Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Litigation: What is so damned difficult about correctly gendering people?

Why must conservative Christians exploit every available opportunity to express their disapproval of LGBT people?
Personally, I find it awkward to refer to an individual as “they.” It is not a judgment about the individual; it is just, as I said, awkward. However, it is not my place to determine how someone is addressed. I was brought up to understand that we address people as they choose to be addressed.

People who refer to the “Democrat Party” are schmucks. They do it to harmlessly annoy Democrats. Yet people who misgender transgender folks are on a different plane. They are intentionally harming other people; vulnerable transgender people who are already the objects of derision.

Chris Woodward is a propagandist for a hate group, American Family Association. Woodward writes: Prof threatened for not using student's preferred gender:
A Christian professor is taking his employer to court after being reprimanded for not using female titles and pronouns in conversations with a gender-confused male student.
Mr. Woodward, you will note, is quite proud of his backward ignorance. “Gender confused” has become increasingly irritating. According to medical science people exist whose gender is incongruous with their natal sex. They are not confused. Moreover, the science holds that gender is a separate and independent construct and usually prevails over sex when the two are not aligned.

The student in question is a transgender woman. What the hell is Woodward's problem and how did a professor become so utterly stupid?
Enter ADF
As a result, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a federal lawsuit against Ohio-based Shawnee State University on behalf of Dr. Nicholas Meriweather.

In January – during a political philosophy class he was teaching – Meriwether responded to a male student's question by saying, “Yes, sir.”

The student later approached Meriweather to tell him that he is transgender, identifies as a woman and wants to be addressed with female pronouns. When Meriwether did not instantly agree, ADF says the student became belligerent and filed a complaint against Meriweather.
It is “Meriwether” not Meriweather.

According to ADF's lawsuit:
Nicholas K. Meriwether
Nicholas K.
Meriwether
To accede to these demands would have required Dr. Meriwether to communicate views regarding gender identity that he does not hold, that he does not wish to communicate, and that would contradict (and force him to violate) his sincerely held Christian beliefs.
[…]
Rather than allowing the student and Dr. Meriwether to communicate their views as they each chose, the University sought to silence Dr. Meriwether and punished him for expressing views that differ from its own orthodoxy and for declining to express its mandated ideological message.
ADF, which is also a hate group, is trying to make this about viewpoint discrimination. It is not. A student is a customer of the university. The university expects its personnel to treat its customers with human decency. First Amendment Free Exercise is about belief. Christians want it to apply to conduct which throws out about over 130 years of precedence.

These same people think that employers should have an absolute right to fire or not hire LGBT people. Yet they do not believe that employers have a right to define workplace policies.

Out of courtesy, we voice views that we do not necessarily agree with all the time. When a painfully disorganized and slow waiter sets a plate in front of me, I say “thank you.” At some point I will say: “May I have the check, please?” I do not have a compelling need to be an asshole.

I do not believe for a moment that people have a legitimate argument by citing religious belief. It reminds me of all the other slights, denigration and discrimination that LGBT people face from conservative Christians. Kim Davis made the same idiotic argument.

In contrast, I do believe that we do violence to transgender people through deadnaming and incorrect pronouns.

But let us assume, just for the sake of argument, that Meriwether has a legitimate religious freedom argument. How is that balanced against a student's right to be treated with dignity and respect? Addressing the student correctly might cause the professor some discomfort. On the other hand, addressing the student incorrectly is intentional harm. It damages the student. She hears quite enough denigration without a professor piling on.

These same religious conservatives are quick to point out the high suicide rate of transgender people. They do so to argue that people should not choose to be transgender. It is an argument from ignorance. Perhaps, just maybe, if we all treated transgender people with more decency, fewer of them would resort to self-harm.
A contradiction
According to ADF, Meriwether:
…offered to use whatever proper name the student preferred to accommodate this student and to make him feel as comfortable as possible without violating his own deeply-held beliefs and convictions.
First of all, I am reminded that the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court formally admonished two lawyers who wrote amicus briefs because they referred to the transgender male student in the case as “her” rather than “him.” The three lawyers associated with ADF — David A. Cortman, Thomas W. Kidd, Jr. and Tyson C. Langhofer — just did the same thing in a U.S. district court.

That aside, either the professor makes no sense or the lawyers made an untrue statement. “Proper name,” in this instance, is the choice of the student. The student is a transgender woman whom Meriwether insists is a man. He won't use the correct pronouns out of religions concern but he is willing to call someone he believes is a man “Susan,” “Betsy” or “Mary.” How is that not the same religious issue?

It is my further belief that people deadname or misgender trans folks as a way of demonstrating their disapproval. Doing so is rude but their opprobrium is more important to them because their book doesn't make room for gender and considers sex to be an absolute binary proposition; male or female.

I cannot find a curriculum vitae for Dr. Meriwether but he is entitled to a certain degree of respect for having a PhD. Is it really too much to ask someone with his level of education to accede to science (and decency) over ancient texts? It seems like a reasonable request to me. It is the objection that is unreasonable.

By rights ADF should lose this case. However, Trump has been able to pack the courts with unqualified idealogues so anything is possible. We will be living with these jerks (including Kavanaugh) long after Trump leaves office. Hopefully, that will occur in two years or sooner if he is impeached. Off-topic I expect that Mueller is about to throw a whole lot of shit into robust fans.

Related content:



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be civil and do NOT link to anti-gay sites!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.