Thursday, April 03, 2014

GL of Virginia Prohibits Transgendered Petitioners

On March 20, 2014, Wayne S. Flora, Grand Master of Virginia, issued the following edict (as well as change in petition format) governing rules for membership of transgendered persons in lodges holden under the Grand Lodge of Virginia:

Freemasonry traditionally being a Fraternity of good men, no person shall become or remain a Mason who does not continue to remain both physically and legally a male or who does not continue to present and conduct himself as such. 
The petition for membership now requires members to avow that they were born a male and continue as a male.

To my knowledge, this is the first time a U.S. Grand Lodge has dealt with the issue of transgendered members. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

Read the whole edict here.

See also the blog entry by Jason Richards.

H/T Bill Hosler

19 comments:

Willly said...

Really. How many more actual threats to Freemasonry are there in Virginia than a person who sincerely believes themselves to be a man and wants to be a Freemason? I'm guessing there is a religious problem here...

Roger VanGorden said...

Check Grand Lodge of California. Though, not directly addressing transgenered petitioners, I believe their code contains a provision entitled "defination of a man".

Roger VanGorden said...

Chris,you might check California. I remember seeing something in their code as defination of a man. Though the provision does not directly note a petitioner.

Willly said...

Really? I'm sure there are greater dangers to the Freemasonry in the state of Virginia than a good person who believes that they are a man and aspires to be a Freemason. This Sounds like a religous-based test and determination, which is as anti-masonry as I can imagine.

This is incredible and I hope brothers stand up, not to interfere with Virginia's jurisdiction, but to make their voices heard. We have always stood for free thought. Why is this so hard to accept. We are not a born-again Christian Organization. We simply have a belief in a supreme being. Men of all types have molded, and made better the fraternity.

jon porter said...

We will soon have a similar problem: a member of my York Rite has had gender reasignment surgery within the last year, and I think this is the situation in Virginia: male to female, not the other way around.

Jon Porter, PHP

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Just shaking my head in disbelief.

Eoghan

Tom Accuosti said...

While I don't necessarily agree with their decision, I do think that it's a good thing that VA actually did address this, simply because now that it's in the open, the rest of the GLs will maybe get off of their collective asses and give this issue some thought.

The issue of gender reassignment is still new to us as a culture; this is the first time in history that people can actually change the sex they were born with, so our society still hasn't come to grips with this. It's natural for there to be some confusion in the Craft.

This will end up becoming a much deeper philosophical issue, as it will compel most Masons to give some serious thought as to what it means to be a Mason at heart.

Garrett said...

Speaking as a cisgendered straight white male, I find it incredibly offensive that they've added this question to the petitions. I disliked joining a group that in the first place that excluded women, but did so because of the good we do. But now, nitpicking it even further...

Unknown said...

This has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with someone trying to discredit the craft.

@Garrett - you can always demit or move to France.

Thomas Johnson said...

Gender reassignment may be new to many Americans, but it is not new. America is a young country. I have been to Thailand. Thailand has one of the largest Transgender communities in the world, without the stigma. Within the country of Brazil, the Transgender community enjoys the same rights as straight single/ married people and approximately 60% of the Brazilian population views homosexuality as normal.

The Grand Master of Virginia did nothing wrong. The VSL placed on our altars is not a car hood ornament and it is not a Masonic offense to be informed by it.

Regular Freemasonry is for Men Only! If a Man decides to become a Woman, he must leave "REGULAR FREEMASONRY" (if he was a member of it) and join one of the many Masonic Orders (such as Co-Masonry, for example) which allows women. There is no shame in this.

Likewise, no man born a woman should be allowed to join "REGULAR FREEMASONRY", if known as such, and should be forced to leave, if discovered. Trust me on this.

Finally, Individual U.S. Grand Lodges should have the final say regarding this matter.

The non-Masonic Magical Order, Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O., makes the following official statement(from their U.S. Grand Lodge) on non-discrimination:

"There shall be no consideration of race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation when considering the fitness of candidates for admission, advancement, or appointment to office within Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A."



Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I disliked joining a group that in the first place that excluded women, but did so because of the good we do.

Really. Then why did you join if you had that core dislike in the first place? "Because of the good we do" isn't sufficient reason. There are plenty of other groups that admit women to membership that do good in the world. Rotary. Kiwanis. Most of the critter fraternities.

If I had wanted to join a group that included women as full members, I would have joined one.

John Smith said...

Is it possible that a "man" joined a Lodge and it was discovered after "he" joined that "he" had had a sex change and was really born a woman? Like Cher's daughter, Chasity, who is now known as Chaz. Would you let "Chaz" join your Lodge? Maybe that is what the intent of MW Sawyer' edict is in regards to?

Houston said...

Glad to see the GL of Virginia finally address the 'moral turpitude' clause within Masonic Code.

It is amazing how fashionable it is for homosexuals and transgenders to desire to join an organization that clearly denounces their lifestyle and moral conduct.

While the minority opinions of such idealogs typically have the loudest voice, it is clear by the statistics that Freemasonry is not going to bend it's high standards and moral compass to accommodate persons who can not support or maintain such higher standards.

Sure, we have all heard the buzzwords and slander slinging by such progressives, but this is typical and ignored by the principled men within Freemasonry.

Mandated Acceptance is not tolerance, to the contrary it is in fact TYRANNY, which is the ENEMY of Freemasonry.

The GL of Virginia has simply put ink to paper to fight the issue. It would save many lodges the hassle of rejecting such candidates if other GL's would follow.

Houston said...

Can someone explain to me or rather the world why a homosexual or a transgender would desire to join an organization who's code specifically identifies their lifestyle as unbecoming conduct according to the code.

Perhaps every lodge in the world should hang a sign on the door with the definition of 'moral turpitude'.

Aside from the progressive comments to follow this post, I would like to remind every man who took the obligation the following:

Mandated Acceptance is NOT TOLERANCE. Mandated Acceptance is TYRANNY. And TYRANNY is the enemy of Freemasonry.

Phillip Brown said...

Garrett said...
Speaking as a cisgendered straight white male, I find it incredibly offensive that they've added this question to the petitions. I disliked joining a group that in the first place that excluded women, but did so because of the good we do. But now, nitpicking it even further...
April 03, 2014 9:03 PM

Phillip:So Garrett you have no problem about joinng a group that discrimate against a man of color.

Whit Johnstone said...

"
Likewise, no man born a woman should be allowed to join "REGULAR FREEMASONRY", if known as such, and should be forced to leave, if discovered. Trust me on this."

Why should I trust you on this? I have met some FtM men who I thought were excellent men who would make fine Masons. I see no reason to make them hide or hound them out of the Craft.

"The VSL placed on our altars is not a car hood ornament and it is not a Masonic offense to be informed by it."

There are many different Volumes of Sacred Law. A Brother informed by the Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita will look at this issue very differently from someone who is informed by the Bible or the Koran. And there are many people whose VSL is the Bible who have come to the conclusion that gender is not reducible to biological sex and that Bible simply does not address this issue.

"It is amazing how fashionable it is for homosexuals and transgenders to desire to join an organization that clearly denounces their lifestyle and moral conduct."

There have always been gay and bi Freemasons. Bros. Oscar Wilde and Frederick Hohenzollern are two of the best known examples. Once again, Freemasonry is not tied to a particular religion, and being gay is not "moral turpitude" unless you are seeing the issue through a lens of religious dogma.

"Mandated Acceptance is not tolerance, to the contrary it is in fact TYRANNY, which is the ENEMY of Freemasonry."
What the Grand Lodge of Virginia is doing is mandating bigotry, which is a worse kind of tyranny.

Really this issue should be left up to local lodges. Those who are uncomfortable with the prospect of admitting gay, bi, or FtM brother are free to blackball him.

O Velez said...

Well said Whit...Houston I do not know which "code" you are talking about that illustrates homosexuality as "unbecoming"...no such code exists in my lodge THANK GOD.

Hiram said...

Brethren, lend my your ears and let me exercise my first amendment priviledge. It is amazing that it takes an edict to address this issue in Virginia. I am so perplexed over this topic that I am not sure where to begin. Anyway, I will start with the issue of transgender first. To begin with, the issue of transgender is a Human Rights issue no different that that any other civil rights matter. In our current society, the LGBTQ issue is a current reality and current Human Rights/Civil Rights matter. One does not need to address the moral or religious issue of the topic, but only the issue of gender. While Freemasonry takes "Good men and make them better," it should not take "Good men and make them "BITTER." First, if a brother changes his sex from male to female, he has basically demitted from the fraternity. However, if a female transitions to a male, he would be treated as such by human rights and civil rights law. Thus, he would and should be allowed to petition a lodge of his choice. If one wants to split hairs, an Edict from a Grand Master (GM) is only valid for the one (1) year the GM is in office and once he is out, it is no longer valid or even enforceable. There has been controversial edicts in the past and I have heard brethren will say, once the GM is out, his edict goes out with him. A true transgendered person can simply claim that they were the sex they are transitioned to on their petition and that would end the discussion unless they are forced to produce a birth certificate. Anyway, the edict in question appears to be discriminatory towards anyone claiming to be a male who may have been previously identified as a female. It is amazing that the time was taken for a GM to draft an edict over t his matter. One can only speculate what may have caused the issue to be raised in the first place. I wonder if Equality Virginia (EV) has a position on this matter. My .02 cents on the subject.

Robert Walker-Smith said...

I was active in my lodge for several years, before family obligations required me to restrict my engagements. One of the things that most warmed my heart during that transition was the realization that Masonry's dictum, 'family comes first ' was not an empty phrase. All my Lodge brothers know, when they do not see me, that I am at home, tending to my spouse and children.
My spouse, in this case, is my husband. My children are our two sons. Masonry has helped me to be a better husband and father. There is nothing in Masonry that militates against my family, and vice versa.

The only comment I can recall addressing this situation was from the Worshipful Master, shortly before my raising. He observed, with some bemusement, that he had long heard from Mason's wives the wish that they could share the mysteries with their husbands. Now that he had a Mason whose spouse could actually do so, the spouse was utterly unmoved.