Max: LGBTQ+ Cult?

Dear Reader,

A few days ago, user “Max” replied to a comment made by Brendan Birth on my post about Q: What do I do if I’m transphobic and homophobic? / As a Christian believer, will God disown me if I transition from MTF? Max’s comment makes a few claims and cites scripture. I was setting up to reply to Max in another comment, but decided this is a big enough topic to deserve its own post. So first, here’s Max’s reply:

“Just like a cult LGBT try and twist scripture to suit their needs. If you have the spirit of God in you, then you will want to turn from your sins. I’m not saying Christians are perfect, but I’m saying that if you love God you will want to follow his commands. ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.’
‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-10‬ Stop nitpicking Bible verses to justify sin. Sin is sin and God hates all sin.”

Reply to Brendan Birth’s comment on Q: What do I do if I’m transphobic and homophobic? / As a Christian believer, will God disown me if I transition from MTF? by user “Max”

Max claims that LGBT (people?) behave “Just like a cult [by trying] and twist scripture to suit their needs.” This is not the first time I’ve heard LGBTQ+ people – especially activists – accused of behaving like a cult. So let’s take a closer look. We have the BITE model of Authoritarian Control (go to page 52) as a reasonable way to assess whether the behaviors of a group are cult-like. The B stands for Behavioral Control, and includes the following signs:

Behavioral Control

  1. Regulate an individual’s physical reality
  2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
  3. Dictate when, how, and with whom the member has sex
  4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
  5. Regulate diet–food and drink, hunger and/ or fasting
  6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
  7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
  8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
  9. Require significant time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/ or self-indoctrination with Internet
  10. Require permission for major decisions
  11. Use rewards and punishments to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
  12. Discourage individualism, encourage groupthink
  13. Impose rigid rules and regulations
  14. Punish disobedience by beating, torture, burning, cutting, rape, or tattooing/branding
  15. Threaten harm to person, family, and friends
  16. Force individuals to rape or be raped
  17. Encourage and engage in corporal punishment
  18. Employ kidnapping
  19. Separate family members
  20. Use imprisonment
  21. Permit torture, lynching, murder
  22. Instill dependency and obedience

A few of these stand out as things which LGBTQ+ people suffer at the hands of non-LGBTQ+ people:

1. Regulate an individual’s physical reality

This is happening especially to transgender people with the recent spate of anti-trans legislation, including some bills written to block access to medical transition – forcing transgender people to live in bodies outside of alignment with their genders!

2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates

How many LGBTQ+ youth have remained in the closet for fear of being kicked out of their homes? How many LGBTQ+ youth have been kicked out of their homes once they do come out? In how many states are there laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from housing discrimination? In states where protections exist, how often does it still happen?

3. Dictate when, how, and with whom the member has sex
4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
12. Discourage individualism, encourage groupthink
13. Impose rigid rules and regulations

Umm, if I have to explain these, are you really paying attention?

9. Require significant time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/ or self-indoctrination with Internet

Conversion therapy is still legal for all adults, and for youth in most states.

14. Punish disobedience by beating, torture, burning, cutting, rape, or tattooing/branding
15. Threaten harm to person, family, and friends
16. Force individuals to rape or be raped
21. Permit torture, lynching, murder

Anyone seen Boys Don’t Cry? That’s based on real-life events.

So the evidence points strongly towards anti-LGBTQ+ forces engaging in Behavioral Control. What’s the evidence of LGBTQ+ people engaging in Behavioral Control? Seriously – I’m asking… what are LGBTQ+ people doing which meets these criteria?

Information Control

  1. Deception
    a. Deliberately withhold information
    b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
    c. Systematically lie to the cult member
  2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including
    a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, media
    b. Critical information
    c. Former members
    d. Keep members busy so they do not have time to think and investigate
    e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, Internet tracking
  3. Compartmentalize information into outsider vs. insider doctrines
    a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
    b. Control information at different levels and missions within group
    c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
  4. Encourage spying on other members
    a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
    b. Report deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
    c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by the group
  5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including
    a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and
    other social media
    b. Misquote statements from non-cult sources or use them out of context
  6. Unethical use of confession
    a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
    b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
    c. Manipulation of memory, implant false memories

1. Deception – Deliberately withhold information, Distort information to make it more acceptable, Systematically lie to the cult member

You mean like how most states prohibit sex/health-education curricula which even mentions the existence of homosexuality, much less gender identity? The existence of transgender people is regularly minimized or denied, and when it is acknowledged, it’s often portrayed in a really negative light. Please go see the Netflix documentary Disclosure to see how insidious it has been. Thankfully, this is improving.

2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including: Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, media; Critical information; Former members; Keep members busy so they do not have time to think and investigate; Control through cell phone with texting, calls, Internet tracking
3. Compartmentalize information into outsider vs. insider doctrines: Ensure that information is not freely accessible; Control information at different levels and missions within group; Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when

If you’ve read my blog, you know I try to include sources and outside references whenever possible. I’m not feeding you information and telling you to take it at face value, but telling you my conclusions, then providing the resources upon which I based my conclusions. I’m increasing your access to information. Most of the trans people I know do the same – instead of telling people how things are, they tell about their own experiences and the conclusions they’ve drawn, and leave it to the individuals to digest and make their own conclusions.

5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including: Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other social media; Misquote statements from non-cult sources or use them out of context

Arguments can be made on both sides for this one, depending on your perspective. I’ll just say this: I do read and watch materials on both sides of LGBTQ+ issues, and I find the ones taking LGBTQ+ -antagonistic positions to be more dependent on misinformation and “inside” sources. Do your own research and make your own conclusions on this one.

6. Unethical use of confession: Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries; Withholding forgiveness or absolution; Manipulation of memory, implant false memories

I wasn’t going to say anything about this one, except that “Max” used scripture to try to “[Withhold] forgiveness or absolution”. Draw your own conclusions.

Thought Control

  1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
    a. Adopting the group’s “map of reality” as reality
    b. Instill black and white thinking
    c. Decide between good vs. evil
    d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
  2. Change person’s name and identity
  3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thinking and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
  4. Encourage only “good and proper” thoughts
  5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking, and even to age regress the member
  6. Memories are manipulated, and false memories are created
  7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts about the cult and allowing only positive thoughts using denial, rationalization, wishful thinking, chanting, meditating, praying, speaking in tongues, singing or humming
  8. Reject rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
  9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
  10. Label alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful
  11. Instill new “map of reality”

Ok, this is probably the biggest grey zone of the whole set of BITE criteria, and it depends heavily on what your perspective is when looking at the evidence. I’ll try to be as fair as I can on these.

1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth: Adopting the group’s “map of reality” as reality; Instill black and white thinking; Decide between good vs. evil; Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)

The argument I’ve seen made is that “trans rights activists demand that everyone see transgender people as their claimed gender”. There’s truth in that. Trans people are indeed the gender they tell you they are. Gender is not an objectively measurable trait – it must be sensed by the individual who experiences it. An analogy is pain – the only person who truly knows whether and what kind of pain a person is experiencing is the person experiencing the pain. There is no reliable objective test for pain besides listening to the person who is in pain. But do we tell that person “I don’t feel it, so you must not be in pain”? Or do we give them some help to try to ease the pain. Gender is sensed by the person to whom it applies – there’s no other way to do it.

But the second part of the claim is “you’re either born a male or female, and you can’t change that. Asking me to ignore that is telling me how I have to think, and what is ‘real’.” Sure you can make this argument, but you’re so wrong on many levels. First, this mixes up the concepts of sex and gender (see Gender ≠ Sex) which are often related to each other, but are distinct. Next, this ignores the rich diversity of nature, and how the notion of sex being binary is outdated.

The reality is grounded in science, which supports the existence of LGBTQ+ people.

2. Change person’s name and identity

Nobody is asking for you to change your name or identity. Trans people often change their own name and identity, but it’s done completely on their own volition, and not at the demands of anyone else — in fact, trans people often face a lot of resistance to changing their own names and (people’s perceptions of their) identity.

3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thinking and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words

This one might seem to hold water when faced with the language which acknowledging LGBTQ+ people brings into our conversations: cisgender, gender identity, non-binary, etc. But consider what this vocabulary is doing – it’s expanding our ability to describe things which are naturally occurring. Cis is not a slur – it describes anyone who isn’t trans. Gender identity tells us that there’s more complexity to gender than just genitals. Non-binary reflects the reality that few things in nature is either/or – most things are on some sort of spectrum.

Let’s flip this around and see what kind of language anti-LGBTQ+ people use: TRA (Trans Rights Activists) – used to lump anyone who speaks out in favor of treating transgender people fairly and kindly into a monolithic group… and evokes associations with “MRA” – Men’s Rights Activists. TIM (Trans-Identified Male) – used to describe a transgender woman, yet denies her any acknowledgement of her womanhood. GC (Gender Critical) – describes the movement to deny transgender people basic human rights and acknowledgement under the law by claiming that “gender doesn’t exist” and that all decisions are made on the basis of a person’s immutable sex assignment at birth. (Tell that to the guy who cat-called me as I was walking down the street with a friend one St. Patrick’s Day a few years ago)

To me, the language used by anti-LGBTQ+ people is the language seeking to stop critical thinking and is reductionist.

8. Reject rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
10. Label alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful

On this one, I see LGBTQ+ people having difficult conversations where they explore the concepts of gender and sexuality quite deeply, and anti-LGBTQ+ people trying to cut those conversations off – especially by referring to religious beliefs for justification.

11. Instill new “map of reality”

Anti-LGBTQ+ people make this claim frequently – that LGBTQ+ people are trying to “rewrite reality”. Yet what I’ve seen is LGBTQ+ people asking others to do their own investigation, consider the conclusions which experts are putting forth, and accept that the “reality” we thought we knew in the past is not the reality we’ve been living in all along. Humans used to believe that the Earth was the center of the Universe – that the sun revolved around the Earth. When we discovered that the Earth actually orbits the sun, did the Earth suddenly begin to revolve around the sun? Of course not – it had always done so… it just took humans gathering more information and changing our understanding of reality.

Emotional Control

  1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings
  2. Frame needs as evil, wrong, or selfish
  3. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
  4. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
  5. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness including doubts about oneself, one’s family, one’s past, one’s affiliations, identity, and actions.
  6. Instill fear, such as fear of the outside world, independent thought, loss of salvation, shunning, and the disapproval of other members
  7. Promote extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
  8. Employ ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
  9. Inculcating irrational fears or phobias about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority in any of the following ways:
    a. Contend that no happiness or fulfillment is possible outside of the group
    b. Contend there will be terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, and so forth
    c. Shun those who leave; use fear of being rejected by friends and family
    d. Reject any legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
    e. Threaten harm to ex-member and family

I’ll admit, this one is difficult for me to look at anti-LGBTQ+ perspectives with objectivity, as this is an area which has hurt me substantially. I’ll try.

1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings

My perspective: for most of my life, I was told that the feelings I was having (of being a girl/woman) were wrong and that I needed to eradicate them.

Anti-LGBTQ+ perspective: I don’t know – that they feel bad when they’re called homophobic or transphobic for discriminating against gay/trans people? And that they need to narrow their range of feelings to deal with feeling bad? If you have some insight – please share.

2. Frame needs as evil, wrong, or selfish

My perspective: My need to be authentic – a woman – has been framed as wrong, selfish, and evil. If anti-LGBTQ+ people are feeling that same characterization of their own beliefs, I have a difficult time mustering much sympathy.

3. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt

My perspective: I taught myself to deny my own instincts and feelings. I learned to depersonalize. I developed depression, anxiety, and cPTSD from the trauma of doing these things to myself. My mental illness (of which, being transgender is not one of them) came as a direct result of trying to conform to the beliefs and behaviors which anti-LGBTQ+ people still abide.

Their perspective: I don’t like having my fear and hatred be called out and for me to be forced to confront them?

4. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
5. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness including doubts about oneself, one’s family, one’s past, one’s affiliations, identity, and actions.

My perspective: See my answer to #3 just above. I thought I was broken, defective, unworthy. I thought I must have committed some sin for which I was now being punished.

Their perspective: I don’t want to be held accountable for my own behavior?

6. Instill fear, such as fear of the outside world, independent thought, loss of salvation, shunning, and the disapproval of other members

My perspective: See Max’s comment. He evokes scripture to try to instill fear.

Their perspective: That’s true – we do.

I guess I can’t really see their perspectives on this very clearly – please comment if you have something to add or help me understand.

Conclusion

It seems clear to me that anti-LGBTQ+ people are the ones engaging in cult-like behavior. I’m not sure on what basis Max justifies his statement.

That’s a lot of writing, and enough for this post. But I’m not done with Max’s comment. I want to address the scripture he quoted and misinterpreted. Watch for that in my next post.

Until then, take care of yourselves,

Me

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