A recent document from the Vatican, that bastion of medieval patriarchy, has claimed that trans people “annihilate the concept of nature”. The document, called “Male and Female He Created Them” states:
“Efforts to go beyond the difference, such as the ideas of ‘intersex’ or ‘transgender,’ lead to a masculinity or feminity that is ambiguous…Similar theories aim to annihilate the concept of ‘nature’…the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same ‘liquidity’ and ‘fluidity’ that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual.”
Which is obviously nonsense, and harmful nonsense at that. The idea that trans people just wake up one morning and decide on a whim to change their gender as one might decide to change their shirt is ridiculous. Nobody goes through the hellish process of legal bureaucracy, psychological examination, medical intervention and the sheer volume of societal hate and abuse trans people face because of a fleeting emotional impulse or momentary desire.
Why should I care what the Vatican thinks? Well, because the Vatican has power and influence and these ideologies, that seek to deny trans people the same inherent rights and dignity as anyone else, filter into wider society and lead to trans people being abused and attacked for simply living their truth as who they are.
But the idea of annihilating the concept of nature is the phrase that has stood out and been picked up by the media.
As a Pagan, I love nature and would not want to see it annihilated. But this “concept of nature” is different. If your concept of nature is so weak that the existence of trans people can annihilate it, it should be annihilated.
Our concepts of nature are not nature itself, they are just concepts.
And this particular concept of nature as created by a god, with fixed rules, structures and gendered hierarchy, with the concept of sin and threat of eternal punishment for those who transgress, should be annihilated.
It is a concept of nature that is created and maintained by men in power for men in power. It is a concept of nature that is based in ancient and incorrect dogmas. It is a concept of nature that does not, in fact, reflect nature itself.
We live in a society steeped in two seemingly different, but connected, concepts of nature. The first is the Christian view that has held sway for around 1500 years in Europe. This concept of nature is that a god created nature, gave it to humans, set rules, and rewards and punishes people based on how well they follow those rules. Nature then is just a stage on which to test humanity.
The second concept of nature is that of materialism, which asserts that nature is nought but brute matter, or “natural resources” for humanity to use as we see fit. This concept actually flows from the former, since both of them see nature as ultimately just a “thing”, with humanity granted some special privilege over it.
Both concepts of nature are not nature itself, they are just concepts.
Humans are not outside of nature. We are nature. We grew from the earth, evolved with it, we were not placed here by a god. Thus, anything humans do is natural. Our cities and technologies are no less natural than a bird’s nest. We have more power and so more responsibility, but we are – like any other animal – a part of nature.
Trans people exist. People are a part of nature, so therefore trans people are a part of nature. Being trans is natural. If your concept of nature cannot accommodate that, then your concept of nature needs to be annihilated, to make way for a new and expanded concept which allows you to see and appreciate the great diversity of nature, including human nature.
If a concept of nature does not, cannot, include all of nature in all its wonder and complexity, then it no longer serves its purpose.
Nature is far bigger than any of our limited human concepts can hold. Nature cannot be shoved into a box, neatly labelled and put away. Nature cares nothing for our religions, our philosophies, our politics. Nature is, and every time we think we have caught it and pinned it down, it reveals itself to be so much more than we think it is.
Human nature is no different. We are complex, we are diverse, we are so much more than the culturally-conditioned concepts we are indoctrinated with as children.
Gender is not a binary, gender is an ocean.
As some cling to outmoded concepts of nature, the real, vibrant, growing, living truth of nature itself outpaces them and blooms around them.
Annihilate the concept of nature, and so doing, allow nature to reveal itself.