Advocacy group set to sue Montgomery County, MD over transgender bill

With the passage of the transgendered recognition bill in Montgomery County, MD yesterday, a public interest law firm, Advocates for Faith and Freedom is prepared to sue the county on behalf of PFOX, a church and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of MD. One specific concern is the lack of exemption for religious groups and organizations. Would religious groups be required to accommodate conduct or dress they ordinarily would prohibit?

The AFF legal analysis and letter to the Montgomery County, MD board is here.

No word when the suit might be filed.

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  • Mike Airhart

    PFOX’s justification for being involved is — what exactly?

    In other words, what exactly has transgender equality got to do with the needs of ex-gays and their families?

    And what exactly do the needs of sexual strugglers have to do with the request by certain religious groups to be exempt from laws that they disagree with?

    I am having difficulty following PFOX’s logic.

  • Ann

    Mike,

    That is the reason why no one should assume what these terms/labels/names mean to any particular indivudual or organization. I think what you said is very reasonable, however, it might not hold the same meaning for PFOX when it comes to this particular term. They have a right to be involved with any social cause just as much as anyone else does.

  • Mary

    I’m not so concerned about the remoteness of a true transgendered person as much as I am concerned about the man who is “mimicking” tansitional gender just so he can gain access to use the women’s locker rooms, restrooms, etc…

  • jayhuck

    Mike,

    You ask some excellent questions. I have no idea why PFOX is involved.

  • Mary

    Ann,

    Right on! When you think about it – why would a gay organization have a hand in it? But what is more important is how some are concerned with who is involved and looking over who REALLy is involved – say the woman or child who meets with a sexual predator who on the misuse of this little “law” perpetrates a crime on someone. Tsk, tsk. ” We are soooo concerned with our rights and the rights of others” That line is wearing thin on this issue.

  • Pathia

    Mary,

    Any ‘real’ transsexual will have gone through at least six months of therapy and several months of hormones to reach the point they will use women’s or men’s restrooms. They also carry a letter that shows that they are officially diagnosed with a letter. If there is any concern or legal or police matter, the trans person shows them the letter.

    I have one in my purse at all times. If they don’t have it, then they should, and they should be suspect.

    Besides this, I have never, ever, ever heard of a man mimicking a transperson in an attempt to rape someone. ‘Psycho’ hasn’t happened in reality as far as I know.

  • Mary

    Pathia,

    I don’t mean to slight your situation – but let’s face it – there are more sexually violent criminals out there than there are intersexed people or people in transition. And as psycho as it sounds to you – again – I would suggest people take a look at sexually violent crimes before jumping to conclusions about what will not happen when a woman removes (by her own accord) her clothing in the presence of an ambiguous situation and a predator is ALLOWED into that situation. I am all for adding an additional or individual area for intersexed or transitional people.

    You see – I’m not going to ask everyone to see their card before they enter. Nor is that realistic.

  • John

    Why is the church concerned about transgender issues to begin with, since the bible clearly does not address either transgender or transsexual issues, nor was it equipped to.

    I think a third bathroom is probably the best solution, but if not, then a letter should be sufficient.

  • Pathia

    Do you have any idea of the cost involved with installing a third bathroom in every location in the country? Business owners would revolt.

    A key fact here is that transsexuals and anyone undergoing gender identity therapy (This includes intersexed people who reject their initial assignment) are NOT protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). That law would have to be ammended before anything could be done.

    Seriously now. I have F on my driver’s id, my social security database entry, AND my birth certificate, however I’m still stigmatized and forced to HUNT for a new place just to pee. Doesn’t this seem unreasonable to ANYONE but me? Being intersexed does NOT show up on any sort of document.

    I feel like I am being doomed to be raped like four of my closest friends, two of which committed suicide because of the aftermath.

  • Mary

    Okay John. Your daughter is in the restroom and she is raped, viewed, molested by a man who did not have a letter but no one thought anything of a strange man walking into the womens room because that’s the law. Now how do you feel? One girl who is violated is not worth the trade to avoid another person’s moment of embarassment because they decided to go into transition. Sorry – but there are sacrifices that a person will make based on their own perception of themselves. I nor the public need to risk our safety for their sake. That minority needs to understand they are a minority and asking for someone to risk their safety on their behalf is not reasonable.

    A letter is not good enough for the majority of the population. If an intersexed person or someone in transition really, really needs to use the restroom – find privacy or go to a unisex bathroom.

  • jag

    I think it is ridiculous that PFOX would be involved in this. They seem not to understand the population of transgendered individuals at all, the process they go through, etc…and it seems more discriminatory than anything else.

    I wake up every morning knowing that I am a woman, and having congruity between my body and my internal sense of gender…but there are those who do not have this sense of congruity, and are attempting to align themselves so that their outer frames match their inner sense of self.

    How this process effects ex-gays, gays or churches, I’m not sure. It seems so very individual, and so very personal. Many transgendered individuals live “stealth,” and we never would know them passing them on the street.

    Are we going to start checking “below the belt” at church now for membership or acceptance?

    As for the Bathroom issue…my church has a couple universal single-user bathrooms. Any gender can use them because you are in there alone.

    Is it so hard to figure out?

    Seeking the right to discriminate seems pretty self-explanatory to me…it says worlds about the organization seeking such things.

  • jayhuck

    Mary,

    Maybe you need to read Jag’s message on another thread regarding this issue.

    Jag,

    Thank you!!!!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    I think what concerns me is that currently if a man goes into a woman’s bathroom there is a presumption that mischief is coming. However, is it possible that a man with mischief in mind will dress in women’s clothes as subterfuge. It could happen now but it raises the possibility of the natural protective function being confused. If it becomes obvious that the person once thought to be a woman actually is a man, does the woman scream? Does she ignore it? I think this matter of attribution and safety concerns me. Regarding the YMCA shower room issue, I would simply find another place to take my kids if the Y was required to allow men in the woman’s shower. In those settings though, it might be easier to construct a gender neutral changing area. I do not know, but I do believe there are legitimate concerns that should addressed by transgender advocates while at the same time, those who are cautious take into account the needs for safety for those who are intersexed and transgendered.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    I think that churches are partly involved because the modern day understanding of transgenderism or transsexuality is rooted in the same basic worldview as the gnostic heresies of the first and second centuries. Physical reality – genes, chromosomes, secondary sexual characteristics, etc. – is trumped by interior feelings and the created body is of lesser importance or even expendable. Judeo-Christian thought – especially in the Hebrew – affirms a more wholistic approach to human life, giving equal emphasis to mind, body, soul and spirit. That’s why the Church always has and always will have a concern about all things sexual.

    Many conservative Christians (at least those that think and don’t just knee-jerk react) really do believe that God created humanity with a complementary, unchangeable, binary polarity as male and female. The coming together of male and female in marriage not only re-affects a physical union that was there in one body before Eve was separated from Adam, but it also mirrors the mystical, supernatural union of Jesus and His Bride, the Church. To mess with either of the above – through same-sex attraction and behavior or through sexual reassignment therapy – is considered to be fundamentally life-denying. Whether or not one takes the Biblical creation stories literally, which I don’t, that’s the underlying worldview.

    Now before folk jump on me with both feet, I admit that a traditional Christian worldview doesn’t neatly answer the intersex condition. But the Bible does indeed address transgenderism, at least as it was understood in the ancient world, There are prohibitions against cross-dressing, mutilation of the flesh (most often male and most often as gender-beinding devotees of pagan gods and goddesses), and the intentional blending or distorting of the boundaries of gender identity. (If anyone requires exact references here, I’ll have to look them up as I don’t have them memorized.)

    I’ve only begun this year to study and think about transgenderism and transsexuality, so I’m admittedly not an expert. But one thing that’s puzzled me about the whole LGBTQ rights argument in the Church is this … homosexual persons argue that God made them that way, it’s a good gift of creation, and they CAN’T or WON’T or SHOULDN’T HAVE TO change. Transsexuals argue (in essence) that God made a major mistake with them and they HAVE to change.

    Why, in that case, appeal to God at all? It isn’t consistent or logical.

    I have more and more pastors call me all the time asking the bathroom (and women’s fellowship group) question. I think you let a person use the bathroom he or she is comfortable with, and if there’s concern about a safety issue during church times, you post a monitor. (Public access in the secular world is a different issue and one I’ve not thought through.) And then you let the person join any fellowship group where he or she will come to know Jesus Christ and experience Christian fellowship. Anyway, that’s what I’d do.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Karen,

    One might point out that your objections to both gay and trans people are as fallacious as the ones you imagine coming from gay and trans folk. You believe that gays must (or at least can) change and that trans people absolutely should not change. Again, inconsistent and illogical.

    Fortunately, neither the cry of gay people to be included in the body of Christ nor the objections of those who stand in their way barring the door are as simplistic as you’ve made them out to be. Personally, I think the first step in finding common ground is to stop seeing the other as “other” and to stop believing you know all that you need to know about them.

    This, of course, assumes that we share the goal of finding common ground.

  • jayhuck

    Karen,

    Regarding Transsexuals – is this really any different than God creating someone with a faulty liver or kidney? You act as if medicine and surgery are not things created by God – and if that’s the case, you and I would have to differ on this issue. Does God make mistakes, or do we live in a broken world? I’ll vote for the latter, although everyone, even Protestants are going to have a different laundry list of things they consider “broken”.

    You are absolutely right regarding the intersex problem – “traditional” Christianity (whatever that means – I’d bet I’d get as many definitions for this as I would Protestantism, or Christianity, depending to whom I spoke) isn’t just weak on this issue, it seems to be almost silent. There is nothing specifically about it in the Bible, so, again, we have to rely on different interpretations from different groups

  • Mary

    Pathia,

    Are you saying that money is more important than crimes committed against an innocent person? Of course, adjusting to the ADA requirements to make all places of public business accessible to disabled persons was costly as well. And so will adding a new restroom or third locker room.

  • jag

    Karen –

    I felt the need to respond to this, and perhaps you can provide some clarity. You stated:

    “homosexual persons argue that God made them that way, it’s a good gift of creation, and they CAN’T or WON’T or SHOULDN’T HAVE TO change. Transsexuals argue (in essence) that God made a major mistake with them and they HAVE to change.

    Why, in that case, appeal to God at all? It isn’t consistent or logical.”

    Well, I think you have to begin with the fact that these are very different groups of people. Homosexuals, like heterosexuals, are comfortable and feel in congruity with their outer physical form. It is the expression of their affections, connections, etc…that attracts on a same-gendered level. For example, women who are gay do not necessarily feel that they are internally male. They feel like a woman who is attracted to other women.

    As a woman who is into another woman, it is true that I do not believe that God made a mistake in my seemingly inherent attractions.

    If individuals do not feel in alignment with their external physical form, they are considered transgendered…often they exclaim that they are a little boy (when biologically female) or a little girl (when biologically male) at very young ages.

    For some, they will make the choice to transition so that their external form matches their internal sense of self. For others, they will remain in that form and live life as able…maybe due to medical risks of the surgery, fear of not truly assimilating, etc…

    Either way, I don’t know any transman or transwoman who would say that they claim God made a “mistake.” Like some native american tribes that celebrate the “two-spirited” berdaches of their tribe, they see themselves as often having the advantage of the insights of one gender while feeling inherently the other.

    It is the problem of society that the construct of “male” and “female” is determined solely on physical parts…and, as such, to be considered one of the two, you must look the part – there is no other way that you will ever be regarded any other way.

    Some will live without the surgery, but live a life as the other gender (see the story of billy tipton) – please note that this is not considered “cross-dressing.” Cross-dressers are typically heterosexual men who receive some sexual gratification from wearing women’s clothing.

    I have a very good friend who is a transman and recently married his girlfriend of many years, legally as a heterosexual man.

    Some people are happy with their transition, some are not…heck, some people are happy period, and some are not. There’s a lot of unhappy people in this world…but I digress…

    I suppose my point was that transsexuals and homosexuals are distinct groups. The arguments for one are not necessarily the arguments for another.

    but also…personally, I don’t think God makes “mistakes.” My friend who transitioned feels as though he really has been granted a special gift by God. Some of us face medical problems, and we don’t consider them God making a “mistake,” at least I don’t. Perhaps that are some that do.

    We are unique as individuals and as groups. I just cannot stand behind clustering all people into categories…it seems to be what we were attempting to move against on this blog.

  • jag

    Jayhuck –

    “Regarding Transsexuals – is this really any different than God creating someone with a faulty liver or kidney? You act as if medicine and surgery are not things created by God – and if that’s the case, you and I would have to differ on this issue.”

    I completely agree…great perspective on this. It’s a very equalizing and logical way of looking at things.

  • anonymous

    Theresa posted an interesting hypothetical on a blog called Vigilance on this topic – which is:

    What is your opinion on pre-op transgenders in areas of “shared nudity” ?

    I actually don’t have an issue with post-op transgenders… just anyone with functioning male genitals REGARDLESS of whether they perceive themselves to be female or not. I also am really not that concerned about bathrooms with stalls. It is the pools, lockerrooms (esp those at high school gym classes) that I have an issue with.

    I don’t know if you are pre op or post op, but at one point you were pre-op. So I hear you now have a girlfriend – which I can only assume means you are attracted to females. Were you pre-op atttacted to females as well, did this (given that you had functioning male equipment) result in an erection – and do you believe you have a right to join me naked in my ladies room sauna at Bethesda Sport and Health given all the above ?

    YES OR NO ?

    Theresa

    I think she is talking or asking that question to a male to female transsexual.

  • jayhuck

    Anonymous,

    I can’t speak for transsexuals, but my answer would be a resounding YES!

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Thank you for the definitions, JAG. I hope it was helpful for some of the readers and posters here who are not well informed about the differences between transgenderism/transsexualism and homosexuality. But it felt like a mini-lecture directed at me, and I already agree with you; the two are not the same.

    Since most of the folk who are now responding to my post think I’m basically an ignoramus, what follows at the end of this post is a snippet of a piece of legislation I’ve lately written for our United Methodist General Conference next spring. (Be prepared; it’s lengthy.) This year, our denomination faced the issue of a female-to-male pastoral appointment, and though we’ve spent thrity+ years battling it out over same-sex issues, we haven’t addressed trangenderism/transsexuality.

    I’m not being snarky here, JAG, so I would really appreciate any insight you could give to the stuff I wrote that deal with its scientific/psychological understandings. But I don’t have the time or desire to debate the theological applications, especially with folk who have just treated me like crap on the Ex-Gay Watch blog. As Timothy already pointed out, we will probably not find common ground about what people of faith should believe and how they should respond, and I have no problem with that. And apparently no one noted that in my initial post above I didn’t state where I am personally on the issues, though many posters jumped in and made those assumptions.

    Here’s the legislation …

    “Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe an individual whose internal feelings of gender do not mesh with the gender assigned to him or her at birth. This is usually, but not always, coupled with a desire to live as the opposite gender, and may be accompanied by cross-dressing. Some individuals, however, choose instead to live inter-gender, identifying as neither male nor female, or as both together. Transgender people may also express a variety of sexual desires and may self-identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual.

    Transsexual individuals identify as, or desire to be accepted as, a member of the opposite gender assigned at birth, and they usually seek to alter their bodies to align with these inner feelings. This is most often accomplished through sex reassignment therapy, which includes hormone therapy to repress or develop secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts and facial hair and sex reassignment surgery (SRS) to deconstruct and be-build sexual organs. Such people are often described as having “transitioned” from male to female, or vice versa.

    In order to qualify for and obtain SRS, individuals must usually be diagnosed with “gender identity disorder,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. The psychiatric field also concedes that persons diagnosed with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and other harmful psychological conditions may also seek this surgery. The benefits of the surgery are therefore debated in scientific and medical circles.

    Although there are several genetic, hormonal and psychological theories, there is currently no known cause of transgenderism or transsexuality.”

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    In my original post above, in answer to a question about why is the Church getting involved in all this, I offered a partial answer from a conservative perspective. Another part of the answer as to involvement is that many Christians also believe its a social justice issue. That gets more into the realm of rights, public access, job protection, etc., and that’s not an area I’ve given as much thought to.

    But I think ultimately that the reason the Church is involved (or getting involved) is because most people are confused by it. The popular media has been giving more exposure to trans people and issues, and the Church, which Martin Luther King (I think) said is more often the tail light than the headlight in culture, is finally taking notice. So we have to take some time (though I hope and pray not thirty years) to sort out the confusion.

  • jayhuck

    Karen,

    For the record, I do not think you are an “ignoramus”. I do think you are intelligent and well-spoken, but that does not mean I agree with you on issues, nor does it mean I can’t or won’t be critical of some of the things you say. Believe me when I say I know what its like to be the receiver of criticism – but I think it (criticism) helps us grow.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Jayhuck, I wasn’t necessarily referring to you. As I recall, our online exchanges have been civil and you also have been intelligent and well-spoken. And I don’t mind criticism if it is fair, though like all human beings it might take me a while to respond to it in a healthy fashion. I’ll even humble myself when need be and issue public apologies. But what I won’t tolerate is character assassination and bullying – whether directed at me, my ministry or others – and yellow “journalism” and opinion (not you in mind here, Warren) that masquerades as investigative reporting.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Karen, you can at least have the courage to be specific about who you are smearing.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    David, I have several individuals and blogs in mind, and yes, Ex-Gay Watch is one of them. I already referred to that in an above post.

    I apologize to the folk on this thread for bringing that particular fight here. It was inappropriate and I’ll try not to do it again.

  • Yvette Doll

    “Besides this, I have never, ever, ever heard of a man mimicking a transperson in an attempt to rape someone. ‘Psycho’ hasn’t happened in reality as far as I know.”

    That is very silly.

    There are very many examples of gender identity issues related to sex crime. In fact we are often reminded that the deviants once convicted are really heterosexuals.

    When is a gay not a gay, when he is cauht offending against kids.

    At that point the ‘openly gay’ definition is used. Living openly as a gay without hetersexual attributes.

    If it is funding for something gay, anything, absolutely anything can then be gay.

    I would also point out that pedophiles would not be defined as pedophiles if an openly pedophile standard existed! In other word all the perverts are hetero and all the nice people are gay.

    I have been involved in gay issues for decades. The time has to come when we dump umbrella activism and separate out the issues, otherwise it is a rainbow fraud based on threats & targeting.

    It is interesting to note that nobody is giving a damn about the human rights or privacy of people with sexual conditions other than the minority.

    YD

  • Mike Airhart

    YD, I believe your sweeping accusations are unsubstantiated and unnecessarily hostile.

    Montgomery County’s leaders gave due consideration to the rights and welfare of the majority, and there is still room for negotiation or amendment of details. Restrooms and locker rooms obviously pose difficulties, but they are resolvable — provided that people really want to resolve them.

    Culture warriors do not seek a win-win solution. They object to the entire law, not just provisions. There are those (and I count PFOX among them) who oppose any public recognition, equality, or accommodation to transgender and intersex citizens. There are, to be sure, a few radical transgender activists who favor social revolution, but they are not a factor in Montgomery County, where the transgender community consists largely of upper-middle-class suburban Washingtonians who have rather sedate lives, jobs, and families.

    I am confident that other concerned entities — Karen Booth’s group, and individuals like Dr. T — are sincere in wanting to preserve and balance the welfare of all. Solutions and compromises might include exemptions in the law for restrooms, exemptions for religious institutions, incentives for unisex bathrooms, grandfathering of old-fashioned gender-specific bathrooms, security cameras, and so forth.

    My objection remains to PFOX’s mission creep. FRC has taken a group that once defended exgays and turned it into a political weapon against non-exgays. Meanwhile PFOX has crept away from sound thinking about exgays and adopted the unsound and sexually counterproductive approach of Richard Cohen.

  • Yvette Doll

    It is not really possible to be substantiated on a blog, careful on a skateboard or to grow up normal living in Las Vegas.

    I was selling manufactured gender to the select few over three decades ago. I don’t think it was much of a contribution to the human condition. At a queer only meeting, in Amsterdam, we passed a resolution, ‘homosexuality doesn’t exist’. The solidarity of the supposedly non-existing franchise, wasn’t perturbed by the irony. It was an argument against integration and normalization.

    What was important, was to go forward collectively decisively, integration wasn’t possible because the revenue from pornography, prostitution and bars, couldn’t be eschewed by being normal. The objective was to destroy family, faith and patriarchy. We were also at war with the idea of gender, ideology required the aboli­tion of marria­ge, of coupledom and sexual dicho­tomy.

    I might have named a club ‘Sedate’ if I couldn’t call it ‘Rohypnol’. If your position is that the house-queers just want to pee like the hetero-urinators, fine, you keep hold of that idea. I don’t see this legislation as anything other than win/win for group-think extremists who will be happy enough to join in any backlash against ordinary gays etc. when a propitious moment arrives.

    YD