The Catholic Church has recently come out with a pronouncement against the concept of being transgender. Now, despite Pope Francis showing the LGBT community a notably rare degree of compassion and humanity, he is opposed to the idea of transgender because he thinks it philosophically defective. He perceives transgendered reality as an attempts to deconstruct nature.
For a traditional religion whose concept of nature is Aristotelian, the idea of a person in a man’s body who feels like a woman or is sexually attracted to men may seem like a subversion of the laws of nature. Anomalies like that seem to threaten to topple the whole order of nature.
The pope rejects any gender theory “that does not recognize the order of creation.” “The design of the Creator is written in nature.” He cites a document “Male and female he created them,” a 31page document protesting the “provocative” display against “traditional frameworks.”
The problem is that the pope has a two thousand year old conception of nature. To begin with he assumes nature was designed by a perfect deity. But nature is not a clean-cut model of hierarchical perfections. When nature made male and female, the distinction between the two sometimes comes off unclear and ambiguous.
For one thing, many children are born with ambiguous genitalia. Some variations in the ongoing evolution of humans are in the direction of increasing androgynous sexuality. Nature is not designed to keep our ideas of reality clear and distinct and therefore easily computable.
But it’s the psychological realm that blows the idea of nature as rigidly and eternally constructed by a divine programmer. The whole business is complicated by the evidence for reincarnation (for this see the books of Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker).
As proof of the untidiness of nature, consider the problems that center around what’s called gender dysphoria. This consists of individuals who are conflicted about their physical gender and their psychic identity. A man with male genitalia may feel like and want to identify as a woman. Or the converse, a woman may feel like and want to identify as a man. These conflicts are painful and can cause behaviors that range from cross-dressing to surgery or hormone treatment, not to mention a great deal of psychic distress.
Assuming the reality of reincarnation, persons who leave behind a male body may reincarnate in a female body. What reincarnates of course is the person’s mind, memories, habits, in short, the personality. Think if you went to sleep one night and woke up in the morning in the body of someone of the opposite sex. This would be a challenging situation not easy to work through, to put it mildly. But is it any different for a person who grows up discovering he or she is gender dysphoric?
If nature is neither rigid or predictable in the way it continuously transforms life, shouldn’t we try to cultivate a mindset that respects the mysterious variations of nature? I believe the intelligence that seems to propel the creative evolution of life is neither the rigid programmer of creationist persuasion nor the blind idiot of materialism—neither absolutes fit the facts.
Rather, I believe the intelligence that pervades nature is like an artist that wrestles with the materials at hand, working steadily toward molding the desired vision, with the occasional inspiration that may throw everything into a new perspective. The nature under creation by this god is always evolving toward something yet unknown.
This may be happening in the realm of human sexual evolution. The traditional role of sexuality has always been tied to the politics of producing useful offspring. Now and then we find in history movements or perhaps individuals that consciously choose to sever the genetic imperative from the erotic imperative. This stance may be seen by some as perverse, decadent, and irreligious. (Nature of course doesn’t care.)
On the other hand, in light of the mortal challenge of how to sustain civilized life on earth in the year 2019, renouncing the reproductive imperative for the sake of the erotic, may be one of the few more promising models of human salvation.
Clearly, reducing the population might help stave off eco-apocalypse. Those who deviate from the age-old obsession with reproduction may in a new light be seen as the saviors of humankind. Perversion may be conversion; polymorphous eroticism, emancipation.
Curious about consciousness unbound? Sex and sexuality represent an area of the highest potential. We need to remember that our consciousness is invested, obsessed, transmuted, disfigured, or exalted by the immortal engines of human sexuality. We also need to remember that nature is neither straight nor conservative and never goes to church.