Trans Day of Visibility

I don’t often post about topics related to equal rights, social justice, or related topics. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know where I stand. I fully support equality for everyone, and I can’t understand the minds of some hyper-conservative or fundamental Christian people who try to force their “moral” views on other people. As far as I’m concerned, the way someone else lives their life, the way they identify themselves, and the type of relationships they have is no one else’s business but their own.

Sometimes, however, I’m prompted to open up and say a bit more. Sometimes a tweet about treating other people with respect isn’t enough. Sometimes blocking a homophobic or transphobic troll isn’t enough. Sometimes, I need to step up and challenge the negativity and flawed ideas that are out there.

Today, I’d like to talk about where some people get their morals, and how that applies to their ideas about sexuality, gender, and related issues.

Some time ago, I read an article by David Morgan-Mar, writer of Irregular Webcomic and the more recent comic Darths and Droids. (Side note: Darths and Droids recently posted a comic where, in their Star Wars parody universe, Darth Vader turns out to actually be Padme, not Anakin Skywalker. That’s right, they made Darth Vader transgender, and it was brilliant.)

In the article linked above, David Morgan-Mar discusses morality and religion, and he makes some pretty interesting points. I suggest reading it for the full story, but to summarize: He proposes the idea that certain highly religious individuals believe that all morals come directly from God, and that some people even say “If you don’t believe in God, you can’t be a moral person.” He goes on to discuss how one such individual he knew went on to say that if there were no God, there would be nothing preventing an otherwise normal, moral person from becoming a murderer for no reason.

Basically it leads to the question, “How do you know the difference between right and wrong?” The way I see it, there’s two primary sides to this (accepting, of course, that there could be infinite shades of gray in between these two views).

Side 1: Individual who gets their morals from God. This person would say, “God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Therefore, killing is wrong.”

Side 2: Individual who develops their own internal moral compass. This person would say, “Killing someone would violate their right to life and existence. Therefore, killing is wrong.”

This entire concept has been on my mind a lot lately when it comes to LGBT rights and how certain hyper-conservative Christian groups will so easily discriminate against others. I wrote about this awhile back in my article, “The Normalization of Discrimination.” To expand further on the points I made in that article, I’d like to suggest that if you never question your moral views on a subject, then you don’t truly understand the difference between right and wrong. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong for you to get your morals from the bible. It means that you need to critically analyze your moral views, wherever you get them from.

Take, for example, the recent issues of bakeries refusing to bake cakes for a gay wedding. I recently read an article on a highly religious website arguing that people should have the “right” to refuse service because, as they put it, baking that cake would mean they were supporting a “sinful” act and risking eternal damnation for going against God’s word. Clearly, this is the case of an individual who gets their morals entirely from the bible (setting aside how such people pick and choose which portions of the bible to listen to and which ones to ignore; that’s a discussion for another blog post).

Looking at this argument as a person who rationalizes their morality internally, there is no logical argument against baking the cake. The gay couple getting married is not hurting anyone else, the cake will not infringe upon anyone’s rights or privacy, and no one will suffer in any way by having this cake made (except maybe if they eat too much and get a tummy ache). Therefore, baking the cake is not morally wrong.

If someone were to attempt a rebuttal by saying, “It’s infringing on the baker’s religious freedom,” I would counter by arguing that the baker is not being harmed in any way. Baking the cake doesn’t hurt the baker (unless they forget to use an oven mitt because they’re so mad over baking the cake). Baking the cake doesn’t infringe upon the baker’s ability to practice their religion. Baking the cake doesn’t prevent the baker from believing that the gay couple is living in sin. Baking the cake, in fact, does nothing to the baker except for making them angry, and making someone angry is not morally wrong. They’ll get over it, and if they need a way to calm down, they can have some cake.

Similar arguments can, and should, be made for transgender rights. Take, for example, the argument about transgender individuals being able to use the bathroom for the gender they identify with. Some people argue against this, by claiming that the other people in the bathroom will in some way feel threatened, violated, or uncomfortable. However, there is no logic behind this argument. When I go to the bathroom in a public restroom, I sit behind a closed door. My rights are not in any way violated if the person in the stall next to me uses different body parts to pee than I use. I will not in any way suffer harm if I have a penis and the person in the next stall has a vagina, or has a combination of male and female parts. My safety will not be threatened while this individual is peeing. Therefore, them using the bathroom cannot in any way be considered morally wrong, and it should not be outlawed. The only way you can say otherwise is if you think that anyone who has a penis is automatically a threat to anyone who has a vagina, just by being in the same bathroom as them while behind separate stall doors. However, having a penis does not, in itself, make you a rapist, regardless of whether you are a man with a penis in the men’s room, or a woman with a penis in the women’s room, or a gender-neutral person with a penis in either room..

I have never understood how any rational, intelligent human being cannot understand the need for equal rights in these situations. My only conclusion is that the people who protest against LGBT rights are not using their own intelligence (this doesn’t necessarily mean they are stupid, just that they aren’t applying their intelligence to the question at hand). They are, instead, accepting the words written in a book thousands of years ago and accepting them as infallible without question. I fully support people who look to the bible to better understand morality, so long as they do so in an intelligent, critical fashion, instead of through blind acceptance. I know a number of Christians who are members of the LGBT community, or who support their LGBT friends, because these Christians gave serious thought to what is morally right or wrong, and they came to the conclusion that discrimination is wrong.

If you disagree with these views, I urge you to look inside yourself and give serious, logical consideration to where that viewpoint is coming from. If you aren’t willing to critically examine your own existence, then you’ll never become a truly moral person.

I am not a Christian, though I do believe in God. I identify as a member of the LGBT community. And I support equal rights for everyone because it is the moral thing to do.

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7 thoughts on “Trans Day of Visibility”

  1. This is my very favorite part of this post and I heartily agree “-you need to critically analyze your moral views, wherever you get them from.” Everyone needs to do this. All people – of all faiths and no faiths alike – need to do this.

  2. I do definitely agree that everyone needs to critically analyze their moral position, and that arguments that boil down to an appeal to authority- any authority, be it the Bible or one’s parents or some sociologist- don’t work. I’m also LGBT, as I think you know, and we get along pretty well, which is great.

    …and by that long intro, I’m sure you can imagine where this is going, mm? 😉

    The problem comes when you say that people who protest against LGBT rights aren’t using their intelligence to the question at hand. That’s… veering dangerously close to ad hominem, or perhaps an even more insidious logical fallacy, “People can only disagree with me because they don’t know better.” Coming from a background where I met a lot of people who protest, and considering that I was one for awhile, lack of intellectual application isn’t really the issue here, so much as a disagreement on the emphasis.

    For example, I’m a gay guy who fully supports the right of a baker to ‘discriminate’ against me, because I value their religious freedom more than I value forcing someone to bake me a wedding cake against their will. (And make no mistake, using legal force is exactly the issue here.) For me, I believe that some immoral behaviors (I’d include discrimination here) shouldn’t be made illegal, especially since the arguments you use against the bakers- that there’s no real harm, that they can just ‘get over it,’ and that it only makes them angry- can also be used for the spouses. Especially since I am 100% convinced that there is no jurisdiction in this country in which I could not, with a modicum of effort, find a bakery that will be happy to make me a wedding cake. Even here in the heart of conservative evangelicalism.

    Now, none of this is to say that I think that you’re not a moral person, or that because of our disagreement, I think that you’re wrong or what-not. I just wanted to point out why there might be a difference of opinion here that stems from something other than the tolerance/Bible dichotomy, or from a difference in applied intelligence, yeah?

    1. I never intended to say “ALL people who protest against LGBT rights aren’t using their intelligence.” It seems I didn’t phrase that statement to properly reflect my intent, and as such I may have misspoken. What I intended to say was that some individuals base their arguments entirely on biblical morals without using their intelligence, and that the bakery situation was one example that I feel fits this case.

      Maybe I should rephrase it to say, “Everyone I’ve personally ever witnessed arguing an anti-LGBT viewpoint has demonstrated closed-mindedness and has never given me any indication that they have, or even would, reconsider their position through critical self-analysis of their morals.”

      I’m sure there are some situations in which this isn’t the case, but I’ve yet to personally encounter one.

      As for the legal side of things, I didn’t really address that, nor do I really have a fixed opinion on it, because law is tricky and includes a lot of gray area. Does a baker deserve to be sued for millions of dollars for discrimination and have their whole life ruined? No. Should they be allowed to freely discriminate? No. Where’s the balance point of justice? I don’t know. There does need to be SOME legal way to address it, because otherwise, all discrimination can become legal, and we go back to the days of “White Only/Black Only” bathrooms and drinking fountains. After all, if the same bakery had refused to serve cake at an African American wedding, would we even be having this conversation? I think almost everyone would say “That’s wrong, they shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate.” But because the discrimination is hidden under the guise of “religious freedom,” it’s allowed to flourish.

      My central point was not intended to imply that anyone taking legal action was automatically right, nor did I even really say that someone couldn’t come up with a separate, non-biblical reason why they think they shouldn’t serve someone. Instead, my goal was to address the individuals who, in this particular case, relied on no other reason BUT the bible as their entire basis for their “moral” view. And in this particular case, I think these individuals are coming from a flawed moral stance, and once that hasn’t been critically examined.

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