Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Depravity Catch-22

Jose answered my request for clarification mentioned a couple of posts ago, and in his explanation included this quote:

"The disfigurement of the human body through piercing and tattooing is depraved activity. The mutilation of the body through dismemberment, castration, etc., to become what one is not, is even more depraved."

The implications of this quote are interesting. What exactly is "disfigurement"? Does this standard include pierced ears and plucked eyebrows, or are those beautifications of the human body? I don't know, and it doesn't make much difference to me where he draws the line, because it does seem pretty clear that Jose is referring to people like me, and that he would include the facial laser and electrolysis that has removed my beard and the hormone therapy that's done such a great job of growing breasts, softening skin, and redistributing body fat. Which makes me a full-blown member of the "pro-death and depravity" culture.

It's when I see things like this that I'm very grateful for NVC. It's pretty easy to guess that Jose has needs for sanctity, predictability, and probably beauty that aren't met when he looks around and sees people getting tattoos and sex-reassignment surgery. What's not to like about those needs? Is there anyone out there who doesn't share them? I know I have them, in spades, though I'd choose to meet them in a different way. So, as I empathize with the needs behind his judgment, I feel not hurt, not angry, but sadness that my own need for being understood isn't met. It's a good, clean sadness, and a small one, because that need is met so thoroughly in so many other ways in my life.

I also find this interesting for the Catch-22 it sets up for me. (Not that I'm embracing it! I'm just fine as I am, thank you.) I didn't start the process of transition out of any desire for depravity – if anything, quite the opposite. Nor do I or anyone I know choose transition for the fun of it, because believe me, it's not fun. We do it for survival. When I reached the point where I simply could not go on as I was, I chose transition because the only other choice I could reasonably make was suicide or psychic anesthesia*. The result has been completely positive in my personal life and primarily positive in my social life. My kids like me better, most of the people I know like me better, I have more friends, the genuinely depraved sexual fantasies that used to torment me are gone, and the list of benefits goes on and on.

So Jose would leave me with no choice except depravity. Suicide, drunkenness, or transition. And I suspect he's not alone. I'm guessing it is this judgment that makes so many Christians despise transpeople.

I have no doubt, though, that he would not recognize this as the choice offered. I'm guessing he'd say there was also the choice to live as a godly man, that prayer and fasting would "cure" me, or something like. That's okay. He can't see my heart, and he has no idea of reality in which I've lived my life. But it's sad, because it prevents him from bearing witness to the beauty and travail that are my life. It's sad because it's a judgment that prevents understanding and withers compassion.

*psychic anesthesia is alcohol and drugs - those things that point the way to oblivion.


Anonymous said...

I see your beauty Seda, and it shines very brightly indeed.

anne said...

Hey girl,

Did he mention circumcision? I had to fight to get Max out of the hospital without getting him circumcised. This is a big deal with the Judeo-Christian community and (in my opinion) one of the most horrifying acts of child brutality on the planet.

If he's pro-circumcision, he's a hypocrite. Also, what about wigs? Or hair dye or make-up? What about clothes? Or cutting the hair or shaving the beard--SLIPPERY slope here.

I don't know why people try to get all crazy about these tangles. It's like trying to understand fetish stuff and why some people like red and others green. The human brain is just too complicated for some rubber stamp morality.

Ah well, this Jose guy is probably into enslaving animals for meat and not letting women decide if they want to get pregnant or not and owning property and ideas.

You're brave to even start the discussion!


David Carrel said...

I wish he would apply that verse from Matthew we talked about Seda. The one about not putting unchristians under the laws of Christians. (Not that what he said are laws of Christians).

Seda said...


He didn't mention circumcision, so, beats me! I agree that it is a very slippery slope, but I think he's basing it on "disfigurement," which is subjective enough that it covers the ground from severe scarring and binding feet to makeup and shaving, depending on your point of view and cultural background. What's interesting to me is the utter confidence with which Jose makes his judgments, though he obviously knows little or nothing about transpeople, at the least.

Yeah, I don't know what his belief on that is. But it does seem like he is applying a standard he accepts for himself across the broad spectrum of humanity.

In any case, I have no problem with his needs, and I'm pretty sure that he's not interested in my own views. I say let him go his way.

Jane Know said...

What is a "culture of death and depravity" to Jose translates to him needing sameness and absolutes in a chaotic, scary world. Religious fanatics or evangelicals often do not allow for the real-life situations that necessitate breaking their arbitrary rules.

What he calls "death and depravity," therefore, you any many others could call life, fulfillment, and happiness. Instad of death and depravity, you are more so undergoing a Renaissance, if you will. I wish you and your family happiness as you continue your transition. :-)

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our