On Acceptance and the Detrimental Value of Assumptions

I took a class once during undergrad. I can’t remember now precisely which class, but I believe was environmental science. The professor showed us a video regarding the science of evolution. The person in the video was incredibly well spoken. He seemed very knowledgable regarding the topic, and I found many things in his lecture to be quite interesting. I went into this video hoping to learn more about a topic I admittedly didn’t know that much about. But the speaker in the video resorted numerous times to either insulting religion or just plain poking fun at it. To quote one such instance, “The Creator didn’t want them (dolphins) to have feet, it was pleasing for Him to see them develop, and then pleasing for Him to take them away.”, comes across a bit as poking fun at said Creator. There was another where he referred to people who believed in religion as perverse, a completely derogatory term. Regardless of whether I believe in evolution or not, I did not find the argument in the video to be sound. By insulting the other side of his argument, the speaker in question completely invalidated himself and his beliefs and rendered his own argument null and void.

A friend sent me an interesting blog post today. You can find it here, though honestly, I’m quoting most of it below. I’ve pretty much stayed to the side of reading positive articles regarding Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, because they make me sad. Comments on articles make me sad. Judgements without understanding make me sad.

Let’s face it. The internet makes me sad.

As a result of my intentional selectivity, this was the first anti-Caitlyn post that I read. The author claims to be following her beliefs, and I fully support that. Everybody should be allowed to have their own belief system. But what I do not and cannot support are judgmental statements that lack an educational foundation; this lack completely invalidates the argument that the post is presenting. It all starts here:

“You see, he has decided that he is a woman and that by saying it and probably some very extensive surgery, he can make it so. In today’s world, we think gender is something we get to choose, like our career path or our clothes. So, people across the nation have lauded him as a hero. Certainly, this is the current opinion of the masses, but I have to say it. The emperor has no clothes and Bruce Jenner is not a woman.”

We THINK gender is something we get to choose. We THINK. The comparison here of choosing a gender identity to choosing the day’s outfit alone is enough to make my head spin. But the fact of the matter is, the author is partially correct—we don’t get to choose who we are. Girls can be born girls, boys can be born boys. Or, in Caitlyn’s case, boys can be born girls. It’s not a choice. Absolutely no one but the person in question knows who they are on the inside. In no way are any of us qualified to make that judgement for or about someone else. It is not an issue that should be taken lightly or treated in a trivial manner. The author follows this up with the Bible:

“You can tell me that there is a difference between gender and sex, that Bruce was born with a male body and a female soul, but I would ask where did he get this soul? … if there is a God, would He make the mistake of putting a female soul in a male body? How can we know? We can know by what He tells us in His word. “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) and He does not make mistakes, but does everything perfectly with love and wisdom.”

Easy. We don’t know. I can take the God made man and woman idea. But the person that we are inside is not a mistake. We don’t know the logistics or the blueprints for that operation. We can use the Bible all we want, People can use the Bible to back up their views all they want, but there is nowhere within it that states “having an identity other than cisgender is a mistake.” All this says to me is that men and women were created. Next, we have the author’s biggest assumption:

“We seem to want to erase the idea of gender and reinforce it all at once. We don’t want to have to conform to gender stereotypes. We don’t want to be put into categories and yet we want to be able to transfer ourselves by self-declaration from one category to another. We are so in love with our rebellion against God that we cannot see the absurdity and inconsistency of it all.”

This is where everything really comes apart. You see, maybe the author didn’t intend this, but I read the last statement as “People who don’t fit the traditional expectations of gender choose not to fit them because they want to rebel against God.” It boils down an important decision to a virtual temper tantrum, an “I’m going to take my ball and go home because you won’t play with me” moment. Changing of sexual orientation or gender is not a flip of the moment decision; it can be a struggle for many, and it’s incredibly serious. The societally perpetuated issues that come with this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“If you don’t see things from the same Christian world view that I do, we probably do not agree and that is no surprise, but I must insist on one thing. Bruce Jenner is not a hero. A hero is someone who has done something brave or noble, who has sacrificed for others. Bruce Jenner has done none of these things. He is a man who has posed in women’s clothing on the cover of a magazine, garnering excessive media attention. What’s more he has waited to do so until the optimum moment when he was most sure to receive praise and acceptance. Heroes risk much and gain little. Bruce Jenner has risked little and gained much. I am sure there are many people out there who do things to deserve the title of “hero,” but Bruce Jenner is not one of them. He is not a hero and he is not a woman. He is what we all are: lost, sinful, and desperately in need of Jesus. I pray he finds Him.”

I disagree. Bruce Jenner was both brave and noble. While I feel like his position in the spotlight put him the unique position of being a transgender spokesperson that he may or may not have deserved, I do feel that he was incredibly brave. Now Caitlyn, she is still brave. Her transition does not change that. Bruce sat in the background of his famous family for years, quietly denying what he knew to be true. As Caitlyn, she became free to finally be herself, to wear what she wanted and speak her mind the way she wanted. Her posing on a magazine cover (well again, only afforded to her because of Bruce’s previous experience in the spotlight) is like a beacon to other people out there, a shining light that says “you can be who you want to be because I have become who I wanted to become.” Bruce did not wait until the “optimum moment” of media attention to transition to Caitlyn. Bruce waited until he was ready. He risked possible judgment and condemnation and scorn for becoming Caitlyn, and yet, he toughed it out. There are different types of heroes in this world, but the first that pops into my head are the type that save lives. And quite honestly, I believe that Caitlyn on the cover being who she is is likely to save more than one.

I don’t claim to know all the things related to gender or sexual identity. Nor do I claim to be the star representative of either of these things. But what I don’t know, where I feel uneducated, I make a genuine effort to learn. My biggest problem, and my biggest offense, with the linked blog post is that there is no effort made to learn about people who are different from the author. There is only assumption and doubt. It is one thing to follow your beliefs, but it is another entirely to make assumptions that discount the beliefs of others. The assumptions, like the insults in my science class, dismantle the argument of this author all on their own.

All I ask is that, whatever your belief system is, you make an effort to learn. Be accepting of others, even those that are different than you. Especially those that are different from you. It will make you a better person.

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