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Transgender - the Facts  https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4463

Transgender: Fact or Fiction?

The Internet believes a lot of things about transgender people, but much of it isn't true by Alison Hudson

"A trans person's gender is determined by their chromosomes"



One answer is:

Your chromosomes determines your primary and secondary sexual characteristics, what is referred as “biological sex” – things like genitalia, body hair, breast development, and what hormones your body produces at puberty. The chromosomes do not determine your learned behaviors, do not declare whether you should wear a skirt or a necktie to work, and most definitely do not decide whether you ought to be called “sir” or “ma'am” at the service counter in a shop. All of that is determined by your identity, your gender. The easy way to remember the difference between “sex” and “gender” is this: sex is what is between your legs, while gender is what is between your ears. Chromosomes determine one; they most certainly do not determine the other.

To that I say chromosomes may determine or part-determine gender for they do have a say about how your brain works. And it does not follow that if a certain kind of chromosome goes along with having a certain kind of body part that it is meant to be. Chromosomes just happen. They don’t do meant. We have to decide if we are not confusing correlation and causation. Or can we decide? Can I decide that for you as well as for me?



Transmen are men and transwomen are women.


Transmen and transwomen have a problem with being accepted.  Most acceptance seems to be reluctant acceptance.  It because of the transgender narrative, "My brain tells me my body is wrong for me, its not matching the gender I feel I am.  I am suicidal because of this problem."  People tolerate transgenderism fearing that transgenders will commit suicide. Some find it unclear as to why being in the wrong body necessarily makes you want to kill yourself.  Some say that feelings are not enough reason for changing your body with surgery.


Some transgender people seek legal recognition for their gender.  Others do not.  Some say you should look for the label for the label has consequences for you and raises the question of what protections the label you identify as should bring you.  This should not change the fact that making yourself a label is objectifying yourself and asking others to consider objectifying you.  You are not the label hanging from you.  Surely people should be looking after you because you are a person and forget the labelling stuff!


Science does not sustain the traditional view that you are whatever you body looks like when you are born. 


It is thought that females have two x chromosomes and males have an x and a y. 


But some creatures, for example, flatworms if they lose a penis in an accident or attack will develop as female.  Some female humans have an 5-alphareductase deficiency and may grow a penis at puberty.


Some females have an x and y chromosome but androgens do not work on them which is why their bodies develop as female.


Some XY females miss a gene from the Y and end up with a male body.

We are both male and female. Our genes say our bodies should have certain characteristics. For example, a vagina for females and a penis for males. But if we change this through surgery, if a penis is made into a vagina then one is female. Genes aren't everything! They are only about the physical.


Despite the expectations of the world about real men and real women each one of us is partly male and partly female. A caring man has the female instinct of caring and nurturing. Many will despise him for that showing that they are awful people because they would rather he was some kind of callous and arrogantly macho monster. With its stress on the way nature is, religion should shoulder much of the blame for this. Yet it is made up of men who haven’t the guts to be truly and genuinely decent.

Some men and women like to dress up and act like the opposite sex for it fulfils some need. It is getting in touch with their female or male sides so it is perfectly natural for no man is totally male and no woman is totally female. Nobody should be ashamed or guilty about it as long as they don’t steal clothes off lines.

Long ago, macho males wore wigs and made their faces white with make-up and put on beauty spots. The rules about how men and women should dress and act are just tradition based on habit and custom and there is no natural law that says women should wear make-up and men should not. If you have skin you can wear it and should if it is good for it and makes it look better. It is bigotry to force your conventions on others who may not be willing to follow them. If a man wants to wear the male version of a skirt like Jonathan Ross did some years ago then let him. He may look awful in it to some people but all should worry about pleasing themselves instead of others when working on their appearance. Religion puts itself up to be a great fighter against prejudices. If it were it would not be barring people with “inappropriate” dress from the Church. It was worse in the past but is still a keen prejudice maker.

It is wrongly thought that effeminate men are likely to be homosexuals or paedophiles. Mannerisms come from habit and environment and are not inherited like the colour of your eyes nor are they your nature. They do not come from being born a homosexual or a transvestite but the gay man can feel more in common with women and may behave more womanly.

The Bible God says through Moses that a man must not wear something proper to a woman or a woman anything proper to a man (Deuteronomy 22:5). It seems to some that this is merely saying that people of one sex must not deceive the same gender by dressing up as the opposite sex. But that is a mere useless speculation. Why not just say, "A man must not pretend to be a woman"?  Because that is not what is meant!  Henri Daniel-Rops in Daily Life in the Time of Jesus wrote, “the same words, coat, cloak, and belt, are used indifferently for male and for female garments; and yet there must have been a difference, since the Law utterly forbade men to wear women’s clothes and women to wear men’s, and since it is clear from the Talmud that doing so gave rise to the suspicion of homosexuality.”  The text is clear that a man is a man and must not try to look like a woman even though the clothes were virtually unisex.

Deuteronomy 23:1 forbids any man with damaged testes from entering the assembly. Why?  I think it means those who had their testes removed.  Some of them thought they wanted to be eunuchs for they felt they were born in the wrong body.

When the Bible forbids things like eating unclean foods or touching something that a menstruating woman touched it is likely that it is against transvestitism even when it deceives or harms nobody. Could you imagine God or Moses allowing a man to dress up as a woman even when there is no intention to hurt anybody? The command forbids transsexualism if you understand the transsexual to be a liar who is merely an artificial say woman calling himself a woman. Or an artificial man calling herself a man. And the Catholic Church takes that view. It says that transsexuals deceive people and use trickery through surgery to appear to be a sex they are not. It condemns those who call themselves transmen or transwomen as being certainly deliberately deceptive for they only identify themselves as such to a few close friends.

Paul said that effeminates cannot inherit the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9. In the original Greek, this verse has it that effeminates and homosexuals are rejected by God (New Testament notes for the Catholic Edition, RSV, Nelson, London, 1966, page 246).


Deuteronomy 22:5 has God forbidding men or women to dress the same so that a man can pass for a woman or vice versa.  Now it is a fact that in those days clothing was basic and men and women did dress nearly the same.  The commandment says they must try to have some difference.  This definitely condemns transgenderism. 

Some people feel that they have been given the wrong bodies. They hate the body they have and want to change over to the opposite sex. Men want to become women and women want to become men believing that they were always women or men in their heads and hearts. The head and the heart are more important than the body. Who are we to judge when we do not live under their skins and feel what they feel?

We do not understand the mind or how it works so they could be right about the mind being a different gender from their body. If they are sure they want something as final and frightening as a full sex change then we have to believe that by going ahead they are doing the right thing and are sure. Yes they could be wrong but they can live with the decisions so we have to give our blessing. They have to examine themselves to see if it is their decisions and that they are not under the spell of psychiatrists or clergy either.

In 1998, Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest. The Israeli entry was sung by transsexual Dana International. Dana was condemned like something depraved by many Orthodox Jews. We have seen how the Bible forbids transvestitism. Before gender-reassignment was possible that was all people who were convinced that they were in the wrong bodies could do. They had to console themselves by pretending to be the opposite sex. So the Bible must be against transsexuals too. No exceptions were made in it for people who believed their bodies were the wrong sex. There was plenty of unsavoury attitudes advocated in the Bible by its God about rapes and silly genealogies but not a word of love or compassion for people with this problem. There is real hatred in this.
To suggest transsexuals are freaks as the Church does, is to insult women who have had hysterectomies and infer they are not as much women as women with their wombs are. It is to infer that a woman who has a vagina and breasts built artificially after a burning accident is not a real woman or less than a woman who is "intact".
People who need transgender surgery do not get it until they prove to mental health professionals that their minds do not match the body they are in. This policy smacks of transphobia. The implication is: the surgery is a necessary evil because its the only way to help people who have really been born in the wrong body. In other words, its a pity it has to be done. The proper attitude is that it is their body and their business and if they want to change it they should be supported. A person who simply wants the body of the opposite gender should get it if they have proven they want it. A man should have the right to become a woman whether or not he feels he was born in the wrong body. And similarly of course a woman should have the right to become a man.
Not all transgender men identify as biological men. Not all transgender women identify as biological women. Some do. Most feel that they should have been the gender opposite to what they got at birth but do not claim to be really the opposite sex. Take a transgender woman. She wants to be treated as female and live as female but she does not think her genes are female or that she is a woman in the way her sister is. She does not bleed every month and has no womb and no chance of carrying a baby.
If you identify as a mega rich pop superstar though you cannot sing and live in poverty does that mean that you should be respected for it? It is not the same thing. The difference is that it makes sense to be the kind of person who needs to change their lives and bodies to live as if they were the opposite sex. It is possible.


If a child's sex or gender cannot be worked out due to the child having a genital malformation and is say a girl and raised as a boy the child will have a nightmarish sense of being in the wrong body. Transgender people have the same feeling though their case is not the same. Transitioning is therefore absolutely necessary and should be allowed for children as well. Those who object are a danger to children and bigots and hate mongers.


Christianity, Catholicism in particular, pretends it cares about transgender people. It says you are the sex you were born until the day you die. Then it concludes that the treatment is mutilation and changing is a recipe for unhappiness. That is telling transgendered people to be unhappy and that they are insane if they are happy. It empowers bullies who control others on the basis that the bullies know best. It is manipulative to tell people that changing will make them unhappy and vicious to infer that it should.  Do not forget that when a religion says it's not the way to happiness it is speaking as a religion and as being allegedly informed by God about how happiness is won. Nobody has the right to use alleged revelations to condemn or control the acts of others. It is evidence that must have the final say.


Would a loving God really put a man in a woman's body or a woman in a man's body?  Those who say yes are saying that God uses suffering and evil to do good.  But to argue that a transgender person suffers so terribly and has to go through traumatic and dangerous and expensive surgery and that is God's plan is totally unfeeling.  God putting a man through this for his purpose is that the man gets his body fixed would be callous.  Startlingly people would still worship a God like that!
The argument that your genes cannot be changed and they make you male or female so transgender surgery does not really change your sex is inconclusive and weak and bigoted.  Genes may programme a man to become a woman in a different way as opposed to being a woman at birth in the physical sense.  Or a woman to become a man.  They may programme a need for body changes.  A man/woman is really a mixture of male and female so in some people there is no reason why a man cannot really be a woman in his head and a woman a man.  The man may be a woman in his head in the sense of needing the body fixed to become female outwardly.  Or the woman may be a man in that sense.  There are other ways they may need to be a different gender that do not involve hormones and surgery.  There is no problem with somebody identifying as non-binary.


The embryo only starts the process of becoming male or female after about six to eight weeks.  A gene called SRY which usually appears on the Y chromosome issues testosterone.  Unless that happens the embyro will not become male.  Sex changes happen in nature.  Gender realignment in a sense is less drastic than sex changes!  In that process you become changed not into the opposite sex but become what you already were.


If a person wishes to change gender that is their own concern. If they want to identify has having no gender let them.  The Church should mind its own business. If a person has their body changed to conform to the opposite sex and claims to have become the opposite sex that has to be respected.  Not all transgender people see themselves as males in female bodies or females in male bodies.  Some have a neurological disorder where the body needs to have the characteristics of the opposite sex.  For a woman with this condition, her nervous system will tell her she should have no breasts and have a penis.  She may suffer until she gets surgical treatment. 


Another fear the Church has comes from its questions about what would happen if all men were in the wrong body and all women were.  That will not happen but what if it did?  We learn principles from wondering.  How would people have children?  And it would be so hard that there would be fewer children.  The principle is that in reproduction it is okay to circumvent nature.  And a lower population could only be a good thing.


Transgender people have the right to get their birth cert sex/gender changed.  Religion needs to be forced to change its paperwork, such as baptismal certificates and wedding certificates, too. 


It is argued that transmen never demand testes, prostate or sperm the things that make a man a man.  It is argued that transwomen never seek to have a womb, ovaries and childbearing ability.  Those who point to these things are suggesting that transgenders want only cosmetic changes!  The answer is that they will seek those things if they become available.


For atheists or naturalists, nature is all there is and nothing non-natural ever happens.  So if we have to alter nature we are not really altering it.  It lets it happen.  For atheists if we can change nature for our good we should.


We most be careful that we do not think of transphobia in black or white terms.  It is possible for people who are not transgender to work for transgender rights without any affection for transgender people and who reason, "They are only a tiny minority.  If they were say one in ten I would not condone what they do at all."




New Ways in Theology at Holy Cross - March 2018
posted Mar 26, 2018, 12:15 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review [ updated Mar 26, 2018, 1:32 PM ]

By Elinor Reilly ‘18

A little over ten years ago, on the occasion of their 50th Reunion, alumni of the College endowed the Class of 1956 Chair of New Testament Studies, a distinguished professorship associated with the Religious Studies department.1 In the autumn of 2013, the College appointed professor Tat-Siong Benny Liew to fill this position. Professor Tat-siong Benny Liew received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Olivet Nazarene University and completed his doctorate at Vanderbilt University.2 Prior to his appointment at Holy Cross, Professor Liew had been Professor of New Testament at the Pacific School of Theology, and before that taught at Chicago Theological Seminary. According to the Department of Religious Studies webpage, his fields of specialty include “synoptic gospels, gospel of John, cultural and racial interpretations and receptions of the Bible, apocalypticism, and Asian American history and literature.”3

Professor Liew's numerous publications reveal an unconventional approach to gender, sexuality, and race in the biblical texts. The 2004 article “Mistaken Identities but Model Faith: Rereading the Centurion, the Chap, and the Christ in Matthew 8:5-13,” provides a representative example. Professor Liew and his co-author, Theodore Jennings, argue that Matthew 8:5-13, the story of the centurion who goes to Jesus to ask for healing for his servant, ought to be interpreted in terms of a sexual relationship. Matthew’s account, runs the argument, does not concern a centurion and his servant, but a centurion and his lover/slave. “The centurion’s rhetoric about not being ‘worthy’ of a house visit by Jesus (8:8) may be the centurion’s way of avoiding an anticipated ‘usurpation’ of his current boylove on the part of his new patron [Jesus],” they assert. Furthermore, “The way Matthew’s Jesus seems to affirm the centurion’s pederastic relationship with his παῖς, we contend, may also be consistent with Matthew’s affirmation of many sexual dissidents in her Gospel.”4

In 2009, Professor Liew edited the volume They Were All Together in One Place?: Toward Minority Biblical Criticism. A copy of the volume is displayed in a case in the Religious Studies Department. Professor Liew’s contributions give shape to this volume: along with serving as the primary editor, he wrote the introduction to the volume and contributed an essay. As such, the volume as a whole sheds particular light on Professor Liew’s interpretations of the biblical texts.

Professor Liew’s contribution to this volume, a chapter entitled “Queering Closets and Perverting Desires: Cross-Examining John’s Engendering and Transgendering Word across Different Worlds,” demonstrates the centrality of sex and gender to his way of thinking about the New Testament. In the chapter, Professor Liew explains that he believes Christ could be considered a “drag king” or cross-dresser. “If one follows the trajectory of the Wisdom/Word or Sophia/Jesus (con)figuration, what we have in John’s Jesus is not only a “king of Israel” (1:49; 12:13– 15) or “king of the Ioudaioi” (18:33, 39; 19:3, 14– 15, 19– 22), but also a drag king (6:15; 18:37; 19:12),” he claims.5 He later argues that “[Christ] ends up appearing as a drag-kingly bride in his passion.”6

Professor Liew continues:

In addition, we find Jesus disrobing and rerobing in the episode that marks Jesus’ focus on the disciples with the coming of his ‘hour’ (13:3– 5, 12). This disrobing, as [Colleen] Conway points out, does not disclose anything about Jesus’ anatomy. Instead, it describes Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. As more than one commentator has pointed out, foot-washing was generally only done by Jewish women or non-Jewish slaves. 12 John is clear that Jesus is an Ioudaios (4:9, 22; 18:33– 35; 19:40); what John is less clear about is whether Jesus is a biological male. Like a literary striptease, this episode is suggestive, even seductive; it shows and withholds at the same time.7

Professor Liew asserts that Jesus’s “excessive” and “deceptive” speech would be considered “feminine” in the culture of the time.8 In defense of this claim, he states that in Greco-Roman culture:

Women pollute since their moist and soft nature is also more susceptible to the assaults of wanton desires, erotic or otherwise. In short, women are wet and (thus) wild. I am suggesting that John’s constant references to Jesus wanting water (4:7; 19:28), giving water (6:35), and leaking water (19:34) speak to Jesus’ gender indeterminacy and hence his cross-dressing and other queer desires…9

He clarifies that he is not suggesting that Christ is actually a woman, but that he is neither male nor female. “I want to suggest that John’s crossdressing Jesus shows that a so-called ‘core’ is but a(n significant) effect of bodily acts,” he writes.10

Professor Liew’s understanding of Jesus in “Queering Desires” suggests an unusual interpretation of the Holy Trinity:

Suffice it to say that not only does this exchange of desires place the Father’s identity in question but also that the Father-Son dyad in John is always already interrupted by and dependent on the participation of a third party. One may, as a result, turn around Jesus’ well-known statement in John, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6c): Jesus himself needs others to cum with the Father. Jesus’ statement that “I in them [his followers] and you [the Father] in me” turns out to be quite a description. What we find in John is a Jesus who longs to be “had” by the Father…Things do not get less queer as one gets to the other parts of John’s Gospel. It is noticeable that throughout the Gospel Jesus and his Father form a “mutual glorification society” (5:41; 8:50, 54; 12:28– 29; 13:32; 17:1, 4– 5). This constant elevation or stroking is nothing less than an exciting of the penis, or better yet, phallus. Its consistency is then explainable, since “we all know that after … an orgasmic dissemination or circulation, the phallus, like most penises, becomes limp” (Sifuentes-Jáuregui 2002, 159). Fast forwarding to the passion narratives, Conway observes that John’s Jesus is a “quintessential man” because he “reveals no weakening to the passions that might undercut his manly deportment” (2003a, 175). If this is so, there is also something quintessentially queer here. During the passion, Jesus is not only beaten (18:22– 23; 19:3) and flogged (19:1); his body is also nailed and his side pierced (19:18, 23a, 34, 37; 20:24– 28). Oddly, John defines Jesus’ masculinity with a body that is being opened to penetration. 24 Even more oddly, Jesus’ ability to face his “hour” is repeatedly associated with his acknowledging of and communing with his Father (12:27– 28; 14:12, 28; 16:10, 17, 28; 17:1– 25; 18:11), who is, as Jesus explicitly states, “with me” (16:32) throughout this process, which Jesus also describes as one of giving birth (16:21– 22). What I am suggesting is that, when Jesus’ body is being penetrated, his thoughts are on his Father. He is, in other words, imagining his passion experience as a (masochistic?) sexual relation with his own Father.11

Professor Liew’s editorship of the volume reflects the same method of interpretation. In the introduction to They Were All Together in One Place?, he and his fellow editors explain the idea of “minority criticism,” admitting that the “dominant criticism” will at times “outright dismiss” minority criticism. One of the stated goals here is “relativizing” the “dominant criticism” which exists. Other chapters in the volume include such titles as “‘That’s Why They Didn’t Call the Book Hadassah!’: The Interse(ct)/(x)ionality of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality in the Book of Esther” and “Incarnate Words: Images of God and Reading Practices.”

Readers will note that They Were All Together in One Place? and “Mistaken Identities but Model Faith” were published in 2009 and 2004, respectively. Professor Liew's more recent works reflect similar lines of thought. For instance, the 2016 essay, “The Gospel of Bare Life,” describes obedience to God as “troubling” and “infantilizing.” Professor Liew writes, “If John’s Jesus, as well as those who follow John’s Jesus, are supposed to be fully subjected to the will of the Father to the point of death (6:35–64; 10:1–18; 15:1–16:4; 21:15–19), then are we not back to a scenario in which a Caesar-like head sits comfortably in a choice seat and watches bare life performing death for his purposes and his enjoyment?”12

Professor Liew is often responsible for teaching “New Testament,” the College’s primary New Testament class. Its course description lists three texts: The HarperCollins Study Bible; The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, by Bart Ehrman; and The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle, by Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King. In addition to this class, Professor Liew has also taught “Sex, Money, Power, and Sacred Texts” and “Apocalyptic Then and Now,” according to the College’s student registration website.

Professor Liew’s unconventional readings of Scripture has brought a new theological perspective to Holy Cross. The position and prestige which accompany an endowed chair in Religious Studies testify to the esteem in which his work is held by the College’s administration and academic community. He continues to be held up as an example and a bold successor to the learned and discerning tradition of our Catholic and Jesuit College of the Holy Cross.