Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Open Season on Transgendered People, Please!

Beating up someone in a McDonald's isn't right, in my considered opinion. Even if the victim isn't wearing the 'right' clothes.

On a related topic, I'm not a big fan of 'hate crime' legislation: but since those laws are on the books, I think I understand why prosecutors may bring 'hate crime' charges against some young women in Maryland.

Here's what I'm talking about:

"Love" isn't "Approval"

This may seem off-topic, but it's not. I'll get back to what I think about the possible 'hate crime.'

I've gotten the impression that quite a few folks in America think that "God hates fags." Sorry about the language - but there aren't many decent ways to describe what folks like Fred Phelps preach. (November 8, 2010)

I'm a practicing Catholic, so I'm not allowed to hate anybody. (December 9, 2010)

I'm also commanded to love people. All people. (Matthew 22:36-40)

"Love" needs to be defined in this context, I think. An educational psychology class I took included a personality profile on a continuum of "controlling" to "loving." I tested out as being far over on the "controlling" side. Possibly because I'm not inclined to let someone else get hurt.

Think about it. Is it particularly 'loving' to
  • Let your friend drive drunk?
  • Let your kids eat anything they want?
  • Do nothing while someone you know commits suicide?
That last is not a hypothetical situation for me - and that's another topic. (January 28, 2009)

I think, based on very sketchy information in the news, that the person who was beaten in that Maryland McDonalds was not acting in full compliance with Catholic teachings.

But - and this is a very important point - I also think that beating that person was a very bad thing to do. 'Judgmental' as that may sound.


Contemporary American culture is odd in some ways. Very odd, in my opinion.

Gender, Sex, and America

For example, look at how we use the word, "gender." It's got two main meanings:
  • Gender
    1. "a grammatical category in inflected languages governing the agreement between nouns and pronouns and adjectives; in some languages it is quite arbitrary but in Indo-European languages it is usually based on sex or animateness"
    2. "the properties that distinguish organisms on the basis of their reproductive roles"
    (Princeton's WordNet)
Definition #1 was the one most often used when I was growing up. In the last decade or so, many Americans have started using "gender" when they mean "sex."

Which, in my opinion, is a trifle daft.

A pen, boat, or rock can have "gender," if the language allows it. But, and I think this is important, people have sex, not gender.

I could re-write that, to avoid a double entendre, but - I think you get the point.

Sex, People, and Rules

I indulge in nostalgia now and then: but my memory's too good to let me think the fifties, the sixties, or the age of disco were the 'good old days.' Although I do like some of those over-the-top disco fashions. And that's almost another topic, again.

I converted to Catholicism, and take my faith very seriously. That means that I can't cheat on my wife, kill my kids, or rob a bank. Those would be violations of the Sixth, Fifth, and Tenth Commandments.

There's something to the stereotype that the Catholic Church has rules about everything.

There's even a sort of dress code: including the often-misunderstood (in my opinion) rule about men dressing like men, women dressing like women, and not the other way around. I've discussed that before. (September 26, 2009)

What the Church teaches, as far as I can tell, is not that everybody should dress like folks did in America, back in the 1940s and 1950s.

Nothing wrong with zoot suits or poodle skirts, in my opinion: but 21st-century Minnesota isn't 'Happy Days'-era America, or first-century Israel. The winters are colder here than they were or are in the Holy Land, for starters.

Which gets me to what happened to Chrissy Lee Polis in that Maryland fast-food place.

Genders by the Bushel

I lost count of how many "genders" people were supposed to have - the number kept changing, when political correctness was in bloom. At one point there were over a dozen, as I recall.

I don't know if the fellow in Korea who married his pillow was covered: and that's not quite another topic. (August 7, 2010)

Transgendered People are - - - People

"Gender" comes into play because the person who was beaten in Maryland is what we call transgendered.

Definition time again.
  • Transgendered
    1. "involving a partial or full reversal of gender"
    (Princeton's WordNet)
The news I've read uses the female personal pronoun when referring to Chrissy Lee Polis, or refers to the person as a woman. That's culturally-normative in today's America, and probably enforced by law.

I don't know if Chrissy Lee Polis simply wears women's clothing, or was surgically altered to resemble a woman: but from the label "transgendered woman" and associated descriptions, I gather that Chrissy Lee Polis is, biologically, a male human being.

And that Chrissy Lee Polis has decided to have the outward appearance, at least in part, of a female human being.

Do I:
And I certainly don't think it's right to strike someone for not wearing the right clothes.

As I've said before, I've got the teaching authority of "some guy with a blog." But I think I'm on pretty solid ground here. I've put links to a few authoritative resources under "Background," below.

Related posts:
News and views:
Background (this is not an exhaustive list):
"Catechism" refers to "Catechism of the Catholic Church," second edition. (Latin 1994, 1997; English translation 1994, 1997)


Brigid said...

Missing word: "That last not a hypothetical situation for me"

Wrong word: "I also thing that beating that person"

"I don't know if Chrissy Lee Polis simply wears women's clothing" -- If that were the case, she'd technically be a transvestite, rather than transgendered.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Abbey said...

First of all, one reason I love to read your blog is because you do your homework! Second, you are "reasonable". Not many people these days are such, as I'm sure you are aware. I particularly like your label, "Common Sense". I have to laugh in hindsight of what I've just read. People can be so ... so ... forgive me because the only word I can come up with is "STUPID". Even the most devout Christians are some of the worst to judge others.

I, too, converted to Catholicism. It was the first church I'd attended where I felt I belonged, first, and second, it was all about prayer, sung and spoken, scripture, read and expounded through the Homily. In short, it's Holy and I truly feel the presence of the Lord.

I'm a sinner and I've judged people before, but that is something that I am working very hard to at least NOT speak what I'm thinking, and to sweep away those thoughts as soon as they creep in.

This is a long way of saying "Good Job", "Right On", "You hit the nail on the head", etc.

Abbey ♥

Brian Gill said...


Awww. Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm in the same situation that you describe, in the paragraph starting "I'm a sinner...."

Again, thanks for the encouragement.

Brian Gill said...


Found & fixed: Thanks!

About the transvestite/transgendered thing: At one point it was 'intolerant' to use the word "transvestite." The idea, then, was that the Masses didn't think "transvestite" was a good thing to be, so 'tolerant' folks should use another word.

I suspect that you're right - but have long since stopped trying to keep up with the PC linguistic jitterbug.

In a sense, though, wearing clothing appropriate to the opposite sex is, in a sense "a partial ... reversal of gender." At least in a social and visual sense.

Brian Gill said...


Sorry about this, but I removed your comment. I'll explain, but first here's your comment, in full, apart from the URL:
Osias said...

With the rapid advances in knowledge, several techniques were used to create the vagina; however, Dr. Juta”s technique is one of a kind, “The Scarless Sexchange” wherein there will be no visible scar on the labia majora after the operation. Certainly, he is the only doctor performing a high quality SRS “Scarless Sex change” in Thailand today. With Dr. Juta, you can achieve a successful outcome both in appearance and function, and there are far lesser incidents of complications. The goal of Doctor Juta is to create female sexual organs that look as natural as possible and that allow as much sexual arousal as possible.


Normally, a comment that is promotional copy for a commercial service would simply disappear and be marked as spam.

In this case, however, the comment is relevant to the post.

As a practicing Catholic, I can not approve of sex change operations. Surgery, including reconstructive surgery, is okay. I've discussed the Church, ethics, and Luddites, before:

*Courtney Nash, Organ Transplants, and Bingo"
(August 15, 2011)
*Another Face Transplant: Yes, it's Okay"
(June 11, 2011)
*Modernism, Luddites, Catholicism, and Godzilla"
(April 7, 2011)

I think part of the reason some folks assume the Catholic Church is 'against progress' is that we think ethical principles apply to what people do. Even if the people are doctors or scientists.

That's not even close to believing that doctors and scientists are evil: or that medicine and science are Satanic.

Getting back to sex-change operations, the Church says that people should follow ethical guidelines. Even if we don't feel like it.

By definition, that won't always 'feel good,' but I've found that ethical behavior tends to 'pay off' in the long run.

Where the Catholic Church differs - strongly - from some of Christendom's louder little sects is that we're **commanded** to love everybody. The flip side of that is that we're forbidden to hate **anybody.** No matter what.

Although all Catholics don't seem to have gotten the memo, we're also taught that sex is a good thing. And that, again, a few ethical principles are involved.

Among other things, it's not right for me to dress as if I'm a woman. Nothing wrong with being a woman: but I'm a man. The same rule applies for women dressing like men.

That is emphatically *not* the same as feeling that God wants everybody to dress like middle-class Americans of the 1940s and '50s.

I've been over this sort of thing before.

*"Hippies, Prudes, Catholics, and Sex"
(August 30, 2011)
*"Sex, the Practicing Catholic, and Vatican Roulette"
(June 5, 2010)
*"Are You a Boy, or Are You a Girl?"
(September 26, 2009)
*"The Catholic Church and Homosexuals: Harsh and Soft, Judgmental and Understanding"
(March 13, 2009)

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.