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2018-0CT-DEC: Trump Administration
Plans to Define all Transgender
persons in the U.S. out of existence.
Reactions by by celebrities and
transgender distress/crisis lines.
Virginia teacher fired.

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay

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2018-NOV: More negative reactions to President Trump's plan to eliminate federal government recognition of transgender persons:

Celebrities, including Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner have attacked the Trump Administration's policy. Jenner said that she had originally hoped to work with the President and Republican policy makers to help transgender persons. She said:

"Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president.

He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party."

U.S. Distress/Crisis/Suicide hotlines reported a dramatic increase in calls from transgender people fighting urges for self-harm, including suicide attempts.

Trans Lifeline
operates a specialist hotline for transgender individuals. Their call volume increased by more than four times during the week after the administration's announcement. Their executive director said:

"Since the HHS memo was leaked, the number of calls to our crisis hotline has more than quadrupled, doubling the number of new callers who have never needed to access our services before. This is bad news, but it isn’t new news.

Playing politics with civil rights of a vulnerable population has consequences. But moments like this are exactly why Trans Lifeline exists."

Note to transgender persons about distress/support/crisis phone lines:

  • If you live in the U.S., the Trans Lifeline can be reached at: 1-877-565-8860 between 10 AM and 4 AM Eastern Time. It is sometimes available in the early morning during off-hours.

  • If you live in Canada, the Trans Lifeline can be reached at: 1-877-330-6366. Counselling hours are subject to volunteer availability. English only.

  • Their web site is at: https://www.translifeline.org/ Both lines are staffed by trained transgender volunteers.

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2018-NOV: Some positive reactions to President Trump's plan:

On the other hand, some conservative Christian medical groups and others agreed with the Trump administration's new policy. On 2018-DEC-04, the American College of Pediatricians, American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Catholic Medical Association, and many individual professionals sent a letter to the Trump administration supporting the government's redefinition of "sex." 11 The very conservative American College of Pediatricians, which has about 200 members, is often confused with the much larger and more liberal American Academy of Pediatrics, which has a staff of 390 persons and a membership of "... 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists." 12,13 The two pediatric groups often take opposing positions on LGBT issues.

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2018-DEC: VA: Teacher suspended, and later fired, for refusing to use a transgender student's preferred pronouns:

Peter Vlaming, 47, a high school French teacher in Virginia, was placed on administrative leave because of his treatment of a transgender student. The ninth-grade student was registered as a female at birth, but now identifies as male. Vlaming stated:

"I won't use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name ... [and] avoid female pronouns. ... Administration is requiring that I use masculine pronouns in any and every context [when referring to this student] at school. I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination."

The school board scheduled a public meeting to decide whether he should be fired.

An online petition asking that he not be fired received over 1,100 signatures.

One of his students said in an interview:

"He's a really nice guy, he wanted to do everything about his students. He really does care about his students. The thing he will not do is change his ways of thoughts and believing in things just to conform to someone else's ideologies." 5

Vlaming told the school that his Christian faith prevented him from using the male pronouns [he, him, his] to refer to a student who was identified at birth as female and who now identifies as having a male gender.

The school recommended to the board that he be fired because he violated the non-discrimination and harassment policies of the school board. West Point schools' Superintendent, Laura Abel, said:

"That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that. They felt disrespected." 6

Vlaming’s attorney, Shawn Voyles, said:

"Tolerance is a two-way street. My client respects this student’s rights. He is simply asking that his rights be respected as well. ... The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board adopted one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That’s where it’s compelled speech. That’s where it violates his First Amendment right [that] he still retains as a public employee." 7

, writing for Newsweek, said:

"The act of purposely referring to someone with their pretransition pronouns is known as misgendering and can be considered a form of hate crime." 6

The School Board voted unanimously -- 5 to 0 -- to fire the teacher.

Karina Bolster at WWBT-TV in Richmond, VA quoted Vlaming as saying:

"Miracles can happen, but I was prepared that this might be the outcome."

Students and community members lined the hallways of the school, some in support for Vlaming, others in support for the transgender student."

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Webmaster's comment:

This is a lose-lose situation:

  • If the teacher refuses to use male pronouns to refer to a transgender student who regards himself as a male, then the student will probably feel disrespected and perhaps feel discriminated against, devalued, and/or harrassed. That might increase the chances of them attempting suicide. Studies show that about 41% of transgender persons attempt suicide sometime during their lifetime.

  • If the teacher is required to use male pronouns that agrees with this student's current gender identity, then his sincere religious beliefs that require him to refer to the student by his birth sex are being contradicted and disrespected.

My personal belief is that the content of the Bible is is ambiguous about the teacher's proper action:

  • He shouldn't meet the student's needs: The Bible does refer extensively to both females and males, particularly in the first part of Genesis. Since it was written in a pre-scientific era, millennia before any scientific studies of transgender persons, its passages consider a persons gender as equivalent to their biological sex.

  • In contrast, the teacher should meet the student's needs: All Christians, including teachers, should follow the Golden Rule (a.k.a. Ethic of Reciprocity). Christ is quoted in two gospels as requiring this of all Christians. Essentially all other religions do as well. The rule says that one should treat other people as one would wish others to treat them in return. If all teachers did refer to students with their current gender identity, then there would probably be a significant reduction in the loss of life by suicide among transgender students.

  • On balance, I feel that the student's wishes should be respected and that the Golden Rule should be followed. This teacher should have referred to the student with male pronouns. My belief is that if a person's religious teachings requires them to treat another person with disrespect or to actively discriminate against them, then the teachings should be ignored. In the Bible there are passages legitimizing human slavery, treating women as inferior to men, promoting child abuse, requiring the execution of women who are found to be non-virgins at the time of their first marriage, etc. So there are lots of behaviors that the Bible promotes that should be ignored. I would like to see disrespecting transgender persons as another behavior to be discontinued.

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2018-DEC-12: TFP Student Action defends Virginia teacher:

TFP Student Action is a Roman Catholic agency working on college campuses across the U.S. The "TFP" in their name refers to "Tradition, Family and Property." They have 75 full-time volunteers and 120,000 members. They raised a petition urging Mrs. Laura K. Abel, the Superintendent of West Point Public Schools to rehire Peter Vlaming. It begins:

"To target children with the idea that a biological girl can become a boy is false, harmful and confusing.  Therefore, I respectfully urge you to restore Mr. Peter Vlaming to his teaching position at West Point High School. He was unjustly fired for upholding biological truth." 8

In common with most religious conservatives, TFP Student Action promotes the belief that when a newborn is identified as a female or male at birth by the attending physicians, that this gender is fixed for the rest of her or his life. That is, a person's gender is permantly defined by their genital structures at birth. The student involved in the controversy is apparently a FTM transgender person: identified as female at birth, and who is now a teen high school student who identifies as male.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Mythili Sampathkumar, "Trump administration considers elimination of transgender recognition," The Independent, 2018-OCT-21, at: https://www.independent.co.uk/
  2. Erica Green, et al., " 'Transgender' Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration," New York Times, 2018-OCT-21, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  3. Emily C. Singer, "Justice Department argues businesses can legally discriminate against transgender employees," Mic Network, 2018-OCT-25, at: https://mic.com/
  4. Alex Bollinger, "Suicide hotline calls quadrupled after Trump’s latest attack on transgender people," LGBTQ Nation, 2018-OCT-29, at: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/
  5. Sarah Curlee, "Virginia High School Teacher Faces Possible Termination after Declining to Use Transgender Student’s Preferred Pronouns," Christian Headlines, 2018-DEC-06, at: https://www.christianheadlines.com/
  6. "Virginia Teacher Fired for Refusing to Use Transgender Student's New Pronoun: 'I Miss the Female Version of the Student' ," Newsweek. 2018-DEC-07, at: https://www.newsweek.com/
  7. Karina Bolster, "West Point High teacher fired following transgender controversy," WWBT-TV, 2018-NOV-06, at: https://www.nbc12.com/
  8. "School Fires Teacher for Using Correct Pronoun for Girl Who Identifies as Boy. Join the Protest," TFP Student Action, 2018-DEC-12, at: https://www.tfpstudentaction.org/
  9. Lauren Feiner, "Apple, Amazon, Facebook and more than 50 other companies sign letter against Trump administration's proposed gender definition changes," CNBC, 2018-NOV-01, at: https://www.cnbc.com/
  10. "56 Major Companies Respond to Alarming Effort to Erase Transgender People From Legal Protections," National LGBTQ Task Force, 2018, at: http://www.thetaskforce.org/
  11. Michelle A. Cretella, "Why 30,000 health professionals applaud the White House gender policy," Mercatornet, 2019-JAN-16, at: https://www.mercatornet.com/
  12. David Hart, "Scripture Over Science - The American College of Pediatricians," The Slowly Boiled Frog, 2016-MAR-18, at: http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/
  13. "Membership FAQ," American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017, at: https://www.aap.org/
  14. "Caitlyn Jenner slams Trump, says transgender people 'relentlessly attacked'," Reuters, 2018-OCT-25, at: https://www.reuters.com/

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Copyright Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author:
B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-OCT-23
Latest update: 2019-JAN-18
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