The UN Vote: Is the United States Headed Toward an LGBT Holocaust?

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

Perhaps the most shocking thing about what’s come out of Washington is how little so many are shocked when it takes an unconscionable course.  On September 29, 2017 the United States voted against Agenda Item #3 from the United Nations Human Rights Council and LGBT rights organizations have decried that vote on an international scale. 

But that’s not all.  Criticism has also erupted over official statements concerning why the United States voted against a measure addressing death penalty cases including those applied to prisoners incarcerated for “same sex relations.”  Not a few countries consider transpeople as nothing different from homosexuals regardless of whom they may love so this decision really runs the gamut of LGBT.

This isn’t the first time the United States has rejected measures at the United Nations addressing the death penalty.  Administrations of both parties have done so.  The previous occurred in December 2016 when the U.S. delegation under President Barack Obama rejected a resolution that called upon states not to execute minors, pregnant women, and those with intellectual disabilities.1

The United States doesn’t oppose lawful use of the death penalty, of course.  In fact it still can be enforced during wartime against those convicted of treason on the battlefield.  Many states practice the death penalty and the constitutionality thereof remains unsettled.  But given the current trends aimed at shedding the civil rights of LGBT peoples at state, federal judiciary, and federal department levels, some may wonder if a holocaust targeting us may be in our future.  The issue falls directly upon matters of ethics concerning various demographics and most especially what they can rightly do against other demographics, and issues of secrecy play a key role.

 

THE UN RESOLUTION

The resolution was an “Oral Revision” labeled GE.17-16638(E), and titled, “36/… The question of the death penalty.”  A total of 61 nations including France and the United Kingdom sponsored this as a draft resolution.2 For the full text, click here.

Much of the text consists of acknowledgements concerning past resolutions by the UN and member states who abolished or established moratoriums upon the death penalty.  These acknowledgements are significant because this resolution addresses a broader scope of demographics than just LGBT peoples:

 

Deploring the fact that, frequently, poor and economically vulnerable persons and foreign nationals are disproportionately subjected to the death penalty, that laws carrying the death penalty are used against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association, and that persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among those sentenced to the death penalty,

“Condemning in particular the use of the death penalty against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women,

“Condemning the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations, and expressing serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women,”3

 

The actions set forth in this resolution consist of 14 points.  Here are some of them as written that most apply to controversy in the United States:

 

 2. Calls upon States that have not yet acceded to or ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty to consider doing so;4

Nick Duffy of the Pink News quoted Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the State Department, to say that the United States had “broader concerns” and that the measure called for total abolition of the death penalty.5 Item 2 is the closest this document comes to total abolition.  But it only asks states who have not yet ratified abolition to consider doing so.  That isn’t the same thing as ordering abolition of the death penalty.  What the United States did was refuse to consider even addressing the matter with Congress.

 

5. Urges States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that the death penalty is not applied against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities and persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, as well as pregnant women;6

Item 5 reiterates the same resolution rejected by the Obama Administration in December 2016.  This might also apply to people with autism who have yet to overcome their disability.  We have already observed a higher incidence of transgenderism among people with autism.7 We cannot consider transgender issues without also considering the rights of those with mental or intellectual disabilities.

 

6. Also urges States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not imposed as a sanction for specific forms of conduct such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations;8

We would be amiss to treat this item as applicable to gays and lesbians but not to transpeople.  Too many states refuse to recognize those who transition as anything other than assigned birth sex.  Too many states refuse to permit changing of birth records to reflect one’s sex post-transition.  What does that mean for those of us who marry or otherwise love another?  If a transwoman marries a man, is her heterosexual supposed to be a same sex marriage such as was asserted in Littleton v. Prange (1999)?9  If the same entered a relationship with a woman would that also be considered “same sex” if such are to marry?  Division remains in this respect because too many people have failed to think through the tyrannical nature of many societal traditions.  Worse yet, many clergy have dismissed the relationships of transpeople as “adulterous” whether within the marriage circle or not.  Do we go back to stoning people for adultery, or at least just stoning “women” while protecting “men” from prosecution?  Do we stone for transpeople for “apostasy” who had become personae non grata in their churches because of their gender identity?

 

8.  Also calls upon States to undertake further studies to identify the underlying factors that contribute to the substantial racial and ethnic bias in the application of the death penalty, where they exist, with a view to developing effective strategies aimed at eliminating such discriminatory practices;10

 The rights of ethnic transpeople have recently become an active area of study in the United States precisely because non-white transpeople have suffered the most.  On October 1, 2017, the National Center for Transgender Equality in conjunction with Black Transmen, Black Transwomen, Inc., and the National Black Justice Coalition released a special report titled, U.S. Transgender Survey, 2015: Report on the Experiences of Black Respondents.  Statistics regarding police interactions are telltale:  twice the level of arrests and incarceration than the USTS sample and more than 4 times that of the U.S. population as a whole.11 We cannot ignore the issues of race when dealing with trans issues and that would apply also to transpeople facing the death penalty.  Nor can we afford to dismiss with disinterest cases of transpeople convicted of capital crimes.  We may find a time not far in the future in which even existing as a transperson may be treated as a capital offence as it is in certain other countries, whether or not it has been legislated and such may be covered up with practices of state-sponsored or locally sanctioned assassination.

 

9.  Calls upon States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to make available relevant information, disaggregated by gender, age, nationality and other applicable criteria, with regard to their use of the death penalty, inter alia, the charges, number of persons sentenced to death, the number of persons on death row, the number of executions carried out and the number of death sentences reversed, commuted on appeal or in which amnesty or pardon has been granted, as well as information on any scheduled execution, which can contribute to possible informed and transparent national and international debates, including on the obligations of States with regard to the use of the death penalty; 12

No secret execution should ever be permitted.  Even if a heinous crime may have been committed and proven, no execution should be celebrated or ignored whether it’s legal or covert. Should America’s violations be an international issue?  Definitely.

When Soviets threw religious people into gulags we considered their actions an international issue.13   When the Islamic Republic of Iran incarcerated and murdered dissidents we considered their actions an international issue.14  When the military government of Argentina committed mass murder and torture upon its people in the Dirty War including the rapes, torture, and murder of dissident youth in the La Noche de lost Lapices (The Night of the Pencils) before democracy returned to that nation we also regarded atrocities the same way.15  Should the United States be so arrogant to presume upon its own “goodness” that such cannot happen here?  We cannot and dare not be so naïve.

Worse yet, with regard to the treatment of LGBT peoples, too often arrests, incarcerations, torture, and state-sponsored murder with erasure have gone without notice.  We saw these things happen in Chechnya16 and Azerbaijan17 against “gays” this year while those governments denied anything improper existed.  Transpeople have likewise been targeted.  Could it never happen here?  It certainly could without due vigilance and action, and forces against transpeople have been amassing on state and federal levels.

 

ADMINISTRATIVE DISCLAIMER

Jason Mack delivered this statement on behalf of the United States:

 

“Thank you Mr. President.

The United States is disappointed that it must vote against this resolution.  As in previous years, we had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the position of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully.  We reaffirm our longstanding position on the legality of the death penalty, when imposed and carried out in a manner consistent with a state’s international obligations.

We are deeply troubled whenever an individual subject to the death penalty is denied the procedural and substantive protections to which he or she is entitled.  We, likewise condemn any instance in which a method of execution or treatment during confinement is applied in such a manner as to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of a state’s international obligations.  We cannot accept the implication, however, that all methods of execution have such a result.

The United States is committed to complying with its constitution, laws, and international obligations, and we encourage other countries that employ the death penalty to do so as well.

Thank you”18

 

This statement raises some serious concerns.  Mack’s statement asserts that the resolution isn’t “balanced and inclusive.”  How is it not inclusive when it calls upon all states to report to the international community in such detail?  Exactly who does this exclude?  How is it not “balanced” when it did not order elimination of the death penalty but only asked those who have not signed on to simply consider doing so?

Worse yet, condemnation of torture, cruelty, inhuman, or degrading treatment is a hollow gesture when we consider the broader treatment of transpeople in prisons.  Too many of us don’t go into protective custody.  Instead, too many are placed in positions in which rape and other forms of violence are facilitated and participation of abuses by prison personnel hasn’t been unheard of.19 What about the practice of water-boarding, obviously a practice of torture, sanctioned by the Bush administration in the wars following the 9-11 AttacksDonald Trump declared in the 2016 Presidential Debates that he would support worse acts than water boarding.20

Such has the potential for wholesale violations of human rights.  We rarely hear of abuses precisely because we learn of them second-hand through visitors or a prisoner recently released who has witnessed it or has been a victim.   Too often, various authorities want to quash reports of incidents.  Some may dismiss reports of ill treatment as “exaggerations” or “inaccuracies” because authorities don’t regard cruelty as “cruel”.

We must recognize that “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” are relative terms, too easily subjected to widely disparate opinion and easily manipulated in an authoritarian milieu.  We must also recognize that if any demographic becomes subject to legalized prosecution there’s nothing to stop a nation from claiming it has used the death penalty “legally”.  Such can even call acts of cruelty “balanced” and even “compassionate” because it has taken upon itself the right to determine accepted definitions.

 We must also recognize that public governmental statements do not necessarily reflect what’s said privately.  Officials can make public condemnations of torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment but what’s executed behind the scenes may differ widely from what’s claimed.  The vagueness of Mr. Mack’s statement opens the door for us to consider the U.S. may have something of its own to hide.

 

AFTERMATH AND FOREMATH

Despite the U.S. vote against the resolution, it did pass 27 to 13 with 7 abstaining.  Nations joining the United States were Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  Nations abstaining included Cuba, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, and Tunisia.21 Many of these nations actively prosecute LGBT peoples.  Others simply followed the lead of the Americans or, like India, merely don’t want to interfere with other governments on this while entertaining its own favor toward the death penalty.  Huffington Post quoted Amnesty International to reveal they awarded 136 death sentences in 2016, up from 75 in 2015.22

Though the U.N. resolution did pass, we cannot count upon Congress to ratify it.  Too easily, what has been accepted at the level of the United Nations becomes effectively nullified at the national level if a nation doesn’t happen to agree with it.  Worse yet, citizens may not know that the whole world may be watching incidents of atrocities or mistreatment of prisoners.  Prisoners typically face restrictions concerning communications they may exchange during incarceration.  Transparency isn’t one of prison staffs’ greater virtues. This has been the case in virtually every nation.  The message of the United States and others at the U.N. really amounted to saying, “Back off, nosey.”

After all, the United States really wants a death penalty and proponents will defend it as vigorously as the National Rifle Association vigorously defends access to guns. What’s particularly disturbing about this zeal for the death penalty is the overall agenda of the Republican Party led by a theocratic Evangelical Alliance.

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump not one month has passed without some action of the current administration in opposition to transpeople.  The National Center for Transgender Equality has posted a list of these actions on its website along with a list of other administrative actions that, while not directed against transpeople specifically, harm transpeople.23

Lest we dismiss these actions as “preserving religious liberty,” we should consider what’s happening right now in the United States, most specifically in Mississippi whose passage of HB 1523 has just taken effect.  This act is called the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” and it’s expressly directed against LGBT peoples.  This law permits the following based solely upon one’s own stated religious beliefs:

  1. Denial of services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges related any marriage being celebrated or solemnized.
  2. Refusal to hire and permission to terminate and discipline anyone whose conduct or religious beliefs don’t square with an employer’s.
  3. Denial of lodging.
  4. Denial of adoption or foster care service.
  5. Refusal to participate in sex reassignment treatments or assessment for such treatments.
  6. Setting of sex-specific standards in dress and grooming for schools and businesses including use of “intimate facilities of settings.”24

What this means is that if you’re transgender and your community is staunchly Baptist and Church of Christ (as most are in Mississippi), then you’ll very likely have to move away, conform through enforced detransition and possible “conversion therapy”, or you will end up homeless and unemployed.  If you do become a homeless transperson, vagrancy laws will probably kick in, resulting in incarceration in which “sex-specific” grooming standards would be enforced.  Meanwhile you may be subjected to prison rape, and possibly even torture or murder by prisoners or even by prison staff.  Your death wouldn’t be noticed as an execution because you were never formally sentenced to death in the first place.  But in spirit it really is an unofficial application of the death penalty determined upon a self-appointed kangaroo court of religionists.  The truth would be swept under the rug just like so many killings of minorities have been swept under the rug during the vicious history of atrocities against unwelcome minorities in the Deep South and official disregard for civil rights over many years.25

While the U.S. vote at the United Nations wasn’t directly about such cases, consider that part of the resolution that calls for states to make available information about executions, dis-aggregated by several factors including gender and other applicable criteria.  The United Nations isn’t the only entity involved in death penalty issues and human rights violations.  Others like Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Southern Poverty Law Center are very interested in civil rights abuses and atrocities directed against minorities including transpeople.  However, their cases represent anecdotal incidents so we can’t say they have meaningful statistics for comparison with those the U.N. may have.

But facts deserve to be made known.  If that doesn’t happen, then there’s nothing to stop those inclined to harm minorities they don’t happen to like, and the more secrecy abounds, the more arrogance is licensed and greater space is given for potential atrocities.  By then, the potential for prisons and detention centers to become de facto death camps becomes very real.

 

THE SUBJECTION OF ETHICS TO POWERS

Great danger lurks whenever a nation, state, municipality, or even an individual determines ethics upon the dictates of a power other than compassion and logical principle.  We’re never safe to say that something’s right or wrong because a leader says so, whether that leader is determined by election, appointment, and especially by his own self-delusion.  The dream and promise of international human rights can only be reached by nations whose hearts put compassion before dominance.  Not only must a nation do this, but its people must not pretend that committing an atrocity is a compassionate act, especially if done in the name of religion.  It isn’t.

Herein we have been repeatedly tested throughout history.  There’s a right and wrong to right and wrong.  But too often, we’ve been led either though schooling, the pulpit, or military training to subject all sense of ethics and judgment to an immediate authority and to blindly accept consequences when that authority betrays its followers.  People commit and even enforce atrocities in such a milieu and secrecy is its sustenance.

The United States will go on regardless of what the outcome of the vote of the United Nations happened to be.  An LGBT holocaust hasn’t fully arrived in America, at least not yet.  But in our continuing business we must address again and again whether our hearts collectively put compassion before dominance.  Compassion demands daring to expose atrocities.  If our hearts do not put compassion before dominance, then we risk the danger that a cancer of tyranny may choke out human rights such as we have not witnessed in generations.  If ours do not, then holocaust may lurk beneath our own horizon. 

_______________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  A burst of light in the clouds over the horizon, photo by the author, with the emblem of the United Nations superimposed thereon.  (Wikimedia)

 

  1. Alex Emmons. “The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People” The Intercept (October 3, 2017, accessed October 4, 2017) https://theintercept.com/2017/10/03/the-u-s-voted-against-a-u-n-resolution-condemning-death-penalty-for-lgbtq-people/.
  2. United Nations General Assembly, 17-16638(E), (September 28, 2017, accessed October 4, 2017) p. 1. http://ilga.org/downloads/HRC36_resolution_question_death_penalty.pdf.
  3. Ibid, p. 3. (Italics if not bold are those of the document itself)
  4. Ibid.
  5. Nick Duffy. “US government defends voting against UN resolution on gay death penalty” Pink News (October 4, 2017, 12:11 pm, accessed October 4, 2017) http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/10/04/us-government-defends-voting-against-un-resolution-on-gay-death-penalty/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=PNFB&utm_content=ND.
  6. Op cit.
  7. Byrony White. “The Link Between Autism and Trans Identity” The Atlantic (November 15, 2016, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/the-link-between-autism-and-trans-identity/507509/.
  8. Op. cit.
  9. “Littleton v. Prange” FindLaw (October 27, 1999, report accessed October 5, 2017) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-of-appeals/1079164.html.
  10. Op. cit.
  11. James, S. E., Brown, C., & Wilson, I. “2015 U.S. Transgender Survey: Report on the Experiences of Black Respondents” (2017, accessed October 1, 2017) Washington, DC and Dallas, TX: National Center for Transgender Equality, Black Trans Advocacy, & National Black Justice Coalition, p. 16. http://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS-Black-Respondents-Report.pdf .
  12. Op. cit.
  13. (n.a.)” Introduction: Stalin’s Gulag” Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom (accessed October 5, 2017) http://gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/stalin/.
  1. Robert F. Worth. “Iran Arrests Dissidents, Sites Report” New York Times (December 28, 2009, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/world/middleeast/29iran.html.
  2. Vladimir Hernandez “Argentina marks ‘Night of the Pencils” BBC News (September 16, 2011, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-14910859.
  3. Adam Taylor. “How a transgender Chechen escaped Russia and found asylum in the United States” Washington Post (September 1, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a-transgender-chechen-woman-and-her-plea-for-asylum-in-america/2017/09/01/0edc5bd6-8916-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html?utm_term=.76604fabcc44.
  4. Teo Armus. “Dozens of LGBTQ People Reportedly Arrested in Azerbaijan” NBC News (September 26, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/dozens-lgbtq-people-reportedly-arrested-azerbaijan-n804801.
  5. “U.S. Statement as delivered by Jason Mack, Human Rights Council, 36th Session, Geneva, September 29, 2017” (accessed October 4, 2017) https://geneva.usmission.gov/2017/10/03/u-s-explanation-of-vote-resolution-on-the-question-of-the-death-penalty/.
  6. Multiple resources at (n.a.) “Issues/ Police, Jails & Prisons” National Center for Transgende4er Equality (NCTE, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.transequality.org/issues/police-jails-prisons.
  7. Jenna Johnson. “Trump says ‘torture works,’ backs waterboarding and ‘much worse’” Washington Post (February 17, 2016, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-torture-works-backs-waterboarding-and-much-worse/2016/02/17/4c9277be-d59c-11e5-b195-2e29a4e13425_story.html?utm_term=.fb01aaccf05a.
  8. Nick Duffy. “US government defends voting against UN resolution on gay death penalty” Pink News (October 4, 2017, 12:11 pm, accessed October 4, 2017) http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/10/04/us-government-defends-voting-against-un-resolution-on-gay-death-penalty/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=PNFB&utm_content=ND.
  9. Somak Ghoshal. “It’s Hardly Surprising That India Has No Problem With Death Penalty For LGBTQ People” Huffington Post (April 10, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/10/04/its-hardly-surprising-that-india-has-no-problem-with-death-penalty-for-lgbtq-people_a_23231962/?utm_hp_ref=in-homepage.
  10. “Trump’s record of action against transgender people” National Center for Transgender Equality (accessed October 4, 2017) http://www.transequality.org/the-discrimination-administration?utm_content=buffer0637f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.
  11. Dan Avery. “Mississippi’s HB 1523 Is the Most Sweeping Anti-LGBT Law In America. And It Takes Effect Friday” NewNowNext (October 2, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.newnownext.com/hb-1523-law-lgbt-discrimination/10/2017/?fb_ref=fbshare_web.
  12. Robert A. Gibson. “The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States, 1880-1950” Yale Teacher’s Insitute (accessed October 5, 2017) http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1979/2/79.02.04.x.html.
Please follow and like us:
0

Billiards to Astral Flight: The Awakening of the Transgender Soul

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

Author’s note:  this article is related to a previous article here in TransMusePlanet Magazine.  See “A Message in an E-Mail: The Heart of the Struggle for the Transgender Soul” by Lynnea Urania Stuart, posted September 16, 2017.  Click here to access it.

__________________________________

He probably never thought about what billiard balls might eventually set into motion.  David Hume (1711-1776) didn’t care about religion and his probable exposure to anything transgender may have been restricted to socially accepted performances in Scottish theater and talk about molly houses in the local pub.  Ironically, his atheism would spark a re-evaluation of spiritual experience as explored today in laboratories and temples alike.  Just as ironically, the current reassertion of trans spiritualities cannot help but contribute to this exploratory milieu.  This current of re-evaluation represents yet another theater of the struggle for the transgender soul apart from dogmatism:  the crisis within when faced with spiritual awakening.

 

SCIENCE ALMOST DERAILED

Hume came along during a heady time in science.  Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Gottfried Leibnitz (1646-1716) had introduced Calculus.  Newton had proposed his Laws of Gravitation in the Principia (1687).  The sciences were beginning to blossom.  But Hume made an important observation, illustrating it through the collision of billiard balls, and this observation nearly turned science completely on its head.

Observe carefully the collision of those billiard balls.  Do we see the cause of the collision?  Look closely.  Newton might have spoken of forces, but did we see those forces in play?

No we didn’t.  Those forces were surmised as a result of theory, even if they may have had predictive results.  Could those actions observed correlate to any knowledge about them before the fact (called “a priori”)?  Do we have the right to call laws of motion “universal laws”?  Or might those observations be skewed at another time?  Hume denied we could know these events for certain a priori.  All we might claim to know must be after the fact, after each time of observation (called “a posteriori”, an idea without sexual implications).  Of course, Hume didn’t have anything spiritual in mind.  He wasn’t even concerned with metaphysics.  His argument was a purely epistemological one as an empiricist.  But it was an argument with far reaching implications.1

Hume’s idea, called Hume’s Fork, divided possible knowledge claims into relations of ideas and matters of fact.  Relations of ideas can be known independently of what’s observed.  Matters of fact can only be known from what’s observed and only in the context of what was observed for that time and could not be relied upon in any other.2

So if we can’t be certain about universal laws, how can we claim to have a science?  That would be answered by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) when he proposed the Transcendental Aesthetic in Critique of Pure Reason after being awakened by Hume’s writings about causation.  He revisited what happens on the side of the human mind past the veil of perception.

The veil of perception, a fundamental concept in philosophy, might be described in terms of a person stuck in an office with an errand runner between him and another office.  The person stuck in his office cannot know what’s happening in the other office except through what that errand runner tells him.  By analogy, the man stuck in his office is like the individual locked inside the confines of his brain with his senses acting like the errand runner.  The office about which the errand runner reports is by analogy, the outside world.  We can’t accept with absolute certainty that we can take those sense impressions at face value.

Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic addressed what we can know a priori, building upon Hume’s relations of ideas, being himself very interested in universality.  He described general affection of the mind (Gemüth – see the diagram in the featured image) that exercises a receptivity of the mind through the senses (Vorstellungen) which in turn supplies intuitions for the mind (Anschauungen), and forms a seed of thought through understanding (Verstand).  These empiric impressions of the world occur a posteriori.  This process also produces forms or conceptions (Begriffe) from thought.  These thoughts are returned to Gemüth a priori.3 As a result Kant claimed that we can reliably know a priori that if we knock the supporting pillars away from a house the whole structure will catastrophically crash.4

Upon this, Kant continued to examine various areas of thought to which this a priori knowledge may be applied.  From this came Categories of Understanding in Judgments5 and the closely related Categories of Pure Concepts of Understanding.6 Through these ideas, science moved onwards and quit feeling the hot breath of logical deconstruction due to extreme empiricism.

 

A GLARING PHENOMENOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE

Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic also provided the grist for the later phenomenological theories of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and his student Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), particularly regarding intentionality (Husserl) and temporality (Heidegger).  But Husserl would understand something subtle but significant about those forms to which Kant referred.  The forms don’t match observation 100%.  He took extra steps to articulate it.

 In the beginning Husserl considered what’s given to consciousness in terms of Kant’s impressions supplied by as a “manifold of appearances” developed from the “thing-in-itself” as received by the affection of the mind.  The “manifold of appearances” for Husserl consisted of objects of consciousness separate from its total reality.7

This difference between a priori forms developed in the mind and a posteriori impressions from empiric observations could be dramatized in an exercise commonly taught in preparation for astral projection from either REM or trance states:

 

Stand in front of a full length mirror, naked, with a strong light behind you (most who do astral projection do so unclothed or “skyclad”).  The image you see will be shadowy.  Use that image to form an image of your body in your mind.  Do this repeatedly for a long while.  Notice the shift between your mental image and the image you see in the mirror.  Notice also shifts in your awareness between the 2 images.8

 

The effect may seem a bit disorienting, and in fact other exercises for these practices get even more disorienting than that.  The important thing in this regard is to recognize the difference between the fact observed a posteriori (the actual view of one’s body in a mirror) and the form returned a priori (the mental image of one’s body).  These differences have been addressed variously by different authors on dreaming practices including Carlos Castaneda who spoke of the synchronizing these disparate images in terms of “completing the energy body.”9 The same disparities also arise when comparing images recalled during episodes of astral travel as a dreaming phenomenon and examination of a target area thereafter.  Few astral experiences resemble fact in beginning attempts.  Even experienced practitioners encounter differences.  Comparable disparities have also been noted for remote viewers who form mental images of a target without any sensation of separation from the physical body, judging by comparisons of sketches with photos of targets.10

For transpeople, the preceding exercise has raised an extra issue specific to gender identity when engaged during early transition.  A transwoman may see a predominantly male body in that mirror, but the initial mental image thereof may be completely female, coming across in a flash till the mind reworks that image (vice versa in the case of a transman).  It could also happen that since that flash of a mental image is perceived as female, the participant may prefer for that mental image to remain so.  That feminine image may become accepted as regular projected image of the astral body before a transwoman experiences any sensation of her consciousness being transferred from her physical body to that energy body.

Episodes like these can accompany a more general spiritual awakening.  The internal image of an astral body, described by various authors as a kind of “soul” impacts that experience of awakening.  It reaches beyond epistemology, entering the realm of philosophical psychology.

 

NOESIS AND LUCIDITY

In Husserl’s Theory of Intentionality, noema consists of content types as ideal and timeless components. Noesis, is an act of thinking and ruminating.  A noematic moment will correspond to a noetic moment.  The 2 always happen in relation to one another.11

But a noematic-noetic moment may or may not happen when you expect it.  Noematic structures develop out of the body of forms derived from impressions.  But noesis pertains to what someone consciously does with noemata. Without such a corresponding moment, intentionality doesn’t happen.

Perhaps a delay in a noematic-noetic moment may be best illustrated in terms of dreams and dreaming, the former as passive experiences, and the latter as an intentional art.  A mundane dream represents a purely noematic action because it goes no farther than the preconscious while the dreamer remains asleep.  The noetic response to that action doesn’t happen till the dreamer wakes up and recalls the dream.  Noesis demands conscious interaction and that doesn’t happen in a mundane dream.

But this changes entirely when a dreamer gains lucidity.  Only through lucidity does the noematic-noetic moment happen within the dream.  When that takes place, the effect can become literally life-changing, generating deep personal inspiration and awakening to natural innocence while forcing a crisis in which the dreamer must think through new modal realities when others may condemn them.

Here’s a description of the lucid dream experience to readers who either haven’t encountered the phenomenon or haven’t known that sleep labs have studied it.  In fact it has become a subject for serious scientific inquiry since the 1980’s:

 

“I run away from a charging dinosaur then realize an incongruity.  Dinosaurs are extinct.  Therefore I must be dreaming.  I declare this realization, saying, “I’m dreaming!”  As I repeat the entire character of the dream changes.  The dream becomes incredibly lifelike and clear.  The dreamscape becomes strangely luminous.  I have greater interest to explore the dreamscape.  I step aside and watch the dinosaur charge past me, knowing I’m no longer bound by the dream.  I do so, freely and rationally examining various components of the dream.  The lifelike clarity of the dream is so intense that it’s as if I had stepped into a 2-dimensional flat screen television and actually live what’s on the other side in 3 dimensions. 12

 

Though many Conservative religious circles condemn lucid dreaming as “demonic”, as they do dream phenomena generally, the vast majority who experience lucid dreaming have no occult ties.  Lucid dreaming occurs with people of all religions, typically by accident, though some prefer to suppress lucid dreams because of learned dogmatic fears of what they don’t understand.  But the perceptions of changes endemic to lucid dreams are really tied to a physiological event in which portions of the brain that had been off line while sleeping switch on during REM sleep.  “REM” refers to the stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and dreams have been most commonly noted at this stage, though dreams do occur at other times.

 

A NEUROLOGY OF SPIRITUALITIES

Of special interest concerning those brain structures coming online during lucid dream episodes is the frontal lobe of the brain.  This area is normally off during REM but springs into activity during Lucid REM episodes.  Elisa Filevich of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development announced in a January 2015 press release that their MRI scans demonstrated how participants in a study who reported highly lucid during dreams had larger anterior prefrontal cortexes.  This area of the brain also controls conscious cognitive processes and plays an important role in self-reflection.13

Another researcher who noted this action of the anterior prefrontal cortexes is Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of The Metaphysical Mind:  Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought.  He cited that practices of concentration either through prayer or mantra based meditation tend to activate this part of the brain.  It also has a role in directing attention, modulating behavior, and expression of language.  Conversely, when one surrenders the will as in mediumistic trance or speaking in tongues, activity decreases in the frontal lobes and increases in the thalamus where flow of sensory information to much of the brain is regulated.14

Dr. Newberg noted in a study of Buddhist monks an experiment in which during experiences of high ecstasy in meditative trance they would pull a kite string, triggering injection of a tracer dye for brain scan.  He told the BBC in 2002:

 

“There was an increase in activity in the front part of the brain, the area that is activated when anyone focuses attention on a particular task…  In addition, a notable decrease in activity in the back part of the brain, or parietal lobe, recognised [sic] as the area responsible for orientation, reinforced the general suggestion that meditation leads to a lack of spatial awareness…  During meditation, people have a loss of the sense of self and frequently experience a sense of no space and time and that was exactly what we saw.”15

 

Brick Johnstone, Professor of Health Psychology at the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri, declared in 2012 that many parts of the brain are involved in spirituality.  He noted concerning impairment of the right side of the brain:

 

Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self.  This is consistent with many religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on the well-being of others rather than on themselves.”16

 

This stands as a warning for many transgender people whose construction of the self can swallow them up in self-obsession.  Reasonably, anyone who transitions also needs to balance the experience of reconstruction of life consistent with construction of the self through charitable service to others.

It’s more than just an issue of spirituality.  It’s an issue of health and well being.  It also can build communities.  It would also be a reasonable conjecture based upon that warrant for service to others that those transpeople engaged in such activities should be less prone to suicide.  Future surveys including those on the order of the U.S. Transgender Survey should examine this, and if confirmed, should be made an integral part of regimens designed to sustain mental health.

 

ANCIENT INSIGHT

The link of the anterior frontal lobes to spirituality, lucid dreaming, and higher thinking comparable to the action of noesis upon noemata seems to be more than just a modern consideration.  Consider the work of a genius from long ago.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonorotti Simoni (1475-1564), Renaissance sculptor, painter, and one of the most brilliant artists of all time, painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in The Vatican.  His work, the subject of many books, articles, and television programs, even the motion picture The Agony and the Ecstasy, features numerous scenes from the Bible.  Perhaps the most inspiring of all is a central depiction of the Creation of Adam (see featured image, upper left hand corner).

In this image, an anthropomorphic depiction of God the Creator, reaches outward to touch the hand of Adam to deliver a spark of life.  But that touch seems to represent much more.  Not a few people have commented about the God figure, wrapped in his shadowy cloak and accompanied by other spirits to witness this crowning act of creation.  To some the cloak and entourage represents a womb.  But to most it vividly takes the form of a brain viewed from the side, the pituitary gland and brainstem clearly visible.  God reaches out through the frontal lobe of a brain to give life to Adam.

He painted this scene centuries before the invention of MRI and PET scans.  How did Michelangelo connect the frontal lobe of the brain with the making of Adam as a living soul?  Or did he connect them?

He may not need to have consciously done so.  Artists often experience very close connections with their faculties of dreaming and meditation.  The detail of Michelangelo’s work suggests that his degree of exact representation of conceived impressions gave him a higher level of technical insight than most artists.  The dynamism of his work suggests enhanced noematic-noetic moments leading to thematic insight, even extending to the underlying geometry that governed his compositions.  But the genius of the Creation of Adam suggests more than technicalities in art, extending to archetypes like those described through the work of Carl Jung (1875-1961).17

Might Michelangelo’s dreaming proclivities have led him, even unconsciously to the dynamism of his composition?  The similarity of God’s cloak to the brain in the Creation of Adam may have emerged through Michelangelo’s dream mechanisms as a structural archetype, the mind unveiling an insight of itself to the world as the inner genius with whom every artist craves to connect.

 

Some of us who are transgender and with Abrahamic connections to our spiritualities may see this creation of Adam with a bit of a twist, following a Kabbalistic belief centuries old.  Kabbalah relies as much upon dreaming proclivities and lore as upon persnickety logic and commentary upon sacred texts.  One of the Kabbalistic texts, The Zohar, makes a claim incredible to many not accustomed to it, but advancing a Rabbinic view concerning Adam:

 

Rabbi Yirmeyah son of El’azar said, ‘When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him androgynous, as it said: Male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).’  Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said, ‘When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him with two faces.  Then He sawed him and gave him two backs, one on this side and one on that.’”18

 

These aspects of mind pertaining to the interactions of noema and noesis have the capacity to awaken us to life issues including those relating to gender with mechanisms far above those described.  They also have the capacity to interface with the various spiritualities throughout the world and to warn us when we lose balance through obsession as the enemy of innocence.  As such they play a pivotal role in our health, quality of life, and understanding as harbingers and awakeners of insight.

For most of us, unless hampered from antagonistic sources imposed by the dogmatic seeds of noemata sown by others, we can find them worth cultivating, knowing also that by cultivation we also must face social and psychological currents designed to destroy us.  The struggle for the transgender soul is more than a struggle for domination by religious and political parties.  The struggle is internal, one of which we often find ourselves at a loss to grasp.

Our philosophies touch upon them but the bulk remains a deep mystery.  But we can admit one thing:  we’ve come a very long way since Hume’s colliding billiard balls.

_________________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  Superimposed glyph of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life with the sephirah of Binah superimposed upon the part of a diagram expressing Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic at the circle pertaining to Verstand (Understanding, also the meaning of Binah).  The spheres representing the sephirot are themselves reminiscent of Hume’s billiard balls.  A graphic limitation exists here because while in Kabbalah, understanding pertains to Binah, the development of forms is deemed to be more a function of Chokhmah.  Beyond is a detail of Michelangelo’s Creation of Man from the Sistine Chapel, Vatican in which not a few have observed the uncanny appearance of the Godhead figure and cloak to a brain.  The Divine appears to reach through what appears to be the frontal lobe at the Ajña Chakra, to give life to Adam (Flickr).  The diagram concerning Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic is by the author.

  1. M. Lorkowski. “David Hume- Causation” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (n.d., accessed September 20, 2017) http://www.iep.utm.edu/hume-cau/.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Kant, Immanuel. “Critique of Pure Reason” The Basic Writings of Kant (Allen W. Wood, ed, transl.,2001) Modern Library, Random House Publishing Group, NY, ISBN: 0-375-75733-3, pp. 42,43.
  4. 25, ibid.
  5. 57, Ibid.
  6. 59, ibid.
  7. Zack, Naomi, PhD. “The Handy Philosophy Answer Book” (Visible Ink Press, Canton MI 2010) ISBN: 978-1-57859-226-5, p. 275.
  8. An exercise known by the author since the 1990’s as a teacher in various classes on the subject. In settings where the participant does not act alone, clothing is loose-fitting or with the wearing of a ritual robe.
  9. (n.a.) “The Art of Dreaming” Biblioteca Pleyades (Quotations and comments from Carlos Castaneda, accessed September 21, 2017) https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/cienciareal/esp_donjuan9.htm.
  10. Observed by the author.
  11. Rassi, Fatemeh and Shahabi, Zeiae. “Husserl’s Phenomenology and two terms of Noema and Noesis” International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, ISSN: 2300-2697, Vol. 53, pp29-34 (2015, Sci Press LTD, Switzerland), pp. 29, 30; referencing Husserl, Edmund. Ideas:  General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (2003, W. R. Boyce Gibson, translator, George Allen & Unwinm LTD, London).  Available through https://www.scipress.com/ILSHS.53.29.
  12. A commonly reported example of awakening within a dream. Scientific inquiry began with Stephen LeBerge of Stanford University when he proved the existence of lucid dreams in the Stanford Sleep Lab.  Much material is available on his work from The Lucidity Institute. http://www.lucidity.com/
  13. Fiona Macdonald. “Scientists May Have Found The Part of The Brain That Enables Lucid Dreaming” Science Alert (January 26, 2015, accessed September 21, 2017) https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-may-have-found-the-part-of-the-brain-that-enables-lucid-dreaming .
  14. Lynne Blumberg. “What Happens to Brains During Spiritual Experiences” The Atlantic (June 5, 2014, accessed September 21, 2017). https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/what-happens-to-brains-during-spiritual-experiences/361882/
  15. BBC Staff. “Meditation mapped in monks” BBC (March 1, 2002, accessed September 21, 2017) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1847442.stm
  16. Brad Fischer. “Distinct ‘God Spot’ in the Brain does not exist, MU Researcher Says” University of Missouri News (April 18, 2012, accessed September 21, 2017) http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2012/0418-distinct-%E2%80%9Cgod-spot%E2%80%9D-in-the-brain-does-not-exist-mu-researcher-says/
  17. Jung, C. G. Man and His Symbols (1968, Laurel Books, Dell Publishing, NY) ISBN: 0-440-35183-9, p. 32.
  18. Zohar 1:13b, from Matt, Daniel C. The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Volume 1 (2004) Stanford University Press. ISBN: 0-8047-4747-4, p. 94, footnote708.
Please follow and like us:
0

A Message in an E-Mail: The Heart of the Struggle for the Transgender Soul

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

How did I survive all this?  When I look back on all the times I could have died in obscurity, I can’t help but think that some uncanny intelligence intervened.  Is it God?  Is it the universe?  Or does this intelligence even cater to individual understanding?  I don’t think so.

Throughout the ages, many other words have described this intelligence: Spirit, Being, Noumenon, Superconsciousness… but more accurately these terms probably speak of aspects, not the fullness of an essence.  None of us fully grasp that essence.  We barely grasp our own, provided we had a chance to allow ourselves that essence to unfold in the first place, an unfolding that might be compared to a plant that unfolds from darkness to light, like the sunflower that springs up from a seed.

It might be described as a soul, more than just the union of flesh and breath: that which discovers its capacity to commune with that which is greater than one’s self, yet realizing in that communion how it’s as it were the ripple in a pond.  Its rings fan outward from a mere drop as a seed and fades into the greater vibratory milieu.  Scarcely more than analogy can speak of it.  Parables continue to elude those who haven’t tasted.  But that something in the transgender heart desires desperately to dance like that exquisite ripple and, if obstructed, will find a way to rebuild that vibration.  The struggle for the transgender soul is like that.  It’s verily the struggle for liberty.

 

AWAKENING TO INNOCENCE

I didn’t realize what I had encountered when it knocked on the windows of my soul.  It took the form of an e-mail from a friend back in 2001, a dean of Religious Studies at an east coast university.  He sought to encourage me, signing his communiqués, “With thoughts of metta.”  “Metta”, of course, is a term for “compassion” in Japanese Buddhist terms.  He said in his e-mail, “You are beautiful, smart, and also innocent.”

I demurred, remembering how in the year following being victimized by rape I had engaged so many and had never forgiven myself for my promiscuity.  I said, “I am not innocent.”

He said, “You may not see yourself as innocent because of your past.  But no matter where you may have been or what you may have done, you are innocent because you never lost your capacity to wonder, even as a little child.”

None of this made sense to me so I dismissed his words as flattery, setting the matter aside while pursuing my assessment for transition.  I wouldn’t revisit the matter for another 3 years when I faced another crisis.  For I had to choose between a life partner and the manipulations of a corporate cult that had sought to swallow up a large swath of the Southern California trans community.  This threatened me enough that I could have lost my home and even my life.  At that time I had begun to write a journal that should be found with my body perchance law enforcement would find it and needed information about me beyond just a statistic.

What I had begun to write became much more.  I revisited the issues of dreams and relationships, seeking what they all meant.  For while I might have resigned from my order of Magians only months before meeting my online friend, the issues generated by my own gnostic experiences resonate to this day.  I had to account for them and their continued relevance.

In most cases I speak of more than just having a dream.  I speak of dreaming as an intentional art.  I catalogued 40 dreaming mechanisms in 5 genera:

  • Hypnagogia: dreams occurring at the onset of sleep before Stage I.
  • REM: dreams during sleep characterized by rapid eye movements.
  • Trance: dreams during waking but with eyes closed.
  • Eidetics: dream phenomena during waking and with eyes open.
  • Coma: a loosely defined genus centered around comatose episodes and others not fitting the above categories.1

That’s when I remembered my friend’s words and for a moment it struck me how much of a gift he had unwittingly given me.  He regarded me as “innocent” in a different way from the vernacular.  I had been locked into the view in which innocence follows a legal declaration.  But suddenly I began to realize it was not so.

It eventually became a foundation for my philosophy.  I introduced the idea thus:

“There’s one trait specifically, the true innocence manifest in children, which is precious beyond all price; for by it we owe the continuance of the world.  It’s the capacity to wonder, to dream, to be in awe.  From such things we invent all that mankind has made: the affairs of state and education, the assemblies of worship, and the arts of love; for there’s nothing in our world that did not begin somewhere in a dream, including you who are also dreamers.”2

That realization set the theme of the first book I ever wrote: The Téssara.  I took the name from the Greek word for “4” (τέσσαρα), applying it to 4 sections.  That book would mean little to most people.  But that book began my philosophic journey through which I would begin to understand the stigma that had dogged me from childhood, into the university, a Bible college, and in every shop in which I would work over the decades.  It also enabled me to come to terms with my life’s meaning.  Instead of providing final information to police it affirmed my life’s purpose.  My living situation stabilized.  I built a career.

 

FACING THE IMPENETRABLE STIGMA

The stigma which so readily becomes attached to those of us who may eventually transition from male to female arises out of the judgments of others who say, “he isn’t a proper boy,” or “he’s queer,” or “he’s weird.”  Nothing I could say or do changed these perceptions.  Nothing I could imagine would be allowed any other interpreted than psychopathology.  Many religious people demand regimentation of action, speech, and even thought.  To do anything creative often invites some form of rejection or even violence.

A choice persists for all who face this stigma that hangs like a thick cloud through which light doesn’t penetrate:

  1. Does one escape violence and go with the herd?
  2. Does one embrace her/his/eir uniqueness though none would tolerate it?

The former leads into a world of games and gangs in which others always become the “king of the hill” and the religious typically sanction this.  The latter leads into a world of science and art that demands questioning through which one forever confronts dissatisfaction with dogmas and the inevitable human hypocrisies that arise concerning them.

That also confronts those phenomena that come naturally, like dreams.  My dreams awakened me at an early age to my gender identity:

“Growing up I preferred dolls to sports.  As boys attacked me I developed friendships with girls.  One night I had a dream where I looked in the bathroom mirror and a pretty girl looked back.  I felt my hair, my skin.  I was certain I had turned into a girl.  I was happier than I had ever known.  Then I awoke and saw it was a dream and wept bitterly.  I began 2 things: a lifelong study of dreams and cross-dressing.  In both cases I was desperate to bring back the girl in the mirror.”3

Many other transwomen to whom I have spoken had dreamed such a dream at an early age.  Dreams have a way of signaling life issues, often more loudly than any other activity.  Virtually all of us can recall having been zapped by a dream.  There’s a reason that happens.  The numinosity thereof screams at us through the limbic system’s emotional tags.  The hippocampus arranges and rearranges these memory traces in the dreams of the night, and if the issues represented thereby become important enough, they’re amplified even more in a surge of emotional energy that can jolt us awake with trembling.4

Though a dream may be forgotten, and in fact most are, traces may infect the course of our day or even our lives.  Knowing this, I’ve long believed that transpeople are a people of dreams, though most of them remain largely e asleep and unaware of their potency.  Many transpeople have shut out their dreams, dismissing them as entirely unreliable for any purpose.  But those dreams reveal their most basic desires, unconsciously amplified as the playback of tapes they might not understand, but are the stuff that impacts our thoughts and actions.5

 But if those dreams have been pondered and understood in terms of their emotive language, the same open to higher vistas.  Certain aspects of meditation address these things through its own lucidity as a vehicle of mindfulness.  Together they work to promote self awareness, and consequently, an awakening to a higher intelligence.

Of all spiritualities, none represent anything more fundamental or more primal than those formed about an oneiric muein.

 

ONEIRITY AND AWAKENING

Oneirity, or one’s propensity to dream, is more potent than we think.  Picture the mind as a field (agros).  Even a field at rest grows plants after the rain.  Thoughts develop much the same way, forming as they were, living networks.  Edmund Husserl described such networks of thought as noemata.  They’re more than amalgamations of sense perceptions.  Sometimes these networks touch what an individual cannot account for by any physical means and so must turn to the higher noesis whose conceptions are somewhat different, comparable to the actions of a bee as it carries pollen from one to the next.6

But if one questions thoughts to their sources, one must find them hidden in an early fixation or resonance.  It may begin with the joys of a family.  It may begin with recitation of verse.  It may begin with an insight through mathematics.  It may even begin with the imposition of a creed.  It may even begin with a dream.  These initial resonances I call a muein.  In the aforementioned list a muein may be familial, lyrical, mathematical, dogmatic, or oneiric respectively.  Others exist besides these.  But a muein (plural, muousi) acts with noemata much the same way as an executable file gives life to a program and is set in motion by some intelligence, human or otherwise.  Some may think of a muein as angelic or demonic.  But it’s neither.  It’s a resonance, a source of enchantment reflecting a mystery, in fact “muein” (μυεῖ = “he initiates” + moveable nu) comes from the same root as “mystērion” (μυστήριον = “mystery”) in Greek.

These construct through noemata the tapes, the stories we live by as narrative creatures.  Muousi are the seeds of those life-giving narratives of personal myth.  Nobody explores one’s own soul without also exploring those narratives.

Every muein carries with it inherent benefits and dangers.  Where a dogmatic muein may set forth a wild growth of noemata that stimulates a form of scholarship, but also judgmentalism, lack of tolerance, and reliance upon things preconceived.  This, more often than not, develops the form of spirituality most desired in and imposed by religious cults.  An oneiric muein stimulates a plethora of ideas, even philosophies, but also an ethereal and elusive quality that requires a lot of grounding.  This, more often than not, develops the kind of spirituality one may encounter in sage and sorcerer.  Both need the discipline of philosophy.

More than one muein may take hold upon a person.  But once planted they cannot be uprooted.  All that can happen is a decision to cultivate certain noemata over others or implantation of a new muein.  But the suppression of a muein can also be a dangerous thing.  If suppressed it could burst forth at a future time with a vengeance building new thought networks at a dizzying rate.  Those who transition late in life often experience this.

That breaking forth of the action of a suppressed muein translates into awakening.  In the case of transpeople, that awakening can translate into a twofold revolution of thought relating to gender identity as well as a spiritual revolution.  So often do questionings concerning the origin of this revolution reveal an oneiric muein taking hold, whether or not dreams are accepted as relevant, I believe that dreams are key to development of the transgender soul.

 

SPIRITUALITIES AND SEXUALITIES

Natural innocence is something much maligned by religionists.  It’s ridiculed and dismissed.  Worse yet, it isn’t even recognized as innocence.  They delegate innocence to what they declare as self-appointed judges, juries, and executioners to whatever extent they can.  By doing so, they inflict immense harm.

So pervasive is this harm scarcely anyone sees around it.  Consider this exchange at a radio station when I asked other announcers their thoughts on innocence:

 

One announcer declared that innocence is the same as ignorance because young children are innocent and don’t know anything.  A rabid Evangelical affirmed the same idea.

“Wait a minute!” I said, “If innocence is ignorance then an all-knowing god can’t be innocent.”

The Evangelical said that was true.

“Are you for real?” I said.  “God judges our innocence when He can’t be innocent Himself?  I’m astonished that an Evangelical, eager to defend the character of God should make such a pronouncement.  But it has been suggested, children are innocent.  Does everyone agree?”

Everyone did.

“And do we all agree that innocence is something to be preserved?”

Everyone agreed.

“Then innocence can’t possibly be ignorance.  Why have schools?  Why be concerned with moral development?  By teaching we would lead children away from ignorance and therefore destroy innocence forever.”

Another said, “We know that innocence means one has done no wrong.”

“As in ‘sinlessness’?”

“Yes.”

“Then if children are our example of innocence, I couldn’t agree less.  If ever a human demonstrated wrongdoing, it’s a child.  That’s why a child needs instruction.  But since we all agreed that children are innocent, innocence can’t be sinlessness by a longshot.”

“But children aren’t accountable because they don’t know any better,” the Evangelical interrupted.

“Then we’re back to an issue of ignorance rather than wrongdoing and we already saw how ignorance isn’t innocence.  Wrongdoing likewise isn’t the issue of innocence.  Innocence is necessarily something else.”

“But what about the courts?” another said.  “They declare innocence and guilt every day.”

“The courts,” I said,” are a subterfuge.  Don’t take their words about innocence and guilt at face value.  Here’s a similar example regarding legal words, “several,” which though we commonly speak of many, in the courts refer to the responsibility of only one entity.  Courts can’t judge a heart. They only judge actions through what is evidence they can see.  But what other terms can we offer them by which to judge?  They make do with the language we offer and at times redefine words so as to estrange them from their deeper meaning so they could execute the duty assigned to them.  They work around natural limitations.  When a court declares innocence or guilt, it does so to establish and preserve a milieu where true innocence can flourish.  In so doing, a court is a blessing so long as it’s circumspect.”7

 

When questioning further to religious ideas about innocence as a declarative judgment, one sooner or later encounters the idea that the innocence of children amounts to ignorance concerning sex.8 If a child sees someone naked, accusations fly like, “He took away my child’s innocence!”  In recent cases in which a child encounters a transperson, similar claims fly, presuming, of course, that the claimant stigmatizes all transpeople as “sex perverts” much the same way as we were typically treated under Hitler and post-war American society before Stonewall.

This treatment of sex and innocence is nonsense, of course.  It has worked its way into a problematic intergenerational ethic built upon malapropism.  If the lover finds within the other the fulfillment of a dream and will even die to preserve the other, such is innocent whether or not a religionist chooses to accept it as such, tolerate it as a provision of religious dictum, or refuses to accept the innocence thereof, opposing like the stereotypical in-law.

Likewise, our own gender issues demand that we face and explore what these issues mean.  While religionists may summarily condemn such exploration, the only thing that detracts from the possibility of them being innocent is an issue of dogma concerning interpretations of religious tests as a matter of Divine Command.  But whether a presumed “command” may be accepted or not has little relevance to whether the exploration is innocent.  After all, if we should accept the religious idea that “every command is also a promise,”9 then the appropriation of that promise of negating gender issues should destroy them outright as a miracle.

But we typically don’t find this, despite the claims of certain “ex-transsexuals”.10 Once in a while a dream may awaken one who isn’t genuinely transgender to that person’s internal truth.11 Detransition is warranted for such an individual but this cannot be applied to all.  What typically happens in these cases is the acceptance of subjugation as a condition for desired cult acceptance.  Nobody who does not form his/her/eir own conclusions should be considered a proper candidate for transition in the first place.

The charge that a transperson “takes away a child’s innocence” also presumes that innocence, once lost, is irretrievable.  But not only is innocence recoverable, it’s something to be cultivated, a virtue between the vices of gullibility and gross cynicism.

This maligning of innocence and sexuality results in something much worse:  internalization of condemnation due to the simple fact that one naturally has sexual feelings.  This internalization has actually resulted in not a few people turning against anything that smacks of spirituality.  It has also resulted in not a few becoming so internally conflicted they’re set up for mental illness and this complex may be reinforced by incarceration.

 

THE HEART OF THE STRUGGLE

This is the heart of the struggle for the transgender soul:  those forces arising from dogmatic muousi demand subjugation and suppression of those with oneiric muousi.  Those with noemata and spiritualities developed from other muousi are forced to choose between them, and that may be determined upon convenience instead of conscience.  Factors endemic to the characteristics of each muein also appear.  The integrity of those with oneiric muousi encounter constant challenges from those determined to force others to give up their dreaming selves.  They also face challenges unaccepting members of their own community.

The integrity of those with dogmatic muousi also faces challenge in like manner but with an additional stressor:  the need for their respective egos to see their judgments enforced.  If those judgments suffer damage as a result of non-acceptance, so do their egos.  It may end in bitterness, or may simply demand rest till such can fight another day.  It’s a conflict that ends only with the end of religious institutions and even then their adherents typically realign with new entities.

For those of us who are transgender, the issue amounts to a desire for liberty; and if not liberty, then at least tolerance.  Liberty and tolerance aren’t the same.  Tolerance presumes the right to impose judgment against another, but makes some degree of allowance.  Human consistency in judgment doesn’t exist and neither does human tolerance.  Germany was one of the most tolerant nations on Earth till after the Weimar Republic.  Then Hitler imposed his death camps.  Liberty, however, permits no presumption of a right to judge.  Wherever entities seek political power in order to enforce what they regard as Divine Command, liberty dies and tolerance runs thin.

But those of us with oneiric muousi can take comfort on other levels for the transgender soul, even in the face of the threat of extermination.  Because we dream, we can always repair to the higher, beyond the reach of the intolerant.  Our paths may be hidden and we may be driven back into the shadows as they have for centuries.  Our paths can lead us into places of repair where perchance we might also encounter that higher intelligence: in quiet abodes set apart, in temples unknown in the heart.

_______________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  portions of the ‘Etz Chayim consisting of the sephirot Malkhut, Y’sod, and Netzach with their associated paths depicted in Universal Kabbalah superimposed over a path along Santiago Creek, Santa Ana CA.  Images are by the author.

  1. Stuart, Lynnea Urania. “Hiereika”, Ch. 3, The Téssara. (Unpublished, 2005) pp. 121, 122.  It’s stated in Lynnea’s will that The Téssara must not be released in its full form till her death.
  2. Stuart, Lynnea Urania. “Enthumesia”, Ch. 1, The Téssara, p. 207.  This view is followed by a discussion of concepts of truth, the nature of which distinguish innocence from selfish ambition, the latter of which also dreams and wonders but does so destructively.  Lynnea refers to ambition as the “counterfeit of innocence” and different from the essential trait of drive.
  3. Girschick, Lori B. Transgender Voices (2008, quoting Lynnea Urania Stuart from a 2002 statement) University Press of New England, Lebanon NH, ISBN-13: 978-1-58465-645-6, p. 51.
  4. James R. Phelps, M.D. Memory, Learning, and Emotion” org (updated December, 2014, accessed September 13, 2017) http://psycheducation.org/brain-tours/memory-learning-and-emotion-the-hippocampus/.
  5. Dan P. McAdams “The Stories We Live By” Kirkus Review (May 20, 2010, accessed September 13, 2017, summarizes the author’s thesis) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/dan-p-mcadams/the-stories-we-live-by/.
  6. William Large. “The Noesis and Noema” Arasite (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.arasite.org/noesis.html. This summary article should be read carefully and critically.
  7. Stuart, “Enthumesia”, Ch. 1, The Téssara, pp. 205, 206.
  8. Marie Winn. “The Loss of Childhood” New York Times (May 8, 1983, repost n.d. accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/08/magazine/the-loss-of-childhood.html?pagewanted=all&mcubz=3.
  9. As generally taught, all promises come with prerequisites of obedience as defined by clergy. See Graham Pockett.  “The Bible is an ‘iffy’ book” Anointed Links (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.anointedlinks.com/iffy.html . It’s a reverse view of the classical position that no obedience can possibly take place without taking promises on faith.
  10. M. “My Turning Around” Transgender Christians (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.transchristians.org/archive/brooke-my-turning-around.
  11. Matt Sorger. “I was Transsexual.  Then Jesus came into my life” MSM  (accessed September 13, 2017) http://www.mattsorger.com/miracles/article/i-was-transsexual-.then-jesus-came-into-my-life.
Please follow and like us:
0

AH-CHOO! Interdict That Rhinovirus Before It Ruins Your Makeup

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

Admit it.  You’ve been held hostage.  It can happen every year when chills remind you that it isn’t summer anymore, and especially when you have an upcoming gig in a drag show or a speaking engagement like the quintessentially cold and drippy International Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Ignore it and you can be sure you’ll face a slog of a week or 10 days.  You might face an even longer siege if the infection spreads into your lungs where it could expand into pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems.1 Rhinovirus, the bane of the babes onstage and known to be the most common culprit of the “common cold,” is ready for another season to laugh its way into your nasal passages like an attack of obnoxious little critters to force you out of makeup.  But if you act quickly enough and take proper precautions, you could beat an impending infection in a matter of hours.

We all know the symptoms of the common cold: sore throat (especially in the early stages of infection), runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headaches, and body aches.2 No “cure” exists for a rhinovirus infection.  Antibiotics, useful for coated bacteria, 3 only help combat a secondary infection of bacteria and have lost much of their effectiveness because of decades of improper use.4 The virus has resulted in days lost from work and school, impacting the national economy through loss of labor and increased sales in the robust industry of cold remedies.  But in most cold cases, those expensive cold remedies might not even be needed if approached properly.

 

ANATOMY OF A COMMON INFECTION

While it’s possible to become infected through close contact with another person, especially if an infected person sneezes in your face, most cases of infection happen without our thinking about it at all.  Handling a doorknob or a writing instrument previously handled by an infected individual can transfer the virus, and if the hand is brought to the face infection can readily result.  Common introduction of the virus is through the eyes when we unconsciously rub them during the course of the day.5

The eyes have a constant flow of tears to protect them from the environment.  Keeping that flow of tears enables the cornea, and consequently, vision to remain clear.  Those tears originate in tear glands around the eyes.  But they not only empty into the eyes via tear ducts.  These ducts also direct tears into the nasal cavity.  When we cry those tears loosen other material in the nasal cavity, resulting in a flood that we blow out into our handkerchiefs.6

Those tear ducts not only provide a pathway for tears into the nasal cavity but also for pathogens including rhinovirus.  The nasal passages provide its best nesting ground.  Infection results in an initial response of the body producing its own histamines, causing stuffiness and post-nasal drip.

By “post-nasal drip” we refer to the drip of mucous from the nasal cavity to where these passages join with the pharynx, or the back of the throat.  This drip of mucous can trigger in a response from sublingual salivary glands which produce a predominantly mucous saliva that can also become stringy in texture.  This aids in digestion of food but has a way of exacerbating the less viscous mucous from the nasal cavity, keeping the viral-rich stickiness stuck around the pharynx because it’s difficult to swallow, resulting in irritation of pharyngeal tissues.  One might awaken in the middle of the night with some nose stuffiness and a scratchy throat.  The same may even experience a chill reflecting the body elevating its own temperature in response to infection.  These warning signs need to be heeded.7

 

THE BEST DEFENSES

Some excellent and inexpensive remedies exist.  But one must understand why they work and that making them effective requires some personal diligence.

At the first sign of a cold, hyper-hydration can be very effective for most people.  To do this, drink an average size glass (6-8 ounces) of warm water every 10 minutes for an hour.8 You might feel as if you will slosh back and forth after this.  You very likely will feel an accelerated need for urination.  Fluids want to pour out of you.  But something else happens too.  The blood vessels, being enriched with water also help to diffuse water into various interstitial tissues and membranes throughout the body including those of the nasal cavity.  It helps to break foreign bodies that may try to lodge there.  Warm water is preferred over cold because the body must otherwise heat the water you take in, heat that would be better suited for the elevation of temperature it really needs in combating infection.

The thing to understand if you hyper-hydrate is that you can’t put it off.  Do it immediately.  If your first sign of a cold happens when you head out the door to an important activity, take a thermos.  Time is the critical factor in using this method.  If the infection becomes too embedded as a result of inaction, this trick will be less likely to avail anything for you.

If you encounter throat soreness, gargling with salt water does help to break up the stringy mucous that settles in the pharynx and helps to settle the pharyngeal salivary glands that produce them.  Some adults have found a single aspirin, gradually dissolving and trickling down into the throat effective against the pain of an adult sore throat, a trick used by tradesmen in cold rainy environments.  But its effectiveness also requires contact with the tissues of the pharynx and a thick layer of mucous won’t allow that.  If you elect to use aspirin, it’s best to gargle first.

Two factors have been noted for combating colds: temperature and time.9 It’s why saunas have worked to promote health.  But what if you don’t have a sauna?  Nearly everyone has access to hot water.  The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) for many years set the accepted range for domestic hot water in hospitals:  106-120 degrees Fahrenheit, though in recent years this has been tightened to 110-120 degrees.  Over 120 degrees is considered scalding temperature.10

This is important to know because rhinovirus has a very tight optimal temperature range that’s a little lower than the core body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).  Its range is 91.4 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (33-35 Celsius).  The typical range of temperature in the nasal cavity falls within that optimal range. 11

The outsides of the eyes often experience a cooler temperature than the core body temperature.  During cold months some warming can be anticipated for pathogens within the tear ducts including the portions joining with the nasal cavity.  In which case one would do well to check the condition of one’s eyes first thing in the morning, and if symptoms start midday to check them then as well.  You might notice stickiness in the corner of the eye and the lower eyelid, and possibly some whiteness like pus if there’s anything bacterial involved.  In this case, simply rubbing the eye won’t help.  Instead, flush the eyes to wash them.

Eye flushes work very well when showering.  Water temperature that’s good for this is at the low end of the older range set by JCAHO: 106 to 110 degrees.  This elevates the temperature beyond what rhinovirus finds friendly, yet low enough to do no harm to the eyes.  It’s the range one would experience with a nicely warm shower.  Your eyes won’t be harmed at this temperature.  They would encounter a higher temperature just walking around Phoenix or Las Vegas on a hot day.

Some shower nozzles, however, force a stream of water too sharp for this purpose.  If that’s the case, it helps to bounce the stream from the shower head off the back of a clean hand into the eyes.  This should work for most municipal systems with chemically treated water.  If the domestic water system has become contaminated, or if you’re away from home, you still have recourse another way.

  

AN ALTERNATE APPROACH

It helps to keep a 4 ounce bottle of normal saline solution designed for eyewash.  Most grocery chains and drug stores sell this from regular shelves.  It requires no prescription.  After all, it’s sterile salt water balanced to reasonably match the salinity of most bodily fluids.  Let the bottle sit in warm water for a while to bring it into the temperature range best for flushing the eyes.  You can use a microwave to heat water in a cup till warm and insert a bottle of normal saline for a few minutes, shaking the bottle periodically.  Check the temperature on the inside of the forearm to verify that the temperature is warm but not hot.  Wash your hands thoroughly.  Then apply like you would eye drops without touching the tip of the bottle to your hands or your eyes.  Flush out any gunk into a clean tissue or handkerchief and then flush again.  This will not only clean the eyes and interdict pathogens at the most common point of entry to the nasal cavity, but will also soothe the eyes themselves.

A warm saline solution can also be effective snuffed up the nose or as nose drops.  The principle behind this is much the same as what’s used in eye flushes, washing loose mucous and pathogens.   For home made nose drops you can dissolve ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water, then apply to the nasal cavity through a nasal irrigation kit.12

Aside from eye flushes, application of a hot pack to the face and forehead can elevate the temperature of the sinuses beyond the range of the virus.  Some people like to use a combination of hot and cold packs.  The cold packs in this case drop the temperature to below the optimal range of the virus and may be preferred if you happen to experience pain.  Use whichever works best for you.  But do it as early as you can.

 

MAKEUP PRECAUTIONS

If possible, it’s best to not wear makeup while engaged in tackling cold symptoms.  Eye makeup, especially mascara, can become easily contaminated with nearly anything as surely as the La Brea Tar Pits can swallow up a mastodon.

That means if your eyes become infected with a pathogen, you can easily transfer it on the tip of liquid eyeliner or a mascara brush.  That means, if you become sick it’s best to replace eye makeup and to avoid using a new batch till you’re past any symptoms.  If you absolutely have to use it as in obligatory stage work, discard it afterwards.13

For the same reason, never share eye makeup.  Don’t take any chances on infecting a friend or coworker.

 

PERSONAL RESULTS THROUGH THE USE OF WATER

This writer used to experience colds every month except for summer, or an average of 9 colds per season.  At my age a cold can easily turn serious, becoming a severe chest cold or bronchitis leading to pneumonia.  With these techniques I have been able to reduce colds to an average of 1 per season and in many seasons I’ve succeeded in eliminating them entirely.  I’ve also found initial cold symptoms knocked out in a matter of hours, even when working in environments where sick children liberally spread their contagion.  Today it takes a particularly virulent strain to pass these defenses I have practiced and the costs of performing them regularly have been negligible.

I typically flush my own eyes whenever I enter the shower to bathe.  But in 1994 I did something else to acclimatize myself to cold weather before travel.  I regularly took what’s called a Scots Shower, also called, Scottish Shower.

The Scots Shower employs alternating hot and hold.  After an initial steamy shower, close down the hot water valve for 15 seconds till the water feels just uncomfortably cool.  Resume the hot water to bring up the body temperature for a couple of minutes and then go for another cool down for 30 seconds with water a little colder than before.  Repeat this till you can go over a minute with a cold shower.14 The idea is to build resistance.  This was necessary for me because I was traveling to the former Soviet Union in November when there’s a lot of sleet and snow at the onset of winter.

I emphasize this:  the techniques described here do not cure the common cold.  What they do instead is interdict rhinovirus and other pathogens from entry and buildup in the nasal cavity where they find the optimal conditions for replication.  The body has its own defense against viruses through its own interferon, whose development is particular to each strain.  Nobody has produced a laboratory interferon that will tackle every strain of virus.15 I discussed what I was doing with my own physician and he confirmed that the effectiveness is much like a security guard stops a bad guy from entering into a theater to plant a bomb.

 

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Not all viruses can be knocked down with these techniques.  They don’t apply well to influenza.  They don’t apply to other airborne pathogens like tuberculosis where bacteria transfer through sputum.  Some cases may even require isolation of a patient from others.  Some pathogens may require gowns, gloves, and medical dust mask.  In certain strains, goggles or even a full plastic face shield may be required.  Hospitals mark rooms set up for isolation, reversing air flow so that pathogens don’t escape the room by force of air handlers.  This is done by relying upon an exhaust fan to draw outside air from the hallway or through a filter.  These special techniques go far beyond what anyone can do to head off a common cold.  It takes a doctor to determine what precautions are indicated.

If a cold goes directly to the chest, one can gain relief from an expectorant to facilitate the expulsion of phlegm.  Some expectorants today also come with decongestants.  They’re sold over the counter in pharmacies; however there are now restrictions on how much you can buy in the course of a month.  A pharmacist will want to check your purchases through your driver’s license or identification card, simply because cold remedies have been abused by manufacturers of designer drugs.  But if you aren’t winning in a couple of days or if symptoms worsen, you need a physician.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends seeing a doctor under the following conditions:

  • If your oral temperature rises higher than 100.4° F
  • If cold symptoms persist over 10 days
  • Unusual or severe symptoms.16

Severe symptoms include excessively high fever or pain, or breathing becoming obstructed.  If your color turns blue and you feel like you can’t get enough air, you may do well to suspect pneumonia and get to a doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.  If a physician prescribes a regimen, especially one of antibiotics or antiviral medication, follow the instructions exactly.

Fortunately, most colds don’t automatically signal something dire and with adequate prevention, one may avoid an infection becoming dire in the first place.  The responsibility is yours.  These techniques with water are cheap and readily available in most places.  They enable anyone to stop a dreaded invader in its tracks, saving time, jobs, and even friends, especially those of us who can’t afford to miss a day of work at all.

______________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  A variation of the American flag in the colors associated with sickness including grey (as in deadness), and pale sickly green (like the Greek word for pale χλόρο or “chloro” as used in the Apocalypse of John to describe the color of the horse of the 4th horseman).  The canton is a detail of a public domain diagram of the rhinovirus (Wikimedia) and the background is a tearful eye  from a public domain image (Flickr).

  1. “Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others” Centers for Disease Control , CDC (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
  2. Ibid.
  3. Harry Mobley. “How do antibiotics kill bacterial cells but not human cells?” Scientific American (n.d., accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-antibiotics-kill-b/.
  4. Lee Ventola, MS. “The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis” NCBI (April 2015, accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378521/.
  5. As described by a local physician in 1992.
  6. Any college anatomy course will confirm this.
  7. “Salivary Glands and Saliva” Vivo Pathophysiology (n.d., accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/pregastric/salivary.html.
  8. Hyperhydration was recommended by a Seventh-Day Adventist physician in 1994.
  9. Noted by a registered physical therapist near Loma Linda in 1988.
  10. Known by the author who worked as a hospital engineer for over 20 years.
  11. Foxman, Ellen F.; Storer, James A.; Fitzgerald, Megan E.; Wasik, Bethany R.; Hou, Lin; Zhao, Honguy; Turner, Paul E.; Pyle, Anna Marie; and Iwasaki, Akiko. “Temperature-dependent defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells” PNAS 112, No. 3, p. 827 (January 20, 2015, accessed September 6, 2017) www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1411030112.
  12. Carol DerSarkiassen. “12 Natural Treatment Tips for Cold and Flu” WebMD (June 14, 2017, accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/12-tips-prevent-colds-flu-1#1
  13. Kristin Colling Jackson “Get Over A Cold Faster With These 7 Beauty Tips” Bustle (November 14, 2014, accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.bustle.com/articles/48585-get-over-a-cold-faster-with-these-7-beauty-tips-what-makeup-to-ditch-and.
  14. “What is a Scottish Shower?” wiseGEEK (n.d., accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-scottish-shower.htm
  15. “Interferons: Boundless.com (n.d., accessed September 7, 2017) https://www.boundless.com/microbiology/textbooks/boundless-microbiology-textbook/immunology-11/innate-defenders-138/interferons-704-6649/.
  16. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
Please follow and like us:
0

The Machine and the Circus: Why Caitlyn’s Not Going Away

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

It’s too easy to say she knows not what she does.  Caitlyn Jenner has come to be known as much for a litany of missteps as her record of athletic heroism.  She’s also terrified of them, as much a child of image as of privilege, evident in her confession that she worried terribly about tripping over her skirt at her first appearance as Caitlyn at the ESPY Awards in 2015.  She worried about leaving a first impression of being a dumb klutz, resulting in a public perception of ineptitude as a qua-transgender trait.1

 Many of us perceive Caitlyn as someone who has done much worse than falling onstage.  Some have even issued some heated damnation like this one from Parker Marie Molloy:

 

“tl;dr Caitlyn Jenner is trash, an embarrassment. @JennyBoylan @Caitlyn_Jenner”2

 

It comes down to a common and growing sentiment from the trans community.  None of us asked for Caitlyn Jenner as a “spokesperson” and many of us have felt keenly alienated by her.  Many of us would prefer that she simply cease, desist, retire to her Malibu cloister, and shut up.  But that isn’t going to happen.  Caitlyn’s not going away and a closer look tells why this is so.

 

RECENT OUTRAGE

Caitlyn most recently faced transgender outrage this past month when Ashlee Marie Preston railed a profanity-laced rant of denunciation in her face with equal condemnation of Trans Chorus L.A. for “complicity” in accepting money from Caitlyn without criticism.  She said, “It’s really (expletive) that you continue to support somebody… that does everything with the military, that’s erasing our (expletive) community. And you support it.”  When Caitlyn said, “You don’t know me” Ashlee retorted, “Yes I do!  You’re a (expletive) fraud and a fake!”3

Ashlee’s anathemas didn’t represent an accusation that Caitlyn isn’t a real transperson. Few have ever denied that.  Instead she represented a growing belief that Caitlyn doesn’t really back the Trans community like she claims, despite her raising money for Trans causes including Trans Chorus L.A.  It’s a belief rooted in politics, a predominantly Left-leaning community confronting the fact that Caitlyn has been a lifelong Republican and a Trump supporter in the 2016 election.  Caitlyn’s not the only trans Republican, of course.  The U.S. Transgender Survey sampled 4% of transpeople either being Republican or leaning toward the GOP.4 Using the 1.4 million figure The Williams Institute offered as an estimate of how many transpeople exist in the United States that would make 56,000 transpeople supporting the GOP either directly or indirectly.5

Every transgender supporter of the GOP has had to wrestle with what every transgender critic of the GOP has warned since before the election: execution of the anti-transgender 2016 Republican agenda.  It’s an agenda codified in its own platform, backing anti-transgender legislation and opposing the guidelines for trans acceptance issued from the Obama Administration:

 

“We emphatically support the original, authentic meaning of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It affirmed that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That language opened up for girls and women a world of opportunities that had too often been denied to them. That same provision of law is now being used by bureaucrats — and by the current President of the United States [Barack Obama] — to impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories. Their [sic] agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power. They [sic] are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their [sic] edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.6

 

Caitlyn did criticize Trump’s decision to exclude transpeople from the military.  She tweeted on July 26:

 

“There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?”7

 

Yvonne Juris quoted Caitlyn in People Magazine to say:

 

“Over the past two years I have met the most inspiring trans people, and I can testify to the trans community’s incredible resilience and perseverance in the face of enormous discrimination and hate… We are strong, we are beautiful, and we will win. The President must ask himself which side of history he will be on — and reverse his position immediately.”8

 

But after such vehement criticism of Trump, she was caught going out in public with that hat declaring support for Donald Trump; with the Trumpist slogan, “Make American Great Again,” emblazoned upon her brow like the Mark of the Beast.  Many who still supported Caitlyn suffered jaw-dropping disbelief, even rage at such blatant insensitivity.  Her actions even sparked condemnation even from the Kardashian clan, according to TMZ, saying she “betrayed the transgender community,” “flaunting her pro-Trump views in a ‘heartless’ way”, promoting transgender rights “selectively and only when useful to her,” and that the Kardashians “want nothing to do” with Caitlyn Jenner.9

That had to hurt.  The same article featured an update in which it was claimed that Caitlyn said she “now hated Donald Trump and claims that her wearing the pro-Trump hat was a big stupid mistake.”  But her actions have left her in a far worse position than ever, losing support from those closest to her.  Ashlee’s tirade at that Trans Chorus L.A. concert was only the topping on a bitter pie thrust into her face a-la-Soupy Sales.

 

REPRISE OF A DISABILITY

Clearly, Caitlyn Jenner needs to take a serious time out for some real self-assessment before she manages to alienate everyone she holds dear.  She needs to re-address her own limitations.  Caitlyn has often had to live up to heroic expectations due to her reputation as a sports hero.  She knows those limitations are there.  What she fails to do is take these limitations to their logical conclusion and act proactively so they don’t detract from her message.

Much of it originates with her dyslexia.  She has publicly described her dyslexia in her book The Secrets of My Life and in online video.10 Dyslexia had rendered Caitlyn a poor student in school.  It’s a learning disability which can be overcome with proper training.  But her dyslexia wasn’t diagnosed till she reached junior high school and she had been stigmatized as “stupid” by her teachers.11  Her school experience left her short changed in reading skills and in fear of ridicule.  It led her to crave friends and sometimes caused her “do desperate things.”  Though she said she has improved, she admits that these traits remain.12 But athletics vindicated her.  Athletic competition instilled in her another trait:  to fight inferiority with superiority as an expression of her own ego.13

That trait, apart from her life of privilege, has shaped her life and thought.  But such expressions of ego also have a downside.  They have a way of getting into the way when least expected.

Caitlyn might rightly have called wearing that MAGA hat a “big stupid mistake.”  But wearing it isn’t the first mistake she made in that fiasco.  She should have gotten rid of that hat a long time ago and not just because of the GOP platform.  She should have recognized that wearing it would anger many transpeople and harm her public image more certainly than tripping on stage at the ESPYs.  She should have understood that she wouldn’t recognize what that hat says at first glance and would lead her into a trap of absentmindedness by continuing to wear it.

It’s difficult for those who haven’t worked with dyslexia to appreciate.  The words “Make America Great Again” wouldn’t have registered in a flash like they would have for the rest of us who are native English speakers and think nothing about reading a slogan at a glance.  She simply doesn’t have that same capability.  Because of dyslexia she even hates reading from a teleprompter because her slow rate of reading forces her out of sync with the rhythm of speech expected on camera, triggering flashbacks of bad memories of being ridiculed in childhood when called upon to read in class.14

She would have been as oblivious to that slogan on her forehead like the quintessential old man who can’t see his glasses on the end of his nose.  But if the fact of dyslexia and subsequent lacunae in her learning should translate into a need to eliminate ahead of time those items that would arouse widespread misunderstanding and embarrassment, what does that say for her sense of logic?  It represents a failure to take premises essential to language and behavior to their full conclusion.

It isn’t that the rest of us don’t fail the same way.  We do.  But anyone in the limelight, as Caitlyn has been most of her life, has to act proactively to prevent repercussions resulting from public perceptions of inconsistency and her assistants need to bring this to her attention before she goes out in public.  It’s part of the celebrity’s public relations tightrope.

 

THE MEAN ESTABLISHMENT

But another factor must have contributed to Caitlyn’s disconnect:  her longstanding relationship with reality television.  Reality television feeds from Hollywood hype.  Ethics become skewed into a proposition that right action is what generates the most ratings and income for those who invest in the show, much in the same way that corporate ethics proposes that right action is that which generates optimal business.  For reality people, that boils down to the idea that there’s no such thing as bad advertising so long as it grabs attention.

But Caitlyn Jenner no longer has a reality show.  After bad ratings in the Season 2 of I Am Cait, her show slipped ker-plop into the dark and moldering grave of cancellation.15 The show violated a fundamental tenet about reality television: you must appeal to the viewer on a gut level because the typical viewer isn’t a big reader of anything more complicated than a gossip magazine.  Season 1 milked the tawdry anticipation that Caitlyn might “get it on” with Candis Cayne just as much as the novelty of a sultry Caitlyn Jenner bursting upon the world.  However, Season 2 consisted of a lot more philosophical discussion concerning transgender issues.  Heavyweight ideologues like Jennifer Finney Boylan and Kate Bornstein didn’t help it because they’re too cerebral.  With such philosophical loftiness in play, few apart from transpeople might be interested in tuning in at all.  Season 2 might have offered real value in concepts, but reality television operates on the grist of brain rot.

Media appearances aren’t just the realm of agents and model managers, they’re also the realm of publicists and investors.  Nobody makes it big in Hollywood without an entourage of professional star-makers who must also be star-keepers if they want to keep their jobs.  That also extends into book deals.  Caitlyn logically isn’t capable of pulling off a book like The Secrets of My Life by herself.  She needed the help of Buzz Bissinger who’s a Pulitzer Prize winner.  She also had a crew of editors and transcriptionists all of whom she acknowledges.16 Likewise she can’t pull off a reality show singlehandedly.  Otherwise we wouldn’t see a list of people in the credits like we do.

In which case, much of the public Caitlyn Jenner story has been orchestrated by forces above and beyond Cailtyn Jenner.  It’s as if she had walked on the set of The Truman Show but signed her consent on the dotted line in advance with compensation consisting of diminishing returns.  Does that mean Hollywood orchestrates every detail?  Nope.  Did these Hollywood forces orchestrate the incident with the “MAGA” hat?  That’s highly unlikely.  Caitlyn’s story has been a big, unfolding story of a transwoman who continues her own evolution and Hollywood has yet to really catch up with her.  For that matter, Hollywood really hasn’t decided what to do with Caitlyn except thrust her into the dubious role in which everyone has been made to look upon her as a community spokesperson, a role she has addressed in repeated disclaimers.17

But expectations laid upon her are at least as imposing as the teacher who orders her to the front of the class to read a page of Shakespearean poetry.  It’s an expectation with a crisis of its own:  failure results in isolation, ridicule, and a deepening loneliness.  After all, the star-making moguls can also become the meanest star-breakers.

 

COMMUNITY STAKES

In the years since Caitlyn first came out, something terrible has happened in the trans community and it isn’t the first time either.  Caitlyn has had to do an immense amount of growing in a very short time because Hollywood demanded she do so.  Transpeople have likewise echoed that demand, often noting her privilege of race, fame, and wealth as detractors in addition to her politics.18 Many of us have rejected her as our own because of those detractors.  But like it or not, she is one of us and Hollywood knows it.

This transpires in a time in which we as transpeople have called upon Hollywood to cast more trans actors and to stop using typical males and typical females in trans roles.  We have confronted “transface” like the “blackface” of the early 20th century that ridiculed Blacks with shoe polish instead of hiring real Black talent.19 Caitlyn’s the first transperson readily embraced by the Hollywood establishment who in turn put her, and consequently all transpeople, in its own screen test to determine the palatability of using transpeople at all.  Rightly or wrongly, Hollywood confronts us in the person of Caitlyn Jenner and her success or failure will also be ours.

In which case, Caitlyn’s response to Ashlee at the Trans Chorus L.A. concert, “You don’t know me,” was the wrong response.  A better response would have been rhetorical in itself, saying, “You’re absolutely right, Ashley.  And I have withdrawn my support of the Trump civil rights agenda.  I want to make amends.  Will you help me?”

And if she did, what should be Ashlee’s response, or ours?  Too many times when one of us suffers defeat or faces an inconsistency of our own, what do we do?  We gloat.  We ridicule.  We condescend with anathemas.  We reject.  We even hate.  This has been the unsavory character of the trans community displayed again and again, fueled with political ideologies that build walls instead of bridges much of the time.  They’re the sort of politics that run on a far more basic level of local trans society than the butting heads of Democrat donkeys and GOP elephants.

But if your adversary prospers, be glad that prosperity is possible; and if your adversary falls, consider. 

 Let’s say that Caitlyn becomes as isolated and as lonely as many of her critics seem to want.  Let’s say that Hollywood’s screen test of the trans community through Caitlyn Jenner fails and so lose their inclination to depict other transpeople in a favorable light.  It could negatively impact other great trans performers and their agents.  Hollywood might be more inclined to revert to its practice of transface in a reversal of trends alongside the reversal of civil rights in the Trump/Pence era.

It appears to this writer that the widespread practice of gloating, condescension, and ridicule is maliciously out of place.  A more appropriate response should be one of compassion.  When any of us transitions, that person seeks a new life.  If that new life isn’t one in which the transitioning person realizes greater freedom to exercise compassion, the gains are far less than we think.

And if the star-making machine that Hollywood is becomes the star-breaker that holds Caitlyn Jenner whom they acclaimed the “spokesperson for the trans community” up to the world as a pathetic dope, why should we as transpeople accept such Hollywood’s manipulations as pawns in its circus of meanness?  If we do, then we become pathetic dopes even more.

Because though we believe we don’t need Caitlyn, we do need one another and she is one of us.  If Caitlyn falls should our reaction be, “good riddance”?  Or “well deserved”?  Are you kidding me?  That would amount to tragedy, a closing of doors in isolation of one who tried the only way she understood and under circumstances most of us don’t comprehend any more than she comprehends ours.  Loneliness is a terrible state.

For the trans community the stakes behind our actions are higher and more personal than we think.  Ashlee’s actions are forgivable and understandable.  I hope Caitlyn can forgive her.  And I hope Caitlyn comes to terms with her political inconsistencies.  I, for one, believe Caitlyn really does want to benefit the trans community and Trump’s civil rights policies have been forcing her into a reassessment that she still hasn’t taken to its conclusion.  She hasn’t because her own disability and subsequent educational failings have prevented her from easily recognizing it.  One day I think she will.  It may come sooner.  It may come later.  But like when she realized that she’s a woman and chided herself as to why it took her so long, 20 her partisan epiphany may come just as slowly.  And when it happens, I hope we haven’t become too jaded to embrace her as a sister.

But Caitlyn’s not going away precisely because Hollywood will make sure of it, whether for better or for worse.  It’s not up to any of us to determine what Hollywood does with her.  It isn’t even up to Caitlyn anymore.  The Hollywood machine and the ensuing circus parades like the manipulative “bull” that goes on forever even after cash cows come and go.  It takes a lot to withdraw from the “bull” and embrace the real.  It takes even more for those who have never even been to a Hollywood model’s go-see or actor’s audition to confront our own reality in a milieu of fantasy and hype:  the need to reach out, even if nobody else will.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON THE TMP FORUM AND FOLLOW MORE ON UPCOMING FIRST TIME AUTHOR LYNNEA STUART @ TRANSPIRE.

__________________________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured image:  A pixilated mirror of a public domain image of Caitlyn Jenner (Wikimedia).  One might not distinguish the real from the imaginary, or even whether either is real at all.

 

  1. Jenner, Caitlyn with Bissinger, Buzz. “The Secrets of My Life” (April 2017) Grand Central Publishing, Hachete Book Group, New York City.  ISBN: 978-1-4555-9675-1, p. 60.
  2. Parker Molloy. Tweet (February 11, 2017) https://twitter.com/parkermolloy/status/830553253020594176.
  3. Daniel Reynolds. “Activist Calls Caitlyn Jenner a ‘Fraud and a Fake’ at Trans Fundraiser” (August 27, 2017, accessed August 31, 2017) https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/8/27/activist-calls-caitlyn-jenner-fraud-and-fake-trans-fundraiser-video
  4. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.” (2016) National Center for Transgender Equality, Washington D.C., p. 237  Web version: http://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS%20Full%20Report%20-%20FINAL%201.6.17.pdf.
  5. Flores, A.R., Herman, J.L., Gases, G.J. & Brown, T.N.T “How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States?” (2016, The Williams Institute, accessed August 30, 2017) p. 2. Web version: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf
  6. Republican National Platform Committee. “Republican Platform, 2016” (presented to the delegates of the GOP National Convention August 2016).
  7. Caitlyn Jenner. Tweet (July 26, 2017) https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/742771576039460864.
  8. Yvonne Juris. “Caitlyn Jenner Says She Accidentally Wore Pro-Trump Hat After Trans Ban – and Promises to ‘Get Rid’ of It” People (August 5, 2017, accessed August 30, 2017) http://people.com/politics/caitlyn-jenner-apologizes-to-trans-community-for-wearing-maga-hat/.
  9. a.) “Kardashian Family: Caitlyn’s a Transgender Traitor” TMZ (August 4, 2017, accessed August 30, 2017) http://www.tmz.com/2017/08/04/kardashian-family-calls-caitlyn-transgender-traitor/.
  10. Jenner, “The Secrets of My Life”, p. 32. For the video, see Ilyashov, Alexandra.  Caitlyn Jenner Tells Her OWN Story For H&M (July 20, 2016) Web:  com: http://www.refinery29.com/2016/07/117375/caitlyn-jenner-video-hm-olympics-collection-2016 . Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  11. Ibid, p. 32.
  12. Ibid, pp. 30, 31.
  13. Ibid, pp. 49, 50.
  14. Ibid, p. 70.
  15. Elizabeth Wagmeister. “Caitlyn Jenner’s ‘I Am Cait’ Cancelled After 2 Seasons at E!” Variety (August 16, 2016, accessed August 20, 2017) http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/i-am-cait-cancelled-caitlyn-jenner-season-3-e-1201838490/.
  16. Op cit, pp. 316-318.
  17. Steinmetz, Katy with D’Addario, Daniel. “Person of the Year: Short List No. 7:  Catilyn Jenner” Time (2015, accessed June 11, 2017) http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2015-runner-up-caitlyn-jenner/.
  18. Op cit, p. 192.
  19. Kwame Opam. Casting cis actors in trans roles has reached its breaking point” The Verge (September 20, 2016, accessed August 30, 2017) https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/20/12983104/trans-actors-hollywood-representation-jeffrey-tambor-emmys-speech.
  20. Op cit. p. 290.

 

Please follow and like us:
0