Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Sensitivity Training

I was advised that I needed to be sensitive about transgender issues before I knew what the heck it even means.  Well, that could be now as well because I still don’t have a very good understanding.  Anyway, now that I have your attention, I will explain.

Before I started law school, I spent a year in seminary and, as part of that program, I was sort of an intern on the campus ministry staff of a university, providing “pastoral care” as an amateur.  The campus pastor who was training me for counseling students at this selective school  recognized that I was a simple lad with a naive view of life, lacking experience in many societal issues.  Consequently, he was apparently worried that I would put my foot in my mouth due to a lack of sensitivity were I to encounter problems that certain students might want to talk about.  Maybe he used the example I am about to relate as part of the orientation for each divinity student in the campus ministry, but I had the feeling that I was targeted as one in need of this particular example.   I suppose I am glad that the chaplain assumed I had no experience with this issue.  He was correct.  I did not have any such experience and could well have said the “wrong thing.”

The chaplain said to me, “If a male student shares with you that when he is alone in his home, he likes to dress in his mother’s or sister’s clothing, don’t say that is sick, say, ‘Some people do that.  Does it bother you that you like to dress in women’s clothing?  Is that why you are here?’ ”

No, Bruce Jenner was not a student at that institution.

The cross-dressing issue never actually came up with any student during my stint at campus ministry.  I decided to leave divinity school to go to law school.  However, if Caitlyn Jenner wants to talk about it with me now, I am prepared.  I will just say, “Some people do that.”

Then I might add, “You need professional help.  You seem to be dealing with a serious mental illness.”  Is that okay to say?  Or must we all say, “I’m okay, you’re okay, and, by golly, it’s okay to think you are Napoleon too.”

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14 thoughts on “Sensitivity Training

  1. and those people aren’t right in the head.

  2. oledphatnuglee on said:

    Hee hee… mmmhmm

  3. Not an issue that I thoroughly understand either, but probably “Some people do that” is as good an answer as any. The only thing I have learned from my limited reading on the matter, is that there seems to be a difference between people (almost always men), who ‘cross-dress’, and those who actually want to ‘change’ their gender (like Caitlyn Jenner).

  4. But don’t forget they do that…and some insert breast implants…and have surgery to “feminize” their faces….and shave down their adam’s apples…and, and, and…

    One thing I always wondered about is the fact that male transgenders will say “I feel like I’m in the wrong body. I feel like a woman.” I wonder how they make that leap since they’ve never been a woman. How do they know what it feels like to be a woman? It’s impossible.

    I wonder if it isn’t a bit like anorexia. I had a friend who had anorexia when I was in high school. She insisted she was fat. She absolutely believed it even with bones sticking out all over the place. Sometimes your mind gets stuck in a belief that isn’t true. I don’t know if having everyone else cater to that belief is healthy. What if everyone had said “it’s O.K. that you weigh 60lbs, purposely vomit up anything you eat and exercise all day because you feel fat. Some people do that.”

    More than anything I wish people who get in those mental do-loops freedom from the misery. I think it must be a horrible psychological prison…very difficult. I don’t think just letting them do what they want truly makes them feel better long term. I want them to have peace in their lives because I know it’s terribly hard for them.

    I don’t have a single answer to offer but I do think about it sometimes….

    • I agree. I guess I was writing tongue in cheek. It is not politically correct to say that Bruce Jenner has severe psychological problems.

      • Well, I’m not a supporter of PC, sir. Well, at the least, I can say it has gone too far. 🙂

      • I’m with you, Koji. When the emperor has no clothes, it is okay to say so. Some people say that — like you and me.

      • Oh, you wrote the piece well. I definitely understood that it was tongue in cheek. It just sparked my little tangential rant/comment. I really do spend time contemplating sexual identity particularly as it relates to politics. I grew up in San Francisco (try not to hold it against me) so it’s been a front and center issue since I can remember. I think about it a lot these days since my youngest son has sex ed in school this year. I don’t think he’ll be exposed to anything new. I’ve always been happy to teach him about any subject but I have to make sure I address things like the Bruce Jenner media circus. I want to make sure that he’s getting my perspective on these issues not just the checkout line/ newsstand philosophy.

        I liked reading what you wrote…

      • I liked your profound insight that if a person is a man, and thus not a woman, how does he know that he “feels” like a woman inside?

  5. I feel sorry for Bruce Jenner.

    • I truly feel sorry for him too, which is not the same as admiring him for his affliction. My admiration is for his past athletic accomplishment of winning the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon as a man.

  6. Caitlyn definitely is the current “it” girl right now. Probably even more popular than step-daughter Kim!

  7. Sir, I had thought you would write about “this” in my heart. I could not predict what you would say, of course.

    It does plague me that certain news outlets would describe him as courageous or brave. It is not, in my opinion. Our young men and women serving in harm’s way are brave and courageous.

    However, one thing plagues me… Why is it when a women dons her man’s clothing, it is deemed romantic… but if a man were to don on his woman’s dress or lingerie, he a pervert? 🙂

    But yes, this “person” has some serious issues.

  8. Anyone that goes through gender issues like that do need assistance with the transition–and probably throughout their life. S/He lived her/his whole life masquerading as a different sex, how could s/he possibly understand what it means to truly live as woman? That will take counseling.

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