting on the part of the parents to try to deal with it this way.

MadisonMan said...

I think what he was advocating was not catering to every immature whim of an 8 year old!

Total agreement with Jason. This is good parenting.

Either the kid has gender identity issues or he doesn't. If he does, then treating him this way is humane, and after what seems to be many years of the kid saying the same thing over and over, it doesn't seem like a whim.

If he doesn't really have gender identity issues, how does this harm anyone?

If I were the parent here, and someone commented negatively on what I had done for the best interest of my child -- and made that comment out of ignorance, because there's just no way someone outside the family knows what's going on -- they'd get a big STFU from me. Except I'd be much too polite -- being a midwestern, and all -- to say it that way.

dbp said...

Thanks Salamandyr, that is exactly what I meant.

Besides, I have three daughters and all they wear are jeans and t-shirts.

If I had a son who wanted to dress-up like a girl all the time, I would not let him. He is a boy and will remain so. He isn't very well going to learn how to be a boy if he keeps pretending he is a girl. His parents are setting him up to never adjust to life as it is.

Joan said...

Sometimes, Althouse trolls for trolls. Gender identity versus the Catholic Church? How could she resist this story?

Pogo said...

Ever wonder what happens to all the oral contraceptives women take? They are metabolized, but end up as estrogen in the water supply.

Ever wonder what happens to certain pesticides -like Atrazine- used in farming? They are unmetabolized, and end up as estrogen-like compounds (xenoestrogens) in food and the water supply.

I wonder if this has any effect?

Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs.Endocrine Disruption in Wildlife and Reproductive Cancers in Humans

Ann Althouse said...

@Joan I've got a neutrally presented, fairly evenly balanced problem for discussion. The most trollish thing here is your accusation that I'm trolling for trolls.

Duncan said...

Boy, those parents sure are wimpy to be pushed around by an 8-year old.

It happens that parents have a legal right to define their child's gender ID until age of majority. Just like their education, diet, religion, media ingestion, and everything else. And absent the threat of death there's nothing others can do about it.

I'm glad that progressives are avoiding reproduction, practicing, infanticide, and turning out cripples at such high rates that their future ability to to harm will be reduced.

As Shelly Berman said so many years ago when it was a joke instead of an unfortunate social disorder, "Tell my nephew he's a boy. Now is the time he should learn before he grows up and makes an arbitrary decision."

Lem said...

If he doesn't really have gender identity issues, how does this harm anyone?

I suppose there is nothing “des-communal” (if I may invent a word) in dictating a “communion” differently from everybody else.

Pogo said...

I assume there's gonna be a detesticularization around age 9 or so, or his girlfriends are going to be in for a little surprise.

It's fine for the family to choose to misrepresent his gender, but it's not fine for them to impose this on the rest of the school.

But there's no agenda or anything, so not to worry.

Lem said...

Heehhe

Pogo said the word around.

Peter said...

What's right for the family or the kid or the church is well into the realm of how-would-I-know, as far as I'm concerned.

What I do find it interesting to think about is how differently we perceive the idea of encouraging children to either accept or reject gender roles/stereotypes. Specifically, hasn't it been in fashion to tell girls not to think of their girlhood in terms of pretty dresses and princess fantasies? Yet for some, to tell a boy that is cruel or worse. Hmm.

Jason (the commenter) said...

dbp : If I had a son who wanted to dress-up like a girl all the time, I would not let him.

And be called by a girl's name, and play the way girls do with girl-things, and have a sex change...

I think you just don't understand what is involved. Keeping your kids off of drugs is one thing (God knows parents are good at that), but controlling how they think about their gender? Impossible.

Trooper York said...

The hardest thing in the world is to find compassion in your heart for those so troubled. It is easy to be dogmatic and inflexible. I think the proper thing to do is let the child receive Communion at a Mass without the hoopla and disruption it would cause if he or she was included as a cross dressing third grader in the Communion service. I am sure it would be amusing for you Catholic bashing shitheads but the important thing is that the child receives the body and blood of Christ and that he or she knows that no matter what, Jesus loves him or her and that the power of the Holy Spirit can help find him or her find peace. That is what we all owe this child.

They can sort out the problem later. Let him or her feel Jesus's love. It can help.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Duncan : It happens that parents have a legal right to define their child's gender ID until age of majority. Just like their education, diet, religion, media ingestion, and everything else. And absent the threat of death there's nothing others can do about it.

I can imagine the conversation this kind of thinking might lead to: "While you're alive you'll live by my rules. You want to dress like a girl? Well here's knife, go slit your throat. I'd rather see you dead!"

MadisonMan said...

it's not fine for them to impose this on the rest of the school.

Exactly what, in your opinion, is the this that they imposing on the school?

I would be very surprised, incidentally, if a doctor would do an orchiectomy on a 9-year-old, barring cancer or something like that. But I've been very surprised before.

Trooper York said...

When I was a kid I had a classmate who had Tourettes syndrome. He would shout out the foulest curses all day long. We didn't know about Tourettes in the sixties, we just called him Louie Nerve. Now as you might expect, nobody wanted him shouting out "cocksucker" in the Communion or confirmation services. That would have been even more disruptive than a cross dressing gender confused little boy/girl. But they managed to get him confession, communion and confirmation without the world coming to an end.

Jesus's love is there. We need to share it. Especailly with people who have troubles. It's the right thing to do.

goesh said...

-surely there must have been some back room they could have used so as to not shock the normal kids, the family could have taken formal pictures at their leisure, maybe a blind priest could have been flown in, lots of options went unexplored here...

prairie wind said...

I like the way St. Wenceslaus handled it. If I read it right, they let the parents decide what to do about the little boy, but they asked the family not to make the other children at the school deal with it. If my child were at that school, I would appreciate that. Also, if my children knew about Ben/Katie, I would not allow them to make fun. Some things are just impossible to understand or explain. Common courtesy is always good. The parents seem to be handling it just fine--finding another church where Ben/Katie could make his/her First Communion, and letting Ben decide how he wants to be dressed.

At some point, Katie's little friends will know that she's different; I hope the parents are prepared for that. I hope they also know what to do about dating when Katie is asked out by some nice boy.

ElcubanitoKC said...

I agree with Trooper. The Church could have been more compassionate in this case.
It's funny that this story comes out today after the events at ND this weekend. I suspect many more unflattering stories on the Church will come out soon...

AJ Lynch said...

Why didn't they call Obama and ask him to find some common ground?

Maybe Obama could have suggested all the new communicants wear togas so no one would know the diffrence? Heh. Toga toga toga.

dbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dbp said...

MadisonMan said...
it's not fine for them to impose this on the rest of the school.

Exactly what, in your opinion, is the this that they imposing on the school?

How about which restroom (s)he uses? I certainly wouldn't object, but I know my daughters wouldn't like a boy (however dressed) in their bathroom. I can't say I would blame them either.I would be very surprised, incidentally, if a doctor would do an orchiectomy on a 9-year-old, barring cancer or something like that. But I've been very surprised before.

Why not do the operation right away? They seem to be accepting the kid's wishes and all...

downtownlad said...

The Church is obviously bigoted, but that's fine. It's their right to be.

This kid is lucky to have these parents. And he's lucky to have found a new Church. But I'm sure the Republicans will say that this is not a "real" Church.

Also, I find it amusing that those who want the government to leave them alone, have no problem trying to dictate how this family should raise their child.

Lem said...

I’m calling for a truth commission.
Who wrote the Bush era communion memos?

Synova said...

I think you "compassionate" people are wacked. Frankly.

Because if *clothes* are that important to *identity* then the child has a severe mental issue that ought to be *cured* instead of coddled. A boy acting like this is *not* acting like a girl acts. This isn't how girls behave. Not even the princesses.

And I cringe every time I hear someone say something like "and play the way girls do with girl-things," because how is that anyway? How do "girls" play? And how do "boys" play?

Certainly we understand that even generalities exist in ranges and that stereotypical behaviors over-lap?

Some girls play with girl-things... and some *don't*. Some boys love to play dress-up and "house" with their sisters and some sisters like the dress-up and "house" to be pirates. GI Joe dolls ARE Barbies and some girls and boys like playing with them and some girls and boys don't like playing dolls.

Instead of becoming accepting of differences and instead of seeing people as individuals we've become obsessed with categorizing and ordering every last person and if they don't fit perfectly we either make them fit or start a new category, a new label on a new box to shove them into.

Young children are *obsessed* with figuring out how they fit in the world and then do everything they can to conform to the pattern they identify. Most of them grow out of it. Or they would.

Wasn't there a post a couple days ago about attaching everything under the sun to one's sense of identity?

It's the truth... and it's not healthy to do so.

And it doesn't at all help people to figure out who they really are.

downtownlad said...

There is no rush to do the surgery. While it's ideal to do it prior to puberty if the person truly wants it, the kid has several years before that happens.

Also, there is a movement amongst transgendered to not get surgery at all - and just live as transgendered.

MadisonMan said...

dbp, if the staff can safely accommodate this child's needs, with the okay of his parents, there's really no need for you to worry about it. Or for you to pass your worries onto your kids.

I would say a reasonable suggestion would be for the kid to use either the staff bathroom, or one of the bathrooms attached to individual classrooms. The school at my church has those, and so did my kids' K-2 school. Now wasn't that simple? What are you really worried about?

Or maybe the kid is blessed with my son's iron bladder. He went 11 hours once, on a trip, without peeing.

Pogo said...

"The Church could have been more compassionate in this case."
We don't know they weren't. We have but the mother's side only. Hard to know, though.

I used to live in Omaha. They had hard right and hard left Catholic churches aplenty, so I think they'd have found a place easily enough.

Put me on Trooper's side here.

"there is a movement amongst transgendered to not get surgery at all..."
Pussies.
Or, uh... not.

prairie wind said...

They didn't find a "new Church," DTL. They found another Catholic parish where Ben could make his First Communion in a white dress without everyone in the congregation standing up to gawk at a little boy who dresses funny. That's compassion.

dbp said...

dtl: "Also, I find it amusing that those who want the government to leave them alone, have no problem trying to dictate how this family should raise their child."

Who's dictating? We are offering our opinions on the issue.

I don't think anybody has advocated that the government force the parents to dress their kid like a boy.

Pogo said...

" a reasonable suggestion would be for the kid to use either the staff bathroom, or one of the bathrooms attached to individual classrooms"

Why make him use another restroom?

See where this begins to affect others?

Synova said...

I am not my plumbing... oh, wait! I AM my plumbing! The most important thing about me in the entire world is my plumbing! But it's *wrong* plumbing! Oh no!!! The SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ME IS WRONG!


Sheesh... is it any wonder people are messed up?

tim maguire said...

Hey downtownlad, I'm impressed by how you managed to shoehorn political partisanship into this, but in case you missed it, the commenters here aren't the government. As for the church being bigotted, if by that you mean they have standards that differ from yours, then you're right. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, that's always what you mean by bigotted.

AJ Lynch said...

DTL:

In what bizarro world do you live that they would do transgender surgery on a kid ?

birdie bob said...

Good perspective, Trooper. Thanks.

Synova said...

Used to be that if you were a woman and you were in the military the assumption was that you were a dyke because military wasn't anything that a real female would actually be interested in or suited for.

We've worked so incredibly hard to get past gender stereotyping to view people as individuals with interests, hopes and dreams that are not defined by their sex.

Only we've failed. Because it's even more strict and even more repressive than before. Someone decided, not that gender doesn't matter, but that it's separate from "sex" and does, indeed, define absolutely everything about us. And if you don't FIT then there is something wrong with you.

Trooper York said...

When I was a kid, the pastor in my church would perform funerals for guys in the Mafia. It didn't matter if they died of natural causes like Profaci or they got rubbed out like Bobby Boriello, they had the compassion and forgiveness that Jesus promised us even though some of the higher ups in the church thought it was a a "sin" and a "scandal." These were bad men, murderer's and robbers and sadists.
But in the end they were granted God's grace in the hope that they might find forgiveness and salvation through the prayers of the faithful for mercy on their immortal souls. This child needs mercy. We should leave the politics of gender and liberal/conservative at the door of the church and like the pastor at the church who gave him communion, you should find it in your heart to grant some mercy to a troubled and confused child. His or her road will be hard enough, I think we should show her love and the path to find redemption in peace through her faith which must not abandon her no matter what.

MadisonMan said...

Why make him use another restroom?

Apparently, parents such as dbp get skeeved out on the notion that this poor child might be in the wrong room. A room that is likely all enclosed stalls anyway.

See where this begins to affect others?

Uh, not really. Why should others care when/where this kid is urinating?

Hypothesis: The kids at the school will be much more accepting of this child than some of the kids' parents.

Jen said...

Troll No. 1 checking in.

I really don't see the problem here. He's just getting a head start.

His church should have been thrilled.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. When I was 12 my beloved dog died and my family priest told me that my pup was not going to go to heaven because he didn't have a soul.

I figured that since my dog was morally superior to many of the humans I had met up to that point in my short life I preferred to go wherever my dog was going.

End relationship with church.

Lem said...

Even though I'm not fully sold I find Troopers comment very persuasive.

(for a Yankee fan ;)

Trooper York said...

Five in a row Lem.

Jen said...

Synovia,
That was well said @ 11:08.

Jen said...

I wish Joe Torre was still with our pinstriped boys. . . . .

Maybe the Professor will start a baseball thread.

Lem said...

Must be nice to be out of the cellar.

Trooper York said...

The season's young boys and girls.
Let's see what happens as we get in the hot days of the summer.

Don't hold your breath for a baseball thread. The Professor knows even less about baseball than she does about the Catholic Church.

Jen said...

DO all dogs go to heaven?

I live under a bridge, not in a cellar.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan said...

Ann said: @Joan I've got a neutrally presented, fairly evenly balanced problem for discussion. The most trollish thing here is your accusation that I'm trolling for trolls.

"The Church said absolutely not," is neutrally presented? The fact is, we don't know what the Church said, because their side of the story is not reported. We have no idea what accommodations were offered, if any. This story combines two reliably high-traffic topics, just the sort of thing that draws out the less-than-responsive members of the commentariat.

Boys usually love their genitalia. Ask any preschool or kindergarten teacher. After spending an inordinate amount of time with little guys, I can say the phrase "get your hand out of your pants" in a completely matter-of-fact voice, followed up with, "private parts are for private times," or something like that. It's sad that this child is so disordered. The parents took him to "a shrink," but did they take him to a neurologist or an endocrinologist, first? We don't know that, either.

Trooper York: some of your best work, here. Thank you.

Trooper York said...

DO all dogs go to heaven?"

Sure if they are Catholic. Even Melissa River's has a shot if she converts.

Beth said...

synova, used to be the assumption was that if you were a dyke, there was something wrong with you. Used to be, right?

Trooper York said...

Thanks Joan. But I thought you were a big fan of "Laura Bush's Diary."

Trooper York said...

Only those New Orleans dykes Beth. They always seem to be spouting new holes when they get too wet.

What's up with that?

Synova said...

Why even have girls and boys restrooms at all? Hm?

And the boy's restroom has stalls... no need to stand at the urinal out there in front of everyone.

If it's no problem to use the girl's restroom, why isn't it no problem to use the boy's restroom?

Not that I think it's a problem if he uses the girl's restroom... or wears a dress... or takes communion with the other kids at the church where everyone knows him. And Jen is right about the dog and Trooper is entirely right about what ought to be the concern of the church.

I'm just concerned... you let a kid crawl into a confining little identity box while still a pre-schooler and exactly how is that child ever supposed to figure out how to crawl out of it?

If the restroom doesn't matter then it doesn't matter... but clearly it *does* matter. Profoundly. It shouldn't matter, but it does. But instead of insisting that it is unimportant we act in ways to confirm that it's the most important thing in the whole world.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I'm suprised that anyone who's been around kids wouldn't know that an 8-yr-old has a gender identity.

Toddler girls are drawn to pink and purple. It's not just that those are the colors marketed to them - they're drawn to them.

And gender is a very complex thing. It used to be thought that a person was XX or XY, end of story. Of course there's also XO (Turner's syndrome), XXY (Kleinfelter's syndrome) and other anomalies that you can't see by counting chromosomes.

What matters isn't "seek out the mutants", it's for people to be who they are. None of us is threatened if a person didn't come from either cookie cutter A or cookie cutter B. If that were my kid, he'd get my unconditional love and acceptance.

And I agree totally with Trooper York.

MadisonMan said...

One of the things I really liked about my former church -- back when we lived out east -- was the annual service for pets. I think it helped that the asst rector had a HUGE white loveable monstrosity of a dog.

As to whether dogs go to heaven, I think a priest should just say that heaven is a beautiful place, and can you imagine such a place without your dog? Let the listener draw his or her own conclusion. This tendency to give all the answers in religion is not a road to travel. The beauty of religion is finding your own answers.

Patm said...

This is a VERY poorly written article:

"Their church said absolutely not, so the parents found a new one that let them."

Not a single quote attributed to the first church, no recognition that, although the "bad/intolerant" church that said "no" was Catholic, the "good/tolerant" church that said "yes" was also Catholic.

In fact, there is not a thing about this story that suggests the reporter did anything more than "hear a story" and sit down and bang this crap out. Everyone is so fast to believe this is a true story, because it's in the paper. What about this is checkable, and verifiable?

I could just as easily made something like this up. Girl wants to make communion in a bear suit. Mean church said no, so parents found another church that said yes, because shrinks say species-confusion should be dealt with.

IF the story is true, it worked out for the best.

But why in heaven's name are we assuming anything about it is true when nothing is sourced?

Really, this is very sloppy. I'm surprised Prof. Althouse did not point all this out, herself.

Joan said...

Jen, do you think that studying Catholicism as an adult might yield new perspective for you? What we learn as a child provides a good basis for what we can understand as adults. The problem is, most people stop learning about their religion when they quit going to Sunday school.

Your story reminds me of my older sister's aversion to the color green. When we were little, we went to a Catholic school and had to wear green knee socks and green plaid uniforms. She left that school almost 40 years ago, but she still won't wear green. I don't get it. This kind of thinking represents an entire lifetime of lost opportunity. Of course with my sister it's just more limited clothing options, but with you it's your spiritual life.

Synova said...

"synova, used to be the assumption was that if you were a dyke, there was something wrong with you. Used to be, right?"

Not so much anymore. And the word isn't used so much anymore. And even people who disapprove don't really think that a lesbian has to be manly anymore.

I think real progress has been made changing those stereotypes even if they aren't entirely gone, don't you?

Trooper York said...

Once a year my parish has a ceremony to bless all the animals. The pet owners line up with their dogs and cats and parakeets and gerbils and hamsters and snakes and one year this guy had a huge pot bellied pig. Father would come out and bless them with special prayers for the one's that were ill. It is a tradition that goes back many years.

Yes Titus, the St. Mary's had no problem blessing somebody's hog.

Most of the people who have the most to say about the Church don't have any idea what they are talkin' about.

TRO said...

Eh, sometimes you just get stuck with a weird kid. It happens.

Pogo said...

Dogs go to heaven; of course they do, or what's a heaven for?

But what about horses, Troop?
Won't Matthew Broderick be pissed to be alone throughout eternity?

Jen said...

This is all assuming that he has a "problem."

Many kids play dress up. So what really?

When I was a kid, I wore overalls and dug in the dirt for worms. I also had a kick ass Tonka tractor. I didn't become a farmer.

I'm not convinced that there is a gender identity issue here at all.

Maybe he just thinks dresses are cool. Let him wear whatever he wants.

And if he grows up and still wants to wear dresses, hooray.

No. No. There is a caveat.

It can't be a kilt.

Kilts on straight men with hairy-ass legs. Now THAT I have a problem with. That's just down right offensive.

Trooper York said...

Patm, the one thing about this story that you can be sure of, the reporter made shit up. That's what they do. They lie for a living.

The only thing worse than a journalist is a lawyer.

Pogo said...

"Kilts on straight men"

Especially if it's only a kilt, if ya catch me drift.

Trooper York said...

"But what about horses, Troop?
Won't Matthew Broderick be pissed to be alone throughout eternity?"

Are you kidding me? He's counting on it. I know he calls the Upper East Side Purgatory.

Beth said...

synova, sure, I guess there's less to it, but it's still there. Women who get hit on and don't respond "must be a dyke" - I guess that comforts the loser who can't figure out how to talk to women. Girls who play sports and aren't gay sometimes turn homophobic because others assume they are gay - there's lots of closet space in high school and college women's sports. Lots of paranoia. So, no, it's not gone.

Beth said...

Trooper, we live in St. Francis Assisi parish. My dog pees out front in their monkey grass almost every night. And they have a lovely blessing of the animals once a year.

We're trying to engineer better dykes here in NOLA. I'm all for that.

Patm said...

The article at the Omaha paper is much more informative.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10636013

Seems the first Catholics school DID try to accommodate Ben/Katie, allowing him to use the nurse's restroom, but they were reluctant to introduce him as "Katie" in the middle of First Communion. Not horrible. That school went as far as it could go in understanding, so fine. The next school went further.

It's not quite the "the first school kicked them out, so they found another school" hatefest that the Daily News implies.

I can't believe the Daily News published that poorly written, crabby piece. What a rag. Journalism is in a deplorable state.

Synova said...

And yet, Laura, what if your daughter doesn't like pink? Just because many do doesn't mean that a significant number of young girls don't like pink at all. And some little boys are drawn to the color pink. Some very masculine young men still like the color pink. Some very masculine, even hyper-masculine young gangsters prefer the glitter and "bling". For a while in History the fashionable young man wore ruffles and silk, a wig of long, curly locks, powdered his face and added rouge and a patch. Why are we so convinced that our present conventions about what "language" communicates feminine or masculine are anything but a fad?

Perhaps instead of being confused about gender, the poor child is misplaced in time.

Trooper York said...

It is really really funny that you mention kilts. There was a dude who was wearing a kilt to church this Sunday. As I was kneeling in the pew after Communion I looked up and there was this dude wearing a kilt with a heavy coat over it because it was unseasonably cold Sunday. He was the last guy in line and was sort of looking around to see what the reaction would be for a guy wearing a kilt in a heavily guniea church. I really don't know what that was about but he definitely looked Scottish and he was wearing what looked like the tartan of the "Black Watch." Anyway after Mass the guy was in a little in front of me in line and when Father shook his hand all he did was smile and say "I hope you are staying warm, cause the swine flu is going around to be sure." I don't know if that was the reaction the guy was going for but it was very appropriate.

Jen said...

Trooper:

Have you ever seen the blessing of the animals at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine?

I've never attended, but I hear it is lovely.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I'm just concerned... you let a kid crawl into a confining little identity box while still a pre-schooler and exactly how is that child ever supposed to figure out how to crawl out of it?

Your gender, your sexual orientation, are only confining if they are uncomfortable.

And they are only hard to change if society places a lot of significance on them and stigmatizes nonconformists.

Pogo said...

"Girls who play sports and aren't gay sometimes turn homophobic because others assume they are gay"

Yeah, my sister-in-law had to quit showering after basketball practice and games in college because her teammates kept hitting on her in the locker room.

She's a tough black girl, so it wasn't being shocked or timid, just tired of playing defense everywhere.

Trooper York said...

No Jen but I bet it is great. It is just a lot of fun to see all the animals out on Court St in the middle of a busy week day. You have to see it to believe it.

dbp said...

MadisonMan said...
Why make him use another restroom?

Apparently, parents such as dbp get skeeved out on the notion that this poor child might be in the wrong room. A room that is likely all enclosed stalls anyway.

You entirely misunderstand what I was saying. As I said before--I certainly wouldn't object, but rather am sensitive to the fact that my kids would be bothered by it. How is my concern for my children's feelings any different from the that of Ben/Katie's parents?

prairie wind said...

St. Wenceslaus, the first church the boy attended, is a Catholic church. So is Sacred Heart, the one where he made his First Communion.

The reporter couldn't just make up a story like this. Omaha is a small town and Wenceslaus is a tight parish. I don't know why the parents agreed to a newspaper article and TV interviews. I didn't see the interviews but understand that the little guy's face is not shown but the mom's face IS shown. So much for anonymity. No way to keep this a secret, once you've agreed to go public.

If this boy is just playing at being a girl, now he has no chance at the "phase" being forgotten. If he does have identity problems and ends up living as a woman, he still has no chance of doing it quietly in Omaha. The parents tell the story as if they are trying hard to understand their son--but they aren't trying very hard to understand how going public will affect him. I don't get their motives here.

Jen said...

I know very masculine men who look absolutely stunning in pink oxfords.

In fact, it's a personal preference of mine.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"And yet, Laura, what if your daughter doesn't like pink? "

That is exactly my point.

Most girls like pink. If you have one that doesn't, then let her wear blue or green or whatever she wants. Deviating from the norm in this way doesn't make her not a person and it's not something that has to be controlled or corrected.

Jen said...

My sister attended the blessing at the Cathedral one year.

A woman had her blind white quarterhorse, flowers in mane and tail, blessed.

I wish she would have had a camera.

Trooper York said...

A real man doesn't worry about color all that much. He knows that they are all pink on the inside.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

For Jen:

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered. 'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveler asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading thr ough a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveler gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

W hen they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.
'What do you call this place?' the traveler asked.

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveler said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'

Synova said...

"And they are only hard to change if society places a lot of significance on them and stigmatizes nonconformists."

Well, I think that a whole heck of a lot of significance is being put on them, don't you?

I'm all for doing everything possible not to stigmatize nonconformists, but my feeling is that we've gone overboard and fetishized nonconformity to the extent that it's become conformity again.

Maybe we'd all be better off if children all wore identical little coveralls, all the same, until they were 12. Maybe we'd be far better off if we didn't dress our little boys up in baseball or sailor outfits so they didn't have to feel like that was their identity, and we didn't dress our little girls up like sluts.

prairie wind said...

Because I'd read the Omaha World-Herald article, I assumed that's what Althouse linked to. The Daily News did--as someone else said--make things up. The OWH article is much better, more complete.

Jen said...

That was lovely. Thank you DBQ.

It reminds me of a Hindu myth wherein a great King's place in heaven is determined by his loyalty to a dog.

Yudisthira's Dog

Synova said...

"Deviating from the norm in this way doesn't make her not a person and it's not something that has to be controlled or corrected."

My point, Laura, is that not liking pink does not mean that a little girl has deviated from the gender identity of "girl". It simply means that pink is not her favorite color. If she does not like pink best, but instead likes blue, it does not mean that she is actually a little boy and we should call her a boy name... not even if she also likes playing "cars" and either "Rambo" or "Cowboy's and Indians" instead of diapering a baby-doll.

If a boy likes pink, frills, and sparkles... it doesn't mean that he's not actually a real boy. And while there is no reason at all (and lots of reasons not) to control or *correct* his preferences, why is it necessary to view his preferences as not allowed a boy? Does someone say... yes, it's quite all right for a BOY to like pink and sparkles? Does someone rent some Historical movies or "Highlander" vids with the glamorous outfits, ruffles and multi-colored silks and satins or Duncan in his kilt and say, Hey, look! it's quite all right for a BOY to like those things?

As far as I can tell, they don't.

As far as I can tell, what they do it tell the little boy that because he likes girl-things, he's really a little girl.

Jen said...

DBQ

Yes, yes I know, she is wife to all 5 brothers. etc. etc.
I love the dog part though.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

As to the little child who has gender identity issues: I think that age 8 is a bit young to make an irrevocable choice one way or the other.

I feel for the parents in some ways because this is a difficult time for them. If I were they, I would be second guessing myself all over the place. "Am I doing the right thing by allowing my child to change genders at this age?" "If I don't, will I be causing future psycological pain by denying my child the ability to be what he/she is intended to be?" "Maybe this is just a phase?" "What if this isn't a phase?" and so on.

I have to say that I somewhat agree with those who don't like that the child's gender confusion is going to be forced to be experienced by the rest of the students in the school. Some concepts are just better left alone or dealt with by the parents and not officious shool administrators, when it comes to small children

mcg said...

I've been thinking about this story all morning, and I've wanted to say something intelligent, but I've got nothing---that is, except sadness over what this child is going through and will go through for the rest of his life. And no that's not some veiled attempt to criticize any party involve, it is what it is. I'm tapped.

That's not to say that I can't sign up to what some of the other folks have said though. I especially like Trooper York's focus. And this quote from DTL really stuck out:

Also, there is a movement amongst transgendered to not get surgery at all - and just live as transgendered.

This just strikes me as a good thing for some reason, and I hope this "movement" gains traction.

Ann Althouse said...

Joan: ""The Church said absolutely not," is neutrally presented?"

My post is neutrally presented. I quoted from the article without comment. There is complete room to side with the church or the parents or anywhere else. I'm not saying where.

Lem said...

I find it troubling that in the year 2009, fresh from the election of the first black president, this child prefers to wear a “white” dress instead of a nice evening black dress.

Despite recent gains, we still have a long way to go ;)

Skyler said...

Those are some seriously screwed up parents.

What the boy wears, or what name he goes by is irrelevent. I'm sure the church couldn't really care too much less. The important thing to object to is that the boy is being taught that he is not a boy.

This is disturbing. You cannot change what you are. You can be an effeminate boy, but you're still a boy.

Even people who use surgery to pretend that they're not male are only kidding themselves. They're really just very expensive transvestites.

It's a tragedy that this poor boy is not being helped in a more responsible way.

Penny said...

"The parents tell the story as if they are trying hard to understand their son--but they aren't trying very hard to understand how going public will affect him. I don't get their motives here."

Oprah's producers will have an easier time tracking them down.

Smilin' Jack said...

I am sure it would be amusing for you Catholic bashing shitheads but the important thing is that the child receives the body and blood of Christ and that he or she knows that no matter what, Jesus loves him or her and that the power of the Holy Spirit can help find him or her find peace.

It will be even more amusing to see how the One True Church reacts when this kid decides to become a priest.

Lem said...

There is complete room to side with the church or the parents or anywhere else.

This is the kind of legal opinion that gets people waterboarded ;)

I'm just saying..

Penny said...

""He insisted he would not attend his First Communion... unless he could wear a pretty white dress.""

Kids "insist" on a lot of things. I bet we have our fair share of non-transgendered kids screaming bloody murder about dressing up for this rite too. Sensitive parents will of course find a church where clean jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable first holy communion attire.

Christy said...

The movie was Bruno directed by Shirley McClaine and is exactly on point. Makes me wonder if the kid saw it.

Trooper York said...

Hey Smilin Jack, the priest that performed my marriage ceremony was definitely gay. Father Mychal Judge who was a hero of 911 is generally acknowledged to have been gay. I would venture to say that every Catholic who posts here knows of a priest or a brother or a nun who is gay. As long as they live a celibate priestly life they are "true" priests who are worthy of their vocation and sacred in the eyes of the Lord.

Sometimes they might fall short of their ideals just like heterosexual priests do now and then. They are just imperfect human beings. They need mercy too.

But bash away shithead.

Jen said...

I'm interested in why such tolerant people seem to be devoted members of such an intolerant church.

Pogo said...

I don't think you're "interested" at all, by the phrasing.

Trooper York said...

Jen you really don't know what you are talking about. Maybe you should go to church. Just to see.
You might find some mercy. Just sayn'

howzerdo said...

I go to Mass at two churches, one in the Albany Diocese, one in the New York Diocese. I have no doubt both would have accommodated this child.

The linked story is extremely slanted.

Trooper: agree with your remarks 100%.

Madison Man: "The beauty of religion is finding your own answers." Exactly.

Pogo: Horses go to heaven, too.

Pogo said...

Do horses go to heaven?
Neigh.

TMink said...

Troop wrote: "Jesus's love is there. We need to share it. Especailly with people who have troubles. It's the right thing to do."

Amen.

Trey

Jen said...

The Roman Catholic Church??
Is tolerant???

Jen said...

And I am, actually, very interested.

Jen said...

I could look up the many official stances the Church has on things like homosexuality,
women,
non-human animals

But my actual question is:

Why be a member of such an organization at all? It seems to me that, given the many comments listed above, you have achieved your morality in spite of, not because of, this religious group.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Roman Catholic Church??
Is tolerant???

Just like any organization the Church has rules and beliefs. If you want to belong to the organization, you need to believe and follow the rules. In this respect the Church isn't tolerant of heresy within its own ranks. This is the main reason people are upset with Notre Dame honoring a man who is representative of beliefs that are anathama to the Church's doctrine. However, the Church is tolerant of other beliefs and even of non believers. You don't see the Catholic Church telling Baptists, Mormon etc what they should believe in or how they should be treating their constituents.

Also like Trooper says the Church is tolerant and forgiving of those who have sinned and who have repented. Unlike the venom spewed by DTL the Church IS tolerant and loving of gays. It is the love the sinner but not the sin rule. There are many gay priests and nuns and as long as they don't "sin" they are loved and welcomed.

If a person feels that they can't adhere to the doctrine or that they have an uncontrollable urge to reform the Catholic Church to make it more like Presbyterians or Lutherans, that person is free to find their own way and leave the Church.

Trooper York said...

I only go for the free cookie.

prairie wind said...

That intolerant church would have let Ben make his First Communion there. What they didn't want was to force other families into a discussion with their children about why it is okay for Ben to dress in a white dress--and to call himself by another name--on an occasion when to do so would be seen as disrespectful. (For every other little boy there, it would be considered disrespectful.) Families need to pick and choose the moments when they discuss topics like this, and St. Wenceslaus acted to protect that choice. Some third graders may be ready to understand about Ben's problems with his identity, but others may not.

Smilin' Jack said...

Trooper York said...
Hey Smilin Jack, the priest that performed my marriage ceremony was definitely gay.


But did he wear a pretty white dress?

ak said...

"you have achieved your morality in spite of, not because of, this religious grou"

How would know that? How would you know, in any way, what the church has contributed to someone else's moral understanding and conduct? What an insufferable thing to say.

Almost as insufferable as being proud of the fact that you ditched a religion because once, when you were a kid, one priest once told you something that you didn't like.

Trooper York said...

"But did he wear a pretty white dress?"

It is actually called a surplice but I could see when you could be confused.

You are after all a shithead.

Smilin' Jack said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
However, the Church is tolerant of other beliefs and even of non believers.


The Church used to toast them like marshmallows, until, after many bloody wars, they lost the power to do so. The Church is now "tolerant" in the same sense that Charles Manson is.

mcg said...

Almost as insufferable as being proud of the fact that you ditched a religion because once, when you were a kid, one priest once told you something that you didn't like.

You mean, like how Howard Dean left the Episcopal Church over a disagreement about a bike trail?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Church used to toast them like marshmallows, until, after many bloody wars, they lost the power to do so. The Church is now "tolerant" in the same sense that Charles Manson is.

Some of your ancestors somewhere along the line owned slaves. That is a 100% guarantee whether your ancestors came from China, Europe, Africa or just about anyplace else in the world. Just because you have lost the power to own slaves does that still make you a guilty slave owner? Or does it make you a person and part of a culture that has grown beyond such things?

The Catholic Church along with a whole lot of other religions (think Salem and the witch hunts) put people to the stake and toasted them like marshmallows in the past. SO you think they still hunt witches in Salem? I don't recall the Catholic Church conducting an Auto de Fey recently. Of course......no one expects the Spanish Inquisition or to be audit by the IRS at the instruction of the President of the US...do they?

Joan said...

Ann said, I quoted from the article without comment.

You choose the material you'll use here, and in that choice, you are making a comment. It's up to us to try and figure out what it is you're trying to say.

The article you quoted was far from neutral, as several commenters have pointed out. You could have linked to the far-more-fair Omaha World-Herald article. It's not as pithy but it's also not as blatantly anti-Catholic.

Pogo said...

Not really fair.
The Weird Harold is not widely known.

When I moved there for college, the front page in spring had, instead of some minor disaster in town, the new front line for the Huskers, and their tiny little wives.

Whatta town.

jeff said...

"I'm interested in why such tolerant people seem to be devoted members of such an intolerant church."

More of a cafeteria person yourself then?

Smilin' Jack said...

Or does it make you a person and part of a culture that has grown beyond such things?

People and cultures can grow. An organization that regards itself as infallible cannot.

traditionalguy said...

The Trooper speaks from experience, and I can confirm that in my experience Catholics major in showing Mercy to hurting people.The Catholic Hospitals are wonderful places compared to the rest. But then again, in organized team sports, the Catholic schools seem to try to win harder than the rest. They have such good discipline and mature coaching that it is almost unfair to have to play them. Maybe they want to put the hurt on you so that they can show you mercy. I suspect that they pray before games/matches too. May God continue to bless you and His Church, Trooper.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Thank you Joan. That article from the Omaha Herald was much more interesting and informative.

It seems the reluctance of the Church to allow such a change in name and gender was more about the other children and their sensibilities than anything else.

Trooper York said...

Thanks traditionalguy but I am very blessed already. You see I have often recieved mercy and forgiveness. I just want to extend it to others who are in need. You will find that a lot in the pews of your local Catholic Church. Only a sinner can really understand.

buster said...

I agree that Trooper's comments are righteous and right.

Synova and Jen, I don't think the problem here is that a little boy wants to wear dresses and play with "girl things." That would just be a matter of his adopting an eccentric approach to being a boy; eventually he will either grow out of it or find friends that are comfortable with it.

As I understand the article, the problem is that a little boy wants to be a girl. That is not a matter of eccentric tastes, but a basic confusion about his identity. I say "confusion" because his being a boy is a fact, not an attitude. We should all be understanding and compassionate and kind and generous about it, but our behavior is neither the source of the problem nor the source of the solution.

Jen said...

That really didn't sound like I meant it to. It's nice to be given the benefit of the doubt however. Especially by such tollerant people.

What I mean is: you don't need religion to have morality. The official stance of the RCC is conformity to their teachings otherwise, you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

And of course I'm proud of standing up for my dog and his "soul.". He was beautiful and true. The official representative of the church said he wasn't good enough for that religion. Seems clear to me!

Pogo said...

"Seems clear to me!"

Official representatives are sometimes wrong.

Take out President for example.
Please.

Trooper York said...

The man who told you that is just a man. Although he is an "official representative" he is in fact a individual not the whole. To base your whole spiritual life and development on that incident as you claim is frankly childish and unbelievable. I mean I could believe it about Howard Dean as mcg has reminded us, but I would hope for better from you Jen. You did announce yourself as a troll at the begining of your comments and you seem to obviously be a sock puppet of Professor Olsen, but I would hope you would rexamine this if you are not just stirring the shit for fun. If you are just trolling, no harm no foul. But if this is really true, well it is pretty silly.

howzerdo said...

Jen: Why be a member of such an organization at all? It seems to me that, given the many comments listed above, you have achieved your morality in spite of, not because of, this religious group.

I can't speak for anyone else on this thread. I also cannot list every single reason why I am a Catholic, because that would take 10 pages, but I can tell you about two. First, a spiritual reason: It gives me great joy to attend Mass every Sunday, at either of the two churches I attend. Then, there is a cultural reason: It is an essential part of my identity.

People threw stones at my maternal grandmother's family when they were on their way to church. She lived in an area with very few Irish Catholics. Her parents were tolerant people, though, and when my grandmother grew up, she married a divorced WASP 30 years her senior.

She didn't drive and a lot of the time they did not have a car anyway. There was no Catholic church in their town, since it had been destroyed when NYC built the upstate Reservoir system early in the 1900's. There was Mass in a room over the general store, and my grandmother sent my mother and her two siblings. They didn't do communions or confirmations there, however.

Eventually, my grandfather's nephew, who also married a Catholic, donated a piece of land and raised money to build a church. My maternal grandfather's family was also extremely tolerant.

My father was orphaned as a child, and also never made his communion. My parents went for adult religious instruction and made their first communions in the 1950s.

When my brother died as a child, my mother, in particular, became closer to the church.

I attended the church my mother's cousin had built for us and still go there some weekends. It is a mission church, meaning it is attached to a larger parish. It was targeted to close when the NY Diocese did re-organization a couple of years ago, but in the end, we were spared. We had faith that we would not lose our little church again.

My mother has had a good "yield" among her children; three of the four of us are practicing Catholics, and the brother who isn't has a daughter who will be married married in our church on May 24.

TMink said...

The problem is that leftists do not know the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

They speak of tolerance, but they crave acceptance.

Trey

TitusNippyTucky said...

I am a big fag and I don't even claim the tranny population as a part of my group.

They need to get rid of the GLBT and just make is Fags and Dykes only.

I never have dressed up as a woman. Not even for Halloween.

Caesar Salads are not good for you. If you are thinking that you are eating a Caesar Salad because it has the word Salad in it think again. Caesar Dressing is deadly and the croutons are horrendous.

My first communion picture was adorable. I had a cute little red jacket and white pants on.

My mother goes to Catholic mass every day but she would be what is called a cafeteria catholic. But she is there every day.

TitusNippyTucky said...

I have my dogs blessed every year. I was outside by people with snakes and ostriches and camels getting them blessed. I was like how did you get this animal in to the city?

Croutons are bombs in the salad bar. Never put croutons on your salad.

thank you.

Jen said...

Nope. Not stirring the shit. Genuinely curious.

Again, self deprecating humor seems to have no place here. I was called a troll. I thought that was funny. Early in this thread there were some troll comments. Blah blah.

The real issue is acceptance isn't it? Accept this little boy however he is. Accept me and my devotion to a beloved companion. No one religion has a monopoly on the truth. They almost all claim to be infallable. Word of god and whatnot.

TitusNippyTucky said...

I used to go to a strip club in Providence when I was in school in Boston.

The announcer had Tourette's Syndrome. He owned the place too. He had a microphone in his hand the entire night. The name of the place was "Tramps".

He would try to announce a little bio (like we all cared) about the dancer. In between learning that "Chad" was raised on a farm and loved skateboarding and going to the gym the announcer would yell out a big fuck you cocksucker to the audience. In which the audience cheered.

At the end of the night he would dance to I Am What I Am with a baton in each hand and the dancers voguing around him.

Tramps closed and has been replaced by the new strip club in Providence....Trixx.

TitusNippyTucky said...

I have attended Catholic mass off an on after I left home.


I went to one in Boston and the entire congregation was gay. And another one in NYC that is totally gay. Sometimes they need to cater to the hood they are in. Both those masses were always packed when I attended. I said packed. The nuns were awesome too.

TitusNippyTucky said...

Eating lots of salads make your loaves really black.

I lost 15 pounds in the past two months. I am at my desired weight for my Ptown premeire this weekend.

It will be incredibly competitive. There will be times when I will fail. But I am ready. It's showtime. Wish me luck.

I will never devulge some of the more tonie (is that how it is spelled) dindin's I attend. I am very discreet.

Pogo said...

They almost all claim to be infallable.Neuhaus:
"Forgiveness costs. Whatever the theory of atonement, this is at the heart of it, that forgiveness costs. Any understanding of what makes at-one-ment possible includes a few simple truths. First, like the child, we know that something very bad has happened. Something has gone very wrong with us and with the world of which we are part. The world is not and we are not what we know was meant to be. That is the most indubitable of truths; it is beyond dispute, it weighs with self-evident force upon every mind and heart that have not lost the sensibility that makes us human. The something very bad that has happened takes the form of the long, dreary list of history's horribles, from concentration camps to the tortured deaths of innocent children. And it takes the everyday forms of the habits of compromise, of loves betrayed, of lies excused, of dreams deferred until they die. The indubitable truth is illustrated in ways beyond number, from Auschwitz to the shattered cookie jar on the kitchen floor. Something very bad has happened."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The real issue is acceptance isn't it? Accept this little boy however he is. Accept me and my devotion to a beloved companion.

Jen. I think that Trey summed it up very nicely. The issue is the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

The problem is that leftists do not know the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

They speak of tolerance, but they crave acceptance

The Church (in the case of this poor child) and people as individuals can be tolerant without having to accept. Just as we can be tolerant of the sinner who has repented but we are not obligated to accept the sin. This child has committed no sin, in my humble opinion, and should not be punished, have his religion witheld from him and should be shown every bit of loving help he/she can get. However, the rest of the congregation cannot be forced to accept. Tolerate: yes. Accept: no.

Personally, I like the idea of greeting my pets in the afterlife (assuming I get to Heaven that is.. lol). If innocence and unconditional love are the ticket to Heaven, they surely have a first class seat.

Trooper York said...

"Personally, I like the idea of greeting my pets in the afterlife"

I think that is a lot better than what the Hindu's believe that you come back as a pet in the afterlife.

Trooper York said...

What we can only bash Catholics?

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theo Boehm said...

Smilin' Jack: People and cultures can grow. An organization that regards itself as infallible cannot.

You are quite wrong.

The Church doesn't regard itself as infallible, and it has changed quite a lot over the centuries.

Its teaching about this may be summarized simply that it is a Church of sinners, but not a sinful Church.

There is an old motto I remember from Confirmation classes, which were taking place during Vatican II, in the days when we still used some Latin:

Ecclesia semper reformanda.

Dramatic change was taking place at the time, and this was a pithy way to put it in perspective.

The Church is a living thing, attempting with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to strengthen itself and to grow in Christ. But it always falls short of perfection, because it is made up of fallible human beings, enmeshed as we all are in sin and suffering.

Christ's teachings are in their nature infallible, but human beings and their understandings are far from it. We may be saved through Jesus's love and mercy. The Church is our best human attempt to gather as many as possible to Christ's Table, so that we may partake of that love.

We make a mess of it from time to time, but the Holy Spirit seems eventually to tap us on the collective shoulder and say, "Hey, Stupid!" So, the Church has always stirred itself, and has not, will not, and cannot remain mired in stasis and inaction, which are the inevitable consequences of crude and silly notions of infallibility.

Infallibility belongs to God alone, and the best we can do on our own, as St. Paul says, is to see through a glass darkly.

Revenant said...

I consider myself pretty open minded on this stuff, but I have a hard time believing that an 8-year-old has a gender identity.

Why? I've yet to encounter a two-year-old who couldn't tell boys and girls apart, and identify which group he or she belonged to. And certainly anyone who has spent time around young children knows that boys and girls are different, mentally as well as physically, from an early age.

Smilin' Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smilin' Jack said...

"The Church doesn't regard itself as infallible, and it has changed quite a lot over the centuries."

infallible  /ɪnˈfæləbəl/
–adjective
4. Roman Catholic Church. immune from fallacy or liability to error in expounding matters of faith or morals by virtue of the promise made by Christ to the Church.


This thread now has the sulfurous stench of heresy about it. I depart, lest I be sucked screaming into the flaming maw of Hell with the rest of you.

7:31 PM

Revenant said...

As to whether dogs go to heaven, I think a priest should just say that heaven is a beautiful place, and can you imagine such a place without your dog?

Surely at the gates of heaven an all-compassionate God is not going to say "well, you're walking in on two legs, you can go in. You're walking in on four legs, we can't take you."

Penny said...

For those who want to cast a stone at the church that wouldn't allow Ben to be Katie at his first holy communion, keep in mind that according to that last article, he hasn't officially been diagnosed as transgender.

Minor point? I think not.

Revenant said...

The Church doesn't regard itself as infallible.

Not in all things, but the dogma of papal infallibility holds that the Church, through the Pope, is capable of making infallible pronouncements straight from God.

Of course, some Catholics consider the dogma of infallibility to, itself, be in error. :)

Lem said...

Very well said Theo.

TMink said...

Theo, beautiful writing there pal!

I am a reformed Presbyterian, our motto, The church reformed, always reforming.

But denominations are a plague. My Catholic and Apostolic and Church of Christ and AME and Coptic brother and sisters are just that, my brothers and sisters.

Trey

Smilin' Jack said...

Theo, beautiful writing there pal!

No one writes more seductively than Satan.

But denominations are a plague.

They won't matter in Hell.

Pogo said...

That was unnecessary, SJ.

Nichevo said...

Blogger Dust Bunny Queen said...

For Jen:

I'm shocked! Everybody knows you feed and water the animals first. What, am I wrong?

John Lynch said...

My son has a gender identity and I wasn't the one who formed it. He sleeps with a toy truck, is fascinated with trains, and likes dinosaurs. At 3 he's about as male as can be. Stuffed animals are ignored unless there's no trucks around.

Sooooo, I can sort of buy that a gender identity can go wrong (and I think it is a problem to think of yourself as the opposite gender). I wonder about his upbringing, but maybe there's something to it.

I find transgendered people to be pretty tragic, and I can't imagine anyone wanting to be one who was not already.

On the Catholic stuff, my father in law the deacon explained it pretty well. The Church is an international organization. The American Church would no doubt allow female ordination, probably openly gay priests, and all the stuff the mainline Protestants do. However, all the bishops and cardinals from the southern hemisphere would never go for it.

Of course, mainline Protestant Christianity is dying in America and is dead in Europe, so maybe the Africans and Latin Americans have a point.

Nichevo said...

Surely at the gates of heaven an all-compassionate God is not going to say "well, you're walking in on two legs, you can go in. You're walking in on four legs, we can't take you."

I think that at the gates of heaven, your perspectives will change. Do you think heaven is like the candy-coated Islamic Paradise where you get all the sex drugs and rocknroll you want? That sounds good to arrested developments like Atta, et al.

Is the notion of doggie heaven so hard to understand, anyway?

Nichevo said...

The question is, how long would such people survive in a state of nature?

Jen said...

I think that what I've discovered here is that the idea an individual has of being in a religion is very flexible. Whereas I think that the religion itself is fairly specific as to it's requirements.

A gay relative of mine was cast out from the local church (Wisconsin). Twenty years later, he still considers himself Catholic even though his own Church made it very clear that he was unwelcome.

Dangerous stuff this religion.

Theo Boehm said...

Smilin' Jack: We may be splitting hairs here, but there is a difference between infallibly expounding doctrine based on Christ's promise to the Church, and remaining unchanging and static, which is implied by your statement that an organization that regards itself as infallible cannot grow.

The Church has obviously grown over the centuries, from the Apostles and a small number of followers, to the largest world religion. Many Councils, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have brought about reforms in discipline and doctrine. Consider the Council of Trent, or the dramatic changes in the aftermath of Vatican II.

Yet how can an organization that is thought to be dry, formal, proud, intolerant, and, yes, infallible, grow and influence the lives of billions of people? People may want guidance, but who wants to be led by the nose by something that proclaims its static perfection for all time?

I should really make clear my understanding of what basis the Catholic Church regards itself as infallible and where it does not. My previous remark emphasized too much the doctrinal development and flexibility side of the matter, so here is a fuller explanation, as I understand it. I am no theologian, much less C.S. Lewis, but here goes.

This may be a hard point for some, but the Church regards itself as infallible only in her definitive dogmatic teaching regarding matters of faith and morals. The Church has generally been very careful over the centuries about the core dogma and teachings. There are some particularly Catholic twists and excrescences, but the holy prerogative of the Church, in an unbroken line from Jesus and the Apostles, to expound the teachings of Christ free from error is the very thing that has enabled the Church to grow and bring the love and mercy of Jesus to mankind.

This is difficult theology, but it is important to understanding Catholicism.

One problem is that the Church is said to be free from sin and error, yet is also a Church filled with error-prone sinners. Yet how can it be any different? We have feeble intellects and unsuitable words, but Christianity is not the mere product of natural reason. Once you have been blessed with a measure of belief, it is quite easy to understand that God can transcendentally guide and enlighten men, notwithstanding how imperfect and miserable they may otherwise be.

Even if you accept parts of this supernatural viewpoint, falling back on fallible human reason, asserting only human certainty in matters of faith to prove infallibility, can undermine the very foundations of Christian faith. Moral certainty of God and Christ as the infallible mediator of a Divine Revelation is fine, but no substitute for belief. The experience of God's power and perfection and Jesus's love, and the understanding of the Church's mediating role in this, transcends moral philosophy and logic. The Church ceases to be a mere collection of rather tiresome people, but a transcendent agent, connecting God and man. At this point, the infallibility of God and the Church become indistinguishable, and the believer may be able to comprehend how the community of believers has truly become the Body of Christ. If you have been around a Church enough, and been fortunate enough, you may well have experienced this, both in those brief moments when it seems the Holy Spirit has come upon the congregation, and in those longer-term relationships within the Church. This often seems more than just group solidarity and fellowship, but that's a subject for another theological disquisition.

Another point is that the authority of the Church is more like the law of a modern state than the arbitrary power of a dictator. There has historically been and remains a large margin for theological speculation and enquiry. Even in matters of infallibly expounded doctrine, there is always room for further enquiry, to better understand, explain, defend, and expand them. The only thing not allowed it to deny or change them, just as you cannot break the civil law without consequence. But there has always been a lively and often hotly contested tradition of debate and enquiry in the Catholic Church, which puts the lie to the image of obsequious, hide-bound pedants, so loved by Catholic-bashers.

As I emphasized in my first comment, there is a well-known tradition of doctrinal development and changes in discipline within the Catholic Church. But that doesn't mean that the Church changes her definitive teaching. Time passes, and human science advances, Church teaching is more deeply analyzed, more fully comprehended, and better coordinated and explained in itself and in relation to other branches of knowledge.

Ecclesia semper reformanda.

So, what appears to the opponents of Catholicism as intolerable and arbitrary, is, in reality, an organic part of the Church and a guarantor of the maintenance of the Christian faith.

There is the related issue of the Pope's infallibility, but I think I've gone on enough about the general matter, and will leave the Pope to shift for himself until another time.

traditionalguy said...

Thanks for that comment Theo. I often feel much the same way about the British Protestant offspring from The Catholic Church, which are the Anglican(Episcopal) and the Presbyterian. As long as they had not denied the simple Apostles Creed faith, then they were free to reason and discuss all the rest of the days advanced culture preferences. I congratulate the Catholics for their courage to actually accomplish doing both today, while the Anglicans, and some Presbyterians, today deny they believe the Apostles Creed, thereby rendering themselves boring and powerless post-christians.

Theo Boehm said...

A couple of final thoughts:

First, thanks, traditionalguy. And thank you, Trey, for those nice words about my first comment.

I think so much of the problem here is with the words "infallible" and "infallibility." They have a nasty sound in English that is at variance with what the reality is.

It's clear that the Catholic Church, and I think all Christians worthy of the name, regard the teachings of Jesus as ultimately infallible. The Church also regards the core Christian doctrine as expressed in Scripture and tradition as infallible, and she regards those parts of her teachings necessary for the maintenance and propagation of the Christian faith as infallible.

But the Church as a whole? I was taught not.

There are numerous matters of discipline, the most well-known being priestly celibacy, that are not dogmatic, and could be up for grabs at a future Council, or even changed by the Pope under certain circumstances.

There is also the large question of the Liturgy. Pope Benedict, for example, seems intent on restoring the option for the old Latin post-Tridentine Mass, but that is only part of a very large set of issues, few of which, BTW, have anything to do with infallibility.

I really should put all this in my own blog, but I'm a little afraid that if I really get wound up, I could easily turn into one of those Catholic bloggers, it being the subject that once I get started, I can't shut up about.

Zoe Brain said...

This is going to be a long comment, I'm afraid. I'll try to shorten it and split it so it's not one great indigestible chunk.

Oh God, the Ignorance!

Most of it quite understandable, this isn't taught in schools, it's embarrassing and makes people uncomfortable. There's medics who don't know it (I know, I've lectured to some med students on it), and priests who have no idea what the Vatican's position actually is, as it was sent sub secretum to bishops and above only.

Then there's the occasional pig-ignorant bigotry about "very expensive transvestites" and the like, from people who are both opinionated and completely clueless. The very definition of bigot.

Ok, some other definitions. Pardon me for coming over all arrogant and pedagogical, but the fact is, I *do* know this stuff, and most don't.

"Transgender" - this is an umbrella term, meaning anyone who doesn't fit into the strict "binary gender" model. You know, girls on one side, boys on another, no confusion, everything consistent. It includes those whose gender presentation is a political statement, and those whose biology just doesn't fit the normal definitions exactly. And in some cases, not at all.

"Transsexual" - someone whose documentation and/or appearance looks normal (or normal-ish) for one sex, but who are actually the other. Or mostly the other.

"Intersex" - someone whose body is neither wholly male nor wholly female. This covers hundreds of different medical syndromes, people who are female but have the 46xy chromosomes usually found only in men, or who are male but have the 46xx chromosomes usually only found in women. Or those with 47xxy chromosomes, or whose appearance changes naturally from that of one sex at birth to the other later in life. Or those with ambiguous genitalia or endocrinology, so they fit neither category well.

By the most strict definition, only 59 people in 60 are 100% male or 100% female. But of the 1 in 60 who aren't, it often takes a lab to detect it, it's not apparent. Often such people can't have children, but unless they go to a fertility clinic, neither they nor anyone else knows they're Intersexed. They look normal.

For 1 in 1000 or so though, it's pretty darned obvious. When a little girl starts masculinising, when things that were internal descend, labia fuse, and genitalia changes, that's pretty obvious. That's more common than you think, at least 5,000 men in the US were born looking female.

Getting back to transsexuality - what is it? Basically, a form of Intersex that affects the central nervous system. The sound-byte, which is a gross over-simplification but more accurate than not, is male brain in female body, or female brain in male body.

We now know that typical male brains and typical female brains differ from each other more than we'd ever suspected. That's not just a matter of gross brain size, but goes down to the cellular level, different structures have different types of cells, and for the same structure, boys may use it for one purpose, girls another. Individuals differ though, so it's doubtful if anyone is entirely "typical" in all areas of the brain. It's messy and blurry.

OK, female brain in male body, say. So how does that lead to a female "gender identity"? Good question - all we have is theories there, and the observed fact that it does.

In severe cases, this is obvious at age 3. It's almost always obvious by age 7. This has little to do with sexual orientation by the way, as kids that age don't have a sexuality. They do have a gender though, they know whether they're boys or girls (mostly... some Intersexed kids don't fit in either category, both neurologically and somatically).

Here endeth the first lesson.

Zoe Brain said...

Part Two...

Most people who are "transgendered" have no detectable somatic or neurological anomaly. They neither want nor need any medical intervention. They're neither transsexual nor intersexed.

At the other end of the scale are those kids who were born Intersexed, and who were surgically assigned a gender by medics who didn't like the idea of a kid not fitting into the binary model.

When this is done arbitrarily, usually to female as (as one surgeon infamously said) "it's easier to make a hole than a pole", about 1 in 3 end up transsexual. Usually male brain, female body. Boys can get extremely upset that they were castrated as babies, and surgically altered simply because their willies were deemed not long enough to pass muster. They get even more upset when they're told that to object to this makes them "mentally ill".

You see the same thing with 5ARD and 17BHDD syndromes, where the 46xy kids all look female at birth, but masculinise later. About 1 in 3 (the boys) have their existing transsexuality cured by the natural change. 1 in 3 are able to "go with the flow", they're bigendered. And 1 in 3 (the girls) become transsexual, and without treatment, may suicide.

Kids who meet the psych diagnostic criteria for GID - "Gender Identity Disorder" - are not necessarily transsexual. The majority, 2 in 3, grow up to be merely effeminate gays or butch lesbians. But 1 in 3 are transsexual, and in this case, it's dollars to donuts this girl was lumbered with a male body. Or motly male, about 1 in 10 of transsexual kids have other intersex conditions too, the brain isn't the only part that's cross-gendered compared with the rest of the body.

Most of our knowledge in this area is less than 10 years old. It was 1996 when autopsies of transsexuals showed cross-gendering in the brain, and much of the MRI and other data is even more recent.

By 2003 the "brain-sex" theory was accepted as more likely than not, and now, while not absolutely proven, it's becoming the scientific consensus because other theories are really only un-evidenced conjectures.

See seminar s10 at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting :

S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism

1. Brain Gender Identity Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
2. Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Milton Diamond, Ph.D.
3. Novel Approaches to Endocrine Treatment of Transgender Adolescents and Adults Norman Spack, M.D.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Thanks, Zoe. I've looked at your stuff before. It's really fascinating. I'm sorry for the pain that people sometimes have to go through because they're different, but how boring we would be if we all fit into mold A or mold B.

...

"Blogger Nichevo said...

The question is, how long would such people survive in a state of nature?"

I reckon they'd survive as long as any of us would - until they couldn't find food or water, or until a bear ate them.

Theo Boehm said...

Well, never say the Althouse blog doesn't give you some substance.

I tried a bit in my long-winded comments on the theology of infallibility—that really could have been boiled down to a couple of paragraphs—but what Zoe Brain had to say about neurology and sex may have been long, but it is fascinating. I had a vague idea, but nothing like this information.

Thank you, Zoe Brain.

TMink said...

Zoe, your post coincides with my understanding of the material with one possible exception. Do you hold the binary gender understanding in contempt? 999 of 1000 is an amazingly accurate codification in my book.

Trey

hoyden said...

I survived gender identity disorder while growing up in the late 50's and early 60's.

While in Catholic school I perceived the limits of love and understanding, and didn't believe they extend to me.

I survived by suppressing all feeling. This worked well since in the male role I learned that feelings were irrelevant. What mattered was the anatomy between my legs and how I conducted myself socially given that condition.

Things have changed a lot in the last 40 years, fasure.

Lisa Harney said...

Laura,

I'm sorry for the pain that people sometimes have to go through because they're different,We don't go through pain because we're different. we go through pain because people use that difference to hurt us.

Zoe Brain said...

Trey - it's more like 1 in 60 rather than 1 in 1000. But even 1 in 1000 means there's over 300,000 people in this position in the USA.

I don't hold the "Binary Gender" model in contempt. It's a really good approximation, as good as saying the Earth is Flat.

When going down to the shops, or even driving interstate, you use a map that assumes an Earth that is "flat enough". It's only in exceptional cases, such as very accurate navigation (as in surveying), or navigation over long distances that that approximation doesn't work.

So it is with the binary gender model. For most circumstances it works well enough.

Trying to apply it in all circumstances though as if it's Holy Writ just doesn't work, any more than a platygean model works for intercontinental travel.

My thanks to everyone who found my posts informative. There's rather more on my blog, along with the links to the medical and scientific articles.

I try to retain an impersonal indifference, sticking strictly to the science. I fail every time there's children involved. You know that 50% of transgendered kids self-harm before age 20 if given no support, or worse, "reparative" therapy?

My detachment evaporates when I consider that statistic.

I've dealt with too many blighted lives. I've also seen the wonderful results when the kids are given the support that this girl's getting. I just wish with all my heart that she wasn't in such a small minority!

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm a girl. Believe it or not I don't have to wear a dress to feel like a girl. I'm wearing gym shorts right now, and hey, imagine that, I still feel like a girl.

You can identify as a girl without wearing a dress. These parents are being silly to cater to a boy who says he MUST wear a dress. If you had a little girl, and she insisted on wearing a dress somewhere that you didn't want her to for whatever reason, would you really feel that she would be psychologically harmed by being subjected to other clothing? Give me a break.

Also, the boy's body is what it is. There are lots of ways to hate your body. Funny that gender is the only one where a psychologist would advocate that it's fine to hate it or even have it mutilated to look like something else.

Why are people with transgender identities not counseled to accept their bodies as they are? If you're a really girly man, fine. If you're a really boyish girl, fine. Love yourself for who you are.

(Obviously my comments regarding surgeries are a spinoff of this story. I assume no psychologist is advocating surgery for an 8 year old. I just hate to think of how he's likely to be counseled in the future.)

hoyden said...

I tried resigning myself to the male role; the biology is destiny approach. It didn't work, in spite of my apparent success in life. I was always aware of my unhappiness and I knew why. By age 27 suicide was looking like the better option than living the male role.

After surgery I had an appreciation for my body that I never felt with it's male anatomy.

Surgery fixed exactly one aspect of my life. I spent another 20 years working on the spiritual and psychological healing.

For about ten years I had occasional recurring nightmares that the surgery somehow came undone and the old anatomy was back.

Knowing what I know now I would do it all over again if I had to. Fortunately the surgery is permanent and irreversible.

Hazumu Osaragi said...

TMink said... "Do you hold the binary gender understanding in contempt?"

I feel there is a very good chance that the above is not a true question, but is in fact a statement disguised as a question. Any answer is immaterial, for what it really does is make the statement 'You hold the binary gender understanding in contempt.'

It's similar to the reporter's question, "Is it true you've stopped beating your spouse?"

Please just make the statement in the future. You're entitled to voice any revulsion you may feel towards transgenders under the First Amendment right to Freedom of Expression.

Hazumu

Zoe Brain said...

Freeman Hunt wrote:

Why are people with transgender identities not counseled to accept their bodies as they are?Good Question.

The simple answer is that that was tried for over 60 years, and the patients kept on dying. Most unco-operative of them, I know.

It still is being tried. And the patients of those counselors keep on dying, even though the counselors know that if they just try one more time, it's bound to work. It has to.

Go to PubMed, the online medical database, and you'll see the results.

Counselling has been tried, extensively. Just some of the techniques used - Psychotherapy, Cognitive Thrapy, Neuro-Linguistic Reprograming, Psychotropic drugs of various sorts, Electro-convulsive therapy, Psychoanalysis, "Aversion Therapy" involving painful electric shocks to eyeballs and genitalia - with or without nauseating drugs being administered, "Spirit Release" therapy, lobotomy, leucotomy, Exorcism... yes, they got pretty desperate, and although some showed initial promise, follow-ups showed no "cure" lasted even 5 years. Zero success rate, and even the most intense brainwashing and torture didn't have more than a temporary effect. The more radical brain surgery may have worked, but as the patient was unable to talk or even feed themselves afterwards, that wasn't a great success either. Lesser brain surgery just lowered the IQ and rendered them genderless.

I included the link to the "Exorcism" as most people have some difficulty believing they went that far. The accounts of torture are in PubMed too, just dressed up in more acceptable terms. There's some real Mengele stuff.

As a thought experiment - imagine you had been kidnapped by a traditional "Mad Scientist". He anaesthetises you, and when you're under, gives you a radical hysterectomy, a bilateral mastectomy, temporarily takes your face off and reshapes your browbones, jaw and sinuses to give a nice ruggedly masculine look, and even manages to make a pretty good job of replumbing you urethra and constructing a phallus any man would be proud of. A testosterone implant, and when you wake up, their you are, feeling like a new man, beard and all.

You get rescued... and are then encouraged by another woman not to seek surgical reversal of your ruggedly handsome appearance, but to accept your body as it is.

You still have the same emotions, thoughts and feelings, but with so much testosterone in your system, you can't even cry.

Worse, the mismatch between the female neurology you have and the masculine hormone balance leads to progressive neurological dysfunction. The misery becomes worse over time, not better. You look down at your chest hair, and inside you scream that this is all so terribly wrong, a nightmare you pray you will wake up from.

Now imagine that if you did seek surgical reversal of what was done to you - though you could never get fully restored - then you were treated as suffering from "gender identity disorder", a mental illness meaning a mismatch between your gender identity and your body.

Now this may sound fanciful - but something like it happens to Intersexed children in the USA every day. They get surgically assigned a gender, and at puberty, are given (sometimes completely against their will) hormones in accordance with that assigned gender, and not the gender they know themselves to be.

Zoe Brain said...

How do I know this? I don't mean the science, anyone with a few years to spend researching who has university-grade web access can do at least as well.

I mean, how do I know how it feels?

I straddle the border between Intersexed and Transsexual.

When I was 10, I picked my new name, "Zoe", as it was obvious I wasn't a boy, no matter what I looked like. I didn't particularly want to be a girl, boys got to do more interesting stuff, doctors not nurses, astronauts not typists.

Then I got some biology lessons at school. It was... not a good time. But I tried to make the most of it. To be the best Man any Woman could be, because I looked like a footballer, not a cheerleader.

In 1985, I went to a fertility clinic. They gave me a physical examination, some blood tests, and I was diagnosed as a mildly intersexed male. You see, although I looked male, mostly, there were skeletal and other anomalies, typical of Partial AI syndrome. Women with Complete AI syndrome look utterly female, even if they have the 46xy chromosomes usually found only in males. People with Partial AI syndrome look mostly female, mostly male, or somewhere in between, depending on the degree. Mine was mild.

In 2005, much to everyone's surprise and consternation, I had what can only be described as a female puberty. My appearance changed, radically. This was something of a medical emergency, and after MRI scans, ultrasounds, blood tests, gene tests, the works, my medical team decided that I was most accurately described as a severely intersexed woman. I didn't look remotely male by then, though my reproductive system was a dysfunctional, ambiguous mess.

Surgery fixed that, and for the first time in my life, I had genitalia that looked normal.

You know that thought experiment? I lived for 47 years with that. It was Hellish.

For me, a natural change cured it. Most require medical intervention though.

BTW the legal consequences have been bizarre. The law has enough problems dealing with transsexuals, the Intersexed they try to pretend don't exist.

Eric said...

We take it for granted that boys do not wear dresses, and if they do, it would indicate a possible transgender issue.

Aren't we overlooking the fact that many boys wore dresses (and were dressed like girls) until well into the 20th Century?

http://histclo.com/Style/skirted/Dress/dresswhy.html

http://members.tripod.com/~histclo/dress.html

I don't know what to make of such past practices. Were they just hung up Victorians inflicting unacknowledged transgender issues on their children? Or are we hung up about something that didn't especially bother previous generations?

Again, I don't have the answers.