There’s No Glory in Dysphoria, Victoria

This is the Story of Victoria

Just like a mourning dove

And there’s no glory in Dysphoria

Victoria

Source: Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Victoria Lyrics

With Republicans criminalizing transgender existence and pushing for government-mandated conversion therapy—forcing youth to have the wrong puberty—the chorus to Victoria has been running through my head on this Trans Day of Visibility.

CW: suicide, dysphoria

For more songs—and perspective—on dysphoria, minority stress, and queer and neurodivergent mental health, check out my playlist ”Chronic Neurodivergent Depressed Queer Punk: Punk Rock, the Social Model of Disability, and the Dream of the Accepting Community”.

As we come to understand depression in the transgender community more accurately, it’s become clear that the major cause is what’s referred to as “minority stress;” that is, “stressors induced by a hostile, homophobic culture, which often results in a lifetime of harassment, maltreatment, discrimination and victimization.” The good news, then, is that as social relations and culture change over time, negative attitudes toward transgender people may be reduced, which will then reduce the stressors which trigger anxiety and depression.

Source: When Worlds Collide – Mental Illness Within the Trans Community — Lionheart

Why are there greater mental health stresses on autistic people from gender-minority groups? To quote from the research paper,

“The increased rates of mental health problems in these minority populations are often a consequence of the stigma and marginalisation attached to living outside mainstream sociocultural norms (Meyer 2003). This stigma can lead to what Meyer (2003) refers to as ‘minority stress’. This stress could come from external adverse events, which among other forms of victimization could include verbal abuse, acts of violence, sexual assault by a known or unknown person, reduced opportunities for employment and medical care, and harassment from persons in positions of authority (Sandfort et al. 2007).”

Source: Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, Transgender and Avoiding Tragedy

Autistic and queer folks share some dark history-and some bad actors. Chapter 7 of NeuroTribes, Fighting the Monster, shares the legacy of Ole Ivar Lovaas, the twisted father of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and conversion therapy. He applied his abusive, torturous techniques to autistic kids and “sissy boys” to make them “indistinguishable from their peers“. He had little regard for their humanity-they were engineering projects.

Protecting queer kids protects also neurodivergent kids-and vice versa. The fight is for inclusion and acceptance-for all operating systems, for all of our different ways of being human. Supporting our kids means supporting all of their possibilities and expressions.

Source: Neurodiversity and Gender Non-conformity, Dysphoria and Fluidity – Ryan Boren

And that is what happens when you soak one child in shame and give permission to another to hate.

Source: Hannah Gadsby: Nanette – Netflix

Republicans are killing us. Music can only do so much. What are you doing? Are you emptying the pews of the toxic Christianity fueling this bigotry?

Usually, for adherents of this kind of repressive Christianity, queer people are not supposed to exist, and when their existence cannot be ignored, it poses a problem to be solved, sometimes literally with references to Satan. Given that objections to the legalization of same-sex marriage and the now seriously threatened expansion of transgender visibility and rights are flashpoints in the contemporary right-wing backlash, it is of the utmost importance to amplify the voices of members of the LGBTQ community harmed by conservative Christianity.

it has become clear that right-wing Christians—evangelicals, radical traditionalist Catholics, and Mormons—are authoritarians who will dismantle democracy before they will give up power.

Source: Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church: Stroop, Chrissy, O’Neal, Lauren, Schaeffer, Frank: 9781946093073: Amazon.com: Books

Trinity of Toxic Nonsense: White Supremacy, Misogyny, and Purity Culture

When the latest mass-murdering white man mentioned “sex addiction”, he revealed the flavor of fascism he sups. This act is indelibly stamped with white evangelical culture. Evangelical churches all over America teach a toxic trinity of white supremacy, misogyny, and purity culture that repeatedly come to a head in killers’ heads.

The moment I read that the man who confessed to the murders was the son of a youth pastor who told police he had a “sex addiction,” however, it struck me that we must not ignore the specifically evangelical Protestant contours of this story.

One of the most significant conclusions Grubbs’ research points to, however, is that conservative Christian men are prone to believe that they have pornography or sex “addictions,” even when they do not.

If Long is telling the truth about his desire to “eliminate” the “temptations”-that is, women-that he claims exacerbated his “sex addiction,” it’s likely that he learned to think of himself this way, and to objectify women, in church. In evangelical institutional environments such as churches and Christian schools, discussions of sex are usually steeped in purity culture, that is a complex of beliefs and practices associated with an unhealthy fear of sexuality and intense pressure to remain “pure”-that is, sexually inexperienced-before marriage. I am among the many ex-evangelicals who were essentially coerced into signing “purity pledges” in the 1990s, which is just one of the many manipulative practices associated with purity culture.

Source: Don’t Discount Evangelicalism as a Factor in Racist Murder of Asian Spa Workers in Georgia | Religion Dispatches

Far from being an essential feature of historic Christianity, the popular purity teachings of today are a result of white anxiety around being able to produce enough well-behaved Christian babies to remain in charge of Western society. This relatively recent soup we’re all swimming in is the basis of the modern purity movement—or what many people refer to as purity culture.

Purity culture is a direct path to sexual shame. Different people respond differently to purity culture, and often our privilege insulates us from consequences that people with less privilege have no choice but to internalize. So not everyone will be carrying ten tons of baggage with them into adulthood. But almost everyone who grew up in purity culture exhibits signs or attitudes of sexual shame. And sexual shame is one of the main things that leads churches into silence when someone is abused in their midst.

We can look at the role culture plays in abuse while also holding abusers ultimately and finally accountable for their actions. Abuse is always the fault of the abuser, and the culture of a church will either reward or punish abusive behavior—attract it or repel it. Purity culture is fundamentally complicit in abuse.

Source: #ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing | Broadleaf Books

White Evangelical Racism tells a concise history of the evangelical movement and—here is the hard part—the racist and racial elements that imbue its beliefs, practices, and social and political activism. It is racism that binds and blinds many white American evangelicals to the vilification of Muslims, Latinos, and African Americans. It is racism that impels many evangelicals to oppose immigration and turn a blind eye to children in cages at the border. It is racism that fuels evangelical Islamophobia. It was evangelical acceptance of biblically sanctioned racism that motivated believers to separate and sell families during slavery and to march with the Klan. Racist evangelicals shielded cross burners, protected church burners, and participated in lynchings. Racism is a feature, not a bug, of American evangelicalism.

“To a great extent, the evangelical church in America supported the status quo. It supported slavery; it supported segregation; it preached against any attempt of the black man to stand on his own two feet.” These words, uttered in 1970 by Tom Skinner—the son of a Black preacher and a former gang member turned evangelist—still ring true today.

Evangelicals’ support for current-day policies that seem draconian and unchristian is linked inescapably to a foundational history that we will uncover in this book. American history chronicles evangelical support for and participation in racist structures in America. Skinner got it right.

Source: White Evangelical Racism | Anthea Butler | University of North Carolina Press

Selected tweets from relevant experts:

Related: Sex Ed: Toxic Masculinity, Emotional Expression, Online Privacy, Identity Management, Dress Codes, Bodily Autonomy, and Purity Culture

Spiritual Warfare and the Politics of Paranoia and Providentialism

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant. […]

Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated - if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.

Source: The Paranoid Style in American Politics, By Richard Hofstadter | Harper’s Magazine

Via: Daring Fireball: ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’

That’s from a 1964 essay that could be written today about Trumpism and its Evangelical base.

“Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish” strongly evokes the spiritual warfare and apocalyptic eschatology of dominionism and evangelicalism.

Charismatic beliefs and practices and Calvinist theology seem to be mixing more and more these days, and it’s important to note that most Christians who could be described as evangelicals believe in spiritual warfare. They believe there are literal demons exerting influence over particular places and particular people, and that prayer and exorcism are important Christian practices, because, whether we want to be or not, all of us are caught up in this supposed spiritual battle that is ostensibly discernible for those who, thanks to the Holy Spirit, “have eyes to see.”

This is related to what I have elsewhere described as a politics of Providentialism, which entails reading spiritual realities into real-world events and which certainly contributes to real-world violence. While this is certainly the case in North America, it is also important to note the extent to which Pentecostalism and other radical charismatic Christians, and with them charismatic forms of dominionist politics, have been sweeping the global South in the wake of decades of right-wing missionary efforts.

Source: Christian Dominionism: A Beginner’s Guide to Terms and Context – Not Your Mission Field

Even now, in the Trump era, we often hear “spiritual warfare” rhetoric used by people who support the president such as Paula White-Cain, in her reference to “satanic pregnancies” or her “warfare” prayers at Trump rallies and other events.

People can believe what they want, but such a worldview becomes a problem when it espouses and promotes ideas that are a threat to public health and safety. We’ve seen how some Neocharismatic-Pentecostal preachers challenged confinement regulations due to COVID-19, putting their own church members and the general public at risk. When people attribute illnesses to demons, seeking to heal people through “deliverance” and “spiritual warfare” techniques, the general public and media have serious reasons to be concerned.

We’re also noticing how such a worldview now bleeds into the political sphere, when some demonize their political adversaries and define the next U.S. election in terms of “spiritual warfare.” As we approach the 2020 U.S. elections, expect more polarization and references to the “demonic” on the part of “spiritual warfare” warriors. Another good reason for all who embrace pluralism to be alarmed.

Source: The ‘Spiritual Warfare’ Worldview of Trump’s Conspiracy Doctor is Part of a Transnational Movement | Religion Dispatches

In 1964, as now, the politics of paranoia and providentialism are a popular appeal that ruin things for the rest of us.

… “existential fear” in the form of paranoia has always characterized the right-wing evangelical ethos, regardless of the level of actual external threat.

Source: On the Conservative Movement and Evangelical Spin Doctoring: A Response to A. J. Nolte – Not Your Mission Field

Then, as now, reactionary Christians allowed themselves to be driven by fear of change, fear of modernization, fear of any knowledge that challenged their understanding of their faith.

Unfortunately, until they are defeated politically, we are stuck with the devastating social consequences of their political externalization and projection.

Source: Beyond ‘Thoughts and Prayers’: How the Christian Right’s Politics of Providentialism Keeps America from Addressing Gun Violence – Rewire News Group – Religion Dispatches

The Politics of Paranoia

The Politics of Providentialism

The Politics of Resentment

I grew up amidst them, quietly rejected them as a kid, and loudly reject them now. A dishearteningly huge chunk of the USA is drunk off this toxic cocktail.

Under Trump, the Republican identity is defined not by a set of policy beliefs but by a paranoid mind-set.

What to do? You can’t argue people out of paranoia.

Source: Opinion | The Rotting of the Republican Mind – The New York Times