Is God Transgender?

By

whichever

In the 1970s a cousin of mine, Paula Grossman, became one of the first people in America to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. As Paul Monroe Grossman, Cousin Paula had been a beloved music teacher in New Jersey. She was fired after her surgery, and she subsequently lost her lawsuit for wrongful termination based on sex discrimination (though a court did rule that she could receive a disability pension). The story was all over the news back then; I’d like to think it would have ended differently today.

Forty years after the Supreme Court refused to hear Paula’s appeal in 1976, the transgender story is still unfolding. This month, a transgender high school student in Virginia lost the right to use the restroom of his choice when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower court’s order. Still, for the first time it is possible to imagine a ruling from a fully seated Supreme Court to comprehensively outlaw discrimination against transgender people. There is real reason to be hopeful, even if social prejudices don’t disappear overnight.

I’m a rabbi, and so I’m particularly saddened whenever religious arguments are brought in to defend social prejudices — as they often are in the discussion about transgender rights. In fact, the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender. And I do mean highly elastic: In Genesis 3:12, Eve is referred to as “he.” In Genesis 9:21, after the flood, Noah repairs to “her” tent. Genesis 24:16 refers to Rebecca as a “young man.” And Genesis 1:27 refers to Adam as “them.”

Surprising, I know. And there are many other, even more vivid examples: In Esther 2:7, Mordecai is pictured as nursing his niece Esther. In a similar way, in Isaiah 49:23, the future kings of Israel are prophesied to be “nursing kings.”

Why would the Bible do this? These aren’t typos. In the ancient world, well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person. Such a person was considered more “godlike.” In Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, the gods were thought of as gender-fluid, and human beings were considered reflections of the gods. The Israelite ideal of the “nursing king” seems to have been based on a real person: a woman by the name of Hatshepsut who, after the death of her husband, Thutmose II, donned a false beard and ascended the throne to become one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.

The Israelites took the transgender trope from their surrounding cultures and wove it into their own sacred scripture. The four-Hebrew-letter name of God, which scholars refer to as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was probably not pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” as some have guessed. The Israelite priests would have read the letters in reverse as Hu/Hi — in other words, the hidden name of God was Hebrew for “He/She.” Counter to everything we grew up believing, the God of Israel — the God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong — was understood by its earliest worshipers to be a dual-gendered deity.

Scientists now tell us that gender identity, like sexual orientation, exists on a spectrum. Some of us are in greater or lesser alignment with the gender assigned to us at birth. Some of us are in alignment with both, or with neither. For others of us, alignment requires more of a process.

It may come as a surprise that scientists view gender as anything other than a simple binary. But thousands of years ago, as a review of ancient literature makes clear, that truth was known. In court challenges, administrative directives and popular culture, the issue is playing out in real time, before our eyes. But behind the unfolding legal drama lies the reality of human nature: the fact that gender is not, nor has it ever been, a matter of “either/or.”

Gender, as Cousin Paula might have put it, is more like music: Each of us has a key and a range with which we are most comfortable. Attuned to ourselves and to one another, we can find happiness and harmony.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis says it’s ‘terrible‘ that children are taught they can choose their own gender

File under:  What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Pope Francis at the Vatican

By Julie Zauzmer

Speaking to a group of Polish bishops, Pope Francis delivered a harsh critique of teaching children they can choose their gender identity.

“Today, children are taught this at school: that everyone can choose their own sex,” Francis said last week, according to the Catholic Herald and other news organizations that read a Vatican transcript of the closed-door meeting. “God created man and woman; God created the world like this and we are doing the exact opposite.”

Teaching children that they can pick their gender, Francis said, is “terrible.”

DignityUSA, an organization for LGBT Catholics, issued a statement Wednesday saying that Francis’s words on gender identity “put lives at risk,” because they could encourage violence or bullying toward transgender youth in many countries.

“The pope is demonstrating a lamentable and dangerous ignorance of a subject that is literally a matter of life and death to some people,” the organization’s executive director, Marianne Duddy-Burke, said in the statement. “What many, including Pope Francis, do not yet understand is that people do not ‘choose’ their genders. A gender is assigned at birth, and some people discover that they were incorrectly classified. … It is interesting that until recently, the prevailing belief was that people chose their sexual orientation. Now, even the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that there are some people ‘who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex’ and that this is a ‘deep-seated’ reality. It seems that we will have to undergo the same kind of conversion in our thinking about gender.”

Early in his papacy, some in the LGBT community looked to Francis as a source of hope when he said about gay priests, “Who am I to judge?

Since then, however, many have seen their hopes dimmed for change in the Catholic Church’s policies on gender and sexuality. Some thought that Francis’s major paper on family issues, which was completed in April, would offer some movement on gay relationships; it did not.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” the document said instead.

 Complete Article HERE!