Friday, October 1, 2010

Confused and confusing: customizing gender. Its all the rage

Like most folk, I have been clumsily grappling with the alleged sexual exploitation charges levied against a prominent black Bishop, Eddie Long, of New Birth Baptist Missionary Church in Lithonia, Georgia, which is right outside of Atlanta. He has allegedly had sexual liaisons with as many as 200 hundred boys from the inception of the church in 1996 until now.
A few opportunistic hacks have come out saying they have been writing about “pimps in the pulpit” for years but conspicuously neglected to mention our ancestor who first wrote about it brilliantly in 1967 and followed it in 1971 by another searing indictment on our most beloved institution, the black church.
The writer was an obscure black playwright from Chicago named Robert H. deCoy. The tomes are “The Nigger Bible,” (Holloway House, 1967)  http://img1.etsystatic.com/008/1/6939617/il_340x270.367823919_1bo0.jpg and “Cold Black Preach.” http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cold+black+preach&view=detailv2&&&id=F22A063CA0551D10F0027922235C7D2BA65AF558&selectedIndex=0&ccid=WrPcUpLt&simid=608053441365413668&thid=JN.L9bHIZuDl6YMe1tRgdlAvg&ajaxhist=0(Holloway House, 1971) Both are seminal to our understanding of the black church and its leaders.
More importantly, they give context to Eddie Long's saga albeit from an inside out perspective. It has reluctantly led all of us, progressive and conservative alike, into a broader discussion of how a behavior as complex as human sexuality fits into a narrow parochial religious paradigm such the three major monotheistic belief systems that predominate in these United States.
It is all a mere blur now, but I believe the speaker our prototypically mean ex-Catholic-nun-turned-closeted Lesbian instructor had brought in was a transgendered African American female, which in this case was a biological female who had undergone major surgery, hormone therapy and, I believe (hope) a great deal of pre-opt counseling to appear male to the undiscerning eye.
There were actually two speakers scheduled. One was the person I described. The other was also a transgendered male but was Caucasian with a full beard. I know. Bear with me. Because it is all so confused and confusing to even with us who labor to remain open minded. But I tell you sitting in that lecture was an exercise in restraint.
I write about this topic weighed down heavily by political correctness gone wild but needing nevertheless to comment on some obvious contradictions. We Americans in a zeal to be ostensibly all inclusive, although we only just accepted Blacks as full citizens less than 50 years ago, have abandoned reason in the broader debate over GLBTQ rights. Although I still feel that everyone has the absolute right to self-expression there are some ethical not necessarily religious issues we have not quite fully worked out in this thorny debate.
The Black speaker was a relative successful pharmaceutical salesperson. According to "him" Pennsylvania Law allows for the gender of a person who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery, which is a fancy way of saying sex change, to petition the Courts to have their birth certificate legally altered to reflect whatever gender a petitioner has chosen to assume.
Okay. Now this is where it gets way too confusing for me. The speaker goes on to say that "he" neglected to go this route instead preferring to deceive her employer into believing she was male from birth.
This deception has ramifications for many reasons but let me share one from a medical perspective. Simply saying something is true does not make it so. Sexual reassignment surgery is akin to customizing a car. Even if the customizer [surgeon] is outrageously skilled, whatever the vehicle originally was still in fact remains.
So, in other words, no matter what a transgendered persons outward appearance, s/he still has all the inner plumbing of either his or her biological sex. So what? Well, not so fast. Women suffer distinctly different diseases, metabolize medication, and produce hormones distinct to that gender and, concomitantly, so do men. In short, a woman may have the same disease as a man but often with pathology that is gender specific and vice versa.
So, say you are a transgendered "male," and purchase a million dollar life insurance policy, but then promptly expire from a disease that is unique to females, I can virtually assure you, insurance companies will be in the federal courts so fast, if you're between them and the courthouse doors, you're going to get run over.
Why? Under contract law it is 'illegality' manifesting as fraud. Plain and simple. Whether one chooses to self-express as a man or as a woman, has a sex change, and plays the role to the hilt, at the end of the day, that person is still the gender he or she was born as biologically, if not necessarily psychologically.
But back to our two speakers. One of the most troubling issues with the Black guy's recital was dating. He mentioned several occasions where he met a woman with whom he wished to pursue a romantic relationship. But when it came to intimacy because he was not “equipped” to consummate, he engaged in a sleight of hand both literally and figuratively speaking to “get the job done.”
Obviously, these ploys precluded any successful long term, opposite sex relationship. So he is now living with a Lesbian. Okay. I am too exhausted trying to figure it all out myself. The issue here is one of simply honesty. I would never want to be deceived into believing that intelligent, tall, attractive and sensuous “female,” I was dating but refused to have vaginal-penis sex with me was in reality a biological male incapable of opposite sex intimacy because her plumbing was not yet well surgically altered properly.
Then there is the issue of wanting children both by and with your mate. Transgendered males can become impregnated, and transgendered females can product sperm. But why bother? In a relationship where your significant other has not disclosed this fact to you prior to your involvement, or maybe even was deceptive as the speaker in our class admitted is an issue we gloss over because we do not want to offend the GLBTQ community in a cavalier nod to political correctness.
But I do have a dog in this fight. I have a son. I would be horrified if he rolled in with a transgendered female, sterile by virtue of her biological gender, insisting they were in love and he wanted to marry her. Obviously, I cannot broad stroke all transgendered folks. I do not know enough to do so. But I would love to have a simple debate about this issue as we slide precariously down a morally relativistic chasm propelled by good intentioned but blindly apologetic supporters of the GLBTQ community that conspicuously neglect to ask these tough moral questions.
The speaker in question said that “he” flat out lied to his employee (by extension their insurer), his lovers, and who knows how many other because “he” did not want to suffer approbation. He had the absolute right to self-expression but not to deceive folk into believing he was something that he was actually not when that deception legally, morally and ethically impacts employment, interpersonal relationships, and one's personal integrity.
And “Joe,” his assumed name, ought to know better because in her past life, "she" was an attorney.