1st Peter 2, asexual, atonement, atypical, bathroom bills, bigotry, blue eyes, brain injury, Brazil, casting lots, cisgender, dark skin, deviant, difference, discrimination, Easter, fear, goat, God, Good Shepherd, homosexual, human rights organizations, Jesus, King David, Leviticus, LGBT, Lord's mercy, Memorial Day, military veterans, minorities, murders, Muslim, panromantic, Passover lamb, perverse, post traumatic stress disorder, prejudice, Psychology Today, PTSD, rationalize, redheads, sacrifice, scapegoat, sex crimes, sexual predators, sexuality, shed blood, sin, sin offering, statistics, suicide, TDOR, trans men, trans women, Transgender, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Yom Kippur
Would you ever want to be a scapegoat? I would. At least I would want to be if I am dealing with God. With God, the scapegoats were allowed to live. The “scape” part of the word “scapegoat” is an archaic verb that means to depart or escape. In other words, the scapegoat is the goat that escapes.
If you have guessed that at least one other goat is implied by the concept of a scapegoat you are correct. In fact, it is only one other goat. What happens to the scapegoat and the other goat? We find out from the portion of Leviticus where God instructs the children of Israel about the rituals to be carried out on The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. – Leviticus 16:6-10
Just to make it perfectly clear to those who might not be familiar with the terminology, when the goat and the bullock are offered for a sin offering, those animals were killed. This is made quite clear in Leviticus 4:4 (for the bullock) and Leviticus 4:24 (for the goat). The offering was not merely symbolic.
With the Biblical scapegoat and sin offering process, we see the Lord’s mercy. All the people are guilty of sin. No one is perfect and sinless. But first the Lord substitutes the shed blood of animals for the sins of people. Then he spares some animals, even though the blood of animals could never totally make atonement for the sins of the human race.
And certainly, I would want the lot to fall upon me to be spared, not slaughtered. When the Lord casts a lot, He casts a perfect lot.
But people, as they sometimes do, have twisted the meaning of scapegoat into the ones who take upon themselves all the blame for a certain situation, even if they happen to be innocent. No wonder King David, when he had committed a grievous sin against the Lord and was offered a choice among three punishments, he replied to the prophet who was God’s messenger bringing the choices to David: I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. – 1st Chronicles 21:13 (portion)
In the past few years, transgender people have found ourselves to be scapegoats more and more. A tiny minority (estimated at 0.6% of the population), we are being blamed for the ills of society, charged with imposing ourselves and our agenda on the rest of the country, and impugned as being a group that uses our alleged gender identity as an excuse to violate girls and women, either by voyeurism or outright physical attack. The latter charges fly in the face of the facts, as brought up by police chiefs and statistics around the country, that transgender people are not committing these crimes, even when access to bathrooms and other women-only spaces have been opened up to trans women.
Over a random period of a few months a while back when I was developing this post, I began to record mentions of sex crimes against women and children that were picked up in the news feeds that I receive. I decided on at least a dozen examples (I ended up collecting a few more). When I decided to start collecting this information, I had no idea what relevant news stories would be forthcoming and had no control over them. These were the stories I collected.
- 40 year old white male middle school principal in upstate NY accused of having sex with a minor under the age of 17.
- 32 year old black male Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn who had been given the task of prosecuting sex crimes accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her car.
- 49 year old white male Village Trustee, venture capitalist and professor accused of possessing and promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child (uploading a child porn video to a website).
- 48 year old white male former major league baseball player, serving a 7-15 year prison sentence for six counts of criminal sexual conduct, is negotiating a settlement with four women who had been students at the high school where he worked related to him inappropriately touching them while they were working out in the weight room of the school.
- 76 year old white male rabbi and yeshiva principal in Connecticut accused by an alleged victim of repeated rape, molestation and sexual assault while the victim was a student and a minor.
- 28 year old black male who previously served seven years for a combination robbery, physical assault and sexual assault and then violated his parole two years after release was caught on camera and arrested for a similar combination of crimes against an adult woman in connection with a string of robberies in New York City.
- 52 year old white male music teacher and founder of a music school in New York City was arrested for allegedly trying to have sex with girls as young as 8 years old and actually having sex with 15 year old girls on multiple occasions.
- 30 year old white male coach of a high school girls’ sports team in Michigan was convicted and sentenced after confessing to filming underage girl team members undressing, and also possessing child pornography.
- 73 year old white male coach in upstate New York was arrested for sexually abusing one of his athletes, a female under the age of 15.
- 29 year old white male computer programmer and member of the mayoral staff of a major U.S. city arrested for promoting a sexual performance by a child under age 16 and for possession of child pornography on his laptop: about 3,000 images and 89 videos of nude girls between the approximate ages of 6 months to 16 years old having sexual conduct with adult males.
- 29 year old black male masseuse at a legitimate massage parlor located within a major U.S. airport accused of raping a 25 year old female receiving a massage during a flight layover.
- 50 year old black male counselor at an upstate New York medical facility was sentenced to a long prison term for sexually abusing patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
- 43 year old white male in Northern New Jersey sentenced to 33 years in prison for sexually assaulting three girls, ages 12, 14 and 15 years old who were daughters of his close family friends.
- 28 year old white male practicing attorney in the NYC Metropolitan Area arrested for taking upskirt photos of two 19 year old females at a sporting event.
- A white female (in her late 30’s at the time) elementary school teacher in upstate New York was accused by her alleged victim (now an adult; gender not specified) of rape when the accuser was under the age of 13.
- 25 year old white male police officer in upstate New York was charged with raping a minor under the age of 17.
There were no transgender perpetrators. All but one was a cisgender male. None of them disguised themselves as women to carry out their attacks. Many were involved with schools or worked for the government in some other capacity. Are there calls for banning people in these categories from public restrooms on the grounds of prevention? Of course not. More to the point, the loudest voices crying out in support of so-called transgender bathroom bills say nothing about preventative measures against the most likely group to commit sex crimes: those convicted in the past of multiple sex crimes.
Another argument used against transgender people is the suicide argument. Because of high suicide rates, the argument is made that transgender people must be mentally ill. But is transgender the cause or is it the stress of the negative reaction of family, friends and institutions? For comparison, let’s look at another group that suffers from high suicide rates.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014, an average of 20 veterans committed suicide each day, shining a light on only the most visible group of vets suffering from mental illness. Of those 20, only six were users of VA services. Veterans who are dishonorably discharged or who make too much money wouldn’t be eligible for counseling. The graphic included in this post shows that the frequency of suicides has increased since 2014.
A Government Accountability Office study published recently showed that 60 percent of troops who have been discharged for misconduct in recent years suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or some other type of brain injury.
Has the anti-transgender crowd called for a disbanding of the U.S. military because of the negative effect military service has on young men and women who serve? No. Have they called upon the military to change its recruiting methods to filter out those who are prone to suicide? No. Have they charged that those who volunteer for military service are prima facie suffering from mental illness because of the high suicide rate? Once again the answer is no.
In these examples, we see the nature of scapegoating. One group is picked upon to receive a disproportionate share of blame or negativity.
To be fair, while there is a significant amount of both scapegoating and violence against transgender people in the United States, the evidence we see every November when we observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance is that it is much worse in many other countries. Brazil, a country divided on the issue similar to the U.S., nonetheless sees in the neighborhood of five times as many murders of transgender people. In many countries, Muslim ones in particular, it is against the law to be transgender.
Exactly how many countries have laws making it illegal to be transgender? We don’t know for certain. Or at least there is no definitive list online. There are many lists of the countries where it is illegal to engage in homosexual activity or distribute homosexual “propaganda”. The people who maintain these lists assume that it would be against the law to be transgender in these same countries. But there is no specific documentation of that, nor is there any acknowledgement that a country that does not prohibit same sex activities might still have laws making transgender identity or expression illegal. It’s a bit ironic that human rights organizations don’t bother to give special recognition to the status of transgender individuals around the world, no?
Many times I have been in a group discussion where it is stated that people fear those who are different than them. Certainly transgender people compared to the vast cisgender majority are different than most people. And yet not all differences are feared. Redheads comprise between 1-2% of the population, yet they don’t seem to be feared. About 8% of the population has blue eyes, but they aren’t feared, either. Skin color seems to be more fear provoking than hair color or eye color. One might opine that we fear the dark, but do people with the darkest hair shades face more discrimination than people with lighter shades? Why the preoccupation with skin color is a question for which I do not have an answer.
When it comes to anything related to sexuality that departs from the norm, the reason is more obvious: the fear is that something deviant and therefore perverse will be done. But obvious reasons do not automatically mean justified reasons. It has already been pointed out that the evidence doesn’t back the fear when it comes to transgender people in public bathrooms. And of course those who support bathroom bills to keep trans women out of women’s public bathrooms forget that those same bills would require trans men to use the women’s public bathroom.
So if prejudice is based on what people will or even might do, then shouldn’t we expect that there would not be prejudice against people who are asexual? Certainly if there is any group who identifies with a minimum of sexual motivation, it is this group. And yet studies find that there is a high degree of prejudice against the asexual community, as this Psychology Today article discusses.
Discrimination may or may not be rational. A person with a discriminating palate is justified in choosing a five star restaurant over a fast food restaurant and a $100 bottle of wine over a bottle of wine with a twist-off cap.
Discrimination based on prejudice is never rational. Yet prejudicial people have to find reasons to rationalize and justify their prejudices. People generally don’t want to appear to be bigoted. People generally don’t want to appear to be irrational.
Statistics are often the bedfellow of prejudice. And any time a person cites 79% or 63% or 51% (and sometimes even 10% or less) as a reason to discriminate against an individual, it is prejudice. Until one gets to know that individual, it is unknown which side of the issue or which type of behavior that individual will represent.
And when the percentage approaches zero, as it does with transgender people and violence by us, and yet there is still prejudice against us, how much clearer can it be that we are being scapegoated?
Although this post is being published on Memorial Day weekend, there is an Easter message in this. But it is fitting for Memorial Day as well. The act of communion commemorates the broken body and shed blood of Jesus as He bore our sins as part of the Easter story. We celebrate … yes celebrate such violence against Him … in remembrance of Him and what He did for us. And as only someone who is 100% God and 100% human could do, in one process He bore our sins on the cross as the scapegoat, was the Passover sacrificial lamb offering who shed His blood and gave His life for us, and He forever became the Good Shepherd leading His flock.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. – 1st Peter 2:21-25