Thursday, November 13, 2014


Cleveland is being asked to pass a law that would force everybody except churches to allow transgender persons to use whatever bathroom they wish.  Of course, in the age of Tolerance, those who think this might not be such a good idea are labeled Intolerant and even to debate the issue in the name of Tolerance is deemed Intolerable.

On the one hand I understand the concern.  (Deep in taking of breath from the collective audience reading this.)  I remember my first experience with a transgender person.  My Aunties would take me to the double header Indians games and Municipal stadium (gads I miss that place) when I was in grade school.  We generally got the mid range seats and so there were never many people around us – neither those going for the really cheap seats nor those who could afford really good ones.  So people around us stood out.  One day there was what appeared to be a woman in a lime green miniskirt.  I knew something was different here even as a kid.  I had no idea that there was such a thing as transgender people and so what I was seeing didn’t compute.
He was a slender African American person having some of the attributes of woman, (to my little boy’s brain: “Okay, there are those.  Check.  Makeup.  Check.  Long hair.  Check.”)  But other things that didn’t fit.  (Adam’s apple.  “?”  Big hands.  “?”  Deep voice.  “?”  Stubble.  “?”) 


Now, here is where my understanding would kick in.  What if this person suddenly realized that the need of bathroom was desperate?  How would I feel being this person going into the men’s room with a bunch of testosterone rich, drunk, men?  So we are asked to be compassionate and, by law, make this person feel comfortable with the bathroom he or she chooses to use except at a church.
POR OTRA PARTE:  Tolerance is a one way street here.  What about the people who would feel uncomfortable having a person who appears to be of the opposite sex in their bathroom?  How safe would a woman feel with a man, even if he is identifying himself as woman, in the bathroom with her at a downtown bar or any other number of scenarios?  What if of one hundred women, only 3 felt uncomfortable?  Are they Intolerable wretches that need to be sent to a counselor to get over their prejudice?  Why should they be sent to counseling and not the man who identifies himself as a woman?  He could dress like a man and go to the bathroom but women have no such option to end up in a place in which they feel comfortable carrying out their sensitive business. 
Anyway, the argument could go on and on about on whom the duty falls to be the one to have to be tolerant of the other.  They can’t both be accommodated without building owners constructing numerous bathrooms from which people could choose.  “Women’s bathroom for those born and who remain female.”  “Women’s bathroom for life long females and those born male but who identify as female but have not yet had an operation.”  “Women’s bathroom for those who identify as female but beyond that don’t really care who else is in here.”  THERE is true but very expensive tolerance.
What is happening here is a defining of what is “normal” beyond a setting on a dryer and exactly who must be tolerant of the sensitivities of whom.  Opening this door does not make Clevelanders more Tolerant, it only defines of what they will be Tolerant and of what they won’t be Tolerant.  At the core of all wars on Tolerance, there is the determination to eliminate the voice and rights of all who are not Tolerant of my Tolerance.   And in this and similar cases it will be enforced by law.


Anonymous said...

OK, since this is anonymous I can drop my tolerance face and say what I really feel. I am fed up with all the gender-bending going on in society today. Anatomical men - be men. Anatomical women - be women. All this cross-dressing, cross-surgery, fluid-gender-I-am-both-or-neither nonsense...I have had enough. If you have male equipment, use the male bathroom and if you have female equipment, use the female bathroom. Putting my tolerance face back on, I predict in the near future that new venues will be required to be built with male, female, and unisex bathrooms as a standard building code to accommodate tolerance...just wait.

Fr. V said...

I would challange that assumption. I think we are moving toward it being illegal to have anything gender related at all. There will only be restrooms (not male and female) there will only be marriage (and not limited to two people) not same gender and traditional, it will be illegal to have a gender sensitive dress code at school, all girl or boy schools, men's or women's clubs, or anything of the like.

Anonymous said...

You mean not all priests would be men?

Anonymous said...

First Anonymous here, speaking to Second Anonymous: No, all priests would still be men because the Catholic Church would be the only institution left with any common sense, not to mention with the unchanging doctrine of the Church to uphold.

Stephen said...

I just pray that Jesus comes back soon.

Anonymous said...

today's blog is a perfect example of double talk

Chris P. said...

I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer to something like this. The obvious final spot this all ends up in, to me, is unisex restrooms... I imagine lots of what are now those special "family restrooms," or full length dividers in restrooms instead of stall walls that don't go all the way to the floor or chilling with common wash areas. One great regret I have is that when I take my kids to a baseball game someday they won't know what a trough is. I feel like that's an important rite of passage for boys.

I guess the thing for me is figuring out how to personally handle this kind of thing. I've always thought that it's my job, as a human (not as a Catholic or a Christian or anything) to push myself to be tolerant. As a Catholic, I feel it's my job to be uncomfortably tolerant. No matter how much I disagree or dislike or am put off by a situation, I guess the most important thing for me is not to take away a person's humanity. It's devilishly hard though.

I'm gonna butcher this six ways to sunset, but it has SO sick with me that it effects how I look art life and Faith so here goes.... My wife and Fr. L were talking last year and after their conversation one day, they were comparing Protestantism and Catholicism in terms of a soup kitchen. And they said that when a (not all, I know) protestant minister runs a soup kitchen, they do so with the goal of bringing new eyeballs in to tell them the good news. When Catholics do it they do it because people are beautiful and are living embodiments of God, and they are hungry and they need to eat. It's such a striking and Simple thing, but it's changed how I look at life.

If a man in a skirt walks into the pews Sunday, I sure as heck hope they're comfortable enough to stay. And I hope I'm tolerant enough to reach out and make him feel like he belongs. I mean it's not like I'm any better at this then they are.

Pat said...

And yet . . . biology is real. Sooner or later, the truth bubbles to the surface that men and women are neurologically, hormonally and psychologically different. (I do not deny that small groups of people exist who cannot, for whatever reason, seem to fit in with the cultural expectations of their biological sex.)

I just heard an interview about evangelization efforts being directed toward men that approach them differently than women.

Anonymous said...

Chris said: "If a man in a skirt walks into the pews Sunday, I sure as heck hope they're comfortable enough to stay. And I hope I'm tolerant enough to reach out and make him feel like he belongs. I mean it's not like I'm any better at this then they are."

As the mom of a transgendered adult child I want to say thank you for that. It's not easy having a child who is transgendered. The fear of what can happen is always there. The scariest part is that he has rejected God.

The good news is that the faithful Catholics who know of our situation - the ones that are supposed to be intolerant - have been loving, respectful, welcoming and kind. That includes our priests. If this child returns to Christ it will be because of their witness, and ours. I pray that these people have a bigger impact on him than people like those horrible Westboro Baptist church members. I should also add that the people in our parish who have been so kind are also very conservative - the ones the media tells us are supposed to be nasty. They know how to respond because of the strength of their faith.

At the same time none of them (including my husband and I) are rejecting their Catholic faith. None of them are saying this is great - because it's not great. What we are doing is trusting God. This is something only He can fix. My job is to spread His light and not get in His way.

I just pray that when the time comes - and I believe it will - that my child turns back to God he will meet people who while they don't understand, will welcome him home.

Please pray for all of our children who, for what ever reason, have turned away from God. Thank you.

Chris P. said...

I'd only be careful on the "He has rejected God" part.

I have trouble laying that on anyone, even someone who I think is openly trying to...

Catechism 847 and GS 22 are illuminating to me, particularly this line in the former -

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.

And this line in the latter -

For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.

I try not to presume what someone is or is not able to comprehend or take in at any point in their life, and trust that the Holy Spirit will do his thing.

Or, put another way, just because I was taught this stuff when I was a kid doesn't mean I knew this Church until 5-10 years ago. Before that, was I rejecting it? Or was I not able to understand it? I don't know.

It doesn't excuse me from trying, in fact the paragraphs before these (Catechism 846 and the first part of GS 22) mandate the trying - once you know the Truth you are obligated not to keep it to yourself. But these two passages always are a stiff smack upside the head when I presume I know someone's fate.

Good luck, I don't envy you. Tuesday and Friday rosaries are my favorite despite the apparent awfulness. Meditating on Jesus' suffering is a reminder to me of his humanity. There's a great comfort in that. There's a great joy in knowing he's been there. I'll add you and your son to my prayer list. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I think Transgendered go potty in whichever potty they are going. A man becoming a woman can pee in a women's room because there are no urinals. Nothing to see because they are in a stall. A woman becoming a man can't use a urinal so once again, nothing to see - using a stall. And I guess men don't think twice when they hear a tinkle behind the door - just assume it's a twofer.

I just wonder why this has to be an issue?

Anonymous said...

As for the uniform, the child either wears a white blouse and the plaid skirt or the white Polo and the navy pants. Period. Why would gender matter as long as one top and on bottom was worn by either?

Fr. V said...

Dear Anon.,

It is more about what one can see and what one cannot see. There is also a certain amount of vulnerability in a restroom. A woman alone in a bathroom where any man now would have the legal right to enter may feel incredibly more vulnerable than she would otherwise. The man does not have to be an understanding person with a sincere desire to switch genders and would have compasion for the woman, it could be a stalker who just had to say that he has been thinking about such things and he would have every legal right to enter.

So we are making a cultural decision - is it more important that a man can enter a woman's bathroom or that a woman may feel more secure having only women in a (so called) women's bathroom. I too wonder why this must be an issue. And if we are going to go that far - let's stop the charade and make it illegal even to have a men's or women's sign on the door.

As for uniforms, I am not comfortable with a government passing a law that says a boy is allowed to wear a skirt to a private school. Once again we are making cultural decisions. Can institutions make their own decisions based on their beliefs (will we tolerate them?) or must they be told that THEY must be tolerant and conform to popular culture? The skirt is not the issue, it is who must be forced to be tolerant who who not.

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