Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:56 am

catmoon wrote:(Puts on moderator hat)

As far as I know, the doctrine of non-attachment to self is in fact a core Buddhist doctrine. Any practioner, transgender or not, has to confront this one, and it is perfectly fine to ask a transgender person how that works out in their practice. A certain bias may show itself if the questioner assumes that the issue is somehow larger for a transgender person.

So, I would like to ask that

1) There be no further accusations of bigotry

2) That questions should be carefully examined before posting to be sure they do not contain challenges or attacks on lifestyle choices, and that they are not susceptible to mis-interpretation along those lines.

And BTW Sarah tnks for the thread, its been a bit of an eye-opener for me and I think you have handled things very well.

I think YOU have also handled things very well Catmoon.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:58 pm

Fu Ri Shin wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Saying that "personality belief" AKA sakkāya-diṭṭhi, causes suffering, is quite in line with the teaching of Buddha. If fact, this is exactly what he taught. It is not called a fetter of the mind for no reason.

For the last time, this fact doesn't excuse explicit or veiled bigotry. I can see you enjoy overgeneralizing spiritual teachings to apply to unrelated civil rights issues in a way that pleases your sense of Buddhist identity.


There is no "bigotry" here...This is a Buddhist forum and discussion of Buddhist teaching is quite appropriate. Given the person's postings at other areas of the board, I can guarantee that they have no problem with anyone's particular gender, religion, race, creed, lifestyle, etc, etc. Only a fool would have a problem with such things.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Fu Ri Shin » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:13 am

seeker242 wrote:There is no "bigotry" here...This is a Buddhist forum and discussion of Buddhist teaching is quite appropriate. Given the person's postings at other areas of the board, I can guarantee that they have no problem with anyone's particular gender, religion, race, creed, lifestyle, etc, etc. Only a fool would have a problem with such things.

I'll concede that bigotry may be a misnomer in this case. That aside, the exchanges that have taken place on this thread confirm that the subtlety of the continuing oppression of minorities are not broadly known, to the point where well intending individuals accidentally make remarks that reinforce unequal treatment.

If in your opinion the virtue of addressing the fetter of personality view for a transgender individual, solely because their own gender expression is more easily noticed than others', outweighs the virtue of refraining from engaging in behavior that can continue oppressive social dynamics, then fine. But let me be clear: with social progress in mind, those two options are at odds with one another.

Also, on the record, I think there's a big difference between personality view and the expression of an individual's psyche as male, female, or something else.
"Once delusion is extinguished, your wisdom naturally arises and you don’t differentiate suffering and joy. Actually, this joy and this suffering, they are the same."

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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Simon E. » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:28 am

Spot on at all points. :good:
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby catmoon » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:25 am

Ad homs are not allowed around here, and the next person to sling an epithet will probably be suspended. I'm not going to let this degenerate into a flame war.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Sara H » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:43 am

catmoon wrote:BTW Sarah tnks for the thread, its been a bit of an eye-opener for me and I think you have handled things very well.


Oh you're very welcome!

*warm smiles*

In Gasshō

Sara H.

To All: On another note, it may be helpful if side conversations were taken to a new thread.
It seems some of them are taking on a topic of their own and it may be helpful to discuss them there.
Ty!

In Gasshō,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:42 pm

Sara H wrote:Are you talking about Anatta or the concept of no "sepperate-self".
Or the second Noble Truth being that clinging/craving/insisting/the "I must have" being the cause of suffering. ? Or something else?


Yes, I am referring to selflessness and the second noble truth, as they are related very closely. Identifying with something is grasping a self, and that causes suffering. More to the point of gender, here is what Soma bhikkhuni said in reply to Mara,

"What difference does being a woman make when the mind's well-centered, when knowledge is progressing, seeing clearly, rightly, into the Dhamma. Anyone who thinks 'I'm a woman' or 'a man' or 'Am I anything at all?' — that's who Mara's fit to address."
(SN 5.2

There is also a longer sutta on the subject: Saññoga Sutta. Furthermore, in chapter seven of the Vimalakirti Sutra (tr. Charles Luk) it is said,

"all women are the same and though they appear in female form, they are fundamentally not women. Hence the Buddha said: ‘All things are neither male nor female’. ... The form of a woman neither exists nor is non-existent."

So, it is a part of Buddhism that one should remove identification with one's gender, as part of getting rid of sensual desire.

Sara H wrote:I view it as an "aspect" of me, in the same way that my hair color or eye color is.


Since you identified yourself in this thread as a transgender Buddhist, my question occurred because it seems to me that being a transgender is a very important thing for you. Or, if you don't mind me saying, being a woman is important for you.

Therefore I ask how you manage these two views to be helpful for you in your life.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Jnana » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:02 pm

Fu Ri Shin wrote:Also, on the record, I think there's a big difference between personality view and the expression of an individual's psyche as male, female, or something else.

Yes, there is.
Last edited by Jnana on Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Will » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:11 pm

Jnana wrote:
Fu Ri Shin wrote:Also, on the record, I think there's a big difference between personality view and the expression of an individual's psyche as male, female, or something else.

Yes, there is.


No, not necessarily. Most folks are not intellectuals, so never even think about the inherent existence or not, of 'self'. So the effect of an ordinary strong identification with gender, nationality, race, etcetera, is even more powerful than the philosophical view. The pull of samsara is profoundly strong.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Jnana » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:17 pm

Will wrote:No, not necessarily. Most folks are not intellectuals, so never even think about the inherent existence or not, of 'self'. So the effect of an ordinary strong identification with gender, nationality, race, etcetera, is even more powerful than the philosophical view. The pull of samsara is profoundly strong.

There are other fetters/underlying tendencies which remain even after identity view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) has been eliminated upon the fruition of stream-entry, such as passion for sensual pleasure (kāmarāga), etc.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Will » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:54 pm

Jnana wrote:
Will wrote:No, not necessarily. Most folks are not intellectuals, so never even think about the inherent existence or not, of 'self'. So the effect of an ordinary strong identification with gender, nationality, race, etcetera, is even more powerful than the philosophical view. The pull of samsara is profoundly strong.

There are other fetters/underlying tendencies which remain even after identity view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) has been eliminated upon the fruition of stream-entry, such as passion for sensual pleasure (kāmarāga), etc.


Yep, no doubt about it.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Jnana » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:57 pm

Astus wrote:So, it is a part of Buddhism that one should remove identification with one's gender, as part of getting rid of sensual desire.

There's a phrase (first stated by Jack Engler, I think?) that has circulated in Western Vipassanā circles that might be relevant here: "You have to be somebody before you can be nobody." The point being that one needs to be comfortable in their own skin and mentally stable before insight into selflessness can be effective.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Sara H » Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:47 am

Astus wrote:
Sara H wrote:Are you talking about Anatta or the concept of no "sepperate-self".
Or the second Noble Truth being that clinging/craving/insisting/the "I must have" being the cause of suffering. ? Or something else?


Yes, I am referring to selflessness and the second noble truth, as they are related very closely. Identifying with something is grasping a self, and that causes suffering. More to the point of gender, here is what Soma bhikkhuni said in reply to Mara,

"What difference does being a woman make when the mind's well-centered, when knowledge is progressing, seeing clearly, rightly, into the Dhamma. Anyone who thinks 'I'm a woman' or 'a man' or 'Am I anything at all?' — that's who Mara's fit to address."
(SN 5.2

There is also a longer sutta on the subject: Saññoga Sutta. Furthermore, in chapter seven of the Vimalakirti Sutra (tr. Charles Luk) it is said,

"all women are the same and though they appear in female form, they are fundamentally not women. Hence the Buddha said: ‘All things are neither male nor female’. ... The form of a woman neither exists nor is non-existent."

So, it is a part of Buddhism that one should remove identification with one's gender, as part of getting rid of sensual desire.

Sara H wrote:I view it as an "aspect" of me, in the same way that my hair color or eye color is.


Since you identified yourself in this thread as a transgender Buddhist, my question occurred because it seems to me that being a transgender is a very important thing for you. Or, if you don't mind me saying, being a woman is important for you.

Therefore I ask how you manage these two views to be helpful for you in your life.


Well,
We have to use words friend.

We can't just not use them

In order to speak to each other and clearly understand what we are talking about, we have to use words and labels to describe things.

If somebody asks you, "how are you feeling?" In a casual conversation, you can't just say "oh, well there is no 'me' that is feeling" and walk away.
I mean you could, but they'd look at you like you'd grown a second head.

There is the concept of two truths: Ultimate and relative.

All is One, AND all is different.

We are all not-separate from the Eternal, but, in form and feel we are different.

Ultimately, there is nothing in me that is truly separate from say a bus.

But that doesn't mean that if I walk in front of one that it won't still hit me.

I still have to call it a bus, and I still have to refer to myself as 'me'.

Knowing ultimate Truth, doesn't mean we can stop using words and speech.

We are still human and so still have to say "I'll have the side of fries and a salad". So that the person taking your order knows who to give what.

Same goes with gender.

The Buddha talked about gender as well. We still have to use words.

Does that help?

Also I wanted to add,
that "no separate-self" is not the same thing as "selflessness".
There is no "separate-self" as in an individual identity that is somehow "separate" from the Eternal.
That doesn't mean that there is no "self" at all that arises.
Things do arise that we have to deal with that are a part of what we call the "self".

In Gasshō, friend,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:44 am

I see your point. My question is not relevant then. :smile:
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Jyoti » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:34 pm

Sara H wrote:Also I wanted to add,
that "no separate-self" is not the same thing as "selflessness".
There is no "separate-self" as in an individual identity that is somehow "separate" from the Eternal.
That doesn't mean that there is no "self" at all that arises.
Things do arise that we have to deal with that are a part of what we call the "self".

In Gasshō, friend,

Sara H


With your insight, better to just put aside the hinayana concepts as they are not suitable to your case, those who are proponent of this concept are limiting themselves in the open world of buddhism, prefer instead to closed their minds in their small vehicle. You should adhere to mahayana perspective. There are example of Tara who aspired to become female bodhisattva which is clearly an example of self-identification as female not being an impediment to the bodhisattva's path.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Luke » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:59 pm

I don't have any questions to ask right now, but I want to thank Sara H. for making this thread because I think that it's good to show that there are many types of Buddhists in the world. All sentient beings have buddha-nature and are special.

:buddha1:
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby greentara » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:46 am

'How do you balance the teaching on identification causing suffering and the gender identity that seems a core value for you?"
Astus, This is an intelligent, pertinent question and a good way to trace the problem.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:31 am

As many Vajrayana and Dzogchen Masters have said:

Going beyond limitations and dualism, does not mean doing whatever our minds want.

A good related post:

"Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality"


Mutilating ones genitals is also a root infraction of two of the Precepts of Inner Tantra:


In Enlightened Journey, Tulku Thondup wrote:"To afflict one's own five aggregates, which are the Buddha families. One should not abuse one's own body but take care of it."

"To deride or have contempt for women, who are the wisdom nature."


Having same-sex relations or getting a "sex-change"—or having attachment to the desire to do so—due to gender-identification has nothing whatsoever to do with going beyond the dualistic consideration of male versus female; even though many Westerners would like to think so.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby catmoon » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:26 am

:offtopic:

This thread is for people who wish to ask questions of a transgender Buddhist. Sarah has put herself at the service of others. You've been invited in for tea, please don't come in and trash the place.
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Re: Ask a Transgender Buddhist

Postby Sara H » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:45 am

You are welcome Josh. And Thank you Catmoon.

Regarding a sex-change, I think that's a valid comment.

Perhaps I could phrase that into a question as "How does getting a sex-change fit with Buddhist practice of going beyond the opposites. It seems like clinging to one opposite rather than accepting things as they are."

For me, and I can't speak for any other Buddhist or Transgender Buddhist, or Transgender person here, I would not get a sex change or Gender-Reassignment surgery (SRS) as it's called.

For me, that would be taking things to a point that doesn't seem good to go.

I take hormones, and dress, and use pronouns and generally identify as a woman or feminine identified person as I would put it.

Fortunately Gender Identity laws allow and protect me that I do not need to be required to be specific, in that. Indeed Gender Identity laws specifically cover gender fluidity expression.

The reason for me, I view this in my training like the Ten Ox Herding Pictures.

Just like training a stubborn ox, sometimes you need to give it some pasture, or leash (to use dog terms). Sometimes I reel that leash or rope in, and let it get used to a little less freedom. If I go too far, and it freaks out, I let it run a bit, before patiently walking after it.

I don't do one extreme, which would to be to let the ox do completely whatever it wants, which for me might be summarized as SRS.

I also don't do the other extreme, and deny it at all and/or try to force it down or into non-existance or non-expression by sheer force of my will.

I have tried both extremes in my past and they haven't worked.

What I do now, is what for me is a middle path, and that has seen to have had the most helpful results, and over time it has calmed down and we (me and the 'ox') are friends now instead of mistrustful enemies.

I can work with it a lot more than it just being stubborn, and I try to be fair.

The result of that too, is that I'm a lot less tense, and I'm a lot more relaxed and comfortable with myself and comfortable to be around.

I have a lot less of that feeling of forcing about me that I used to, or desperate uncomfortableness.

For me, this is what a large part of my Buddhist practice is about, that and other things that come up, and keeping the Precepts, and meditation.

I also should note, that I take a lot less hormones than I used to, so over all, a middle approach for me has resulted in a 'calming' of things.

I'd be happy to talk about this more if anyone wishes to.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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