This is a response to Martin Kuhrt’s article Dividing body, soul & spirit: Gnostic heresies live on
We don’t know each other but I subscribe to Grace + Truth and I read your recent article. I also do the same job as you in a different part of the country.
I found your article thought provoking. I agreed with some, but not all, of what you said. I agree that the Thatcher and Kwarteng comments were completely unacceptable, and Hoddle’s perspective is a terrible way of viewing disability. I’m agnostic as to whether they have their roots in Gnosticism, to me they were just sexist, racist and de-humanising.
However, I do see another link between all three incidents. All the comments were made about a person or people group who were distant and being cast as ‘the other’. Those being commented on were not ‘in the room’.
You probably know the early history of the black consciousness and gay rights movements. They both started with the powerless attempting to address their situation and regain the power that they lost through their skin pigmentation or sexual preference.
Sadly, as these movements began, they were all met with resistance from those in power. Over time, culture has shifted and we have seen general mainstream acceptance of both these movements. Both still have goals to achieve, but they have secured and witnessed significant cultural change.
This powerlessness that people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals endured manifested itself in many ways. These included social exclusion, generational poverty, limited job prospects.
These issues (plus many more) in turn led to these powerless groups to experiencing multiple mental health and wellbeing issues, thus perpetuating the power/powerless imbalance and maintaining the hegemony.
Both these movements formed some kind of ideology that articulated their powerlessness and they initiated practical action. These human conceived ideologies were not perfect but they fuelled action that led to positive social change. They were nascent ideologies driven by the powerless that those in power, without any lived experience, frequently sneered at.
All ideologies can and must be critiqued, that helps them improve, but those that critique this must do so with some kind of lived experience or at least dialogue with the other. The ‘other’ has to be in the metaphorical room.
The deeper reason for my response to your article is that I live with a trans person, my 9-year-old child.
From a very early age (3 or 4 years old), much to my frustration, they refused to wear clothes that matched their gender. For weeks getting dressed every morning was a nightmare. Eventually we gave up and decided that they can wear what they want and from then on, they have worn clothes that are in contrast to their assigned gender. I don’t know what the future holds for my child but the situation we have now is much better.
A different danger
I find it interesting that you use the word ‘dangerous’ to describe the trans ideology. For me there is a very different danger, just google “trans suicide rates.” This is the first sentence of the top hit, ‘Data indicate that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth.’
Martin, I wake up with that danger every morning. Furthermore, trans individuals also experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence, and “trans and non-binary people are often the targets of transphobic hate crimes and state violence.”
Presently, those who identify as trans are suffering multiple mental health and wellbeing issues, and through the binary-gendered world that they encounter, regularly experience powerlessness and are trying to form an ideology and take action to address this. Sound familiar?
The early successes of the justice movements I briefly outlined above is the growing awareness that we do not live in a typical world. By this I mean, not everyone is born white, western, straight and gender normative. For unknown reasons, some people are born ‘atypical’ and the world is a better place for it. We need our ideologies to continue to emerge and change according to these new realities.
My final question to you is are you trans or have you been in dialogue with someone who is trans in writing your article? If the answer is yes, I’d love to hear more how your idea of ‘trans ideology’ compares with lived trans experience. Either way, those in power must take action so that trans individuals stop feeling the need to kill themselves and that they experience the equality and empowerment that they deserve.
If you have not consulted any trans individuals in writing your article, then I am afraid you have made the same error of those who you highlighted: your friend, Huq and Hoddle. Making comments about the other without the other being in room. I believe that this is the dangerous place to be.
Rather than speaking against the voiceless we need to speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.