Am I my brother’s enabler?

Am I my brother’s enabler? June 3, 2015

hand gericault

Don’t worry, I’m not going to write about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner; not really. (The best take I’ve read on that topic is here.)

I do want to talk about a question circling, like a fly around an overripe peach, the topic of Jenner, transsexuals, sex, gender, gender dysphoria, and gender reassignment surgery: the question of whether we ought to call someone “she” just because that someone wants to be called “she,” even if we think that someone is really a he.  It’s the question of how we should respond to someone whom we think is horribly mistaken.

How can we remain loyal to the truth, and to sanity, if we play along with a sick (and dangerously popular) fantasy? It’s not doing the person, or the world in general, any favors to pretend that up is down, so why should we pretend that he is she, just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings?

Well, you could make a good case that it’s just simple courtesy to refer to someone by their chosen name (and accompanying pronoun). How can we extend Christian love to someone while using a name that’s been rejected as foreign and hurtful? How can we have a conversation with someone if we offend them with our opening words?

On the other hand, you could also make a good case that of course it’s acceptable to say “he” of a man who has been surgically, chemically, and cosmetically altered to resemble a woman. Jeering and mockery are out, but many people simply can’t bring themselves to say “she” when that’s no woman. We can remain courteous, and refrain from any obnoxious grandstanding, and still refuse to be dragooned into using the vocabulary that E! Magazine insists we use.

Because I don’t know any trans people, it doesn’t matter much to me. I just say “Jenner” when referring to the trans person in the news, and I could go with either “he” or “she” and still sleep at night.

But here’s where I get hung up. From the camp that insists,”HIS name is BRUCE and HEEEE is a MAN,” I keep hearing that calling Jenner “Caitlyn” is enabling — that saying “she” is making it easier for a wounded, misguided, suffering, probably mentally ill person to persist in a self-immolating delusion. I hear that, by saying “she,” we’re complicit in a sin and a crime, and that we’re actually obligated to refrain from playing along with something so wrong.

“Enabling.” Well, there is such a thing, of course. Enabling is when you offer a shot of whiskey to someone who’s struggling to stop drinking, because hey, it’s his choice. Enabling is when you bail your no-good, DUI, vandal, rapist son out of jail because it might frighten him to spend a night in the tank with actual criminals. Enabling is when you lie to your buddy’s wife to cover up for his infidelity. Enabling is cleaning up the mess, sheltering a sinner from the consequences of his behavior, making it easy for someone to avoid facing the truth of what his life has become.

But it’s not “enabling” to treat someone with respect. It’s not “enabling” to treat someone as an equal. It’s not “enabling” to say, “Nah, I guess I don’t need to swat you down.”  It’s not our place to treat everyone we meet as if they are in some way our patient, our spiritual underling, our disappointing ward.

And yet, lately, everyone with a keyboard and the ability to skim Wikipedia deems himself enough of a expert to dish out therapeutic protocols to everyone who crosses his path. It wouldn’t be good for you, with your complicated spiritual and psychological struggle you’ve been dealing with for decades, and which I have learned about just now via Reddit, to hear me use the pronoun “she.” I’ve never met you and never will, I don’t know anyone like you, and I know nothing about your condition, but I wouldn’t want to enable you, via the precious 450 pixels I could dish out to make up the pronoun “she.”

Uh huh.

Fulton Sheen once gave twenty bucks to a beggar on the street. His companion was annoyed, and asked, “How do you know he won’t spend that money on booze? How do you know he really needs it?” Sheen’s response: “I can’t take that chance.”

He wasn’t that man’s therapist. He wasn’t his substance abuse counselor, his confessor, his parole officer, his accountant, or his father. He was simply a stranger on the street, coming into brief contact with someone with an outstretched hand. There are worse things we can do then to enable the Holy Spirit to pass, with simple kindness, between us and a stranger.

 

***

image via Wikimedia Commons (Gericault detail)

 

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  • DeirdreMundy

    The other thing about the whole “Well, I’m trying to HELP him face reality” issue is that the other person hasn’t asked for your help. You don’t have the sort of relationship with that person where you COULD help. And you can’t force people to want your help.

    So, it’s better just to be polite. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean the other person wants to listen.

    it’s like Monica and Augustine. All her haranguing and crying and lecturing didn’t do a lick of good until he was ready to change (though her prayers did!) And the Bishop was right when he refused to intervene b/c Augustine wasn’t ready to listen yet.

    Part of being a good evangelist is learning to wait until people are at a place where they want to hear.

  • Mother Laura

    Thank you for this respectful and compassionate voice which is much needed in these discussions.

  • Leeandra Nolting

    My favorite parable (for lack of a better term) on this issue is Flannery O’Connor’s “A Temple of the Holy Ghost.”

    In it, we have a literal circus freak–a physical hermaphrodite working in a sideshow–appearing to the main character in a dream, commanding respect, as he/she doesn’t understand why God made him/her that way (and may “God strike you thisaway if you laugh”) but certain in the knowledge that he/she is “a temple of the Holy Ghost.”

    Whatever Jenner’s issues might be, Jenner is still a person with God-given human dignity, no less than any of the rest of us, and deserves to be treated as such.

    • antigon

      Absolutely. That’s why I always try to remember to sprinkle a little parsley on my brother-in-law, the one who insists he’s a turnip.

  • Gail Finke

    I disagree. I don’t know Bruce Jenner, I probably never will know Bruce Jenner — he is a public figure who has acted in a public way and demanded that I, a stranger, call him a woman and refer to him by a woman’s name.
    No.
    Now, if he were a neighbor, a coworker, a family member, I might call him Caitlyn. Then again, I might not. It would depend on HIM, and on me, and our relationship, and what I thought of that. Likewise, if he were a stranger (not a public figure) introduced to me, I would probably call him by whatever name he was introduced to me with… as I wouldn’t know any other one. How I referred to him and what I called him would be determined by the kind of interaction we had, its frequency, and my judgement of his character.
    A public figure deserves kindness as well… but when he has taken an action that demands a response, as Bruce Jenner did by these particular actions, then the kind and respectful response is to say no.

    • Sigroli

      Yep.

  • In January, a transgendered person started attending our church (and by transgendered, I mean, had the surgery). I spent a great deal of time trying to decide whether to call this person “he” (as he was born) or “she” (as she identified). I ended up with she because I came to believe I needed to meet this person where she was if I was going to be able to help her move to become the person God wanted. (And thanks for the link and praise. Greatly appreciated.)

  • Anna

    I liked Tom McDonald’s take over at God and the Machine: when you meet someone, you call them whatever they introduce themselves to you as. That’s just ordinary politeness. But if you’re writing something about a public person, you can use the term that is accurately applicable, especially if the point in writing is that you can’t change who you are by different clothes and make-up.

    The whole thing reminds me of a news story from a couple years ago about a person posing as a physician (I think he was giving cosmetic injections or something) who also was a man who had decided he was a woman. News accounts referred to him “claiming” to be a doctor, but didn’t add the same qualifiers to his status as female; they just referred to him as “she.” One thing I thought was “Shouldn’t it be harder to change your chromosomes by fiat than it is to change your MD status? Why aren’t both things false claims?” The other thing I thought was more along the lines of part of the piece you linked to: what about the women he took advantage of? Isn’t it possible that some of them were not only intending to go a real doctor, but to a *female* doctor? Why are their feelings about being lied to by a not-actually-female person (and one who is still attracted to women) less valid than his “feeling” like he’s a woman?

    Anyway, I liked the linked piece’s point about female and male being rather more than clothes and cosmetic surgery. I thought there were whole beauty campaigns these days focused on how you aren’t more of a woman if you’ve had certain things enhanced by cosmetic surgery – but I guess that doesn’t apply to men who want to be women?

    • Sheila C.

      Gender isn’t much like an MD though. Anyone can become a doctor, the whole definition of a doctor is someone who’s gone through med school. But you have to be born a woman, and this person says they know best what they were born as, even if their appearance is different.

      Do you know that the person actually was attracted to women? Aren’t there female doctors who are lesbians? Is it lying for a female lesbian doctor to allow female patients to assume she is straight?

      • Anna

        You’re right that gender isn’t like an MD, but that’s because gender is *less* malleable, not more so. And yes, just as Jenner has said of himself (and is typical in such cases), the person in the news story was also still attracted to women. I find something far creepier in the idea of a man acting like he is a woman in order to get into a position of trust with women than an actual woman simply being what she is. (I’m not creeped out by my OB being male, but he’s not under any false pretenses.)

        The whole “knowing what you were born as which isn’t what you look like” thing is based on the premise that we can’t really know anything, there is no objective reality. It’s exactly of a piece with “this thing that looks like a human isn’t really because it’s in a coma” and “this thing that looks like a human isn’t really because it’s under the age of three” and “this thing that looks like a human isn’t really because it has dark skin” and “this thing that looks like a chimp isn’t because we want to treat it as a human.” The Church (and the human race, except in cases like the above where it’s a question of convenience) simply says “here’s a living human body and therefore we know that here is a human person.” Once you can’t do that anymore (“here’s a thing that looks like a male body, but isn’t male”), there is no reality that we should conform to; we’re the authors of all reality.

  • Maculate

    I’m transgendered, although some purists might not consider me so (people get picky over who qualifies). I’m physically male but as far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to be female. I realized fairly young that I can never have a female body — it isn’t possible now, and if it becomes possible I’ll likely be dead by then, too old for it to matter, or too afraid of insulting God, who surely has some reason known only to Himself for allowing me to be as I am (I cannot see how it has done anyone a bit of good) — it’s tempted me to a lot of sin, particularly to write fantasy fiction that is basically gender-change porn and post it on line. Talk of causing scandal…

    I’d never insist on other people treating me as a woman, even if I seemed much more like one than I do (fifty-something obvious male, tall and rather fat, ruins of good looks). It would be exceedingly rude of me — and of course I’m too much of a coward either to try to make my body a simulacrum of a female one, or to impose on others in a futile cause.

    I don’t really know how to handle Jenner’s case. I do know that when twenty years ago a colleague at my workplace, another cradle Catholic, left his wife and children to live as a woman and eventually have SRS, I and my fellow Catholics remained polite to him and didn’t preach (cowardice? gentleness? instinct?). I didn’t envy him, but I think only because by my standards he wasn’t actually becoming female in body, and of course because he was leaving a beautiful wife and children (I’m still a virgin and will probably never marry).

    • Emily Kimmel

      Sounds like you’ve got a lot to carry. I’ll be praying for you.

      • ThereseZ

        me too.

    • Monica

      I don’t understand what people mean when they say that they want to be another gender or that they feel that they really are another gender. May I ask you about this? I do realize that I’m just a stranger on the internet, so you don’t owe me anything, and certainly not an explanation of your personal feelings.

      In any case, I’ll pray for you. 🙂

    • LJ

      I’m very sorry for your troubles– this is a very heavy burden to bear, and all the worse for being both invisible to others and held up to contempt and misunderstanding in the culture at large. I have to protest, though: you’ve accused yourself of cowardice three times in three paragraphs, when as far as I can see, the exact opposite is true. It takes a great-hearted courage to follow the Lord without the comforts and props the rest of us receive unthinkingly, and to keep going when there is no earthly hope at all. I will pray for you, that you might see yourself as God sees you, then; and I hope that you will pray for me, that I might have more gratitude for the easiness of my own path.

  • Carisa Feierabend

    So how does this play along with how we treat our loved ones who are gay, in your opinion? I recently read a Catholic article saying we should not allow gay relatives/friends and their SO’s around our children, we should not invite them to dinner nor should we go to holiday events where the lbgt couple will also be attending. (sorry I can’t link it, I don’t remember who wrote it or where it came from.) The reason behind this was to be a shining light for them, so when they are ready to leave their lifestyle they will know who to turn to to help them out, because you did not encourage or enable them. So in the mean time you need to shun them. My husband and I are torn over this topic. In our particular case we do have that one person in our lives who is well ensconced in the LGBT lifestyle. Our loved one knows we are devoutly Catholic and in the beginning we had a serious and civil discussion with each other about the differing opinions we have on the subject. During this conversation, He told me he is very much against Catholicism because of their stance against homosexuality and I laid it out that I am very much Catholic and agree with their teachings on all things. (He asked my opinion in the first place) Then I left it like this: “Now you know how I feel, but I do not feel the need to beat you over the head with it every time we talk.” He certainly has enough other people in his life who are willing to do that for him! This was many years ago and since then he has become much more militant in his hatred of the Catholic church and all things religious. But we still do not discuss this topic when he calls. He does reference his partner and their life together but it’s just like “We went to the store” “He’s at work today” etc etc. My husband thinks I need to be clearer with our loved one that his lifestyle is wrong. But I don’t see the purpose in that, especially considering that his entire family is super angry with him and has pretty much disowned him. And I really feel he needs at least one Christian person in his life that he doesn’t hate. I am dreading the day he officially invites us to his wedding because I will not attend and I know it will hurt him deeply. So do I do as my husband suggests and reiterate that we are Catholic in all things, which will basically be heard by him as “We don’t love you” and will effectively end our relationship or do I carry on with my method of long distance friendship, love and non-judgement? Or is my friendship ‘enabling’ him?

    • Anna

      I think that was on Joseph Sciambra’s site; I found it via Abbey Roads.
      Sounds to me like you are walking the line pretty well; he doesn’t have any reason to think your views have changed since you talked. Your approach is a lot like the one we took with a cousin who walked out on her husband of six months and got involved with someone else. She knew what we thought, but not everyone in the family cut her off (though some did). And she’s slowly making her way back, though she has a lot of anger (for many reasons, not just the cutting-off) to work through.

      If it was a family member in the same-sex relationship though, that would be a lot stickier. I don’t think I’d be willing to damage my kids’ innocence in order to protect adult feelings, so inviting a very in-your-face couple over for Thanksgiving or something would probably be out of bounds.

    • Blobee

      Of course, the smoldering wick you don’t extinguish, so yes, I would think you continue your relationship as is. You are not enabling him. You are loving the sinner. Wedding invite? You kindly and tenderly tell him that he already knows you cannot attend. But actually, if it comes down to a break, remember it is his choice that is breaking the relationship, not yours. He is choosing something you can’t condone, and he knows it. When and if his actions cross the line compromising your beliefs, you have to stand up for your beliefs. If he is hurt, so be it.

      You said “He told me he is very much against Catholicism because of their stance against homosexuality…” You should have said, “and I am very much against homosexuality because it is against nature.” He seemed to want to condemn you as much as he feels condemned by the Church.

      I am convinced what is at the root of the homosexual agenda is to turn the tables on Christians – to make us “go into the closet,” be afraid to speak out, to hide what we think so as to not be shunned or condemned (of fined, or lose a job or business), to pretend to be something other than what we are, much as they feel Christianity has done to them.

      But the difference is that we are speaking from truth, and they are trying to make a lie the truth.

    • Sheila C.

      I think you are doing the right thing. Simply being friends with someone isn’t enabling them, it’s charity.

      I think smoking is a sin — it damages your body, which is God’s temple. (Some family members have died of it, so I feel very strongly about it.) But I don’t cut off all smokers from my life. I understand that all that does is take away a good influence they have. Instead I say — one time — that I love them and wish they would not harm themselves in this way. And then I drop it because there is no more to be said. They will quit when they are ready. Meantime there is no excuse for me to be less than loving.

      • antigon

        ‘But I thought smoking was the whole point of being an adult!’ – Noel Coward

  • antigon

    Yeah, ok. But arguably one of the attractions of Islam to folks is that it would spare them having to wring their hands over such nonsense, given Islam’s inclination to wring another part of the anatomy instead.

  • Catherine1

    I have a question. If Bruce Jenner was/is convinced that he is actually a woman inside, and has a woman’s soul, what does this feel like for him? I suppose what I’m getting at is what does being a woman mean, for a transgender woman? What’s so attractive about it? You hear them talking about matching their outside to their insides – what does this actually mean?
    I’m not trying to be rude or disrespectful, just wondering what is going on inside trans women’s heads . .

    • ThereseZ

      actually a very very good question. I’m a woman, what does that feel like to me, as opposed to feeling some other way? must I go back to when I was fertile to remember what feeling like a woman is? Or if I feel attracted to a man I meet, and I get an absurd urge to flirt? Or when I paint a terra cotta pot that didn’t need painting?
      Didn’t mean to get facetious. What it feels like is quite a thoughtful discussion point.

      • Sheila C.

        I don’t get it either. I don’t know what “feeling female” feels like; I just feel like myself. And yet I want to understand; I want to know what’s going on with these people. What is gender, as understood separately from one’s body, one’s hormonal balance, sexual attraction, and so forth? Is there anything left?

        I did find this post helpful: http://www.theologues.com/culture/is-there-a-place-for-the-transgendered-in-the-church/

    • antigon

      Good question. Have always wondered the same about folks who insist they’re turnips.

    • Psyc_Prof28

      I’m guessing from your username that you are a female. If you’re like most people, you’ve always had an innate awareness that you are a female. Sure, people told you as a kid that you were a girl and this is reaffirmed all the time, but you also just knew. And I’m assuming that like most females you had the desire at some point to wear dresses/skirts, high heels, make-up, perfume, etc. Now, imagine that you have that same innate awareness and those same desires, but everyone says you are a boy and boys don’t do those things. I imagine it feels something like that. You feel like you are one thing (female), but your exterior and what everyone else tells you goes against that feeling (male). As someone who is biologically female and identifies as female, I have no idea if that’s what it’s really like, but based on what I’ve heard, seen, and read on the subject I would imagine that’s how they feel.

      • Catherine1

        Hi, thanks for the insight 🙂 Your point is very interesting in light of the fact that people say that those things are merely social conditioning. We’re doing our best as a society to remove those understandings of identity – we have deemed them restrictive and even harmful labels. I’m not sure where you stand on that idea of “gender as social construct” but I’m just wondering if we remove these things from our understanding of what it means to be a woman, what are we left with?

        • Psyc_Prof28

          Not a problem! Research in more recent years has actually not supported the idea that gender identity is socially conditioned. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to study as it’s unethical to physically alter children’s sex and/or risk the emotional damage of lying to them about their sex/gender. But, for more information you can read about the case of David Reimer, as well as a study by William Reiner (published in 2000).

          What is socially conditioned–making it a social construct–is gender role behavior. Little boys and girls typically look to their parents and other important adults to learn “gender-appropriate” behavior, which varies by society and culture. Little girls tend to model the behavior they see mom/other females engage in (“feed” their baby doll, “cook” in the kitchen, etc.) and boys model the behavior of their father/other males (shaving, “working” at their tool bench, washing their car, etc.). Likewise, they learn more about these behaviors based on their parents’ and other adults’ responses to their behaviors. When a child engages in cute “gender-appropriate” behavior, the parent tends to praise them or reward them–“Look at you feeding your baby! You’re going to be such a good mommy when you grow up!” When they engage in “gender-inappropriate” behavior they tend to be scolded or otherwise punished–this is much more true for boys; “Put that doll down, dolls are for girls!” Because the behavior that is deemed appropriate for a specific gender does vary by culture, I would absolutely say it is a social construct. For example, if you were to compare what is considered appropriate female behavior in the U.S. versus Iran, you would probably find MANY differences. The different societal and cultural pressures have shaped the construct of what it means to be “female.”

          As to your question of what we’re left with, I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking. I’m not aware of anyone trying to remove the things that are considered male and female, so I don’t really know how to respond to that question without going off on a bunch of tangents.

          At the heart of it, my thoughts are that Caitlyn Jenner isn’t hurting anyone. If anything, she may actually be helping lots of people who are going through similar struggles. They now know that they are not alone (of course, they also now know everyone’s opinions on their struggle). Additionally, her identifying as female in no way detracts from how I see myself as a female, nor does it change how I am allowed to express my gender. It really doesn’t affect me at all.

  • Sara

    I’d be cautious about saying that trans people are ‘horribly mistaken’. The Catholic church doesn’t have a teaching on what it means to be transgender (as far as I’m aware – happy to be corrected!), and the phenomenon is not fully understood by medical science yet either. It seems to me that trans men and women affirm a truth of Catholic teaching, that gender matters and involves our interior life as well as our anatomy. Since many different human characteristics contribute to gender (anatomy, hormones, brain chemistry, chromosomes, and, arguably, inner spiritual life), it does seem to be reasonable that some of these characteristics might get out of line with each other. If this is the case, how do we say which tell us the person’s true gender? Whether it follows from this that surgery is an appropriate way forward for trans people is another question and I don’t know the answer! Until we know more, I agree that treating people with respect and not swatting away pain we don’t fully understand is the way to go!

    • Anna

      Well, the Catechism will necessarily miss the many new things that will come down the pike since its printing and maybe this is one of them. (Haven’t checked; sitting nursing baby and don’t want to go hunt it up.) But the Church does teach that we *are* bodies, not just that we *have* them, so the body speaks truth about the person and the truth about a person is not based on (always mutable) feelings. Also, part of the Church’s medical ethics includes the standard that one may treat/remove a malfunctioning body part (e.g. a cancerous penis, to take a current example from Cracked), but may not damage something functional in order to thwart its end (e.g. tube tying). So gender-reassignment surgery fails that no-mutilation test.

      The Church rejects the idea that being male or female is based on how you feel, just as She also rejects the idea of treating “furries” as animals based on their feeling that they are animals. And then there’s this,
      http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/becoming-disabled-by-choice-not-chance-transabled-people-feel-like-impostors-in-their-fully-working-bodies
      which *should* be obviously wrong to anyone with a capacity for reason, but apparently isn’t. These poor people deserve real help, just like suicidal people need therapy and/or meds, not a shove off the ledge. Same with those with gender dysphoria; this is a fallen world, so, yes, sometimes a person’s integration will be “out of line”, as you said. But acknowledging that truth and the resulting pain is not a reason to encourage anyone to stay dis-integrated.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Does it seem odd to you (or anyone else) that both the transabled (referenced in the article) and the transgendered are mostly men? It seems odd that it is so heavily weighted toward one sex.

        • Anna

          That is interesting. Makes you wish the medical community will do its job and research this (caused by absent fathers? estrogen in the water? insufficient vit. x prenatally?) instead of deciding to amputate healthy limbs, etc.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            I think such a study would be dismissed as expensive with little pay off, and of course, unpopular. If it is confirmed that the transabled suffer from a physical difference in the wiring of their brains (as I have heard autism and dyslexia described), then the question will naturally follow that perhaps the transgendered do too. I won’t discount the effects of emotions during the prenatal period, inherited effects of generational sins, etc.–which can’t be studied and will be dismissed as even a possibility by many.

        • Lamprotatia

          Because it’s a fetish/paraphilia. Which are predominately male disorders many times over.

    • antigon

      Interesting possibilities here. Since women can’t ontologically be ordained, might this inability to tell what actually constitutes manhood mean that a good number of bishops – not mentioning any names here Cardinal Kasper – aren’t really priests at all?

  • Verla Powers

    Based on this strange way of dealing with mental issues, we may soon provide anorexics with gastric by-pass surgery.

  • antigon

    ‘But it’s not “enabling” to treat someone with respect…It’s not “enabling to say, “Nah, I guess I don’t need to swat you down.”’
    *
    Absolutely. That’s why Eye of the Tiber needs reproach for insufficient respect towards that Pope Michael fellow who lives with his mother in Kansas. I mean, how is it enabling for the simple gesture of respect that kissing his ring & addressing him as Your Holiness provides? No need to swat the poor guy down by refusing to acknowledge his papacy any more than the respectful acknowledgement of Madame Jenner’s aspirations.

  • Jim Sheridan

    Has anyone on here read Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s autobiography TRAVELERS ALONG THE WAY: THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SHAPED MY LIFE(2010) ? In it, he dedicates a whole chapter to his experiences in meeting a transgendered person who was a former postulant in a women’s religious teaching order. I can’t remember the exact content of what he said, I just remember that it really made him think and reflect in a way that was very consistent with the Catholic Church’s pastoral approach to such difficult issues. I think I am going to re-read that chapter tonight. Thank you Simcha!

  • Christi H

    I’m sorry, but you said it’s enabling to lie for your buddy to cover his infidelity to hi wire? How is it not also enabling to verbally disesseble to hid the fact that Jenner is a man? I don’t mind calling him Catelyn. I think it’s stupid, but I don’t mind, it’s just a name and names are already externally or internally applied. Who cares if he chooses one that sounds girly? No one would blink if he said his name was “Robin,” or “Jamie” while maintaining he was a guy. What irks me is when people insist that we misindicate his gender, that we warp what isn’t bendable, that we drop the truth in favor of little lies. To say, “she isn’t a woman, and will never be a woman” is disgusting, and makes no sense. YOU know what you mean, and I know, but only because we know what isn’t being said. But if it is never said, if it becomes unacceptable to say ‘he’ when we mean ‘he,’ then the next generation will see us a schitzophrenic, and we will never, ever win them over from the danger or transgender/trans-humanistic build-a-soul advocates.

  • calvinandhobbesforever

    For online interactions (such as on Reddit), it’s worth asking the question “Would I say this to someone’s face?” Maybe some people would act as harshly and rudely in person as they do online, but most of us wouldn’t. I also wonder how much of this is said in the “defense of truth” and how much simply makes the posters feel better about themselves. Perhaps acting with kindness online, as well as in person, is more important than saying exactly what we think about someone’s situation.

  • maurina

    “There are worse things we can do than to enable the Holy Spirit to pass, with simple kindness, between us and a stranger.”

    Beautiful writing. Thank you.