Transgendered kids

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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby ball-of-string » Mon May 27, 2013 10:36 pm

I don't want to get too preachy about this, but we need to look also at how militantly our culture defends "normal" before we can characterize "non-normative" behavior as obsessive or unhealthy. There are many cultures current or historic that allowed boys and girls to play the same games or play in the same way. I live in a culture where there are strictly defined gender roles for children, and for adults. Why is it that grade school boys should not have long hair, or cry, or play with dolls? Or girls can't have short hair, or play with action figures, or engage in rough-and-tumble play? If these gender roles were not so important, I suspect being transgendered would also not be such a big deal. In fact, I suspect no one would know except the parents and the child.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon May 27, 2013 11:52 pm

Yes, ultimately what society considers "healthy" is often the opposite - but by defintion, that could include, and probably does include, lots of aspects of affirmative LGBT subculture also..doesn't it? Though I think less so as things have changed in the last 20 years.

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2008/05/gay-tragedy.html

Here's a blog post I really like.

Anyway, again i'm having hard time apparently explaining things..I already know what I think about the way society deals with LGBT issues (awfully, obviously, just read the bit about the Taiwanese guy who told this young man he'd go to hell for being gay -shameful behavior from a Dharma teacher seems like), I am curious about the firsthand experiences of people who very much identify as Gay, Transgendered, etc. as a major part of who they are, and how/if this jives with their Buddhism.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue May 28, 2013 1:14 am

Something like 18 Years ago I had a gay roomate, of course I know/knew all kinds of openly gay people, and have always been a sort of counter-culture fellow, so nothing unusual here. I did detect though in this guy, and in the gay community in other corners, kind of a strong grasping as something like an exclusively "gay identity"..thankfully as society has become gradually more accepting (though still a ways to go) it seems like gradually this gestalt Gay Identity seems to have simmered down a bit.

At this time though, there were things that were "gay" and things that were "straight"...and amusingly, this guy was far more militant than I would have ever been about whether someone was gay, straight, and whether or not they fit in these proper categories. I mean, he spent probably 4 times more time than I ever would worrying about sexual identity, maybe more. he so critical of other people, and a big part of it seemed to be based on his perception of what gay or straight people were supposed to be.


I'm still not sure exactly what you want to hear Johnny Dangerous...because I get the impression that you realize both gay and straight identities are constructed/fabricated delusions, and that the (samsaric) privilege of being straight is that you don't have constant pressure pushing you to doubt that your identity is a compounded phenomena.

Rita Gross, if you haven't heard of her, she's written a great article called "How Clinging to Gender Subverts Enlightenment"

http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/C ... ender.html

In my experience as a queer American and Buddhist I'd have to say...most young queer people are really transparent in their flailing to understand themselves and understand their world and place themselves in it. They are usually hurtful and stupid in this process. I myself have gone through many, many painful and confusing chapters where I had to figure out my role and my identity in a given place and time, not the least of which was where I fit into western Vajrayana Buddhism (ongoing (doomed?) project).

Many studies and narratives say that a period of aversion, anger, and pride is typical and inevitable for queer young people to differentiate themselves from the heteronormative culture they were raised in. I think it's a measure of how the gender binary (male/female) and sexuality binary (gay/straight) forces people to align rigidly and, if they are deviant, militantly, with one or the other. The degree of self-aggrandizement you mentioned is real--I think it is classic pride. Pride that arises out of woundedness, insecurity, and desperate unhappiness. I've got that pride all the time. It's like the shiny secretion that covers a fresh wound. Gross but true.

In my opinion, however, for those who don't experience this (I.E. straight kids), a perhaps even more dangerous process of ignorance and "taking for granted" of straight identity and heteronormative values can be so engrained and unchallenged that it's toxic. A massive blind spot for people who've never questioned their own attachment to their gender or sex, the result of which is far more insidious than the awkward second-adolescence of queer folks.

I have had really, really close friends who've been transgender (and I lived with them while they went through hormone therapy) and I have lots of thoughts about it...I''m not sure if I've even touched on what you're asking about.

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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue May 28, 2013 1:18 am

You did, thanks! There is alot there to think about here, and thats exactly the kind of thing I was hoping someone would post.

In my opinion, however, for those who don't experience this (I.E. straight kids), a perhaps even more dangerous process of ignorance and "taking for granted" of straight identity and heteronormative values can be so engrained and unchallenged that it's toxic. A massive blind spot for people who've never questioned their own attachment to their gender or sex, the result of which is far more insidious than the awkward second-adolescence of queer folks.


Great point for sure, though I think in reality all people question their sexuality to some degree, this is rarely publicly acknowledged. Definitely the standard thing seems to be repressing it, certainly it's an extremely small minority of (for instance) straight men who talk about ever questioning their sexuality, though in more candid environments it's been my experience that we do.

I guess it's heterosexual privilege basically..I see where you're coming from, I did not want to come off as one of "those" people, hope I haven't...

Thank you for being candid about your experiences, definitely some stuff to chew on.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue May 28, 2013 3:19 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Great point for sure, though I think in reality all people question their sexuality to some degree, this is rarely publicly acknowledged. Definitely the standard thing seems to be repressing it, certainly it's an extremely small minority of (for instance) straight men who talk about ever questioning their sexuality, though in more candid environments it's been my experience that we do.

I guess it's heterosexual privilege basically..I see where you're coming from, I did not want to come off as one of "those" people, hope I haven't...

Thank you for being candid about your experiences, definitely some stuff to chew on.


You are absolutely right--part of that binary myth we have is that straight people are 100% or gay people are 100% (whatever they are)...when really from the 50's Kinsey has empirically proven how fluid and f'd up and messy things are. Also, all of my straight friends are pretty open about experiences, thoughts, and curiousities they've had throughout adolescence and beyond.

You've only been open, honest, and incredibly courteous. Thanks for asking about all this. It's really nice to see this kind of question asked.


I think, from some earlier voices in this thread, I have a bone to pick or maybe some thought to offer: a lot of people (myself included) have a hard time empathizing with those who want to surgically alter their bodies in order to approximate how they feel they ought to be...or how they feel their "true" gender is.

They want to cosmetically pass as the person they feel like on the inside, not the body they are interpolated as from without...and us idea/mind/karma oriented people are like

"Why not just change your mind/habits/self-concept? Throw out the garbage? Grow up? Chant some gad dang Vajrasattva?"

A lesbian friend of mine and I would constantly have this conversation about our transgender friend when he wasn't around. It was so difficult for us to fathom. Both of us had cross-identification with the "opposite" gender but we didn't feel the need to become something radically different from our current incarnation. It also seemed like a cop-out to us. Rather than being a gender-bender or androgyne radical like us, our friend was ironically buying into the strict gender binary of our culture---they wanted to switch, but they wanted to do it cleanly so nobody would notice. So they could be just like every other Male. (Of course he knew, like the volkswagon metaphor from earlier, it never works out that way. He just wanted to pass. To be male enough to feel aligned with his personality.)

Alot of comparisons to vehicles get made, or vessels. And for many of us with a dualistic frame of reference (indo-european? grecian? western? cartesian) duality has us believe that our body and mind are seperate. Buddhism, in fact, has that as part of its fundamental tenets.

For the folks in question though...they are their body. They feel it constantly. They can't imagine another lifetime or opportunity in which to live out their desires. And that aspect pretty easy to empathize with.



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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 28, 2013 4:29 am

I noticed that back home in Canada the popular position towards homosexuality has gone from advocating tolerance to celebrating it. Openly condemning is like being a racist. Very taboo. Anti-homosexual sentiments would be associated with the Catholic Church, American Baptists and other such disagreeable organizations.

A lot has changed. In my mother's generation people frowned on homosexuality. It was a don't ask don't tell kind of policy. When I was growing up we were told to be tolerant and that's it. Now being gay is fashionable.

For example, I don't think this would have been acceptable on television in the 90s (at least during the daytime):



I guess this is the logical result of liberal democratic processes. Your citizens have the right to demand tolerance and recognition of their choices in life.

Still, what was once considered abnormal will become celebrated. Are there any restrictions? What about zoophiles? We consider that abnormal at the moment, but that could easily change. There's plenty of precedents for it in history and ancient cultures (and an underground culture in the present day which the internet has enabled to flourish).
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue May 28, 2013 4:42 am

Indrajala wrote:I guess this is the logical result of liberal democratic processes. Your citizens have the right to demand tolerance and recognition of their choices in life.

Still, what was once considered abnormal will become celebrated. Are there any restrictions? What about zoophiles? We consider that abnormal at the moment, but that could easily change. There's plenty of precedents for it in history and ancient cultures (and an underground culture in the present day which the internet has enabled to flourish).


The word "tolerance" is a sticking point for me. Most oppressed or marginalized classes of people hear from those in positions of privilege that "tolerance" is some kind of ultimate end goal or that assimilation is the best they can hope for. When there is no other option, Foul odors are tolerated. Sores under the armpits are tolerated. Hemorrhoids are tolerated.

And while there is more transparency and visibility of queers in Media, etc. To say that it's become "fashionable" sounds patronizing. Trivializing. Like saying the civil rights movement made Black people fashionable and now they're All over the TV!

And although I agree that social mores are all relative, it sort of sounds like you're comparing homosexuality on TV to zooophilia. Although both were once considered arch-taboos in most Western cultures, I have to say it's a strange (and probably repugnant) comparison.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 28, 2013 5:40 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:And while there is more transparency and visibility of queers in Media, etc. To say that it's become "fashionable" sounds patronizing. Trivializing. Like saying the civil rights movement made Black people fashionable and now they're All over the TV!


My intent was not to patronize. I'm merely saying that being queer in popular media is portrayed often as agreeable now.

For the American context, see the following video from the Washington Post:




And although I agree that social mores are all relative, it sort of sounds like you're comparing homosexuality on TV to zooophilia. Although both were once considered arch-taboos in most Western cultures, I have to say it's a strange (and probably repugnant) comparison.


Homosexuality used to be seen as reprehensible and wrong (an abomination before God and men), now it is celebrated and protected by law in many western countries.

At the moment zoophilia is considered abnormal and animal abuse, but in due time it might be celebrated and protected by law in some countries. There's plenty of historical precedents for zoophilia, so it isn't entirely out of the blue, either. Zoophiles can just as easily claim being marginalized and oppressed as queer people can. Even more so, perhaps, because zoophilia is illegal in a lot of countries and comes with potential prison time.

Pro-queer activists try to deny this by saying gay rights is strictly about what happens between two consenting adults, but that doesn't really address the fact certain marginalized persons like zoophiles can claim similar grievances in respect to discrimination and having to conceal who they are.

Imagine how much pain and suffering they go through having to hide from the world the love they have for animals. If word got out, they might have their animals taken away and be sent to a mental hospital to be treated for mental illness.

Funny thing is that homosexuals in the west used to suffer the same problems in society. The grievances of both communities are almost identical.

Germany now has anti-bestiality laws, though before that there was a boom in the practice of bestiality:



Conservative cultures can tell such people "tough luck", but if you live in a liberal democracy where everyone has a say in how laws and social norms are determined, then the people can push for laws to be amended and for social recognition of alternative lifestyles. Once you set a precedent with one community, others will demand the same favourable treatment. You can deny them this, but you can't negate the earlier precedent, which they'll always point to when pushing for their grievances to be recognized and addressed.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue May 28, 2013 6:00 am

Imagine how much pain and suffering they go through having to hide from the world the love they have for animals. If word got out, they might have their animals taken away and be sent to a mental hospital to be treated for mental illness.

Funny thing is that homosexuals in the west used to suffer the same problems in society. The grievances of both communities are almost identical.


You give the impression that you are an incredibly detached and compassionate observer;

All I know is that most people would only ever bring up this comparison with the socially conservative and moralistic agenda of making a slippery slope argument between homosexuality and legalized bestiality. I don't get the impression that you have that agenda at all, however. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

And yes, I agree and know from my own experiences with such that people who are primarily attracted to what is utterly forbidden suffer incredible fear, loneliness, deprivation, self-loathing, doubt, and lots of other nouns that can never express the anguish of the lived experience. Quite in fact one might easily draw the comparison to the Pretas.

Maybe this is a whole other topic in your mind, but I can't accept the extension from "willing and consenting adults" to "man and horse." It doesn't work on the practical level. It's not just a matter of public whimsy that we see these things as different, there is a strong ethical inconsistency: As a Westerner who's struggled deeply and thoughtfully with what sexual ethics would really mean in our society in accordance with the Buddhist precepts, I've had to draw the following guidelines from the other four precepts. Lay sexual conduct doesn't harm, it doesn't steal, it doesn't deceive, it doesn't intoxicate. Ideally it should be done with the intent to benefit others. Ultimately, it should be founded on good consent--something that is desperately lacking in most of our discourse and thoughts on sex and sex education. Most bestiality is probably not based on good consent.

Just sayin.

Where did I derail the conversation about trans kids?
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 28, 2013 6:39 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:All I know is that most people would only ever bring up this comparison with the socially conservative and moralistic agenda of making a slippery slope argument between homosexuality and legalized bestiality. I don't get the impression that you have that agenda at all, however. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


I'm neither for or against. I see such practices as relative and subjective. In ancient Greece, Rome and even India, zoophilia existed and clearly wasn't so taboo. In some ancient Indian artwork it is even celebrated:

Image

Times change. Cultures change. I'm interested in how current trends will form future events.

The point I'm making is that, given the propensity in liberal democratic societies for people to push their social agendas after certain precedents are established, we might predict that in due time zoophiles will eventually demand the same recognition and legal protection that homosexuals have gained. You can deny this, but current trends form future events.

In the long-term events play out in normally unseen directions. Universal suffrage for example led to feminism, which in part has contributed to the breakdown of traditional family arrangements. Males now are often seen as disposable, which in turn has led to a lot of social problems related to single parent families. Was it worth it? Well, depends on who you ask. For a lot of western women, yes, it was worth it as they got their liberation. For a lot of conservative people who prefer stable family arrangements (i.e., "marriage is for life"), it wasn't. If universal suffrage was never granted, we'd have different and arguably more stable family arrangements now, though women wouldn't have the rights and freedoms they presently enjoy. Were those rights and freedoms worth what happened as a result? That's up to the individual to answer as it is value judgement.

So, as the principle goes, you gain one thing and lose something else. You can't please everyone. If conservative people get their way and block gay marriage, the liberal folks get upset. Each party has something to gain while the other has something to lose, hence the dirty politics.

Now, related to this, unlike a few years ago, now you have schools giving special privileges to transgendered kids (it might have started with universities taking the first step having 'gender neutral restrooms').

Some people might see this as progressive, whereas others might see it as a waste of resources and a disruption to an otherwise working dichotomy of "boys" and "girls" in public education. The parties pushing for transgendered children's rights in public schools have their own interests at stake (lawyers come to mind). Maybe you even get to write a book about growing up as a transgendered kid and then make television appearances. You generate a lot of social and cultural capital by having a lot of people feel sorry for you and then providing special arrangements and even legal proceedings on your behalf.

So, it isn't entirely about law and ethics. There is a resource component as well. The LGBT movement enables various individuals to acquire social status and actual real life resources they otherwise wouldn't have. I mean think of colleges and universities which have paid staff working in LGBT resource centres. That's just one example. Their job and status depends on enough people thinking their ideas are worth funding.

Maybe in a few years you'll see government agencies hiring researchers to do case studies on the potential implementation of gender neutral washrooms in all public schools. That'll look good on some resumes, to say nothing of the salary that comes with it.




Most bestiality is probably not based on good consent.


In the Dharmagupta Vinaya there is an incident case about a monkey consensually prostituting itself to a monk for food. This is how bestiality was formally banned.

So the issue was not about consent, but about breaking brahmacarya (celibacy) commitments.

Incidentally, I believe such a story is fiction, but nevertheless it is in the literature.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby undefineable » Tue May 28, 2013 1:03 pm

Pedophilia and bestiality are categorically different as informed consent is impossible. Even if the bestiality was with a bonobo chimp ( ;) ) or the Vinaya's monkey-prostitute you mentioned ( :rolleye: ), could both sides really communicate fully enough to know that informed consent that had already taken account of the physical and psychological risks (given the possibility that AIDS was passed from other apes to humans via bestiality) had been given? For this thread's topic, consent isn't even relevant; the question (which I don't feel qualified to answer) is whether being fully informed about the decision to have gender reassignment surgery etc. is possible without the emotional experience of adulthood.

Indrajala wrote:For a lot of conservative people who prefer stable family arrangements (i.e., "marriage is for life"), it wasn't. If universal suffrage was never granted, we'd have different and arguably more stable family arrangements now, though women wouldn't have the rights and freedoms they presently enjoy.

Would you really want happiness at the expense of someone close to you? In any case, what kind of happiness can you have if you're fully aware that the person you most love and depend on might only want to be around you because your society makes it almost impossible for them to leave you? Security may be ego's most basic desire -so powerful that it can subconsciously persuade people to choose suffering over a sense of unpredictability- but if we didn't see a better way, we wouldn't be Buddhists :soapbox: .
Indrajala wrote:So, as the principle goes, you gain one thing and lose something else. You can't please everyone.

Maybe you can please everyone's better instincts (and be hated by everyone in return) 8-)
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 28, 2013 1:52 pm

Sorry to state the obvious but it seems to me that at the bottom of all this is the basic human need for companionship, tenderness, kindness and support. It is hard for me to imagine that zoophiles form deep relationships with the animals they copulate with. So to me it is a fetish, not a choice of a loved partner. Pedophiles may be driven by a compulsive infatuation like in Lolita, but again I think it is fair to say by and large we are not dealing with a healthy relationship here, though perhaps there could be exceptions, as our friends learned in classics may say.

Thank you, Nilasarasvati and Johnny for a sincere and informative exchange.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby ball-of-string » Tue May 28, 2013 3:49 pm

How on Earth did we go from a discussion of transgendered children to bestiality? :shrug:

Please don't answer that, it is meant to be rhetorical.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue May 28, 2013 5:52 pm

The zoophilia thing is an interesting thought-experiment, but it's very far fetched compared to something like polygamy, which relatively speaking has always been less taboo than zoophilia to most cultures, but is taboo currently in our society. It's also something that I most certainly CAN see people pushing for legal recognition of in the future on the precedent of gay marriage...reasonably so from my relative point of view. Especially given what has been said about social change disrupting 'stability' of family structure, it makes sense to me that other arrangements will become the "stable" norm, and I can see something like polygamy being a possibility there.

It's also worth acknowledging that prior to the agricultural revolution (a relatively short time ago in the big scheme of things), this "stable" family setup was likely not a thing. Imagine how the first settled people's were viewed by their nomadic counterparts, can you imagine what the nomads (traditionalists) thought of the social setup of the settled peoples?

The other thing is, when something becomes "fashionable", it is usually because it's been turned into a commodity in our culture, which is maybe what Huseng is touching on in places..and is definitely relevant when talking about LGBT identity stuff, none of us are immune to media-based commodification of sexuality and gender role stuff, it plays a huge role in the construction of people's identities I think.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby ball-of-string » Tue May 28, 2013 7:37 pm

I really think a seperate thread debating the merits of zoophilia and polygamy is required. I see no logical connection between these topics and the OP. To try and force a connection seems really strange.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Jikan » Wed May 29, 2013 2:12 pm

ball-of-string wrote:I really think a seperate thread debating the merits of zoophilia and polygamy is required. I see no logical connection between these topics and the OP. To try and force a connection seems really strange.

:good:

I agree with Dan completely here...

Dan74 wrote:Sorry to state the obvious but it seems to me that at the bottom of all this is the basic human need for companionship, tenderness, kindness and support. It is hard for me to imagine that zoophiles form deep relationships with the animals they copulate with. So to me it is a fetish, not a choice of a loved partner.


...although even this is at a remove from the OP, which has to do with transgender issues in children and not adult sexuality in general nor homosexuality in particular.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 29, 2013 4:59 pm

Jikan wrote:...


They're all lifestyle choices. You can choose to live as a female despite being biologically male, or just as well live as a male. You can choose to pursue a heterosexual lifestyle, just as you could pursue a homosexual lifestyle (or be celibate). If your society doesn't appreciate you living as a transgendered person, then unless you're physically intersexual you'll probably save yourself a lot of problems by just living the gender assigned to you by your chromosomes.

The issue is really what is acceptable in the eyes of society. Once you acknowledge and legally protect one alternative lifestyle, you set a precedent for every other alternative lifestyle not protected and recognized by law.

If it wasn't for the gay right's movement, transgendered children wouldn't have special privileges afforded them in public schools. Likewise zoophiles would have no precedent to refer to with respect to having their lifestyle recognized and legally protected.

These issues are all connected, though many people would be reluctant to acknowledge this. A lot of people find it offensive if you suggest that legally recognizing and protecting gay rights sets a precedent for everyone else with an alternative lifestyle (like zoophiles or transgendered peoples), nevertheless legally this is the reality. You can argue about "consent" like above, but then just as well a zoophile can argue that animals can demonstrate consent (or that animals are not people, therefore they don't legally have any consent to give -- kind of like how you kill animals without their consent).
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Nilasarasvati » Wed May 29, 2013 5:19 pm

Well to breathe new life into the topic, let me pose some questions. I don't expect anybody to answer all of these, please take one and run with it if any of them appeal:

1. How do we see reincarnation as an aspect of/cause for the experiences of trans kids? Some teachers from the East express that Western culture over sentimentalizes children, whereas most traditional (especially Feudal!) systems treat them as mini adults. They usually wear adult clothes, are expected to work, responsible for their family in some cases, etc. With this in mind, how might we see trans and intersex* kids differently?

2. Gender binaries are strongly engrained into Buddhist scripture, practice, and most Buddhist cultures; how can trans individuals fit into the rigidity of such a system? How are we as practitioners to include and affirm their identity and merit when so much of traditional Buddhism operates on a strong gender binary? How does Tantra, which is ironically supposed to be the highest practice of nonduality, imagine or include an individual who is neither/both male/female when much of tantric symbolism and practice is structured around male/female (not masculine and feminine, really--it seems more literal to me than that) yogic union?

3. Does anybody know of any sources in scripture where individuals who are transsexual, intersex, androgyne, etc. are seen in a positive light? Mostly I think they appear in the vinaya as "DO NOT" examples.

:sage:







Also I want to again argue, Indrajala, that legal inclusiveness or protection of those who belong to oppressed classes is not "special privilege." Anti-hate crime legislation, desegregation of schools, changing school policies to allow boys to be Prom Queen or countless other examples do not give oppressed and marginalized individuals rights or freedoms nobody else has; on the contrary they seek to provide those individuals with some parity or equivalent access, opportunity, or protection that those who are privileged take for granted.


It's these kind of semantics that actually matter a great deal in discussions like this; it's also these kind of semantics that suggest to me that your observations really do have an agenda. It's just subtle, privileged, and maybe you can't see it. But in my opinion, your statements constantly reify and validate the judgements and bigotry that don't characterize a malevolent in-group of politicians or conservatives or something, but the subtle and pervasive bigotry, heterosexism, and racism that is the operating system of our entire society.

I'd be happy to continue to explain what I mean by that, so long as we both understand the terms we're using. :anjali:





*intersex means neither textbook male or female, whether because of hormonal, anatomical, or chromosomal differences. I.E. "hermaphrodites" although there are no true hermaphrodites (who can asexually reproduce or have fully functioning organs of "Both" sexes)
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 29, 2013 5:54 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:1. How do we see reincarnation as an aspect of/cause for the experiences of trans kids?


Personally, I think you should follow your birth gender as it will save you a lot of problems and suffering in life. Intersexual people are different because it is physical and clearly requires special consideration, whereas transgendered children can be disciplined into following their birth gender.

It might not be fair, but life isn't fair.


2. Gender binaries are strongly engrained into Buddhist scripture, practice, and most Buddhist cultures; how can trans individuals fit into the rigidity of such a system?


If you have a penis, you are part of the male assembly and can become a bhikṣu.
If you have a vagina, you are part of the female assembly and can become a bhikṣuṇī.
If you have no gender-specific genitals or have both, then you are a special case and cannot formally ordain as per Vinaya regulations (though like anything this could be bypassed or ignored).

How are we as practitioners to include and affirm their identity and merit when so much of traditional Buddhism operates on a strong gender binary?


Buddhism isn't about making you feel nice and accepted. Buddhism isn't about being happy. It is about identifying the causes of suffering and eliminating them. That's why getting involved in gender politics is a waste of time.

If you feel compelled to be a transvestite or live as the opposite gender, you should contemplate the immediacy of death. There's no need to put yourself through avoidable suffering. Life is rough and it isn't fair. You're going to die and the lower realms are always a possibility. Why spend your life anxious about your identity as a male or female? It is all impermanent. This life you're male, next life you might be female. You might even be an asexual deva.

Also I want to again argue, Indrajala, that legal inclusiveness or protection of those who belong to oppressed classes is not "special privilege."


My personal opinion is that people care too much about state sanction for what they do. If a community doesn't want boys being Prom Queens, it is not the business of the state to intervene. The state should look after the commons, defence, basic infrastructure, etc., and not be a nanny to the citizens.

If you want to live an alternative lifestyle, what does it matter if the state recognizes this or not? Best that the state has no business in such matters anyway. Leave it to communities to decide for themselves.



It's these kind of semantics that actually matter a great deal in discussions like this; it's also these kind of semantics that suggest to me that your observations really do have an agenda.


I don't have an agenda in this respect. I generally hope for social stability and community well-being, which I feel is best achieved through conservative values and traditional family models. On the other hand, I won't censor or condemn someone who doesn't fit in with that model (I personally don't -- I'm a Buddhist monk from Canada in India), but on the other hand I won't demand that stable social arrangements be disrupted to meet the needs of a few people. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Unfortunately social stability is often paid for with unfair arrangements. I dislike hierarchies, but I recognize that when followed they generally lead to stability and community harmony.

Basically, there's the ideal and then there's what actually works in real life. Having binary genders is maybe unfair to transgendered people, but then it works pretty well in real life and avoids a lot of problems that come with alternative genders.




...but the subtle and pervasive bigotry, heterosexism, and racism that is the operating system of our entire society.


Well, I'm a Canadian monk living in India. Which society are you talking about?

In any case, you can throw antagonistic liberal pejorative terms at me, but that might as well be an ad hominem attack. You might think there is a lot of "subtle and pervasive bigotry, heterosexism, and racism" and that I'm somehow propagating this, but you'll have to logically demonstrate this, otherwise you're basically unfairly branding me as some kind of monster responsible in part for today's social ills because I disagree with you.
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Re: Transgendered kids

Postby ball-of-string » Wed May 29, 2013 5:59 pm

Using the same logic... The majority of rape is perpetuated by heterosexual men onto female victims. Ergo, if we are going to allow heterosexual men to wander around freely in our society, we have to legalize rape.
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