guenther wrote:My goal is that people treat others with respect and compassion regardless of their gender identity and regardless of how it matches their body. This is really a part of a broader goal and doesn't particularly have much to do with gender. Specifically with respect to people with gender identity struggles, I don't really have an agenda or goal on the right way to go about things. There are people who are far more educated than I on the challenges, complexities, and pains related to this. And I want them afforded a space to discuss and seek better solutions, be they cultural, medical, spiritual, psychological, or whatever else.
I think that's a worthy goal, and a (mostly) fine approach; I'm just concerned that when we say 'I want to treat you with compassion regardless
of your gender identity', the implication is that you're putting their gender identity aside--rather than honoring and accepting it. To clarify, I don't know if that's what you actually mean, but it's easy to assume that's what you mean, and that's part of the reason I say 'treat people as they wish to be treated' rather than 'treat people with respect and compassion'. Because on one hand, it's good that you want to treat people with respect and compassion, but in order to do that, you can't disregard
something that's this crucial to their identity. On some level, to truly embrace them, you have to embrace their gender, too.
Because if someone wants you to treat them like you would treat a woman or a man, I think we should respect that. I think we should buy into it. I think doing otherwise is disrespectful--and even harmful. To me, the deepest expression of respect and compassion is to believe someone--to validate how they feel. So if someone says "I'm a woman", no matter how they look, what they're wearing, or what they're presenting as--if you want to be respectful to them, if you want to express compassion--you have
to believe them.
I realize that's a hard sell for a lot of people. But you can't support someone by standing 'above' them or loving them despite
their 'flaws'. You have to roll up your sleeves, sink yourself into the muck, and love them with
their 'flaws'. There's no 'hate the sin, love the sinner' here--because 'sins' are an inextricable part
of the 'sinner'. They cannot be separated. Loving people means loving everything--even the bits you instinctively recoil from. It means temporarily putting yourself aside.
I'm probably looking way too deeply into your usage of the word 'regardless' above, and I don't mean to imply you don't do any of these things. I'm just expressing my concern with how we so often treat these issues as if we were looking down. I don't think there's anything wrong with professing ignorance on the subject (I'll profess my own, just as you have), or finding the subject intimidating (I often find it intimidating too). But not understanding a subject--finding a subject intimidating--finding the existence of a thing to be baffling--none of these things stop me from embracing transgender-ism and accepting people as they want me to accept them--even celebrating them.
I haven't been on this rock for long, and I'm certainly not the wisest fucker in attendance. But in what little time I've had and with what little intelligence I've gleaned, I have discovered one small shred of indisputable knowledge when it comes to dealing with people: You cannot truly embrace them without also embracing who they are.