First steps toward establishing a
dialogue on the
orientation & gender identity
The acronym "LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
In North America, and in particular the U.S., there is a conflict of beliefs concerning both sexual orientation and gender identity. The root cause seems to be how different segments of the population establish "truth" and their understanding of reality:
- Many social and religious conservatives base their traditional beliefs about sexual minorities primarily upon literal interpretations of the six "clobber" passages as found in English translations of the Bible and on the oldest Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts.
- Many others base their beliefs upon personal experience, medical/psychological studies, and a liberal interpretation of the same biblical passages.
The two understandings of "truth" appear to lead to different conclusions.
- Suicide ideation and completed suicide rates appear to be much higher among sexual minorities than among the general population. Suicidal attempts are slightly over 40% for transgender individuals.
- A large percentage of youths with minority sexual orientation or gender identities suffer high levels of harassment.
- A sizeable percentage -- sometimes over 40% -- of North America's homeless youth is made up of sexual minorities who have been ejected from their home after their parents find out what their child's sexual orientation or gender identity is.
- Families of origin are being disrupted.
- Many social and religious conservatives are highly concerned about the progress that LGBTs are are gradually making towards equal rights, including the right to marry. To many it is the topic of greatest concern, surpassing even abortion access.
- Many sexual minorities are highly concerned about lack of -- and slow progress towards -- equal rights and protections for themselves and their children that are automatically given to the heterosexual/cisgender majority. Many transgender persons are concerned with the high cost of gender reassignment surgery (GRS).
That amounts to an enormous amount of anxiety, pain and suffering.
The past history of moral conflicts over human slavery, oppression of women, universal suffrage, racial segregation, xenophobia directed at immigrants, etc. have each been resolved very slowly over many decades. For example, the rate of change of support for interracial marriage increased at only a little over 1 percentage point a year in the late 20th century. The support for same-sex marriage (SSM) has been increasing at a similar rate, until a recent surge.
Getting the two sides -- we refer to them as two solitudes -- to enter into a sincere and successful dialogue could one of two results:
- Perhaps the acceptance of minority sexual orientations and gender identities could be accelerated.
- Alternately, if it turns out that "truth" lies more or completely with the social and religious conservatives, dialogue could contribute to a slowing down or reversal of the support for SSM and other rights and protections for sexual minorities.
There are lots of topics to discuss and resolve:
- The cause, nature, changeability, and moral aspects of minority sexual orientations and gender identities.
- The efficacy and safety of therapies intended either to change sexual orientation or gender identity or to make sexual minorities comfortable with their orientation or identity.
Unfortunately, this would require individuals to be willing to:
- Doubt: to accept the possibility that one or more of their current beliefs is incorrect,
- Abandon their current beliefs and biases if they are found to be invalid, and
- Earnestly seek the truth about sexual orientation and gender identity, wherever it lies.
From past experience, we doubt that many people would be willing to commit to such a rigorous undertaking. Still, we believe that this dialogue could demonstrate the potential of Facebook and of the Internet itself to speed up social change and impact the culture in positive directions.
Initial steps towards dialogue:
- Create a "LGBT dialogue" group on Facebook. This has been done. Its URL is: http://www.facebook.com/. Its shared Email address is [email protected].
- We propose that the first task is to attempt to agree on definitions of terms like homosexual, bisexual, sexual orientation, lesbian, gay, sexual preference, genetic gender, birth assigned gender, gender, transgender, transsexual, marriage, etc. Currently, many of these have very different definitions between the "two solitudes" and the lack of a common definition makes dialogue almost impossible.
- Determine what recent attempts at dialog concerning sexual orientation and gender identity has already happened between the two solitudes. This is underway.
- Develop some topics for active dialogue and have the participants decide the order in which to tackle them.
These could include resolving or harmonizing the beliefs of the two "solitudes" on whether:
- (and at what age) sexual orientation is chosen or discovered,
- sexual orientation is changeable or fixed,
- sexual orientation is abnormal or normal for a minority of the population;
- sexual orientation is unnatural or natural for a minority of the population;
- sexual orientation is caused by faulty parenting, sexual molestation, or by genes;
- reparative therapy is successful at changing a person's sexual orientation;
- reparative therapy is successful at changing a person's sexual behavior;
- depression, suicidal ideation, and attempted suicide is higher among lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, and transsexuals. If so, then is the primary cause society's homophobia and transphobia, internalized homophobia and transphobia, or an intrinsic result of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Another point under dispute is whether same-gender sexual behavior is hated or accepted by God. Establishing the truth of this item may be irrealizable because it may be impossible to assess the will of God through prayer on this topic.
Sadly, in six years, the Facebook group has only attracted 12 members and 2 postings other than my own.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution," Wikipedia, at 2011-APR-18, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- "First Amendment to the United States Constitution," Wikipedia, at 2011-APR-06, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Initial posting: 2011-APR-25