deepbluehum wrote:So now I"m wondering about the cases of hermaphrodites and transexuals. I take it there is no issue with Dzogchen? In Lam Rim, it says they have no chance.
Forgive me for feeling bound to comment on this: it is something on which I have a personal interest, given that I am intersexed ("an hermaphrodite") and am the founder and director of a not-for-profit organisation in South Africa dedicated to awareness-raising and advocacy around the issue of intersex in a context in which stigmatisation runs deep and there is hearsay evidence that intersexed infants are sometimes dumped to die or killed.
A first comment: for many intersex activists, the term "hermaphrodite", with its mythopoeic connotations, is not a term we like. It is sometimes hurled at us as a term of derogation. There is a new medical acronym, "DSD", which stands for "disorders of sexual differentiation", but it strikes many of us, myself included, as pathologising, and many of us therefore prefer to use the term "intersexed". Some of us use the acronym "DSD", construing the initial "D" as "differences", but the acronym is the subject of sometimes fierce controversy in the intersex community.
Intersex and transsexual (or transgender, which is broader in scope than "transsexual") are not the same, though they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I'd describe intersex as congenital sexual differentiation which is not typical, to whatever degree -- a description I've lobbied into South African law. It is about sexual anatomy and biology. Transsexuality and transgender, by contrast, are about gender identity.
I know little about Lam Rim, but understand that being intersexed is an impediment to becoming a monastic -- a bhikshu or a bhikshuni, according to the Vinaya which governs monastics in Tibetan Buddhism, and is said in Abhidharma to block achievement of the dhyanas. Presumably, both the Vinaya which applies to Tibetan monastics (the men, at least) and the Abhidharma are those of the Mulasarvastivada; and what is perhaps said about the intersexed in Lam Rim texts is based upon these.
In the context of the Paali texts -- the Vinaya-Pitaka, the Abhidhamma-Pitaka and later literature such as the Milinda pa~nha and Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga, there is also mention of intersex. In the Vinaya, three of five classes of people called "pa.ndaka" cannot be ordained. These include eunuchs -- men castrated after birth, and people born with no clearly defined genitals. People described as ubhatobya~njanaka, "having the signs of both sexes" -- presumably conceived of as having both male and female external genitalia, the classical mosconception about people who are intersexed, are also excluded from ordination. The notion that there are human beings with two sets of external genitalia is a misconception: the external genitalia can be ambiguous, giving the appearance of both, due to intermediate differentiation, but cannot in fact be two-fold. There is thus a serious question as to whether any, all or some intersexed people are in fact excluded from ordination.
The Abhidhamma, the Milindapa~nha and the Visuddhimagga state, in common with the Abhidharma literature preserved in the Tibetan tradition, that intersexed people are "blocked" in the sense that, however assidiously they practice, they cannot achieve jhaanaand presumably are not capable of insight, and any attempt on their part to achieve fruits of meditation practice are doomed to failure. This seems to be due to the view that the liefe-continuum (bhavanga) of the intersexed is said to have two rather than three roots, and three roots are needed for meditative achievements. I am personally inclined to be sceptical about the claim that to be intersexed is ipso facto to be "blocked" in this way: I know of at least one meditator who isintersexed who has tasted samadhi -- also a refutation of your contention that practices within Nikayan Buddhism are inefficacious, incidently.
In regard to transsexuality, the Vinaya is potentially remarkably lenient. There is a case of a monk who became a woman, and who was advised by the Buddha to join the community of nuns. I'm not sure whether the Vinaya used by current Tibetan bhikshunis -- a Chinese tradition -- is Sarvastivadin or Dharmaguptika; but I think that both the Vinaya for gelong and gelongma prohibits ordination to people who have changed sex three times or more. This implies that changing sex is not necessarily an impediment; though I think that what is meant is a spontaneous reversal of sex, such as appears to occur at puberty in people affected by an intersex syndrome, 5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome, in which people are born with a female habitus which masculanises at puberty. There was an early transman -- someone born physically female, who felt like a man trapped in a woman's body, who had gender reassignment surgery, spent some time as a ship's doctor, sought ordination with Sangharakshita (before he founded th Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) in India, but became a Tibetan-tradition novice and lived out the rest of his life as a novice. Those who accepted him as a novice knew about his background and do not seem to have felt that it doomed him. Transwomen -- logic suggests that if it is accepted that the female gender identity is real, a transwoman should be accepted. Difficulties would arise only if the person was regarded as a castrated man, a category barred from ordination by the Vinaya, or as a man in drag.
Where intersex is indeed an impediment, though it is unclear as to whether this applies to all who are intersexed or only to some, whether it is in the Theravada tradition or in the Tibetan tradition, it seems to "bite" in the context of ordination as a monastic. In practice, in the Theravada tradition at least, there is no condemnation of intersexed laypeople as such. There is a speculation about the intersexed being blocked from achievement of the fruits of meditation, but this is presumably open to empirical refutation. There is also scope for argument that the term ubhatobya~njanaka does not refer to all, or even to most, intersexed people, if it refers to any intersexed people at all.
Hopefully, none of this constitutes any impediment to the fruitful practice of Dzogchen by people who are intersexed, as I am, or to people who are transgendered.