Thursday, March 31, 2016

Another dishonest Christian weighs in on North Carolina

John Stonestreet
John Stonestreet, a theologian and fellow at the far right Colson Center, has provided a polemic Thursday at the Christian Post critical of the NFL and NBA. His piece is titled “NBA, NFL Choose Sides in Culture War Battles.” I am seriously trying to understand what turns a theologian into a demagogue. to that end I sent Stonestreet a polite email to see if he is willing and able to defend some of his statements. At the very outset of this piece I have a problem:
Last week, North Carolina lawmakers — led by the Lt. Governor and leader of the house, ran a backdoor play of sorts to overturn a new Charlotte ordinance known as "the bathroom bill." As you can probably guess, the bill mandated that Charlotte businesses allow individuals access to the restroom of their choice.

Wrong. That is demonstrably false. Under that law I (along with most of my male readers) would not be permitted to “choose” to use a bathroom designated for women. Neither could a drag queen. The intent of the law is to allow a transgender person the right to use the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity. Indeed, even a trans person doesn't have “access to the restroom of their choice.” They have access to the bathroom consistent with their gender presentation.

The Christian right persists with this intellectually dishonest characterization, suggesting that people make a conscious – even spontaneous or gratuitous – choice of gender or which restroom they will utilize. It is preposterous — It is a lie.

Transgender access is intended to accommodate a tiny minority of people. They are dealing with gender dysphoria  and have been the object of intensive medical and psychiatric treatment. The issue has become more salient because of advances in medical science. Researchers have determined that the earlier transgender people transition, the happier and more successful in life they will be. At the same time, psychiatrists and psychologists have become more astute at separating a childhood phase from gender dysphoria. The result is identifying transgender people at an earlier age.

To put this in perspective, a high school with 1,000 students might have three transgender kids. Why is accommodating three teens such a huge fucking problem? Don't these kids have enough on their plate? Henry Seaton, a transgender boy in Tennessee has said:
I’m a boy – I live my life as a boy, my friends know me as a boy, my parents accept me as a boy. But now I have to use the teacher’s bathroom because a bunch of politicians feel uncomfortable with who I am? That’s not right.

Selective observation:

Stonestreet goes on to complain about the bullying of the NBA, NFL and the other businesses putting pressure on North Carolina. Who is the bully here? It seems to this observer that those who lack sufficient compassion for a tiny percentage of kids to make an accommodation are the real oppressors.  According to Stonestreet:
In a specially called session, lawmakers not only overturned Charlotte's ordinance, they mandated that any public multiple occupancy restrooms and changing rooms in the state be designated for those of the same biological sex, while also allowing accommodation for transgender persons in single-occupancy facilities.

In just about any other time or age than ours, bathroom policies would be an unnecessary area for government involvement. And this particular bathroom policy would seem like common sense for the protection of women and children. And yet it was quickly labeled “anti-LGBT legislation.”
Singling out students for special bathroom “privileges” (usually requesting a key for the faculty restroom) is not an accommodation. The unnecessary attention targets those kids for ridicule and harasssment. As Henry Seaton wrote in what was a successful petition:
Where students can use the bathrooms is important enough, but these bills are about more than that. They add to the bullying, harassment, and violence transgender students already face. Almost half of all transgender people attempt suicide at some point in their lives because of hardship. Why would politicians want to make it even harder for students to be themselves?

Moreover, Stonestreet has indulged in a lie of omission.

Prior to the enactment of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, the counties of Buncombe, Mecklenburg, and Orange as well as the cities of Asheville and Charlotte, Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, and Raleigh prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The counties of Durham and Guilford along with the cities of Bessemer, Durham, High Point and Winston-Salem prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only. Those protections are all gone by an act of the state legislature signed into law by Governor McCrory.

And let us be perfectly honest here. This law was enacted by Christians for Christianity. Remove religion from this controversy and there is no controversy. So I ask again, who are the bullies? Businesses who want what is best for their employees and their bottom line or North Carolina's conservative Christians who have imposed their religious beliefs on public policy.

Indeed, that is the intent of the Colson Center. Stonestreet closes his piece with this bit of theocratic doctrine:
We need courageous, clear-thinking Christians who will make the right call when called upon.
Jews need not apply? Who is the bully?

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