Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Trouble with Jack(ie):
A Thought Experiment

Note: When dealing with transgender issues and the Church, pronouns are a tricky business. Does one allow the self identification of the person in question to carry more weight than the Church's insistence on the eternal nature of gender regardless of an individual's psychology? Luckily, the BYU Writing Center provides an alternative! "Werf," a genderless pronoun the BYUWC coined in order to avoid the awkward "he or she" construction and it's cousins, seems to be tailor-made for such a situation, and thus will be in use below.

Jackie was presented to werf's proud parents wrapped in a pink blanket. Werf had two X chromosomes, and the usual complement of reproductive organs. As werf grew though, things got more complicated. Werf felt like werf was in the wrong body. Finally, in college, werf bit the bullet and identified as a male, named Jack. Werf underwent breast reduction surgery and took hormone treatments, trading in a brassiere for a husky baritone voice and patchy facial hair.

But the complications were not over for Jack. Werf fell in love with a gay man, and since it was legal in their state, married him. (Note: Jack had no surgical interventions "south of the border," so to speak. Werf still had a uterus, etc.)

Then Jack and werf's husband met the missionaries. They were converted. They wanted to join the Church. As per the most recent iteration of the CHI:
Baptism and confirmation of a person who has already undergone an elective transsexual operation require the approval of the First Presidency. ... However, such persons may not receive the priesthood or a temple recommend.
So if the call were yours to make, what would you do regarding Jack, werf's husband, and their future involvement in the church?

Consider the following:

•According to LDS teachings, Jack is a woman, married to a man. This is not a gay marriage.

•Does breast reduction really count as an "elective transsexual operation"? After all, plenty of LDS women have plastic surgery. If it does count, what is the minimum cup size you can choose and still be considered an Relief Society member?

•What concessions do Jack and werf's husband have to make to enjoy the full benefits of Church participation (barring the issue of Jack's being ordained)? Does Jack need to get implants? Is it enough if Jack dresses in drag (ie: women's clothing) for Church activities? What if werf wears a kilt? Do the hormone treatments have to stop, or is it sufficient to shave regularly (after all, everyone knows at least one RS member that sports a mustache!)? Does Jack need to consider werf's-self female? Since that would be entirely a matter of personal identity, and therefore internal, how could Church officers police that––regardless of the clothing werf wears, how can you tell the difference between Jack(ie)'s regarding werf's-self as a gay man or a straight female?

•For that matter, what about Jack's husband? Does he have to stop considering himself a gay male?

Rules: You don't get to say, "Just follow the Spirit." That's cheating, and for our purposes, like, totally lame. Besides, even LDS teachings suggest that's a cop out (D&C 9:8).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


A stupendously talented organist. His registrations are particularly amazing.

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After returning from a trip to the homestead, my eldest sister related a story the other day that reminded me once again just how awesome my Dad is. I'm not going to be any more specific––for personal reasons––but I'm just very grateful he's in my life.

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I was discussing proxy sealings with the same sister, when suddenly my four-year-old niece piped up with: "MARRYING DEAD PEOPLE IS FROM CORPSE BRIDE!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The more I learn about the universe/crazy physics stuff, the more I am reminded of these lines from the brilliant webcomic A Softer World (caveat lector – occasional strong language/secular humanism):
It freaks me out when I think about how big the universe is.

Just so big and growing bigger, exploding outward constantly in all directions,

so no, I don't care how fast I was going, officer.

If the creator is anything like the creation, given the weirdness of reality, I suspect god may be less like the dignified, beardy, elderly gentleman of popular imagination, and something more like, say, Tim Burton.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Louis C.K. shouldn't be this funny... or this true to life. The reality/honesty of it ought not to be this significant/hilarious. Nevertheless, it is, (both funny and true) the case. Welcome to human existence.