It’s Inherent

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The frequency and unexpectedness with which being transgendered asserts itself is ever a source of amazement. Regardless of how deeply in background one may seek to keep this inescapable element of one’s nature and how remote from the experience of a given moment it may be, it surprises. We offer the accompanying picture as evidence.

The presentation of a male and a female is taken from a department store advertisement published in a daily newspaper and its intent was, presumably, simply to entice shoppers to purchase the clothing depicted, male readers the manly attire, females the offered swimwear; hardly to elicit thoughts of crossdressing and assumption of a gender other than that with which a reader was born.

Yet, for this casual Sunday news consumer, the latter was exactly its effect, and without warning. Comfortably settled on a sunlit sofa to enjoy a leisurely perusal of the paper prior to engaging in a distinctly masculine afternoon pursuit of automobile repair, Lynn-ness far removed and unsought, I turned the page to be struck by this advertisement. Immediately attention was focused on the depictions of the two gender-differing individuals, and uncontrollably thoughts were of the desire to emulate the female. Why, the question intruded, would one wish to look like the dull, colorless male below rather than the lovely, curvy, enticing female above?

Lynn’s sudden assertion was unpremeditated and thorough, precipitated by a stimulus as common and innocent as a newspaper advertisement. If a transgendered nature is as inherent and ineluctable as this incident implies, suggestions of it being a choice, a curable aberration of behavior, would seem, as those of so constituted are intimately aware, absurd. One is transgendered as one is tall, or swift, or redheaded. It may be hidden, but it is there.

The Bible and Us

 

That the Bible has been enlisted as authority in condemnation of homosexuality is probably something less than a revelation. (Any suspicion that there is in the preceding sentence a pun is justifiable only if one is at least mildly amused.) Bus stop benches have been adorned with reference to Leviticus, Chapter 18, verse 22, which in the King James Bible admonishes: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.”

It may be less well known, however, that Moses, articulating Jehovah’s laws, reserves a comparably virulent denunciation for those of us in one way or another part of the transgender community. Deuteronomy, Chapter 22, verse 5 states: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

Perhaps mellowed with the passage of time, the translators who created the Contemporary English Version of the Bible seem to focus more on deception than on manner of dress: “Women must not pretend to be men, and men must not pretend to be women. The Lord your God is disgusted with people who do that.” One may find it less worrisome to be merely disgusting rather than utterly abominable.

However, we have always taken some comfort from the perspective offered by reading a bit farther on in this chapter of Deuteronomy. Subsequent verses decree that when building a new house, we must, “…make a battlement for thy roof…;” that we must not, “…wear a garment of diverse sorts, as of woolen and linen together.” (Presumably a garment of proper gender assignment); and that we, “… shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.”

If these latter requirements and prohibitions seem amusingly anachronistic, perhaps the damning implications of verse 5 are similarly the legalisms of a particular time and place and even of a particular person; something other than the eternal, inviolable dictates of an omnipotent deity. We may be off the hook.

Certainly we here, writing on this page, are not the first to question whether the Old Testament is, in fact, the inerrant word of God.   Earlier verses of Deuteronomy relate how God instructed the Israelites to do with Og, the King of Bashan and his people, “…as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites….” Obeying God, then, the Israelites, “…utterly destroyed them…the men, women, and children of every city.” This Old Testament Jehovah hardly seems to be the same God one finds in the New Testament teachings of Jesus, and if we suggest that we find ourselves able to discredit and disregard the condemnations of the former, we do not wish it to be inferred that we similarly dismiss deeply held religious beliefs people may embrace from the latter. We do, though, decline to consider ourselves abominable.