A Critical Mistake in the UU World

The UU World is the official magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the religious organization I belong to. About two years ago, a controversy erupted over the embarrassing fact that despite its stated commitment to racial diversity, the UUA was far too white dominated and people of color were being passed over for positions in it that they were indeed qualified for. When this became too obvious to ignore, it forced President Peter Morales to resign.

Now, two years after that blew over, another problem has emerged: the disrespecting of transgender people by the magazine itself!

It started with this article published in it:

https://www.uuworld.org/articles/after-l-g-b

From a mainstream American point of view, it seems like a progressive article about advocating for the rights and dignity of transgender people. But from the point of view of transgender people themselves, it was a complete FAILURE! Reason: the article was written from a strictly cisgender perspective, which is as pointless as writing an article about blacks only from a white person’s point of view, instead of allowing the blacks to speak for themselves.

https://transuu.org/2019/03/06/putting-the-t-first/

Putting the “T” First: Public Statement on This Week’s UU World Article

Nothing We Do Will Be Perfect. The irony of the cover of the print issue of the spring 2019 UU World has not been lost on the membership of TRUUsT and our greater trans* community.

The UU World’s article titled “After L, G, and B” frames the trans experience by centering a white, heterosexual, cisgender woman’s experience. By doing so, it reduces trans people to objects—something that happens far too often in society and in our UU communities. The use of harmful slurs, the conflation of intersex and trans experience, and a repeated focus on surgery, hormones, and pronouns perpetuates stereotypes around trans experiences that devalues the gifts we have to bring to the world and Unitarian Universalism.

The impact of this article will have long-lasting effects. While the UU World has a vital role in communicating issues of importance to Unitarian Universalists around the world, often representing the leading edge and the best in our UU faith, it is that trust and faith in this magazine which makes this article all the more harmful. Well-meaning people who have no other known relationship to or interaction with trans lives will now believe that these words and actions are acceptable. They are not!

Soon after that was published, the UU World editors themselves admitted their mistake.

https://www.uuworld.org/articles/apology-spring-2019

Our story hurt people

Acknowledging that we have fallen short, UU World is committed to sharing in appropriate and respectful ways the inspiring and powerful stories of trans and gender nonbinary people within our faith community.

Christopher L. Walton | 3/6/2019 | Spring 2019
The “Progress Pride Flag” by Daniel Quasar adds new stripes to acknowledge the push for full inclusion by transgender people (with the white, pink, and light blue stripes) and people of color (with brown and black stripes).

Transgender and gender nonbinary leaders in the Unitarian Universalist movement, along with their allies and other UUs, are expressing alarm and sharing their pain at reading an essay in the Spring 2019 issue of UU World, “After L, G, and B” by contributing editor Kimberly French. I am profoundly saddened and deeply sorry to have caused pain to people who matter to me and whose dignity and worth I had thought we were promoting with the piece. As the magazine’s editor, I was wrong to decide to publish this essay and I apologize for the pain it has caused.

In consultation with the steering committee of TRUUsT (Transgender Religious professional UUs Together, an organization of trans leaders), we are keeping the essay on our website rather than taking it down, but are adding a preface that points to and quotes from this apology. My apology will appear in the original essay’s place in the online Table of Contents.

Many have asked why we published this article. My intent was to model, through a personal essay about one family’s experience, ways for the majority of our readers to engage respectfully with trans and nonbinary people; the impact, however, was to hurt and alienate trans and nonbinary people. I can point to three editorial mistakes: I planned an approach to the important topic of trans and gender nonbinary experiences within Unitarian Universalism without enough input from people who identify as nonbinary or trans. We did not model respectful engagement. Additionally, it was hurtful to put a straight, cisgender person’s experience in the foreground, especially as one of the first major articles in the magazine on this topic. We should have developed another kind of story in such a prominent spot that centered trans and nonbinary voices. Finally, when we reached out to Alex Kapitan, a leader in the trans and gender nonbinary community, while researching the story and ze urged us against the approach I had picked, I erred in failing to grasp the important cautions ze offered: a story told from a cisgender perspective would cause harm. I believed, falsely, that we could address the concerns within the framework of the story I had commissioned. It was a mistake to disregard this caution, and I apologize.

Several readers have also pointed to specific language in the article that is painful if not traumatic to encounter in the magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association. These include a reference to jokes at a high school in the 1970s that involved a homophobic slur, a reference to “so-called corrective surgery,” and alarming statistics about violence against transgender people that one colleague told me felt “grim without hope.” As editors, we did not have enough experience with trans issues to notice the microaggressions throughout the essay that our trans readers are calling to our attention. These specific editorial choices added pain to injury, and for that I apologize.

If you can’t hire an actual transgender person to write about their own experiences, don’t bother with the topic at all. Seriously!

I can say that with conviction because the UU World already had a great article about the transgender experience back in 2017. It didn’t need that bogus article that came out with the current issue!

https://www.uuworld.org/articles/emptying-my-shoe

People are far more comfortable allowing the messy business of a gender transition if it is presented by storytellers as a foregone conclusion from the start.

But reality is nowhere near that neat. I spent the first fifty years of my life with no earthly clue I might be transgender. An observer might have found my teenage preference for female friends unusual, but I did not. Teenage gender norms and those of the liberated era in which I was raised allowed anyone to be friends with anyone else, and I put together a rich social life.

Things changed after graduation. People began pairing off, and social overtures toward single women were generally interpreted as romantic. Finding friendship among females became more challenging. However, I made the best of my opportunities, getting married and raising two children. I was mildly uncomfortable with my role as husband and father, but since I had never really felt like I fit in anywhere, that seemed unsurprising and certainly not an indication of anything unusual about my relationship with gender.

As a married man, I found that developing friendships with women was nearly impossible. I couldn’t come up with any way of approaching women socially without looking like I was interested in an affair. Luckily, my wife and I were great friends, keeping the loneliness of my married years partially at bay. I had family and career to keep me busy, so it was not until age fifty that I turned my focus toward the gaping holes in my social life.

<snip>

My wife supported my explorations until the clues began to suggest I might be transgender. “If you transitioned, I’d probably leave you,” she told me one night, and I did not object. I certainly would have been upset to find myself suddenly married to a man, and I understood why remaining in a marriage with a woman would not be her choice.

So I was cautious. I tested the waters, first presenting as a woman in public and then joining a transgender-friendly women’s reading group. A realization took shape: I was far more comfortable as my female self. Female social interactions seemed “right” in a way that male interactions never had. I began to see my female life as the “real me,” while the prospect of spending the rest of my days as a male looked unbearably dreary. I was conscious of a part of my being that demanded I be true to it by living as a female. I could no more change it through an effort of will than I could my height or eye color.

However, many whom I took into my confidence urged me to save my marriage by remaining in my male life and avoiding disrupting my family. I had survived a half-century as a male, surely I could survive the rest of the way.

After much soul searching, I still couldn’t agree. Imagine you are on a long hike, feet throbbing with discomfort. You soldier on, because everyone on the hike is complaining. But then you all take a break, and you find that your shoe is full of pebbles, while everyone else’s shoes are clear. You realize that, though no one’s feet feel fine, it’s been far worse for you than for others. A simple solution exists—remove your shoe and empty out the pebbles.

What would you say to those who remind you that you’ve hiked this far, surely you could hike just a little farther? That the hike is more than half done, and you’d inconvenience everyone else, who would have to wait for you to untie your shoe and then lace it back up again? What would you do? Would you just finish the hike, knowing that every step will hurt, or would you beg their indulgence while you emptied your shoe?

In the end, I reluctantly and with much trepidation decided that, while I wished I could have remained as I was for the sake of my marriage, it was asking too much of me to insist that I spend the rest of my life pretending I was someone I’m not. I needed to change, and if my wife left me because of it, I couldn’t control that and shouldn’t try.

That decision shattered our marriage. After months of vitriolic wrangling we decided she would buy my half of the house. My daughter, then a junior in high school, remained living with her. I moved into my own place, my wife furious that I’d chosen transition over her. My son was away at college by then, so for the first time since getting married I was living alone.

<snip>

Fast-forward to the present, and nearly every friend I have I met at UUCC. I never miss a chance to hear Getty preach if I can help it, and I look forward all week to the lazy lunches after services, discussing the sermon, current events, and what’s going on in our lives, or just kicking back and enjoying our food. I teach religious education classes every week, have helped lead services, and have participated in reflection groups, fun feasts, game nights, and other events too numerous to name. When I had gender-confirming surgery, I came out as transgender to the entire congregation during the sharing of joys and sorrows. I spoke of my excitement and fear, and I was met by an outpouring of support and a promise from a lay member of the Pastoral Care Committee to call me frequently during my recovery period. 

As I write this, I have just returned from three days at a spiritual center after participating in the annual UUCC women’s retreat. During one of the fascinating workshops there, it occurred to me how amazing it was to bask in the love and support that warmed that all-female space. And how unremarkable it felt that no one had ever questioned whether, as a transgender woman, I belonged there. The subject simply hadn’t come up.

I can’t imagine where I’d be had I not found UUCC. My life would certainly lack much of its richness. The dark, lonely period after my separation now seems a distant memory.

That is what we should have stuck with, and it will always be what we need, now and forever.

UPDATE: I found this comic that spells out the problem with that first UU World Article I linked to, but refused to copy any part of here:Image may contain: text

Bigotry Against a Muslim Member of Congress

Read this disturbing story.

https://start.att.net/news/read/category/news/article/cnn-house_democrats_to_bring_resolution_condemning_ant-cnn2

House Democrats to bring resolution condemning anti-Semitism to the floor Wednesday

House Democratic leaders will bring to the floor Wednesday a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, a senior Democratic aide tells CNN, following outrage over comments made by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar last week that insinuated pro-Israel groups are pushing “allegiance to a foreign country.”

This will be the second time this year the House votes on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Last month, Republicans were able to get similar language added to a resolution after Omar linked US support for Israel to money and lobbying.

The latest resolution was worked on over the weekend by staff from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel of New York and House Ethics Committee Ted Deutch of Florida. The text is still not final, per the aide.

At a Washington bookstore event last Thursday, Omar argued that critics labeling her as an anti-Semite looked to silence a necessary conversation.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” said the Minnesota Democrat, according to The New York Times.

In a fiery statement Friday night, Engel called on Omar, who is a member of his committee, to apologize and to her to task for yet another controversial comment over the political influence of pro-Israel groups on politicians.

“I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the US-Israel relationship,” Engel said in the statement. “We all take the same oath. Worse, Representative Omar’s comments leveled that charge by invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur.”

Omar’s office did not respond directly to a request for comment on Engel’s statement, though she tweeted about the issue several times this weekend, including responding to fellow Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, who called on her to retract her comments.

“Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!” Omar tweeted.

Omar has previously apologized after she faced backlash for tweets condemned by both sides of the aisle as anti-Semitic, after suggesting Republican support of Israel is fueled by donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent pro-Israel group.

The parts of the article in red are the ones that concern me most.

First, the other members of Congress seem to be questioning the loyalty of this MUSLIM because she does not follow the pro-Israel line. But since she is neither Jewish nor Christian, it is actually an insult to her religion to demand she support a Jewish state.

Second, she clearly told the truth about Israel and its warped relationship to the United States. If she lied, her critics should be able to prove it with evidence and reasoned argument, neither of  which they presented.

Third, demanding she apologize for telling the truth is a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech.

Fourth, and most damning of all……why is PRO-Jewish bigotry more acceptable to Americans than anti-Semitism? Either oppose all manifestations of bigotry, or admit you are a bigoted hypocrite.

Stay strong, Rep. Omar. Someday the rest of Congress will have to admit you were right.

The Foundational Lie at the Center of all Conservative Politics

One of the biggest problems with our modern society is the limited vision far too many people seem to have and their unwillingness to look beyond that vision and outside their comfort zone to see all of reality and what it involves.
For example, the average white person in the USA rarely deals with black people on a personal level and thus has no idea of how racism affects blacks on a frequent basis. Because their dealings with police are usually pleasant or at least respectful, they assume that blacks are treated the same way by police. So when they hear of cops shooting unarmed blacks, they assume that the black suspect must have provolked the cop in some way. But even if that were true, being defiant towards a cop should not merit the death penalty, so the excusing of the killings is racist on its face.
Let me emphasize one important point about those in the media who defend the political status quo and those who are privledged because of that status quo; they are ALL liars. Because those in power want to feel comfortable about their power, these media thugs rush to tell their followers what they already assume to be true, thus the followers express confirmation bias rather than looking for objective truth to take all the facts into account.
Rush Limbaugh is a liar.
Ann Coulter is a liar.
Bill O’Reilly is a liar.
Shawn Hannity is a liar.
Michael Savage is a liar.
Dinesh D’Souza is a liar.
I could go on with dozens more names of media personalities as well as hundreds of names of officials in our various federal, state, and local governments, but you get the point, right?
And what are all these different conservatives lying about? One basic concept, which can be summed up as follows.
“There is no need to reform or improve society, what we have right now (or had in the past at some point) is what we should have forever in the future, because change will be too painful for us to endure.”
Doesn’t that sound like self-serving cowardice to you?
In the 1960s, there was a tremendous struggle over civil rights for blacks in America, especially in the south where they were kept in dire poverty and even denied voting rights in most cases, as well as cut off from the same opportunities whites enjoyed. The U S Supreme Court ruled against these racist institutions and forced most of them to change. Afterwards, most whites across America thought the racial problems had been solved. But the white supremacists, while they were down, were certainly not our and they began to strike back.
Indeed, I have come to believe that the Religious Right of the 1980s and the Tea Party that rose up in response to Barack Obama becoming President were both scams that enabled white supremacists to sneak into and take over the Republican Party and then through that to grab control of the entire political apparatus of the United States federal government, not merely taking back control of the southern states. And with Donald Trump they have finally succeeded.
Why is conservatism so harmful to society? Because human nature is corrupt and abusive. When people allow themselves to act according to their default biological programming, the result is always tribalism, the placing of members of your own group above outsiders instead of promoting equal justice for everyone.
Ironically, Christianity, which most American conservatives claim to believe in, teaches this very thing, that we are all sinners who can’t be trusted to control ourselves without guidance from above. However, it is clear that even authorities in conservative forms of Christianity can’t always be trusted; they promote religious bigotry rooted in the past instead of ethical standards that fit the real needs of real people in this present age (ironic, considering that Christianity itself started as a rebellion against Jewish legalism). That’s what secular humanism does. And democracy is a humanist ideal.
Whenever people believe, for any reason, that society is good enough and needs no improvement, they actually open the door for society to become corrupt and abusive later; the only sure way to protect the people is to constantly look for ways and means to improve society. I am therefore a champion of “perpetual revolution”; the American Revolution of the 18th Century was only the beginning of reforms and progress and should never end as long as we have viable societies of any kind. There should be NO place whatsoever for Conservatism in American politics, period. To be consistent, the aforementioned conservatives in the media should be bowing down to the British government that Americans rebelled against in 1776, but they don’t because they are hypocrites.

Sinéad O’Connor goes off the deep end

I’ve written about Sinéad O’Connor before:
https://dalehusband.com/2010/03/27/sinead-oconnor-was-both-wrong-and-right/

And I’ve also written about the Irish and the abuse they have suffered from the Catholic Church:

https://dalehusband.com/2011/01/20/the-irish-people-must-abandon-catholicism/

So it does not surprise me that she would finally reject any allegiance to Catholicism, just I would have urged her to do. But I never expected this:

Sinéad O’Connor Says She Never Wants to ‘Spend Time with White People Again’

Sinéad O’Connor is taking her commitment to her new religion one step further.

The 51-year-old “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer, who now goes by the name Shuhada Davitt, shared in a series of tweets early Tuesday that, a few weeks after officially converting to Islam, she wants to avoid everyone who does not share her spiritual beliefs.

In the first message, she wrote, “I’m terribly sorry. What I’m about to say is something so racist I never thought my soul could ever feel it. But truly I never wanna spend time with white people again (if that’s what non-muslims are called). Not for one moment, for any reason. They are disgusting.”

If her spiritual orientation is indeed Islamic, by all means she should embrace it. But this sounds like bigotry against non-Muslims. How can you promote the virtues of Islam except by interacting with non-Muslims to show them how good the religion is for you?

Then, O’Connor called into question the social platform’s policy about blocking hateful content. “Interesting to see if Twitter bans this when it allows people like Trump and Milbank spew the satanic filth upon even my country,” she said.

The musician also addressed the role of violence in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. O’Connor is a known critic of the Catholic church.

“BTW if one IS an intelligent theologian and has taken the journey, one would know there is no more talk of ancient violence in the Q’ran as the Tanukh, the Bible or The sodding Mahabarata. And its ALL EQUALLY [IRRELEVANT] TO OUR TIMES,” she mused, adding in a follow-up tweet, “Everyone says the Poor Americans are the victim of Trump. But you hired him. So fire him. Otherwise you’re complicit. It is the same with all so called Islamic Terrorism. Which is exactly what the devil wants and loves.”

If the violent stories in the Quran are indeed irrelevant to our times, why would anyone assume that the dogmas and rituals associated with Islam are relevant to this present day? Does simple logic not occur to her?

Tying in her own Irish culture, the singer continued, “No Irish person on earth would disagree. We didn’t fire the church. We let them please themselves in our children right under our noses and there is no recompense. No balm in gilliad for Irish human beings under ‘[civilization].’ “

To conclude, O’Connor acknowledged the bizarreness of the rant: “Final word. If its ‘Crazy’ to care. Then by all means, spank my ass and call me Fruity loops : )”

It is never crazy to care, but remember when you tore up that photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live and the fallout resulting from that? That was a crazy stunt. And it seems you learned nothing from that failure.

Last month, she confirmed on Twitter her conversion to Islam, explaining that her new faith “is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.”

“All scripture leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant,” the Grammy winner added, before revealing she would henceforth be known by a new name. “I will be given (another) new name. It will be Shuhada.’”

In addition to changing her name on her Twitter page, she also replaced her profile picture with a photo that reads “Wear a hijab just do it” alongside the Nike swoosh logo. Additionally, her Twitter bio now reads, “PLEASE BE AWARE THAT IF YOU POST RACIST OR ANTI MUSLIM RHETORIC ON THIS PAGE YOU WILL BE BLOCKED.”

Demanding tolerance for your beliefs while being intolerant towards those who disagree? We have a word for that.

I wonder if she ever considered the Baha’i Faith. A Baha’i could just as easily proclaim that “all scripture leads to the Baha’i Faith. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.” As a Christian, I was taught that most of the “Old Testament” pointed to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish covenant, which would have been an offensive thing to claim to any Jews that heard it. Well, as a non-theist, I think they are ALL wrong. There is no final religion, no perfect religion and no “true” religion. And no one can prove otherwise. That’s why we have so many religions and the many, many, MANY divisions within all of them.

The day after revealing her big news, O’Connor shared that she had been given her first hijab, writing that she wouldn’t be posting a photo because it’s “intensely personal,” before humorously adding that there was a second reason for her decision.

“I’m an ugly old hag,” she wrote. “But I’m a very, very, very happy old hag.”

Over the next couple of days, the Irish singer went on to share a number of photos of herself wearing a head covering, simply writing that she was “happy.”

O’Connor was ordained as a priest in 1999 in a dissident Roman Catholic group.

She has previously spoken out against the abuses of the Catholic Church, even ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a Saturday Night Live appearance in 1992.

The singer has struggled with her mental health in recent years, including suicidal ideation, yet said she was open about her issues in the hopes that it would inspire others suffering to seek help.

Could her conversion to Islam also be a sign of mental illness? I’m not saying that all Muslims are mentally ill, of course. But her stated contempt for white people, while herself still being white, reminds me of THIS lunatic, Rachel Dolezal:

https://dalehusband.com/2015/06/14/lying-to-fight-racism/

And both should be ignored.

A Violation, an Apology and a Lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Read this disturbing story:

Bishop at Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Apologizes to Ariana Grande for Touching Her, Taco Bell Joke

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III has apologized to Ariana Grande for the way he behaved towards her at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.

During an interview with the Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was laid to rest following her 8-hour “Celebration of Life” funeral service on Friday, Ellis expressed regret for the way he touched the singer onstage and for saying he initially thought the 25-year-old singer was a new menu item at Taco Bell.

“I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis said. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”

He also apologized for touching Grande too close to her chest during their televised interaction.

Ariana Grande and Bishop Charles H. Ellis III

“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis continued. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”

Continuing, he added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande

After watching Grande honor the late Queen of Soul at the service, the American Apostolic Pentecostal preacher said that, “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.”

“My 28-year-old daughter tells me, ‘Dad! You are old at 60’ ” he joked.

In the moment, Grande appeared to take the joke in stride, as she proceeded to laugh and give Ellis a hug.

“Girl, let me give you all your respect,” Ellis then remarked. “Did you enjoy this icon? She is an icon herself. Come on, make her feel loved.”

There is absolutely no reason this incident should have happened. This was done at a FUNERAL (is nothing sacred anymore?) of one of the world’s greatest singers (who demanded respect in one of her songs, which clearly was not shown to Ariana Grande), long after so many Catholic priests have been condemned for sexual abuse of children and the “MeToo” movement has highlighted the problems with sexual abuse and sexual harassment of women by powerful men…….and yet it happened anyway.

An apology cannot be enough. This Bishop should be defrocked and banned from serving in a clerical position in any religious institution. If he did this idiotic act in public, what the hell could he be doing in private?