It recently came to my attention that the Salvation Army has a reputation for being transphobic. I initially came across the information on Facebook from a person that I find to be more or less reliable in the form of a meme. Because this was contrary to anything I had ever heard before, I asked for more information.
She sent me two articles from sources that I trust, which I will list below that cites the transgender and anti-gay actions of this company.
To be honest, this was a hard blow to hear, mostly because there are so few companies like there’s that do not have similarly bad reputation. In fact, we’re at the point where I don’t know of any that do the kind of work that they do but without these biases. It’s just further proof that we live in the land of hate, not the land of the free.
There was also an article that I came across exploring whether or not transphobia (and by extension, homophobia and a few others) were a sin. The author compares these phobia to vices, which focus on personal gratification and require atonement. The author further explains that when a person believes this, because they are denying a central part of who a person is (e.g. their humanity), it is appropriate to treat this the same as racism or hatred of homosexuals, and I more or less agree.
Here’s the thing…we all have biases whether we want to admit them or not. Just having a bias, even as horrible as racism, homophobia, or transphobia does not necessarily make someone a bad person, but–and this but is very, very important, so do not write off what I am saying just yet–these biases make a person predisposed to act on these beliefs, and acting on these beliefs, is wrong–it’s a sin.
For instance, I have had horrible interactions with fundamentalist Christians, enough that I am negatively biased against them as a group. When I run into them in person, I am polite, but I generally do not voice my more liberal opinions in front of them. If I run into them online (usually Facebook), I just block them from my feed to avoid getting into an argument with them. In other words, I control myself in where I go and what I allow into my life, so that I do not behave in a way that treats this group of people poorly based on the individuals I’ve had negative interactions with in the past. I also, generally do. not hold onto any anger for these past interactions as well–I’ve worked through a lot of that.
But let’s say I hadn’t. Let’s say I spend every day feeling angry toward Fundamentalist Christians. I bad mouth them on my blog on Facebook and to anyone who will listen. When I see a Fundamentalist Christian, I cuss them out or even just look at them with disgust and let my feelings toward this group affect how I treat them.
There is a very big difference between the two scenarios. The first one is one where I acknowledge, ‘hey, I have a bias here’, and I do what can to mitigate it, to treat people with respect, despite my past experiences (I should also note that I have also had good experiences with Fundamentalist Christians as well, and have called people from this group friends, which makes it a bit easier to do) as opposed to treating people like they are less than human because they belong to a particular group.
Keep in mind, that even with the first scenario, I am still at risk of allowing my feelings to affect my behavior, and this is where I need to be careful. I need to constantly evaluate my interactions with this group to make sure I am not acting in a way that will hurt other people. Beyond that, I am always eager to learn about other people’s experiences because only by understanding can I ensure that I interact in a way that is respectful toward everyone.