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Wednesday This & That: Open Thread

It’s an open thread! Pleeeeease feel free to chat, blogwhore, and link-share in the comment thread… Emoticon: Autumn Sandeen, snarkily shifting her eyes right-to-left-to-right

Image: Bookworm Bob, the cartoon 'sockpuppet' of Autumn Sandeen'sBecause we’re avid readers of articles, lemme share what my cartoon sockpuppet Bookworm Bob since the last This & That post, which was last Thursday. (“We” missed the weekend This & That diary posting because of my attendance at Christine Daniel’s memorial service, and delayed yesterday’s This & That diary posting until today because of the election in Massachusetts.)

• A little “opposition” viewpointing from WingNutDaily‘s Feds muscle into ‘gay’ teen’s bullying lawsuit; Obama lawyers argue ‘gender stereotypes’ protected in 1964 Civil Rights Act:

The Obama administration has intervened on behalf of an openly homosexual teenager in a bullying lawsuit against his high school – and the Justice Department is claiming a law meant to ban sex discrimination also protects homosexual students from intolerance based on sexual orientation.

Jacob, 14, former student of Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School in the Mohawk Central School District in New York, claims he was teased and endured threats and name-calling by classmates because he dyed his hair blue and pink and wears make-up and nail polish. According to the Justice Department’s Jan. 14 motion to intervene, Jacob “engages in physical expressions that are stereotypically female, e.g., swinging his hips and singing in a high pitched voice.”

The original lawsuit, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, or NYCLU, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in August 2009, states that students told Jacob to “get a sex-change operation because he was so ‘girly.'” The teen claims students destroyed his belongings, threw his clothes in a trash can, tripped him and pushed him down stairs. According to the documents, the school principal promised to look into the harassment, but never told the boy or his father whether he had taken steps to investigate and respond to the incidents.

…”They are making up a legal violation where there hasn’t been one,” [Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity (formerly of the Civil Rights Division under President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush)] said. “If the Civil Rights Division and the Obama administration want to propose that Title IX be amended to include sexual orientation, that’s something they can do and that can be debated in Congress. But Congress has not passed a law that deals with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” …

*Le sigh.*

Des Moines Register‘s Searching their souls: Can church include transgendered?:

It began innocuously enough when the incoming priest at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center at Drake University noticed a piece of paper on a copy machine in the parish office.

On it was a counselor’s authorization of hormone therapy for a transgendered person about to undergo a sex change. On a letterhead that included the center’s name and address.

…The intervention of the bishop, worried about liability for the Diocese of Des Moines. The firing of the transgendered woman who worked part time as parish housekeeper and who, as an independent social worker, used parish offices to provide counseling for transgendered clients. Nearly 100 parishioners organizing separate prayer services instead of going to Mass because they said they sought a welcoming place for all. And angst in a once-tight faith community about how the church should minister to those whose lifestyles aren’t condoned by the church.

Some in the parish believe the Catholic Church must adhere to 2,000 years of teaching because, even in a changing world, what kind of religion is permissive of everything? Others believe the church should welcome everyone because, after all, isn’t that what Jesus did? …

That article above then goes on to speak about how the trans woman (Susan McIntyre) who wrote that surgery letter was hired as a housekeeper, and assumed upon herself the role as a counselor. The broader question — beyond the obviously ethical question of a housekeeper passing herself off as an official, Catholic counselor — leads to this one Joanne Herman’s article:

The London‘s Joanne Herman: Can One Be Transgender and Catholic?:

…What is confusing for me is that most interpretations of the Bible understand Jesus as having been welcoming of all, especially the downtrodden. This was apparently true of the “nearly 100 parishioners [in Des Moines] who organized separate prayer services instead of going to Mass,” in response to Susan’s firing. How is it that His teachings can be used to reject anyone?

Furthermore, we know from the Bible that transgender people existed in history, too. Biologist Joan Roughgarden, in her book Evolution and Christian Faith, points out that Jesus describes three types of eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 who are the people we today call transgender. And she asserts that the apostle Philip’s baptism of the eunuch in Acts 9:27-38 serves as an “explicit instruction to include eunuchs within the church.”

Yet, in spite of the Catholic Church’s pronouncements, there are transgender Catholics like Susan McIntyre in the Des Moines Register story. A few others posted comments to the online article about her. And then there’s my friend Sarah (not her real name). Sarah has two children and is devoutly Catholic. As such, she is very conflicted. If she accepts the Church’s teachings, she is a man, not a woman. And if she’s a man, the fact that she is attracted to men in her new life makes her gay, another status the Catholic Church does not accept. Yet, to my amazement, she remains staunchly Catholic.

What is it that could attract transgender people to stay or to become Catholic? That article says Susan saw so much good in her new faith and felt at home in it, believing the Church’s view of transgender people would improve over time. For her sake, and for the sake of all transgender Catholics, I hope she is right.

I think the assertions found within the third paragraph of this excerpt provides a better answer to the question posed in the fourth paragraph’s first sentence than McIntyre’s answer of believing “the Church’s view of transgender people [will] improve over time.”

It’s easy for me to see how people can identify as themselves transsexual and/or transgender and Christian because there are many open and affirming churches. However, I’m a little clear on how people who identify as transsexual and/or transgender can also identify as Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, or Pentecostal becasue of those churches’ specific belief systems about Christian faith and trans people.

If a independent church or a denomination identifying with Christian faith doesn’t believe in their dogma that folk with your identity exist — or if in their dogma they do believe that people with your identity exist, but also claim your existence is sinful — then I don’t see how you then embrace membership in that independent church or denomination.

A solution that seems to be more reasonable for individual transgender and/or transsexual identifying Christians would seem to be finding a church that embraces scriptures that lead to a theology that recognizes your spiritual existence as trans.

And please, let’s not go deriding all people of faith in the thread comments. We respect identity communities at Pam’s House Blend, including welcoming and affirming identity communities of faith.

Related: Ex-Gay Watch: Can One Be A Transgender Christian?

• Notre Dame’s The Observer has an editorial piece up from their now former editor Kara King, entitled Letter from the Assistant Managing Editor. From the article:

I am writing to apologize for my actions, which led to the inexcusable publication of a “Mobile Party” comic strip on Jan. 13. This strip was offensive and inappropriate beyond measure, and printing it perpetuated a message of intolerance, discrimination and hate.

A miscommunication between another editor and myself led to the comic running without me first reading and approving the material. Regardless, no excuse can justify the comic even being considered for publication, and the duty to censor it fell to me. I failed to do so, and am solely responsible for providing a forum for this message of hate. I was the final one to check the paper that night, and am accountable for all of its content. I regret nothing more than the oversight that led to it and apologize for disgracing the paper with its printing. The comic does not reflect my views or those of The Observer in any way, and I cannot begin to quantify the humiliation in knowing that it is, ultimately, my fault.

To those whom my actions have offended, I’m sorry. I failed as both an editor and member of the Notre Dame community by allowing this strip to print. I cannot take my inaction back, but I can hope that some good will come from this. More than ever, we as a University need to fight against stereotypes and for the equal rights of all who consider our campus and community home. If nothing else, the administration needs to use this instance to acknowledge that discrimination against the LGBT community is a very real problem, and one that should not be tolerated. Adding sexuality to the non-discrimination clause and recognizing student groups who fight for these equal rights is overdue, and excuses for not doing so have been used for too long. This is not a problem that can be solved overnight, but the University can join The Observer in taking the first steps towards remedying it…

You can read the rest of the apology and resignation letter at The Observer on the link above.

In resigning, and apologizing unequivocally, Kara King no doubt saved her chances for a further career — perhaps even in journalism.

• Our Wiener Story Of The Day: Blue Mau Mau‘s Glen Bell, Taco Bell Founder, Passes Away at 86:

Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, passed away on Saturday, January 16. He was 86 years old.

Bell, a fan of Mexican-style food, created the taco and popularized it in America. Taco Bell, the company he is most famous for, is now part of Yum! Brands. Yum! is also the parent company of A&W, KFC, Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut and Wing Street. Yum! Brands itself was spun off from PepsiCo in 1997 as Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc.

Glen was born in 1923 in Lynwood, California. He had a hardscrabble childhood and youth during the Depression years. He joined the Marines in 1943 and was sent to Guadacanal and Guam during WWII and was stationed in China shortly after the War ended. All were locations, where, at the time, the world turned, and history was being made. Glen was a waiter serving top military brass.

…In 1948, he opened his first restaurant, Bell’s Drive-In in San Bernardino, California, beginning by selling hot dogs and hamburgers. To people who know their franchise history even cursorily, the town will likely immediately ring a bell. The McDonald brothers had a hamburger stand there, and Glen and his San Bernardino High School chum, Neal Baker, had closely studied their operation. Neal went on to found his own restaurant, Baker’s…

I believe I’m going to eat a couple of Taco Bell tacos today in honor of how Taco Bell took off the air their “transgender as deceivers” ad, and in honor of Glen Bell.

So anywho…It’s an open thread! What are you thinking about today, or what books or articles have you been reading the past few days? Wanna share?

And again, please feel free to chat, blogwhore, and link-share in the comment thread because…it’s an open thread! Woo-hoo! Emoticon: Dancing happy face character

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Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen