Comments about ‘Linda & Richard Eyre: Why gender matters’

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Published: Wednesday, May 7 2014 8:00 a.m. MDT

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dr.bridell
mclean, VA

I agree with and appreciate the line:
"We love feminism when it is defined and devoted to the true celebration of womanhood and to the worthy goal of complete equality with men. "
That is what feminism should be about, not the blurring of the roles of men and of women!

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

Good article. It is sad we have to state the obvious sometimes. To see how far things have fallen regarding gender, here are a few examples in recent news:

- India's supreme court recently ruled to recognize transgender people as third gender
- Germany recently changed its law to allow a third gender option for parents filling out birth certificates
- Though not directly gender related, a Florida judge recently approved that a baby girl will list three people as parents on her birth certificate -- a married lesbian couple and a gay man

So, what a world we live in! Birth certificates with 3 or more genders and 3 or more parents. What other nonsense is coming in the future?

The scripture in Mormon 6:19 comes to mind, "O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!"

gmlewis
Houston, TX

I appreciated the author's clarification that there are two representations of feminism, and that the problem with the second representation is that it promotes making gender irrelevant. Gender is as relevant during this mortal stage of our eternal existence as it was in our pre-mortal existance. It will be relevant to our existence after death in the Spirit World and after the Final Judgement, for all eternity.

Tiago
Seattle, WA

I appreciate many of the ideas in this article. There is value is celebrating differences rather than trying to make everything the same.
Those who are gay do not believe that gender is irrelevant. People who are gay only fall in love with people of one gender and not the other, so there is a definite distinction of gender. Gender matters to gay people as a much as to straight people, the difference is the nature of their romantic attractions.
Many, but not all, gay people experience some gender non-conformity, meaning their behavior or gender expression does not conform to dominant gender norms of male and female. Just as it is important to celebrate macro differences between genders, I think it is also valuable to appreciate and celebrate the micro differences between individuals within a gender.
I recently watched a video on the ldswalkwithyou youtube channel where an active Mormon who transitioned from female to male in high school and his family tell their story. It helped me have a bit of empathy for that situation. I definitely recommend anyone who doesn't know much about transgender issues to look that up and try to understand a bit more.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

So what do the Eyres propose to do with people like my good friend, a little boy I grew up with, who played the violin, liked to dance and read fairy tales and play with dolls, and who had no interest whatsoever in girls? His male anatomy just didn't connect with his individuality. Of course, he was mercilessly tormented by all the "real men" in our school class (his nickname was "Pansy"). What, pray tell, will it mean for him to get "ironed out" in the next life? Will it mean that he will automatically become a "real man" and love football and girls?

gee-en
Salt Lake City, UT

Great article, thank you Eyres! Once again, something so basic had been twisted by modern society...something so wonderful as gender differences has been vilified to make it seem wrong and bad.

Spangs
Salt Lake City, UT

This is an excellent article, and I agree with everything the Eyres say for the most part. In fact, in a different context, this would be an excellent manifesto for those that are 'different,' namely gays, lesbians and those with gender identity issues. We should celebrate their differences and fight for equality when it comes to how they live their lives.

rad3
SLC, UT

I'm still not convinced that it is helpful (much less necessary) to assign particular attributes to specific genders. Differences are wonderful. And I will agree, softly, that men can have similar qualities that are different from those of women. A lot of this can be attributed to the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. But labeling those qualities as strictly male or female doesn't really benefit anyone, but rather has great potential to do harm to an individual that does not exhibit those specific qualities. You cannot tell me that even still strong, forthright women are often not constantly denigrated unfairly in society. This is not an LGBTQ issue. There are many straight men who demonstrate "classically" feminine qualities and vise versa. But putting a societal implication that a person is somehow less desirable or important in society simply because they do not express a particular set of norms tied to their gender is damaging, especially to developing adolescents. Remove the "feminine" and "masculine" titles and just call them qualities and celebrate the strengths and differences of those qualities.

Let it Go!
Omaha, NE

"WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY, and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator" plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

ALL HUMAN BEINGS, male and female, are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose...

...WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

I stand with what the prophets had spoken concerning gender. How about you?

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

Tiago:

"I recently watched a video [...] where an active Mormon who transitioned from female to male in high school [...]."

Mentioning "active" Mormon and changing genders perked my ears up. I was unable to find the video you mention.

Keep in mind general church policy is church members who change genders are very likely to receive church discipline. This can potentially result in excommunication. Local leaders can refer to the office of the first presidency for an individual's particular situation.

On a related matter, those who are not church members, but have changed genders, can still possibly be baptized into the church. The mission president has to get involved for the baptismal interview and review the case individually.

Those who have changed genders, either before or after being baptized into the church, cannot receive a temple recommend or receive the priesthood. These policies are consistent with the church's teachings on the importance of gender in all stages of life -- pre-mortality, mortality, post-mortality -- and family responsibilities.

rad3
SLC, UT

@Let it Go!

So what of my cousin who has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome? She was born with XY chromosomes but her body does not respond at all to testosterone, and thus developed to be a mature and beautiful female. Do the prophets tell her to marry a man because she looks female? Or a woman because she is genetically male? Gender is more complex than genitals or chromosomes. It is not as simple as the authors of this document would have you want to believe.

I think they missed the mark and ended up humiliating and causing psychological grief to a whole class of already harassed and misunderstood individuals.

patriot
Cedar Hills, UT

"We love feminism when it is defined and devoted to the true celebration of womanhood and to the worthy goal of complete equality with men"

Is this the same feminism that we saw on display at Gen Conf that demanded the Priesthood? Also the feminism I have seen over the years promotes abortion, hates marriage and children and encourages women to focus on themselves and their careers. This is 100% opposite from what the Savior taught in the New Testament.

I think the Eyre's are a bit confused.

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

rad3:

"Do the prophets tell her to marry a man because she looks female? Or a woman because she is genetically male?"

If your cousin is LDS, the local church leader (stake president) can refer to the office of the first presidency for counsel. There is not a blanket LDS policy for every anomaly that occurs regarding gender. It gets reviewed on an individual basis.

Please don't be offended by my use of the term anomaly. The reason for this term is because of AIS' rarity. It is estimated that complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) affects 2 to 5 individuals per 100,000 people who are genetically male. If the U.S has 150 million genetically male individuals, there would be up to an estimated 3,000-7,500 individuals with complete AIS the U.S.

Tiago
Seattle, WA

@1.96 Standard Deviations
You can find the video on YouTube if you search for "LDSwalkwithyou" It is called the "The Allgood/Moore Family.

The young man who transitioned female to male is active LDS attending a YSA ward where leaders include him and make him feel welcome. His extended family and friends have all rallied around him now, but he went through a lot of pain in middle and high school to get to the point he is at now.

Is the benefit of teaching strict gender norms worth the pain that it causes to the people who naturally don't fit those norms? Can we teach the truth about gender without excluding, and maybe even while celebrating people who are different?

I got really emotional watching the video as I realized how little I understood or had ever tried to understand transgender issues. His life has been complicated and it is tough to rationalize with strict gender norms, but when I hear him tell his story, I see God working in his life and recognize that he is loved by God and is my brother.

Stormwalker
Cleveland , OH

@rad3:

I hope your cousin's family is relying on the advice of competent medical providers to deal with the situation, and then explaining to the non-medical religious people how it is and how it will be.

@Tiago:
Several people in my life are transgender, both MtoF and FtoM. That connecting has led me to work as an advocate in medical settings for trans individuals and to teach classes to medical personnel about caring for transgender patients.

Thank you for taking the time to watch that video. Trans people are rejected by both sides, making a painful situation even worse. Education and understanding can help so much.

I also recommend an older documentary called "Southern Comfort" about the death of a transman named Robert Eades from uterine cancer. There is also a book called "Transmen and FTMs" that details reports of Female to Male people through history.

My experience is that we have a social concept of gender that is based on assumptions about biology. The actual expression of gender is varied and only conforms to the stereotypes in some cases.

Stormwalker
Cleveland , OH

@Let it Go!

That is a religious document and may serve for the followers of your religion.

It does not address a myriad of very real medical conditions that can and do blur the lines of gender for many people.

Modern technology is being used to study the brain functions of homosexuals, heterosexuals and transgender individuals of both genders. While that research is new, it is already showing patterns that seem to confirm what people have long claimed experientially: brain function is different in some significant ways, and gay men and transgender women often have patterns that resemble those of natal women; lesbians and transmen often resemble natal men.

I work as a patient advocate, and know several doctors who are on the cutting edge of research. Much of the population is clearly male or female, however there is a significant "gray area" where such distinctions are harder to make.

I hope you might take some time to do research, so you can have some understanding of these people who are often reviled or bullied, adding significant pain to an already hard path.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

"We love feminism when it is defined and devoted to the true celebration of womanhood..."

There's that word again: true. "True patriots." "True Christians." And now "true celebrations of womanhood."

In other words, "I know the one right definition/religion/viewpoint."

True presumption.

panamadesnews
Lindon, UT

Patriot: I believe the Eyer's meant when they said "worthy goal of complete equality with men", complete eqaulity in the things that men and women can be equal in, such as same pay for the same work position, equal in job opportunities, equal in receiving grades in a class - there are many ways they can be equal, but still maintain their feminity, and their place in the world as righteous, beautiful daughters of our heavenly father.

koseighty
The Shire, UT

How beautiful the world would be if it would just conform to MY simple, easy worldview.

Every home would have a mother, a father, 2.3 children, one dog and one cat. Every father would be a Ward Cleaver, every mother a June. Every boy would be captain of his football team and every girl, head cheerleader.

The simple view tells us that God would never make someone gay or who identifies as a gender other than the one SO obvious to ME. But the reality is that the world is much more complicated than that. There are more chromosome groupings than just XX and XY. There are more combinations of hormones and brain chemicals than mentioned in 8th grade health class.

Sadly, we have a history of treating people outside the norm really, really badly. Also sadly, the message of this editorial is not "We all deserve kindness and respect" but instead it tells us "Conform so I won't have to keep treating you really, really badly."

atrulson
cohoes, NY

To all those addressing the reality and concern of transgendered people. This article is focused on the 99% of people who identify themselves with their physical gender.

As for the 0.3% of transgendered people out there, I see no reason they couldn't support the message here, which is that if women feel marginalized, then the approach should not be to become more like the other men, but to promote the importance, beauty and strengths of women as the are.

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