"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Monday, May 7, 2018

New Hymn: Rise Up, Women of God

Rise up, women of God,
Nave done with lesser roles,
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve Her sacred goals.

Rise up, women of God,
Your freedom tarries long,
Take back the night of sisterhood
And end rape culture's wrong.

Rise up, women of God,
Your sons and brothers wait,
Their strength unequal to the task
Of ending war and hate.

Lift high the cross of Christ,
Tread where his feet have trod,
As precious siblings, cis and trans,
Rise up, women of God!

Text: Bishop Laura Marie Grimes, copyright 2018
Tune: Festal Song SM

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 9: Godparents

This is from a couple years ago but it's worth revisiting its hate and ignorance.  The Vatican banned transpeople from serving as godparents either in their assigned sex or the opposite, for daring to discern who God truly created them to be and what steps S/he was calling them to to live that.  I grieve the injustice to them and the deprivation of their ministry to potential godchildren, their parents, and their whole church.  St. Joan of Arc, savior of France burned at the stake for crossdressing to lead her soldiers and prevent her rape, pray for us.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 8: I Confess

...that the grave sins of cissexism and transphobia are in me and I have totally minimized and denied and fled from that. And that when I have tried to increase my awareness and advocacy on trans issues, as with this blog series, I have remained too often at the level of seeing transfolk only as mistreated victims rather than wise leaders from whom I can learn a great deal.

An example of the first is almost always referring to myself simply as a woman while consistently calling transwomen by the more detailed term which becomes othering in such usage. This is especially egregious since as a disability activist and parent I hate the "normal" and "mentally ill" label, instead using and advocating "neurotypical" for folks with conventional (boring!) brains and "neurodiverse"or "neurodivergent" for myself and my awesome kiddos. I had this realization a couple of years ago and changed my blog bio to reflect it but I changed it back soon after rationalizing that it is long and complicated and I was going back and forth about coming out as bi anyway.  Yeah, right. Just changed it back and it will stay that way.

The second was brought to my example during my research for the series when I came across a powerful post by Silly Trans Woman about setting realistic, obtainable, and healthy transition goals.  It had much Ignatian wisdom about discernment which could apply to any major life goal/change and the steps to achieve it.  In my case right now this is the resurrection of my academic career after its near destruction by marital, ecclesial and academic abuse and misogyny.

Both are definitely going on the list for my next appointment with a favorite Jesuit confessor at my alma mater with whom I have reconnected since moving back last year. I also apologize and ask forgiveness of my trans siblings and thank you for your courageous witness to your truth, your sacrificial steps toward helping your beauty in God's image shine out ever more clearly, and your inspiring me to try and do the same!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 7: Dating and Disclosure

Tiffany Berruti writes powerfully at Odyssey about the transphobic demand--often used to justify "trans panic" murders-- that all trans people disclose their status before any potential first date. She even has the sophisticated analysis and graciousness to acknowledge that not being attracted to the subset "people with penises" is not of itself transphobic or necessarily offensive to the much larger group "trans people."  
As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.
Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.
The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Tragically, the site immediately follows up her piece with a link to a hideously hateful and poorly argued piece presumably reflecting their emphasis on "democratizing content." It doesn't deserve a quotation but insists that trans people who don't precede all first dates with disclosure are committing "rape by deception" by withholding "informed consent" for any sex the date might happen to want to engage in with them.  May God have converting mercy on the writer and on all of us who participate in the sins of cissexism and transphobia.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 6: Legislative Pioneer Danica Roem

Good news for a change of pace: transwoman and journalist Danica Roem is the first out trans person to win a Virginia primary and may become the first out trans legislator in the US.

Edited to add: And she won! Hurrah!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 5: Dona Easeisque Requiem

Here are the known transpeople murdered so far this year. 

As always, the overwhelming majority of victims are women, often women of color; the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are cis men; there may be more victims unknown because of being misgendered; and, as with white male terrorism, law enforcement sometimes claims that the obvious hate crimes are not hate crimes.

It is heartbreaking but important to click through the series, see their faces, and read their stories.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 4: Melinda Selmys

If you don't know the amazing Melinda Selmys you need to! One of the most brilliant bloggers at Patheos Catholic, she is also in a unique situation to address trans issues since her gender identity and dysphoria vary identifiably with her reproductive status as a mother of many.

I wasn’t planning to get pregnant. I didn’t think that I was pregnant. I actually thought that I’d carefully avoided my fertile days and was guaranteed to NOT be pregnant. Yet in spite of the fact that there was no way that I could have known about my pregnancy, my body and my psyche were responding to a surge of hormones. In fact, from the dating ultrasound and my own records, I happen to know that the sudden drop in my feelings of dysphoria coincided more or less exactly with the hormonal changes that accompany implantation.

As soon as I realized this I also realized that the sudden increase in dysphoria two years ago probably had the same cause: when I lost my previous pregnancy to miscarriage suddenly, for the first time in my adult life, I was not pregnant or breastfeeding. In both cases, the changes in the intensity of my gender dysphoria were obviously linked directly to biological events.

Indeed, although the study of transgender neurology and biology is still fairly primitive, most of the studies suggest that there probably is a biological component to gender dysphoria. In other words, there is a significant likelihood that when we’re looking at trans people we are not looking at people who are “confused” about their “gender identity,” or who “reject God’s plan” for their bodies. Rather we are looking at people who have intersex conditions that cannot yet be easily diagnosed. Conditions that we don’t yet completely understand.

Read more 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 3: Book Resources

On the way in to my library work session last night I discovered a simple, rich, beautifully designed “Transgender Life” series. It was on a teen shelf but adults could learn a lot from of it—especially us cisfolk who have so much to learn on this crucial subject.

1. Coming Out as Transgender
2. Health Issues When You’re Transgender
3. Identifying as Transgender
4. Transgender Rights and Protections
5. Transgender Role Models and Pioneers

It inspired me to search for additional resources which I look forward to exploring:

Books for children and youth.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 2: A Song For All Beings

It’s the end of a busy, joyous, intense day. I am at a peaceful new to me public library blogging to Jennifer Berezan’s “In These Arms/A Song for All Beings.”

May all beings be happy
May all beings be safe
May all beings everywhere be free.

Could there be anything more perfect for this series? Mama/Papa God’s desire, call, and gift for all of  us beloved children and the beautiful cosmos which gives us life.

To expand and illustrate the compassionate Buddhist mantra of metta http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/facets_of_metta.phpor loving-kindness practice:

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May trans women be happy
May trans women be safe
May all trans women everywhere be free.

May trans men be happy
May trans men be safe
May all trans men everywhere be free.

May genderqueer people be happy
May genderqueer people be safe
May all genderqueer people everywhere be free.

May fearful people be happy
May fearful people be safe
May all fearful people everywhere be free.

May confused people be happy
May confused people be safe
May all confused people everywhere be free.

May hateful people be happy
May hateful people be safe
May all hateful people everywhere be free.

May divine love heal and free us of the fear, confusion, and hatred that stop us from embracing and sharing the justice, love, and freedom of the beloved children of God.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Trans Lives are Sacred Day 1: Perpetua the Gladiator

Ade Bethune collection, St. Catherine University

I have been celebrating and furthering my growing recovery from the marital, ecclesial, and academic abuse by profoundly joyous daily exercise ranging from boxing lessons to long walks to the varied delights of the gym. The last two nights I swam, hot tubbed, and steamed and felt very close to the great African Church Mothers Saints Perpetua and Felicity. They are passionate sisters in holy motherhood whose "Passion" I have taught since my first semester of Women in Religion as a grad student and whose widely varied art I analyzed in my first presentation at the American Academy of Religion.

They have undergone a renaissance in popularity in the past couple of decades, with a focus on claiming them as lovers and thus matron saints of lesbian and gay relationships. Like Mary Magdalene the repentant whore, this identification is ungrounded in the textual and historical evidence and rooted in Boswell's cursory and egregious misreading--itself a symptom of the misogyny and biphobia endemic in some cis gay male environments. And like Miriam the Tower of the Flock, undoubtedly a passionate and delighted champion of the gutsy medieval sex workers who claimed her as their role model and defender, they are no doubt thrilled to intercede for their beloved LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers who are still so abused by the church even as the rest of society turns to justice instead.

Their story, largely written by the highly educated noblewoman Perpetua, is notable for its strong focus on the sacred, Christlike nature of their cis female, birthing, nursing bodies--a refreshing change from the spunky virgin martyrs who defied endemic male violation of their bodies and spirits. They are part of a gender- and class-mixed group of new Christians which Perpetua is the clear leader, receiving powerful visions and using her privilege to fight for better treatment by prison guards and officials. Besides the lack of the slightest evidence for an erotic connection between the women, one of the most moving aspects of the story is the spiritual friendship and siblinghood between slaves, slaveowners, and those in between. Whether Felicity was Perpetua's personal slave or not, Perpetua would never have abused her vastly greater social power by sexual predation upon her vulnerable sister in faith (like the faith-filled, healthy-authority-conscious centurion whose young slave Jesus heals--also most unfortunately claimed as an erotic couple in a very understandable passion for finding such role models and mentors in our Christian tradition).

The initial of the alphabet soup that is significant in the text is the T--not in a permanent identity sense, but in the situational sense that so many women throughout history have adopted a short or long term male presentation for protection, freedom, opportunity, or a combination. It takes place in one of the most frequent contexts for such passing, military/athletic contests. One of Perpetua's visions has her facing a male gladiator who represents Satan and she finds herself transformed into a man in order to compete against and ultimately best him. This would be a marvelous artistic subject but I am not aware of any treatment to date. Jesus in Love blog, help us out!

For many years I disliked the scene because of a well grounded allergy to "you think like/have the courage of" a man garbage so often inflicted on gifted women. In particular the toxic and egotistical male bishop who stood in at my priesting tainted the sacred moment by addressing me as Father Laura directly upon raising my from my knees with my cupped hands still dripping with fragrant chrism. It was only last night in the pool when Perpetua whispered in my ear a more empowering and healthy understanding of her experience.

Wrestlers fought stripped and anointed with oil, and she specifically mentions that when she recounts the story of her vision. In a world in which penises are worshipped weapons and pussies desecrated gardens, male nudity around women is generally powerful and frequently threatening, while female nudity around men is incredibly vulnerable and frequently violated. So the temporary transformation was for her protection and empowerment and when its job was done she returned to her strong powerful lactating Eucharistic body, in which she won her ultimate combat in the arena along with her friend and sister and their brothers!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ignatian Viewing: The Shack

It's a beautiful God-incidence that we are doing our fourth semester homeschool literature seminar, African American Women's Literature, at the same time as I am breaking free of the long term emotionally abusive marriage and preparing for the move back to the Midwest to make a new life for myself and my daughter. We began with Jean Barrett's fantastic Audible version of Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself. It's a brilliant classic that should be in every high school American Literature class and we grieve the racism and sexism that makes that incredibly rare.

The same goes for The Color Purple, discovered when I was a passionate college student helping create Christian feminist theology and spirituality with my sister-friends because it certainly wasn't happening in our courses or official liturgies. It was profoundly moving then and means even more now that I have consciously lived and ministered to others who have lived so many analogous experiences to Celie's. The Audible is powerfully read by Alice Walker herself, with a bemused foreword noting how many people--including those who made the sweet but deeply inadequate movie in the nineties--totally missed its powerful spiritual message. We will watch the movie just for analysis/compare and contrast and the Shack is the perfect complement to it for that class. There are so many more great films by and about black men that we moved a selection of those to a entire art/gender studies class in itself, African American Male Experience in Film. Really looking forward to seeing Fences and possibly Spike Lee's Malcolm X with my mom on our Holy Week/Spring break trip in a few weeks.

The Shack movie is even better than the book because it is so skillfully casted and performed, lyrically filmed, and hits all the high points with key, powerful words leaving out some of the excess and occasionally problematic verbiage. It beautifully fulfills Shug Avery's recommendation of "getting man off your eyeball"--specifically the demonic, Zeuslike, kyriarchal old white man throwing thunderbolts from his throne. It presents five different faces (three primary of course) of a truly loving, suffering-with, triumphing over evil God--none of them white and only two male! So it is a powerful enactment of Ignatian spirituality in affirming the divine image so often denied in praxis of women, trans, and people of color as well as the process of fighting for healing, justice, freedom, and the knowledge that God is truly good and loving and helps us to be the same. Absolutely not to be missed!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This Joyful Season Day 8: Litany of Loreto

Don't remember where I went to mass Wednesday but time is short anyway, so I will post a favorite Youtube discovery: the loveliest and most womanpower celebrating version of the Litany of Mary I have ever heard, with visuals of Westminster Cathedral from the day of prayer where it was sung. We missed it on our flying visit through London in last spring's roadschool trip and final family vacation, but I attended a stunning midnight mass there with three high school friends as the advance guard of our high school Christmas break trip.

I vetoed the strongest Anglophile/future English PhD's preference for Westminster Abbey, which would have been even more crowded anyway. We felt incredibly grown up going over early on our own and had to take advantage of the looser laws and lack of supervision by seeing the classy and beautiful Lady Chatterley's Lover, getting a drink at the Hard Rock cafe back when it was the only one, and--less enjoyably--smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of sherry while listening to jazz on the hotel room radio.

Katie and I often sing along to it in the car since it has lyrics for her and I can usually do pretty well from memory once I hear the start of the invocation--I remember most of them but not the order. It often makes me smile to remember the "litany wars" at the Chiesa Nuova, Philip Neri's majestic church, where I would often attend mass during a bus transfer break during my first summer month of Latin study there with the legendary Reginaldus Foster. If the sweet young German priest led the post-liturgy devotion he always did the Litany of the Sacred Heart from an Italian prayerbook but if one of the old Italian ladies did it was always this litany, in Latin, by heart!

This Joyful Season Day 7: Holy Angels

Tuesday morning mass featured a stunningly gorgeous Art Deco angel fresco behind the main altar. I didn't have the right camera to do it justice but was intrigued to see how many named angels there were beyond the "Big Four" of Raphael/la, Gabriel/le, Michael/a, and Uriel (these all looked delightfully feminine and Raphael even black). Totally recalled Doreen Virtue's sweet (though overly white) little sets of angel cards and I still wonder how a Twenties artist found the names--surely s/he didn't just create them as I assume Virtue sometimes does?--and got approval to include them.

Speaking of which I just found and tried this online reading option on her website and gave it a try asking what the Holy Spirit wanted me to know as I move toward dating. "Separation" couldn't be more accurate as I prepare for a month alone as the pioneer of Katie's and my Midwest refuge move. It will be the longest in my life as I married at 24, lived in community before that, and even my 30 Day Ignatian Long Retreat hermitage dwelling happened at a retreat house with two other women making the Spiritual Exercises, shorter term retreatants coming and going, and the spiritual and physical support staff.

The Romance Angels are helping you during this period of separation from your partner. This card comes to you as an indication of angelic support as you spend time away from each other. While you’re apart, the angels can help you fill your hours with healthy activities, which will help your present or future relationships.

This card may indicate a temporary period of aloneness, such as while your partner is traveling for business, or a time in your life when you’re single and preparing for your next relationship. It can also mean a marital separation or divorce.

Call upon the angels for support and guidance during these transitions. They can help you discover the deep healing to be mined as you spend time alone, which prepares you for the next part of your relationship journey.

This message totally reinforces the recent three card reading I did before the trip with my physical set: "Life Review," "Comfort," and "Nurture."

The tiny liturgy followed by prayerful picture taking inspired me to follow up on an inspiration from a healing sacraments session with my lovely Carmelite friar in the fall. Part of my penance, which I embraced on a powerful retreat in the Lady Chapel of Mission San Luis Rey, was to pray for both living kids with a Salve Regina and through the intercession of their guardian angels. I giggled as I pictured homeschool maiden with the traditional one and alpha male--especially in his challenging teen years--with a whole troop protecting those he encountered as well as him!

I also reflected more seriously on the disconnect that I have intense personal relationships with many official and unofficial saints but no real personal connection to my or their angels--even after following someone's advice (maybe Doreen Virtue again, come to think of it) when Katie was tiny to ask my guardian angel to reveal her name to me. Rosa is what came, probably in part because of Katherine Rose's middle name as well as being in the Rose City, Portland, and doing one of my favorite and rave-reviewed weddings in the Rose Garden there with the exchange of roses ritual. So I spent some time reconnecting with her and have started praying to Rosa again--usually in Spanish as it feeds my soul so strongly--and that is a lovely gift as I move forward into my exciting but sometimes daunting future as a single mama.