Friday, August 17, 2018

Gender Revolution:The Shifting Landscape of Gender by National Geographic, Jan 18 (Review)

Gender Revolution: The Shifting Landscape of Gender
by National Geographic: January 2017

Malaysia's news headline this month: "Malaysia gov't slammed over removal of LGBT portraits" (New Straits Times Online, 9 Aug 2018); "Negri Sembilan state government denounces LGBT" (New Straits Times Online, 12 Aug 2018); "No compromise on LGBT, says Pahang mufti" (Free Malaysia Today, 13 Aug 2018); "Fuziah: Don't drive LGBT group away from Islam" (Free Malaysia Today, 14 Aug 2018); "Putrajaya denies doctor in LGBT controversy transferred" (Free Malaysia Today, 15 Aug 2018); "Transgenders report death threat, hate comments to police" (Free Malaysia, 17 Aug 2018). Pahang mufti Abdul Rahman Osman reported saying: "This group is cursed by God and those who support the wrongdoings are equally sinning… why we want to accept and be with them?" Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Fuziah Salleh, on the other hand, responded this way, "In our religion [Islam], what is haram is haram and there is no compromise about that… [But] if we alienate the group, which has been done before, how are they supposed to live in dignity?" Actually, how do we should response about LGBT in Malaysia?

One sentence, first response: Seek First to Understand. Pahang mufti also reported saying, "We have to oppose them… not endeavor to understand them instead." He and other religious extremists (both in Islam, Christianity, and other religions) are going too far by being devoured-ignorers. They break Stephen R. Covey's 5th habit, "Seek first to understand then be understood." I like how Fuziah Salleh respond. She firmly said, I requote: "In our religion [Islam], what is haram is haram and there is no compromise about that…" But then she added the 5th habit of highly effective people's response: "[but don't] alienate the group as this would only drive them further away from Islam." That's the way we should response! As Christ followers we should hold to Biblical standards – God's Word – no compromise! But at the same time display Christ's love for all humanity by seeking first to understand. Love seeks to understand. Araso?

So, in order for me to understand the LGBT issues, and to better response when ask, and to even withhold my judgment, I need to do my own research. You may ask, "What is LGBT?" LGBT or LGBTQ is an acronym used to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and/or questioning individuals and communities. Simply put, a lesbian is a homosexual woman; a gay (in this context) is a homosexual man; a bisexual is someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women; a transgender is "a person whose gender identity does not match the biological sex they were assigned at birth"; and a queer is "someone whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders." To add more to your confusion, National Geographic introduces a few other terms such as agender, androgynous, cisgender, gender binary, gender dysphoria, genderfluid, nonbinary, etc.

National Geographic is one of my favorite magazines (first in line is BBC Earth) and in this special issue, they explore the shifting landscape of gender in science, in social systems, and in civilizations throughout history. Normally I would only read sections that I'm interested in, but for this issue, I read from cover to cover. No doubt there are few things that I don't agree with and I wish Nat Geo's columnists can be a little bit more unbiased and it would be good if they also allow anti-LGBTQ writer-supporters to have they say in the magazine. Maybe a page would be fine (well, that probably a far-fetched wish! Like asking TV3 to broadcast church worship service live every Sunday morning). Nevertheless, Nat Geo covered this issue quite well and it has great sub-topics such as:

- A Portrait of Gender Today (with an LGBTQ-full group photograph)
- Helping Families Talk about Gender
- Girls, Boys, and Gendered Toys
- Colour Code
- One Part He, One Part She
- I Am Nine Years Old: Children Across the World Tell Us How Gender Affects their Lives
- Rethinking Gender
- Identity, Sex, and Expression
- Making a Man: How Does a 21st-Century Boy Reach Manhood?
- Many Paths to Manhood
- Parental Leave on Dad's Terms
- American Girl: How Do You Grow Up In an Era of Body Shaming and Anonymous Bullying
 - It's Hard to Be Female: the Statistics
- The Dangerous Lives of Girls
- Painful Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
- Our Evolving Sense of Self
- and many more.                                                      

This is just the beginning of my deeper study on LGBTQ. I've watched videos and documentaries, listened to sermons/talks, and subscribed to LGBT podcasts and Christian (and religious) debates. I don't know where this quest will lead me to… but for sure, before you respond to any issues today – be wise. Seek first to understand dan jangan cepat melatah.


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