Religious zealots love to claim harm to children as a reason to deny rights to the GLBT community. They are often constructed as deviant and racked by sin and guilt as a way to “other” them. I recently came across a case in Queensland, in which a grandmother filed a complaint because her grandchildren were being fostered by a trans woman and her lover. Apparently, this caused quite a stir in the family, because being trans gendered is supposedly against so-called Christian values. The fact that the children were removed because of gambling addiction and drinking issues within the family, apparently was not as important as the children being exposed to members of the TLBG community.
The decision that same-sex couples are allowed to foster children in Queensland has infuriated a 63-year-old grandmother who said she was passed over as a foster parent while two of her grandchildren were laced with gay men.
She said one of the men “walks around the streets in a dress as if he was a woman.”
“It’s not right,” she said.
The case was raised in State Parliament on Monday when Rob Messenger (Independent, Burnett) asked Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves if he was aware the state had entrusted children to a transvestite.
The grandmother, who can not be named for legal reasons, said the decision to place children with homosexuals ran counter to her strong Christian values.
She said her grandson aged four and a granddaughter, 12, were taken from their mother in July and placed with the gay couple withoutconsidering the family’s feelings.
“I can’t understand it at all,” she said.
“I was really upset. It has split our family even further.”
She won the support of a long-time social worker who said he knew of three cases where homosexual couples had been allowed to foster children in a Queensland regional city.
When the grandmother complained, she eventually won custody of the four-year-old, while the granddaughter was returned to her natural mother.(source)
If the grandmother’s argument had been that the children had been placed with strangers before family, it would not only be acceptable but understandable, however; her concern was the placement of her grandchildren with members of the LGBT community. Her bigotry was obvious, when she insisted on misgendering the woman kind enough to give her grandchildren a home. A trans woman is not pretending to be a woman, she is a woman and that fact must be asserted most forcefully.
I think what disturbed me the most is that the grandmother did not seem to be concerned enough to intervene when the children were being exposed to an environment that was clearly harmful. If anything the children would certainly learn to be more open and accepting living with an GLBT family. They would also learn that what is important about person is not their gender expression or sexuality but the way they treat others. The kids in question are both very young and their family has already shown them that it is better to a gambling addicted drunk than to stray outside hegemonic norms. Intolerance seems to be the most important factor for the family in question.
All over the world, there are children that need a safe and loving environment to grow up. Children need to know that someone will listen to them and put them first. The moment we bring them into the world we make this promise to them and so many parents fall short for various reasons. It is absolutely ridiculous to disqualify someone from fulfilling a carer role due to gender presentation or sexuality, when there are so many children in need. Part of putting children first is not passing on our privilege or our biases to yet another generation. It means making them a priority and not using religion to deprive them of the support that they need.
As regular readers know I am a Christian woman and I do not recognize the grandmothers beliefs as being supported by Christian doctrine. It always amazes me the way that people take bits and pieces of the bible to benefit their own privilege rather than considering the entire biblical text as a whole. Without even considering her daughters ineptitude as a parent I am quite certain that the grandmother is not following all of the biblical rules to leading a Christian life. I can say this with certainty because despite how holy these fundies claim to be, actually practicing the cannon of biblical law contradicts with a modernized life. Faith in passages that uphold ones privilege is not faith, it is merely the practice of oppression.