- June 22nd, 2011
OK, so I was thinking about transsubstantiation, and about transfiguration, and other things that start with trans lately, partly because I've recently become a Catholic, and partly because apparently in the wake of the recent UN action there are some Catholics who feel called upon to say some stuff about trans folks that I find ... well, reprehensible from one angle and incomprehensible from another and pretty much Not OK With Me from a my-soul-recoils-when-I-hear-this-stuff standpoint.
I mean, I'm pretty new-minted as a Catholic, but I've been thinking about this stuff from a Christian theological perspective since I was raised in a tiny splinter fundamentalist Lutheran sect, so fundie that this past week at the Oratory Church of St. Boniface in Brooklyn when they used the German mass, it didn't matter that the music sheet had been accidentally left out of my program; I knew all the notes. And when I stopped being Lutheran and got involved elsewhere (pagans and Unitarian Universalists, concurrent for quite a few years, plus some time also concurrent hanging with some truly astonishing Emerging Church Baptist/Lutherans), I was still thinking about this stuff. And now that I'm back talking about it and thinking about it in explicitly Christian (and explicitly Catholic) places and frameworks and conversations, I gotta say that I think I am going to have to go pray a WHOLE BUNCH for the people who are waving that ugly stuff around and trying to thump trans folk with it. And also I gotta say, "Hey! That's not what we're supposed to be doing, is it?"
Look, unless I really misunderstand things, there's this verse where Jesus the Christ is trying to explain to people, "Look, dude, if you mess with the vulnerable people, the ones you think you can kick and get away with kicking, that is exactly as bad, and exactly the same thing, as messing with me."
I always took "if ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me" to mean "if you did it to the ones you thought you could bully, then in your soul you are doing it to me, because that's the whole freaking point of this Incarnation jazz. Get a CLUE, dude." And by Catholic theology, if I understand it correctly, we are ALL the body of Christ. Everybody. (That doesn't just mean the people who are Christian, either. As I currently understand it, God's fond of variety, and we-who-identify-as-God's-children are supposed to treat everybody else like they are, too, without checking loyalty oaths, plumbing, or anything else first.) Also there's another verse about how in Christ there's no slave or free, no male or female, no Jew or Greek. It's warning us about making false distinctions, drawing fake and harmful lines.
So. I firmly believe that to a Christian, all trans people are to be approached as we would approach Jesus himself. Or, to put another spin on it, if you wouldn't treat Mary His Mother that way, then you better think twice about treating some woman who is trans that way. Or some man. Or somebody who doesn't fit into any of the words you're familiar with. No distinctions, because we're all the least of these, some time or other, and we're all brethren and sistren and othren and we all are supposed to look after each other and love as much as we can. At least, that's my understanding of it so far.
Trans folks? Their bodies are the Body of Christ, baby. Body of Christ. And don't you forget it, particularly if you plan to keep calling yourself a Christian.