Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Still Searching » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:40 am

Obviously, being attracted to any gender is forbidden in the monk lifestyle because dating & sex is not allowed.
Some transgender people are transgender because they prefer to be the opposite gender, not only because they're attracted to the same or opposite sex.
Some can be Asexual, meaning no attraction to anyone at all and just live a life as someone else because they feel more comfortable in that particular body.

So, are transgender people forbidden from joining a Buddhist Monastery even if they vow to live a pure life and give up everything to be fully committed?
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." ~ Siddhārtha, Gautama Buddha
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:32 am

I don't think there is a specific prohibition, but it might be difficult from a practical standpoint. It depends if the person is post-op or not; if someone was born a man, but now is physically a woman, I don't think that would be a problem at all as long as they had a way to provide for any medications or on-going treatments. If someone had a physically male body but identified as female, that would be a more complex issue.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Monkey Mind » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:16 am

I am not sure where you are, but in the USA there is also the health insurance issue. In the USA, there is state-by-state differences about whether or not insurance companies will pay for transgender treatments, e.g. hormone injections. So if you live in a state that does not mandate inclusion of transgender treatments and you are expected to pay for these out-of-pocket, then a monastic life will be problematic.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:10 am

Still Searching wrote:Obviously, being attracted to any gender is forbidden in the monk lifestyle because dating & sex is not allowed.
Some transgender people are transgender because they prefer to be the opposite gender, not only because they're attracted to the same or opposite sex.
Some can be Asexual, meaning no attraction to anyone at all and just live a life as someone else because they feel more comfortable in that particular body.

So, are transgender people forbidden from joining a Buddhist Monastery even if they vow to live a pure life and give up everything to be fully committed?

I have a suspicion there is a thread that deals with this directly.
and there was the first female to male change involving the head of the FWBO/Tiratana which may be linked in it.
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:34 am

Hello Still Searching, all,

Transgendered people and buddhism
http://sdhammika.blogspot.com.au/2009/1 ... dhism.html

with metta
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby James the Giant » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:02 am

Have a read of this... Pandaka seems to be related sort-of to the theme...
It talks of eunuchs, which I guess technically a post-op transsexual woman (previously man) is.
But transgender is a different thing, that's not going all the way to transsexual, right?
It's just identifying with another gender, not necessarily acting, dressing, or having surgery to be more like the other gender.
Hmm... so maybe this Pandaka thing isn't so relevant. Anyway, I'll post it here.


Pandaka is usually translated as eunuch, but eunuchs are only one of five types of pandakas recognized by the Commentary to Mv.I.61:

1) An asitta (literally, a "sprinkled one") -- a man whose sexual desire is allayed by performing fellatio on another man and bringing him to climax. (Some have read this as classing all homosexual males as pandakas, but there are two reasons for not accepting this interpretation:
(a) It seems unlikely that many homosexuals would allay their sexual desire simply by bringing someone else to climax through oral sex;
(b) other homosexual acts, even though they were known in ancient India, are not included under this type or under any of the types in this list.)

2) A voyeur -- a man whose sexual desire is allayed by watching other people commit sexual indiscretions.

3) A eunuch -- one who has been castrated.

4) A half-time pandaka -- one who is a pandaka only during the waning moon. (! -- The Sub-commentary's discussion of this point shows that its author and his contemporaries were as unfamiliar with this type as we are today. Perhaps this was how bisexuals were understood in ancient times.)

5) A neuter -- a person born without sexual organs. This passage in the Commentary further states that the last three types cannot take the Going-forth, while the first two can (although it also quotes from the Kurundi that the half-time pandaka is forbidden from going-forth only during the waning moon (!).)

As for the prohibition in Mv.I.61, that pandakas cannot receive full ordination, the Commentary states that that refers only to those who cannot take the Going-forth. However, in the context of this rule, and other rules in the Patimokkha where pandakas enter into the calculation of an offense, the Commentary does not say whether pandaka covers all five types of pandakas or only those not allowed to ordain. In other words, in the context of these rules do "sprinkled ones" and voyeurs count as pandakas or men? In the context of this rule the practical implications of the distinction are minor: If counted as men, they would be grounds for a dukkata; if pandakas, grounds for a thullaccaya.
However, under Pc 6, 44, 45, & 67, the distinction makes the difference between an offense and a non-offense, and so it is an important one to draw. There seems good reason to count them as men under all rules, for if they could ordain and yet were considered pandakas under these rules, the texts would have been obliged to deal with the issue of how bhikkhus were to treat validly ordained pandakas in their midst in the context of these rules. But they don't. This shows that the issue never arose, which means that, for the purposes of all the rules, these two types of individuals count as men.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Buddhist Monastic Code 1

\
It's worth noting this is all commentarial. It's not in the suttas said by the Buddha.
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saturated with joy,
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby drifting cloud » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:20 pm

The Thai concept of "kathoey" (ladyboy) might be more relevant here than descriptions of "eunuchs". Are kathoeys allowed to ordain?
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Bankei » Fri May 17, 2013 1:50 pm

about 2 days ago there was an article in a major thai newspaper about the former miss tiffany ordaining as a monk. miss tiffany is a famous ladyboy beauty pagent. miss tiffany still retained her male member but had breast enlargments done. she had these removed and then became a monk. she or he intends to ordain for life according to the article.

i took a photo of the front page of the article and can post it if anyone interested.

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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri May 17, 2013 1:59 pm

Interesting story, Bankei! There's a link to the Bangkok Post article here:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/3 ... s-monkhood
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Bankei » Fri May 17, 2013 2:01 pm

here it is
Attachments
20130515_0936441405723703.jpg
former miss tiffany
20130515_0936441405723703.jpg (247.64 KiB) Viewed 1794 times
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Bankei » Fri May 17, 2013 2:08 pm

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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby gavesako » Fri May 17, 2013 5:38 pm

This is a bit of a controversial topic for the Vinaya experts, and I don't think that we would allow such a person to become a monk in the Western Sangha. But in Thailand there are always more options... Amazing Thailand!

This related article just came out recently:
In an article in volume 3 of the journal, Paisarn Likhitpreechakul examines the textual evidence for the Buddha’s banning of “pandakas” from receiving ordination. The exact meaning of the term pandaka has always been unclear. It has usually been interpreted as referring to someone of indeterminate gender, which in turn has been used as a justification for refusing monastic ordination to homosexuals, hermaphrodites, eunuchs, and transgender persons, and sometimes for holding wider social stigma against such people as well. But Likhitpreechakul calls attention to an overlooked commentarial tradition that suggests that the term pandaka refers to a man who cannot emit semen: i.e. that the issue is impotence, not gender. This would have clear implications for the LBGTQ communities of traditional Buddhist nations, and perhaps for Buddhists in the West as well.

http://ocbs.org/ojs/index.php/jocbs/article/view/28
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby gavesako » Sun May 04, 2014 9:53 am

Another related story:

Ladyboy monk's full about face
He grew up identifying as a woman and spent his mother's money on make-up and surgery, but a brief stint in the clergy helped offer Numnow a new outlook

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/investi ... about-face
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Postby Ryan » Sun May 04, 2014 10:29 am

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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby waterchan » Sun May 04, 2014 5:02 pm

Ryan wrote:
gavesako wrote:Amazing Thailand!


Indeed! Perhaps, weird Thailand!

I wonder whether this is the Thai alternative for a bhikkhuni ;)


:lol:

That was hilarious :D
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby manas » Mon May 05, 2014 1:27 am

Ryan wrote:
gavesako wrote:Amazing Thailand!


Indeed! Perhaps, weird Thailand!


Ryan,

a culture that treats transgender folk with more equity than it would appear ours does, isn't what I would call 'weird', but rather, fair-minded and decent.

kind regards
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Postby Ryan » Mon May 05, 2014 2:44 am

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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby manas » Mon May 05, 2014 7:54 am

Ryan wrote:
manas wrote:Ryan,

a culture that treats transgender folk with more equity than it would appear ours does, isn't what I would call 'weird', but rather, fair-minded and decent.

kind regards
manas


I found it weird for having serious issues when a few normal females were given ordination and not so in a case of a transgender. Wonder where was the fair-minded decency. :thinking:

Thai alternative for a bhikkhuni: plus and minus few things to and from the female body and those who oppose bhikkhunis might ordain them, of course, as bhikkhus!!! :D

kind regards :)


Ah I see, I misunderstood your intent with that jibe. Anyway I was just referring to this that Bhante wrote, that the Thai Sangha might actually be more easygoing about TG folk ordaining, than the Western offshoots:

Bhante wrote:This is a bit of a controversial topic for the Vinaya experts, and I don't think that we would allow such a person to become a monk in the Western Sangha. But in Thailand there are always more options... Amazing Thailand!


kind regards
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Mr Man » Mon May 05, 2014 8:15 am

manas wrote:
Ryan wrote:
gavesako wrote:Amazing Thailand!


Indeed! Perhaps, weird Thailand!


Ryan,

a culture that treats transgender folk with more equity than it would appear ours does, isn't what I would call 'weird', but rather, fair-minded and decent.

kind regards
manas


Transgender are treated as a third gender by Thai society. The gender of birth is upheld by law in Thailand so there would be no possibility of a female to male being allowed to ordain as a Bhikkhu. From a legal prospective there is no Bhikkuni Sangha in Thailand so there would not be a possibility of a male to female ordaining as a nun.

From a legal perspective transgender folk would have more rights and acceptance in the UK. Possibly socially there would also be more acceptance of a woman living as a man (or vice versa) rather than as a separate "third" gender.
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Re: Becoming a Monk: Are Transgender People Welcome?

Postby Sokehi » Mon May 05, 2014 1:18 pm

It's a pity that we have to rely on conventions in some way that prohibit certain sexual orientations or genders from ordaining at various places and under differing circumstances. Ah samsara... :(
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