Zoom Meeting Sermon February 5 2023

 

Topic: Core Tenet #6 On Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation

This Tenet teaches us to use an individual’s preferred name and pronouns, even if we do not yet understand why.  For those who are fortunate enough never to struggle with identity issues, the experiences of a trans person, or anyone using a different name than the one they were given, can be confusing and therefore frustrating. We automatically dislike anything we do not understand, but it is our responsibility as followers of the Path to put in the Effort to ask questions until we do understand. It is also our responsibility to exercise Patience and Compassion when we are asked to address an individual in a way that is different than what we are used to.

I have a few examples of individuals who have chosen, for whatever reason, to use a different name than the one they were given at birth. My old friend Katsu was originally named Zachary by his mother purely out of spite. Now everyone who knows him, including his mother, calls him Katsu. My favorite nephew Blake was given the name Brittany when he was born, but Blake suits him much better. I have chosen to go by CJ since I moved to Oregon. All of us deserve the dignity of being addressed by the names we have chosen for ourselves. It costs nothing but Effort to remember to do so.

Trans people in today’s society face multiple challenges. Research indicates that over eighty percent of trans teens have attempted or considered suicide. Some states literally deny that they even exist in any official capacity. Others simply do nothing to protect them from discrimination or hate crimes. In some places, a man can actually murder a trans woman and claim “trans panic” to get the sympathy of the court, mainly due to the toxic masculinity that is ingrained in our culture.  Most depictions of trans women in television  and cinema make them out to be hulking sexual predators, trying to “trap” straight men into having sex with them and therefore making them gay. This portrayal is becoming less popular among the latest, more accepting generations, but there is still that conservative element that sees the trans population as dangerous sexual deviants.

We have always known that gender identity exists on a spectrum, we just did not have the correct terminology to talk about it. We have terms like “tomboy” which is not derogatory, and “sissy” which is. (This is because our patriarchal society views women as intrinsically subjugate to men, and therefore any man who identifies as or even acts like a woman is weak and submissive.) What we are only now starting to understand is that some people are born with a brain/body mismatch, and it is much easier to make changes to the body than the brain, with much healthier and happier outcomes.

Sexual orientation, like gender identity, cannot be expressed as a simple binary of gay and straight. Like gender identity, it is more accurately expressed as a spectrum. However, how an individual identifies is never the most important thing about them, and we should never reduce another human being to nothing but their perceived or expressed sexual orientation. The only time you should ever concern yourself with another person’s sexual orientation is if you are considering having sex with them and want to know if they would be interested. Like we spoke about last week, it is otherwise none of your business.

This Tenet requires Patience, Self-Control, and Compassion. As followers of the Path, you are challenged to demonstrate love and respect to others by using their chosen names and pronouns. Do you think you can do this?

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