4 days ago

How to respond to someone struggling with gender identity

Growing Confusion on Gender Identity

I read an article recently about a gay man who met a woman at a brunch in Los Angeles. The woman had transitioned to becoming a “man” through hormone therapy (testosterone injections giving her facial hair, more muscle mass, etc), and this transgender “man” then began dating the gay man, thereby becoming a gay trans “man.”

They soon got “married” in a same sex “marriage” ceremony. The gay trans “man” (who is actually a woman) has stopped taking testosterone injections and is now pregnant with child.

Gay transgender couple pregnant with baby
Photo: NBC News

I use quotation marks above not to be in any way disrespectful or dismissive of a person but to show how these words have, with the present gender dysphoria, become meaningless.

Calling a biological male or female by their opposite noun or pronoun does not acknowledge their identity but further confuses it, assisting in cutting off that person’s connection to their own bodily reality. Saying a man is a woman or a woman is a man ignores the most basic truth of their very being; a truth inscribed even in the genetic markers that identify them in their trillions of somatic cells as male or female.

This mismatching of names creates a misconception of human sexuality and identity. In the words of the gay man in the above story, one reaches the sundered conclusion that “body parts matter a lot less than we think they do.”

However, in light of St. John Paul II’s theology of the body, an extensive reflection on our anthropology rooted in Genesis, we were meant from the beginning to be in harmony with our bodies. We are, in fact, our bodies. Our parts are part of the whole, and the human spirit suffuses all of the parts.

Our healing, in this revealed light, lies in a reconciliation with our bodily reality, not a license to reconfigure it.

It seems, however, that reconfiguring and redefining the inherent meaning of things lies behind the more militant LGBTQIA+ agenda. Law professor and homosexual activist Paula Ettelbrick once said:

Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality and family; and, in the process, transforming the very fabric of society. We must keep our eyes on the goals of providing true alternatives to marriage and of radically reordering society’s view of reality.

In this article, I want to address not so much this philosophical and epistemological attack on the nature of the person, the family, and indeed reality itself, but to offer a kind of posture when it comes to addressing the actual people caught in this maelstrom.

We see an increase in encounters with people struggling with their sexual identity in our families, friendships, neighborhoods, parishes, schools, and universities. The gender ideologies at present offer dozens of varieties of expression and encourage exploration. These attempts to redefine our sexuality have created a crisis of conscience for many regarding dialogue with their family members or friends who are seeking to “transition,” desire to be called by a new pronoun or name, or perhaps “marry” a person of the same sex.

So how should a “heteronormative” person (that is, one who subscribes to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation) respond to the person before them who subscribes to such a non-traditional or non-binary agenda?

How to Respond to Someone with an LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM Ascribed Identity

(or any human suffering from the consequences of original sin in general)

 SAY P.L.E.A.S.E.

1. PRAY quietly to the Holy Spirit the WHOLE time you are in conversation with the other person, for healing and wholeness in yourself (first and foremost) and for healing and wholeness in the other person.

2. LOVE them. They image God on earth. You’re called to communion with them as a fellow image of God. So look at them, in the eyes, where the life of their spirit bubbles up and over, spilling into yours.

3. ENTER into their experience. Listen more than you talk.

4. ASK them what they want more than anything else in the world. Chances are you want the same thing. Then, when common ground is set…

5. SHARE a bit of your own sense of your identity; where have you come from, where are you going? Share your crooked path, the imperfect family history. The faces and the places that formed you. Your own longing to be known, to be loved, to be seen, to have a relationship and a place to find and to give yourself. Share your understanding of the theology of the body, the plan of God for making us male and female, called to love and life through sexual complementarity.

6. EXPLAIN that you care for them and that in that light, you are honored to have shared time talking together and would love to talk some more. Don’t feel like you need to fix something, tidy something up, bring closure or sign a contractual agreement. You just shared some human time together. What did you learn by receiving the gift of this other person? Maybe it was messy, heated, maybe you were misunderstood. That’s ok too. What did you learn from that experience?

If the conversation continues (and pray it does), talk about your personal experience of the way you came to know your identity – by contact with the world through the reality of your body, through the mystery of other people in your family, and through the other people and things around you.

Coming Back to Our Senses

All of our senses are doorways to the world, and we learn the world and how it works and what it means through the portals of our senses.

We learn that in the hearing, seeing, tasting, and touching through our sense organs, there is often a gift or pleasure connected with the function. Generally speaking, the ears are for listening, the eyes for looking, the tongue for tasting and the genitals for generating new life.

Happiness and peace flow from our being attentive to and obedient to the nature of these things. Sometimes wounds come through these places.

But closing them off or going against the nature of a thing would bring discontent. It would be both dysfunctional and dysphoric.

A rightly ordered and happy heart, mind, and body come from receiving the reality with which we are born and living out its mystery in the light of God’s plan for its nature.

Feelings can be confusing, and even the clearest of them is still a feeling which needs the collaboration of the informed and inspired mind and heart.

At the end of the day, we are not defined by our feelings, attractions, or impulses but they can be a powerful fuel to assist us in self-discovery and the discovery of God.

Pope Francis wrote in his exhortation on the Joy of Love:

Desires, feelings, emotions, what the ancients called ‘the passions’, all have an important place… They are awakened whenever ‘another’ becomes present and part of a person’s life.

It is characteristic of all living beings to reach out to other things, and this tendency always has basic affective signs: pleasure or pain, joy or sadness, tenderness or fear. They ground the most elementary psychological activity.

Human beings live on this earth, and all that they do and seek is fraught with passion.”

(Pope Francis, The Joy of Love, 143)

Man is invited through these feelings, attractions, and passions to “reconcile himself to his natural greatness,” in the words of St. John Paul II. He goes further:

But precisely when he so deeply enters into the order of nature, when he immerses himself, as it were, in the vehement processes of nature, he cannot forget that he is a person. Instinct alone will not solve anything in him, for everything appeals to his “interiority,” to reason and responsibility.

What appeals to him in a particular way is this love that stands at the cradle of the coming to be of human kind. Responsibility for love… is bound most closely with responsibility for procreation.

Therefore, by no means can love be separated from parenthood, the readiness for which constitutes a necessary condition of love.”

(St. John Paul II, Love and Responsibility)

Perhaps in the opening story, with all of the twists and turns the path took for the two, there is this spark “at the cradle of the coming to be of human kind. Responsibility for love.”

For all of the obfuscation, their bodies returned to a primordial truth – life comes to be when man meets woman.

Only in this return, this coming back to our senses, will the gift and sign of our sexuality make sense.

Bill Donaghy teaches at Immaculata University and is curriculum specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute, which seeks to penetrate and permeate the culture with a vision of true sexuality that appeals to the deepest yearnings of the human heart for love and union.

MORE EXCELLENT RESOURCES:

USCCB Resource on Gender Ideology
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Gender-Ideology-Select-Teaching-Resources.pdf

Fr. Mike Schmitz on Transgender Question:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-9_rxXFu9I

Dr. Paul McHugh, Surgical Sex
https://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/11/surgical-sex

Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution
A drastic physical change doesn’t address underlying psycho-social troubles.
By Paul McHugh
https://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery-isnt-the-solution-1402615120

print

12 hours ago

AUDIO: ‘The University of Alabama showed great courage in its defense of open debate and free speech’ — J. Pepper Bryars

Earlier this week J. Pepper Bryars, editor of Yellowhammer News, appeared on WYDE’s “The Ford Faction” to discuss a speech that was scheduled to be given by a “race realist” this Thursday at the University of Alabama.

“The University of Alabama showed great courage in its defense of open debate and free speech through its willingness to allow this speaker on campus,” Bryars said, adding that “the only cure for hate speech is more speech.”

The details:

— An obscure student group invited self-described “race realist” (aka: a racist) Jared Taylor to deliver a lecture on campus.

— The university initially approved the event because the group had followed the required process, although administration officials made clear Taylor’s message ran contrary to the school’s values.

— Eventually, however, the student group was found to be in violation of key requirements (having a faculty advisory, etc.), and after officials gave the students time to come into alignment, the group failed so the invitation was rescinded.

“Had the group met the requirements and followed the process like any other, Alabama was prepared to allow its students to hear the racist arguments this man makes, and that’s a great thing,” Bryars said. “Because the only way our society can refute such claims is to know of their existence and how to properly dispose of them … like the garbage they are.”

LISTEN NOW:

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

1
13 hours ago

Alabama man charged after hunters find remains of missing woman

An Alabama man has been charged with murder after hunters found the skeletal remains of a missing woman.

News outlets report that 58-year-old Kenny Darity of Montgomery is charged in the strangling death of Christina Bloss.

Darity was arrested and charged Tuesday, and bond was set at $150,000. Jail records on Wednesday did not show whether he is represented by an attorney.

Bloss was reported missing Feb. 28, 2017, in Montgomery County. Authorities now think she had been killed 10 days earlier.
A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department captain, George Beaudry, says Darity and Bloss were acquaintances.

Hunters found her remains Thursday in Lowndes County, which is just west of Montgomery County.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1
13 hours ago

Michael Knowles featured at Alabama Policy Institute’s 19th annual dinner event in Mobile

On Tuesday, the Alabama Policy Institute held its 19th annual Mobile dinner event in the airplane hangar at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

“I cannot think of a better place to discuss freedom and liberty than at the U.S.S. Battleship Memorial Park and Aircraft Pavilion, a place that holds so many reminders of the sacrifices that thousands of Americans have paid to guarantee our freedom and liberty,” Caleb Crosby, President and CEO of API, told Yellowhammer News.

The “Evening with the Alabama Policy Institute” included keynote speaker, Michael Knowles.

Knowles is a talk show host and former managing editor of The Daily Wire, who is most well-known for his best-selling (and blank) book Reasons To Vote For Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide.

Part of a generation of young-ish conservatives that includes the Wire’s, Ben Shapiro, Knowles spends much of his time traveling to universities and rebutting their brand of “illiberal liberalism,” as Frank Bruni of the New York Times has called it.

289

“I feel that here we’re in a safe space,” Knowles opened his speech last night, mirroring Crosby’s sentiment by ironically appropriating the campus buzzword.

“We’re definitely in a safe space because there are lots of guns and battleships. This is the perfect safe space for conservatives to be on tax day.”

Knowles’s speech before API and guests was as much about making the case for conservatism and for President Trump as about rebutting progressivism.

He began by reminding everyone in the room of all the good that the Trump presidency has accomplished: tax cuts, deregulation, originalist judges.

“Now you might be having déjà vu,” he said, “because I could have given that exact same [list] in 1981.”

Pointing out similarities between Reagan was Knowles’s primary way of arguing that Trump has governed as a conservative. In some ways, it also seemed to be his way of coaxing those never-Trump conservatives to embrace the president, or at least to encourage those conservatives supportive of — but still apprehensive — about him.

“Take the victories that we can get today,” Knowles said.

His chief point was that politics is about the now.

“Politics changes all the time,” he said. “There are different circumstances. There are different public policy challenges. There are different public policy prescriptions. There are timeless principles. And of course the hope, is that we conservatives can maintain the bedrock of timeless principles that we can apply to new circumstances and new challenges and make America great again, again.”

“Political victories are never permanent,” Knowles continued. “Political successes are never permanent. That’s why you always need to be making America great again. It’s because otherwise, it’s going to revert to its natural state of decay and destruction.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

13 hours ago

Why the Alabama Legislature holds the power — and a breakdown of interesting open seats

Our antiquated 1901 Constitution was designed to give inordinate power to the Legislature. During the Wallace years, the King of Alabama politics, George Wallace, usurped this power and controlled the Legislature from the Executive Branch of Government. Over the last couple of decades the Legislature has wrestled this power back and pretty much excluded the Governor from their bailiwick. Governors Bob Riley and Robert Bentley were ostracized and pretty much ignored. Their proposed budgets were instantaneously tossed into the nearest trashcan.

Legislative power is derived from controlling the state’s purse strings. Thus the old adage, “Those who have the gold set the rules.” The Legislature has gotten like Congress in that incumbents are difficult to defeat. Therefore, the interest will be on the open Senate and House seats. Most of the Montgomery Special Interest money will be focused on these Legislative races.

Speaking of Montgomery, two open and most interesting Senate seats in the state will be in the Montgomery/River Region. One is currently in progress. Montgomery City Councilman, David Burkette, Representative John Knight and Councilman Fred Bell are pursuing the Democratic seat vacated by Senator Quinton Ross when he left to become President of Alabama State University. Burkette has already bested Knight and Bell in a Special Election last month. A rebound race is set for June 5.

578

The Republican Senate seat in the River Region held by Senator Dick Brewbaker is up for grabs. This seat was expected to attract numerous well-known aspirants. However, when the dust settled at the qualifying deadline two relatively unknown candidates were the only ones to qualify. Will Barfoot and Ronda Walker are pitted against each other in a race that is considered a tossup.

The Etowah County/Gadsden area was considered one of the most Democratic areas of the state for generations. However, in recent years it has become one of the most Republican. State Representative, Mack Butler, should be favored as a Republican. Although, polling indicates that veteran Democratic Representative, Craig Ford, could make this a competitive race in the Fall. He is running as an Independent.  

Veteran State Senator Harri Ann Smith has represented the Wiregrass/Dothan area admirably for over two decades. She has been elected several times as an Independent. However, she has decided not to seek reelection. Her exit leaves State Representative Donnie Chesteen in the catbird seat to capture the seat.

Republican State Senator Paul Bussman, who represents Cullman and northwest Alabama, is a maverick and very independent. This independence makes him powerful. He will be reelected easily.

State Representative David Sessions is predicted to win the seat of Senator Bill Hightower who is running for Governor.

Most of the state Senate’s most powerful members are unopposed or have token opposition. Included in this list of incumbent State Senators are veteran Senate leader and Rules Chairman, Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia, Senate President, Del Marsh, R-Calhoun, Senate Majority Leader, Greg Reed, R-Jasper, veteran Senator Jimmy Holley, R-Coffee, as well as Senate leaders Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, Clay Scofield, R-Marshall, Clyde Chambliss, R-Autauga, Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, Tom Whatley, R-Lee, and Shay Shelnutt, R-Gardendale. The Senate leadership will remain intact, as will the House leadership.

Almost all of the House leaders are unopposed or have token opposition. This prominent list includes: Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Madison, Budget Chairmen, Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, Speaker Pro-tem, Victor Gaston, R- Mobile, Rules Chairman, Mike Jones, R-Covington.

In addition, there are numerous Veteran lawmakers, who will be reelected, including Lynn Greer, Mike Ball, Jim Carnes, Howard Sanderford, Kerry Rich, and Jimmy Martin; as well as rising leaders: Nathaniel Ledbetter, Kyle South, Connie Rowe, Tim Wadsworth, April Weaver, Paul Lee, Terri Collins, Danny Garrett, Dickie Drake, Chris Pringle, Randall Shedd, Allen Farley, Becky Nordgren, Mike Holmes, David Standridge, Dimitri Polizos, Reed Ingram and Chris Sells.

Even though there are 22 open House seats and 10 open Senate Seats, the leadership of both Chambers will remain the same.

There are some competitive House seats that will be interesting. In the Pike/Dale County Seat 89, Pike Probate Judge Wes Allen is pitted against Troy City Council President Marcus Paramore. Tracy Estes is favored to replace retiring Mike Millican in Marion County. Alfa is going all out for Estes. David Wheeler is expected to capture the open House seat in Vestavia.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

 

14 hours ago

Alabama aging death row: Is executing old or infirm inmates cruel?

Vernon Madison has spent decades on Alabama’s death row. Now 67, Madison has suffered from strokes and dementia and his lawyers say he no longer recalls the crime that put him there: the 1985 killing of a police officer.

His speech is slurred, he suffers from confusion, and once thought he was near release and talked of moving to Florida, according to his lawyers. This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to review the claims by Madison’s defense team that executing someone in his condition would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“Killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is unnecessary and cruel,” Madison’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, said in January, when the justices stayed Madison’s execution the night he was to receive a lethal injection.

728

The U.S. death row population is aging, and that leaves courts increasingly likely to grapple with questions of when it becomes unconstitutionally cruel to put someone to death who is mentally frail — or whose medical conditions could complicate the execution procedure.

“That is going to be an increasing issue in carrying out the American death penalty,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. “We are reaching a stage, as death row inmates age, we’ll see this more frequently.”

About 2,800 people are on death row in prisons nationwide, and about 1,200 of them over age 50, the non-profit group said. An Associated Press review of the group’s data shows the median age of an executed inmate in the U.S. rose from 34 to 46 between 1983 and 2017 — a fact observers attribute to appeals taking longer — sometimes decades.

One of the oldest, 83-year-old Walter Leroy Moody, is scheduled to be executed Thursday in Alabama for the 1989 package bomb killing of a federal judge. If the sentence is carried out, Moody would be the oldest person and the first octogenarian put to death since U.S. executions resumed in the 1970s, Dunham said.

“Many of these defendants have done terrible things. People are torn between wanting to punish severely and the belief it is beneath us as a nation to kill a frail person who is already dying. It’s a challenge to our morality and our sense of humanity,” Dunham said.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, supports steps to reduce the time between an inmate’s sentencing and execution.

“There is no constitutional issue from age alone, though dementia does, of course, become more common with age. The underlying question about what kind and degree of mental illness will prevent an execution is not new. It is ancient.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing in Madison’s case, noted the growing number of aging prisoners on death row and said, “Given this trend, we may face ever more instances of state efforts to execute prisoners suffering the diseases and infirmities of old age.”

Age by itself isn’t the issue, but rather the illnesses more common with old age.

Take Alva Campbell, 69. He died last month in an Ohio prison of natural causes after his 2017 lethal injection procedure was halted when a usable vein couldn’t be found. Alabama similarly aborted last month’s execution of Doyle Lee Hamm, 61, who has battled lymphoma. His lawyer said Hamm had at least 11 puncture wounds from attempts to find a vein.

“It was precisely Doyle’s old age and illness that raised all the problems. The state of Alabama was not prepared,” Hamm’s attorney, Bernard Harcourt, wrote in an email.

Yet 75-year-old Tommy Arthur, who had argued that his cardiovascular disease would complicate execution, was put to death without obvious incident last year in Alabama.

Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte.

Schulte responded to a missing child report on April 18, 1985. Arriving at a home, he found the child had returned but Madison and his girlfriend were embroiled in a domestic dispute. According to court records, Schulte interacted briefly with Madison, telling him to “just to go on and let things cool down.” According to prosecutors, Madison left but then crept up behind Schulte as he sat in his police car, shooting him twice in the head.

The Supreme Court has ruled inmates must have a rational understanding of why they’re being executed, faculties which Madison’s lawyers say he doesn’t possess.

His attorneys argue strokes have left Madison frequently disoriented with no independent memory of his crime. They also say he is legally blind, cannot walk independently and has urinary incontinence from his brain damage.

The state’s lawyers counter that Madison was found competent at a 2016 hearing, hasn’t presented new evidence and is aware he received the death sentence — even if he doesn’t remember killing Schulte.

“What happened to my dad was cruel and unusual punishment,” said Schulte’s son, Michael. “He was shot twice in the head while he was trying to help somebody.”

Schulte, 59, has suffered health problems of his own, including a stroke and heart attack. Yet he said Madison’s protracted legal fight has been hard on his family and doesn’t “do my dad justice.”

Said Schulte: “Somebody needs to make a decision. Either we are going to have the death penalty or we’re not.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)