Subject: belief in biology, belief in god
Date: Tue 22 Jun 1999 - 12:49:53 BST
It's the power of the belief that is key here, the deep longing, the
inability to live any other way.
The power of absolute belief that the body is wrong, the aching every night,
the deep and intense prayers that tomorrow, when you wake up, all this will
be fixed, cured, that you will be female, and a girl. The knowledge, which
smashes you in the face, that you will never be able to live as a man, to
love as a man, never.
The power of the flame which burns, calling you to just be one of the girls,
a normative woman, female and perfect. It's a lust, a passion so intense, it
will overwhelm you or destroy you.
The choice: change or die.
This is the "proof" that transsexual women use to prove that they are
"female." The self as thermometer, reading out the "truth" by the intensity
I know the longings, know them well. I may or may not know them as well as a
person who has chosen to transsex their body -- is the difference between
them and me the intensity of the desire or the intensity of my fighting it?
What's the reason that my absolute truth that my desires are most intense
when I see myself as woman/female exist, but I never chose to alter my body?
What of transsexuals who lived in an age before hormones and the crude
surgeries we have today? Clearly, the hegira and others found solutions,
which included the quick sweep of a knife and a matchstick to keep the
urethra open, but none of them could ever be as femaled as we can be, nor,
with the pace of biological intervention, as femaled as we will be able to be
in the future.
This is not the stuff of science. "I believe I am this biological term, one
that is cross-species and specific" isn't how biology works. The
battleground for male and female may be in the courts, but the roots of male
and female are in dissection, medical science, where they examine what they
see and create schema.
This is the stuff of myth, of creation myth: "I was created thusly, and this
is my calling."
Where do we source that myth, that story which explains what we cannot
explain? Do we place it in the God Of Science with DNA and brain structures,
or do we place it in the God Of Creation, with callings, destiny, and a
divine touch? Is that urge in our body or in our soul? Do we obey the
commands of an errant gene or the commands of a masterful creator?
If we want medical intervention, to fix the biological, then we are called to
worship the God Of Science, who defines diseases and disorders and birth
defects. We show an imbalance between brain and body, and medical science,
unable as now to repair our brain, repairs our body. Benjamin's Syndrome
If we want divine intervention, to fix the essence, then we are called to
worship the God of Creation, who defines ways to live a life torn between the
eternal spirit and the ephemeral body. We show a connection between the life
of the body and the life of the spirit, and work to act from the divine spark
in a world which fears the passion of calling.
I love science. I love the crisp, clear outcome of the scientific principle,
of hypothesis and theory, of repeatable results, of classification and shared
I love spirit. I love the moving circle, the connection to the godhead, the
magical ways in which humans are created, the same but different, all with
some life force and possibility that is still beyond our capacity to create
I don't love, however, mixing them up. When myths define science, science
loses -- ask any scientist with a Darwin fish on his car. When science
defines myths, spirit loses -- ask any person hurt by the "science" of
The notion of destroying a common scientific understanding of what sex is by
taking it to such a complex level that it becomes meaningless, seems
destructive to me. Maybe someday we will be able to measure sex: "this being
is 71% gender neutral, with 22 percent of other structures being female-like
and 7% being male-like" but I don't think that's the way things will work.
There are intersexed people, but there are a very small number of them, and
even in transsexual intervention deliberately intersexes some people, sex
does not change in its basic terms,
More troubling to me, though, is the notion of destroying a belief in
creation, in underlying sprit, in the place from which we came and where we
return to. Humans have a rich and powerful history of myths which explain
what we cannot understand except in stories, and cross-culturally,
cross-historically, those myths have come to very common beliefs about the
divinity of creation.
When I feel the call to transgender, to transsex, as we would call them
today, is that exposing the truth that I am "female" and that any biological
definition of female has to include the truth that comes from my deep,
abiding and passionate feelings?
Or when I feel the call to transgender, to transsex, is that my God
whispering in my dreams about who I am, and the way I am liminal, walk
between worlds, am a door?
I don't believe that feeling a calling denies me the possibility of modifying
my body in any way I like. It does, however, deny me the belief that I do
this to be "cured," to become "normative." It challenges me to take
responsibility for my own choices, how I obey the higher power as I see her,
as I hear her.
This notion of choice, not cure, opens the paradigm of transgender from
differential diagnosis to trusting the visions, the roles, the callings of
individuals. It opens the way for people to follow their hearts, for us to
see the individual callings as key.
I believe that the point of transgender is the point of queer: we have to
take every person as an individual, listen to their narrative, respect their
view of the world, trust their own unique calling, their own acorn/daemon,
their own divinity. To me transgender is about trusting that when people say
something, no matter how challenging or off the wall it seems, that is
something which deserves respect. The deeper and more lasting their beliefs
are, the more potent and true they are, too.
I know the potency, depth and intensity of the urge to cross genders, to
cross sex. If a magician offered me a sex change, I would take it in a
heartbeat, but if a doctor toady wants to cure my illness with crude
intervention, I'll pass. If one could get pregnant after surgery, I would
have had it years ago, as my choice.
Is the reason I leave the god of science to be the god of science, accepting
a classic and basic definition of male and female as rooted in reproductive
biology, because I don't "true transsexual desire" which would deliver me the
received knowledge to accept the word of Benjamin as fundamental truth?
Is it because I have no choices of my own to rationalize in a world that sees
the answer "because God told me to, that's why," as the mark of a deranged
Whatever the answer, I believe in and respect the calling of anyone who
chooses to alter their body though drugs and hormones, to female themselves,
and act as functionally female in the world. I don't believe that they are
female, but they are femaled and act as females, and that may be enough.
More than that, I respect the calling of those who have made other choices to
manage, explore and immerse themselves in the whispered voice of God as she
calls out to them to tell them they have a transgendered nature.
Do our beliefs define our biology? Not in my book, though I know that the
power of belief can sway the function of the body.
Do our beliefs define who we are? Amen. They tell us of the spark of
creation deep in someplace which cannot yet be read out of a tissue sample.
They meld experience and essence in a powerful way. They are the stuff of
Theory is great. Theology is great.
I just fear substitutions between the two don't help us in the fight each one
of us faces between tame and wild, body and soul, ephemeral and eternal, fact
and belief, knowledge and wisdom, power and grace.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2a23 : Wed 21 Jul 1999 - 18:23:17 BST