A few days ago, reports of the Trump Administration allowing Evangelical medical providers the religious freedom to not treat Transgender people hit the news. I wanted to write about this very much, but I had no idea what to say. Patheos prefers we not use vulgar language when writing our columns. My friend and regular commenter to “Transparent Expedition”, Annabelle Larousse submitted this to me. In one brilliant article, Annabelle includes Trump, Evangelical Christians, the Bible, and Leiningen. She does so brilliantly.
I always welcome people in the trans community guest writing on “Transparent Expedition”. Today, I appreciate it more than ever. Annabelle has touched on a topic that needed to be touched on better than I could ever do.
There’s another reason I am grateful for her timing. Frankly, in the wake of writing my article “On Dolores O’Riordan, Abuse, Depression, Suicide and Surviving“, I am emotionally spent. That article has become the third most read blog on “Transparent Expedition”. I have been honored and moved to hear the stories of people who have lost spouses, children and parents. I’ve also heard individual stories of survival. What I wrote was raw, honest, and vulnerable. It has exposed a few nerves. If you have not yet read it, please do.
Now! Read this extremely poignant and very timely article by Annabelle Larousse.
“Leiningen Versus the Ants” By Annabelle Larousse
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. — Luke 10: 30-35, New International Version
I was wondering last night, Is it possible to be LGBT these days and not know what heartbreak is? I don’t think it is. But when I say this, cisgender-heterosexual friends and allies of ours, understand that this is not an expression of self-pity. It is an appeal to all decent people on this lonely planet of ours. Because there are very few people who have never experienced heartbreak in one form or another, and therefore this is one place where we make contact. Sometimes people bond in joy, and sometimes they bond in pain. Pain is unavoidable, and therefore this is one place where we reaffirm our humanity.
And so the occasion is this bit of news that has been widely reported, on CNBC, for example:
The Trump administration reportedly is preparing to offer job protections for health-care workers who refuse to perform abortions or to treat transgender patients because of moral objections to doing so.
We all know what reproductive rights mean to women, but some people may not know what this move on the part of His Royal Highness, Donald J. Trump, means for transgender people. There’s a bit of deflection here, as dishonest as everything else emanating from the palace these days.
Let us note that many Christians will have religious objections to performing Gender Confirming Surgery or aiding a transperson’s transition in any other way. But let us also note that no medical person has ever been forced to do any such thing. There are very, very few surgeons in this world competent to perform GCS. The only ones who are doing it are doing it voluntarily. And similarly, the only psychologists who are involved in gender counselling are those who are interested in the field. These are things that people do voluntarily. No one has been forced to get into such activities against any sort of objection they may have, religious or otherwise.
No, the real purport of this move by the Trump administration is to absolve medical people of the responsibility to provide any sort of care to transpeople. And yes, there are reports of transpeople being denied medical care for all sorts of conditions from all sorts of medical experts, religious or otherwise. Medical people are people, and some of them will find transgender people so “yucky” by their very nature that their consciences have no problem in allowing them to pass them by, even if it means that a certain transperson might die—something that has also happened.
So now the Trump administration wants to give American Christians the right to pass on by on the basis of their religious faith. Never mind that their religious faith expressly tells them not to pass on by, but rather to render every bit of help that they can to a person in need. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of Christians’ most treasured stories from the Bible. But now they’re claiming that they have the religious right to ignore the injunctions of their own religion—and they want the law of the land to defend that right.
It’s no secret at this point that right-wing Americans have abandoned all morality, all humanity, all compassion. When they support a man who has conned and cheated no telling how many of his fellow-citizens, they make it clear that they care nothing about honesty. When they support a man who openly boasts of his p***-grabbing proclivities, they make it clear that they care nothing about sexual abuse. When they give a standing ovation to a man who has raped a girl, they make it clear that they care nothing about the heartbreak of a rape victim.
Thus it’s no surprise that they should also make it clear that they care nothing about certain people who might be wounded or ill and urgently in need of medical attention. Such people can be sacrificed if their god tells them that they’re beyond the pale. These Christians have lost all shame: they don’t care what they say about themselves and they don’t care what they say about their god. If they’re emphasizing that he is every bit as callous and bigoted as themselves, they somehow fail to see that they’re not exactly painting a rosy picture of him.
Neither do they see how they have sold their very humanity, their very souls that they claim to value so highly. We human beings have some desperately awful instincts in us, but we have some gloriously beautiful ones, too. One of the most beautiful: the instinct to rescue a fellow human being in trouble. When miners are trapped underground, the experts will do everything they can to save them. When a building catches fire, there are professionals whose day-to-day occupation is to risk their own skin to save others’. It happens often enough that we read stories about a person who has died trying to save someone else.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that he should lay down his life for a friend.” Actually I think there is greater love than that: that someone should lay down his life for a stranger. Because in that case it’s not just a friend you love. It’s all humankind that you love. And these Christians have so abandoned their humanity that they cannot see the difference between love and sheer callousness.
Lots of LGBT people might tell me I’m incredibly spoiled. I would heartily concur. I think of my GP—young, dedicated, competent, and one who has never had any trouble whatsoever giving me the treatment I need. The first time I saw her I immediately informed her that I’m trans. We don’t want any confusion on that score. It caused her no problem. In recent times I’ve had a couple of minor, niggling, yet on-going complaints that she has handled perfectly well. What she has said to me more than once is, “Always a pleasure to see you, Annabelle!” Contrast that with the Christian attitude of “We can leave that lot by the side of the road.”
These Christians have lost the ability to distinguish between decent people, such as my doctor, and indecent people, such as themselves. They’ve come round to the belief that being hateful, callous and inhumane is just and pleasing in the eyes of a loving god.
Something I’ve never understood: the one unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Why the Holy Spirit? Why not the Father or the Son or the Blessed Virgin or all the saints of heaven? Who cares? Religion is always arbitrary and inexplicable.
In any case, I reply, “Rubbish!” The one unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Human Spirit. And these petty, pathetic, whiny, self-pitying evangelicals have gone far beyond the point where they could ever merit forgiveness. There simply is none for them any more. For they are, and long have been, making a direct, all-out attack on the human spirit. And they have no idea what that attack means for those they hate. Think of some young, already hurting, vulnerable trans person. And think about how they’re being told that they’re nothing but rubbish that we can pass by, that we can leave for dead by the side of the road with the full approval of our Lord God, the just and loving creator of the universe.
There is simply no forgiveness for such inhumanity.
And like Leiningen, we transpeople are now making our stand. Not out of courage, I don’t think, not out of desperation, but simply because we cannot do otherwise. I don’t even know any more what it is I’m defending—my heart, my soul, my life, my dignity, my humanity? You get to a point so deep within you that you don’t even know what it is. It just is, and you defend it because your every instinct tells you that you must. So we will stand—and we will fight those pathetic little ants that are trying to overrun us.
Annabelle Larousse grew up in Texas, then gratefully went out into the wider world when the
time came. She’s made her home in Ireland for the last 30-odd years and enjoys the
perspectives that “international living” can give you. Her main concerns at present are her son (a very fine lad) and transgender issues. Toiling away in the world of translation doesn’t prevent her from taking an interest in history, politics and literature. She doesn’t own a dog or cat, but is reasonably friendly to daddy longlegs.