God Hates Dudes in Dresses

Or, why Dennis Prager should do two minutes of research before writing something for publication.

Prager, as one piece of his “The Case for Judeo-Christian Values” series, writes about how transgender people threaten our Judeo-Christian society. Except he doesn’t get what “transgender” actually means, and seems to equate it with cross-dressing. He is careful, at least, to say that “transgender” does not equal “transsexual” — except does anyone outside of conservatives and Rocky Horror Picture Show use the word “transsexual” anymore?

Transgendered is not the same as transsexual. In theory, Judeo-Christian values have no problem with a transsexual — someone who has undergone a sex change — if that person then behaves in ways associated with his or her new sex.

First, is it even possible for “values” to have a problem with something? I was under the impression that it was people who hold particular values who are capable of finding things problematic. But that’s beside the point. What struck me about this particular paragraph is that it’s just not true — I’m pretty sure Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson aren’t big supporters of “transsexual” rights.

He is also apparently offended that gays and lesbians would include transgender people in their strugge for equal rights (cuz you know that Dennis Prager is a big supporter of the LGB part of the acronym).

It is remarkable that activists on behalf of gay and lesbian acceptance always include the transgendered. What, after all, do the transgendered, who are usually heterosexual men, have to do with gays and lesbians?

Since when are transgender people “usually heterosexual men”? Now if he’s talking about cross-dressers, then I can see where he would get that idea, given that guys in dresses get a whole lot more attention than a woman in, say, pants and a tie (hello there, Annie Hall). But while male cross-dressing may be more obvious — and also perceived as more radical than female cross-dressing — that doesn’t have much to do with how many people identify as transgender. And, while this certainly isn’t a scientific study, of the four transgender people I know, three were born female.

He goes on to complain that the word “sex” has been replaced with the word “gender,” implying that sex is fluid. I’m not going to waste my time and yours by rehashing the first day of Gender Studies 101, but suffice it to say that “sex” hasn’t been replaced. Feminists and LGBT activists didn’t make up the world “gender.”

But my favorite part is this:

One of the major values of the Old Testament, the primary source of Judeo-Christian values, is the notion of a divinely ordained order based on separation. What God has created distinct, man shall not tamper with.

As examples, good is separate from evil (attempts to blur their differences are known as moral relativism and are anathema to Judeo-Christian values); life is separate from death (in part a reaction to ancient Egypt, which blurred the distinction between life and death); God is separate from nature (see part XVI); humans are separate from animals (see part XV); and man is separate from woman. Blurring any of these distinctions is tampering with the order of the world as created by God and leads to chaos. So important is the notion of separation that the very word for “holy” in biblical Hebrew (kadosh) means “separate,” “distinct.”

This helps to explain one of the least known and most enigmatic laws of the Torah, the ban on wearing linen and wool together in the same piece of clothing (sha’atnez). Linen represents plant life, and wool represents animal life. The two are distinct realms in God’s creation.

And that is why the Torah bans men from wearing women’s clothing.

I think Prager may be shocked to learn that humans are animals. I guess he missed elementary school science class. So perhaps we can blame that fact for the crumbling of society. I also won’t hold my breath for Judeo-Christian conservatives to attempt to ban the wearing of linen and wool together (although I wonder who in their right mind would do that in the first place).

So here’s my question: What does God define as “men’s clothing” and “women’s clothing”? And how do we know? I mean, if God doesn’t want men to wear women’s clothing (and I assume vice-versa), then how do we figure out what God intended for men and women to wear? What they were wearing way back in Jesus’ day doesn’t much resemble what we wear now. Am I a sinner because I wore pants — “men’s clothing” — last night? Hell, I even wore boxers — men’s undergarments –to bed. And yesterday I didn’t wear a bra, possibly forsaking my femininity. Is that evil? Or is it only men in women’s clothing who bring out God’s wrath? If only God had cleared this whole mess up when He wrote the Bible with His own hand — perhaps a word or two in Genesis (“And then, God said, ‘Let Adam have pants!'”) would have made this situation a whole lot less confusing.

But, wait a minute… isn’t that a dress?


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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13 Responses to God Hates Dudes in Dresses

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  2. Johnny says:

    Great post. I don’t think that Prager missed elementary school science class though, I just don’t think he believed it…however…in this article, as in all his articles, what I find so fascinating is how he picks and chooses which parts of the “Judeo-Christian” law to pay attention to. To even exist, he has to reject everything the man he calls christ is reported to have said…I think the word the bible provides for men like Prager is Pharisee. Something about throwing stones and judging others…but I suspect he forgot to study that part too.

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  4. aeonsomnia says:

    I think Prager said that about transsexuals so that Ben Shapiro wouldn’t be so embarassed about his fascination with them;)

    Also, conservatives seem to believe that they’re “God’s agents here on Earth”, so I’m guessing that men’s clothing would be pants and shirts, and women’s clothes would be dresses (preferably with full skirts) and high heels. (Prager’s actually ranted about women not wearing dresses anymore here and here. He even reasons in those columns that women flash people, Girls Gone Wild style, to show that they are feminine, and ’cause they don’t wear 50’s feminine dress anymore). Anyway, maintaining gender roles, as the Good Lord intended, is a major theme running through most wingnut thought.

  5. Antigone says:

    The only thing I don’t understand is why it’s dangerous to have guys running around in dresses, STILL. So, you’re a fundie nut job, and you have to impose these fundie nut job ideas on your kids and congregation. m’kay. I’m a feminist, and I’m busy trying to persuade people that that’s a good way to be, contrary to you’re patriarchy-affirming religion (good from evil, male from female…the better one always goes first right?).

    Freedom OF speach means you don’t get freedom FROM speach. I have to hear the nutjobs on the corners, I have to see that gross guy with his hairy beer gut with no shirt off. You don’t get a pass on seeing guys in pumps.

  6. Heliologue says:

    Boy, I wish I got paid to write crap like that every week.

  7. Dunc says:

    Hey – I’m Scottish. Where does the kilt fit into this nonesense?

  8. mutant cat says:

    I thought that Jesus himself wore a dress, along with those cute little backless sandals. Where does that fit into all of this?

  9. piny says:

    …except does anyone outside of conservatives and Rocky Horror Picture Show use the word “transsexual” anymore?

    You don’t mean to say here that “transsexual” is no longer currently applied to anyone, do you? It means, “someone who has changed* sex*.” Lots of people still identify as transsexual, and most care providers still use transsexual. “Transgender” is used interchangeably with “transsexual” in clinical and lay settings to refer to people who transition, but most of the transitioning people I know use “transsexual” to refer specifically to themselves. Transgender is too broad and overdetermined to be used in the specific context of transition.

    “Transgender” was originally coined to refer to people who identified as the other sex but did not physically transition. These days, “physically transition” can mean any or any set of several different SRS-related procedures; back then, it was simpler because we were all being tailored into box sets. Plus, there are plenty of people who consider legal/social transition perfectly sufficient to qualify one as “transsexual.”

    Because of this etymology–and because “transgender” also connoted “better than those freak-ass transsexuals”–there are transsexuals who reject “transgender” as an umbrella term. Some transsexuals also reject the idea that there can be any meaningful umbrella term that covers both a genderqueer and someone who sees his transition as history and his identity as uncomplicatedly male. This essay lays out that viewpoint pretty handily; scroll down to, “The Hijacking.” While I don’t agree with some of what Diana says, it is important to have some specific term for “people who change sex.” Eddie Izzard, Judith Halberstam, and I have different problems to confront, and different needs.

    *This, of course, is where it gets a little sticky.

  10. piny says:

    “Transgender” is used interchangeably with “transsexual” in clinical and lay settings to refer to people who transition, but most of the transitioning people I know use “transsexual” to refer specifically to themselves. Transgender is too broad and overdetermined to be used in the specific context of transition.

    …I’m sorry. This is really garbled. Clinical people–like my HMO, which lists me as “female-to-male transgender”–tend not to differentiate because the only context in which they refer to either kind of “trans”-people is a medical one–that is, all “trans-” connotes “someone taking some medical SRS-related step,” or, “transsexual.”

    The non-doctors who don’t differentiate tend not to because–if this makes any sense–they’re either unaware that there’s any other kind of “trans-” but people who undergo SRS-type stuff, or because they’re using “transgender” in the umbrella context.

  11. Amber says:

    My ex-husband is transgendered. This shit pisses me off to no end. Until people stop spouting off at the mouth and take the time to actually LEARN what transgendered means, the battle for transgender rights will continue to be a long, arduous, uphill one. I mean, I’m not happy that my husband decided to be a woman, but I’m intelligent enough to… -oh, hell, I don’t know where I’m going with this. This comment isn’t very remarkable; I’m just pissed off.

  12. emilyzilch says:

    the stupidest part of all of these arguments – although it is very difficult to decide which, in fact, is the most stupid – is the very issue of clothing and gender performance.

    i mean, in southeast asia, men wear skirts and women wear pants. so in conservative muslim aceh, the proper atire for a hijabi – or even niqabi – woman involves pants. and for a man, an ankle-length skirt (normally in a nice madras plaid, incidentally).

    the whole issue is just ridiculous. i mean, transgendered people are not moving necessarily from one box to another; in fact, when people ask me if i’m straight, i have to ask them what sex they think i am. trans people’s sexes can only be changed so far: hormones, maybe surgery when available and appropriate, but chromosomes and body-builds and childhoods don’t evaporate.

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