Bullying, Catholic Teaching, & Trans Persons
How the University of Dallas Shrouds Truth and Justice
I sent an open letter and to the University of Dallas (UD) and The Catholic Diocese of Dallas about the incendiary statements against a trans person by UD Politics Chair, David Upham. To this date, UD’s and Bishop Burns’ only response has been to say that UD upholds Catholic teaching.
Signed, Sealed …
UD and Bishop Burns offered nothing in terms of affirming the safety and integrity of trans persons on UD’s campus, which is a barren, un-pregnant silence, considering UD’s motto:
Veritatem, Justitiam Diligite
“Love ye truth and justice.”
… But Not Delivered
Catholic teaching says little to nothing about the trans experience because, throughout history, Western culture has obliterated (at worst) or ignored (at best) trans persons.
So what truth and justice does UD love as it silently supports statements of hatred?
Don’t Ask? Hell, We’ll Tell You Anyway
When I attended UD in the 1980s, LGBTQIA+ persons were obliterated and ignored on campus. I had gay roommates and received the Sacraments from several gay priests who had to guard their identity.
UD at that time made no statement about LGBTQIA+ persons because it didn’t need to. Silence was expected from gay, lesbian, bi, and trans folk on campus. It was unthinkable to do otherwise and risk ostracization, violence, and blacklisting, let alone carry the implicit self-hatred that UD imposed. UD was so secure in LGBTQIA+ persons’ self-loathing that it need say nothing. “Don’t ask us,” UD said. “We’ll just tell you in sermons, class lectures, and the interpersonal relations on which UD’s pursuit of truth and justice rely, that you don’t exist. You are a figment of a perverted imagination. And that’s the truth.”
The Times They Are A-Changin’
The world has changed-and so has UD.
Upham’s hateful whining would’ve never happened in past decades at UD. That Upham felt it urgent to screech about Rachel Levine signals a sea-change.
Where once UD didn’t have to burp aloud that it stood by its own take on Catholic Teaching, it now does so with a shrill, “Don’t ask us! Don’t tell us! We’ll circle the wagons behind fringe right-wing media ad-hominem attacks on the LGBTQIA+ folks who dare object!”
UD can no longer shroud it any more than the Politburo could hide what nascent social media contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, telling the world what was really going on. Similarly, TV-news footage of police dogs tearing apart civil rights protestors and napalm scarring Vietnamese children blew the lid off the truth behind those injustices.
UD’s made itself an enclave of people who don’t ask about what’s happening in the world and who seal themselves in an echo chamber that sounds pleasing to fewer and fewer ears. Because even UD knows it’s not truth and it’s not justice, let alone love.
The Spirit Is Willing … but is UD?
An old saying at UD is that “a spirit walks among these hills.” UD shrouds that spirit in religious talk, comforting UD donors that it’s the Holy Spirit that UD says it is.
But that doesn’t make it so.
The world isn’t asking UD anymore. UD has hidden itself under a bushel basket of its own weaving, telling itself that it is the only truth, the only justice. Where’s love in that?
No Matter for My Alma Mater
UD taught me to lovingly pursue truth and justice. That’s why UD’s hearing from me now.
Bishop Burns, Auxiliary Bishop Kelly, President Sanford, Trustees Chair Husseini, the Faculty Senate, Luciana Milano of the UD Title IX Office, and all UDers, it’s time to engage the world you seek to transform. Until you do, none of us will bother to ask what you think you have to tell.
Originally published at https://www.bethanybeeler.com on February 7, 2021.