I've written extensively about why I feel for and advocate on behalf of homosexuals. For the same reasons, I feel for transgender folks and pedophiles (those with a sexual orientation toward children, not necessarily child molesters). Why?
First, let me admit that I don't know a ton about either pedophiles or the experiences of transgendered people. I'm learning.
Second, I point out reasons why I feel for people in these two demographic slices (and may, later in life, advocate appropriately for their interests, including greater understanding and acceptance).
- They are marginalized in society.
- Generally, they are misunderstood.
- Talk about your minority stress!
- Their gender identity and sexual orientation, respectively, both greatly inhibit "fitting in" to normal society (we live in a fiercely gendered world with a robust, mostly heterosexual marital norm- try fitting those molds as a transgendered person or pedophile)
- Both likely experience loneliness and hide their identity
- Those who are open about who they are experience rejection and stigma
I just read the wikipedia article on pedophilia. It sounds a lot like reading a thirty-year-old article on homosexuality- e.g. diagnosis as a mental disorder, there's no cure, they're assumed to be child sexual abusers, they're incarcerated indefinitely, the incidence is similar, there's a component of heritability, sex abuse as a child is considered causative, it's seen as abnormal and morally wrong by society, etc.: striking parallels.
Now, I oppose adults forming sexual/romantic pair bonds with children as a general rule. However, there may be some benefits to openness as to one's transgender or pedophilic orientation (ephebophilia and hebephilia as well). Greater progress is yet to be made, I think, to accommodate for non-gendered persons, and those who are a third gender (have a gender, but neither classically male nor female).
From a recent post comment I wrote:
I think it makes sense to describe being gay as who you are. However, I'm not convinced that God rejoices _every_ time someone lives honestly, to the extent that honesty means acting in harmony with an aspect of one's identity such as sexual orientation. Some people, for instance, really do have a sexual orientation (emotional, sexual, romantic) towards children. I'm convinced God is displeased when adults act on this identity by developing romantic/sexual peer relationships with children, who are almost always deeply harmed by such action.
I think God rejoices when we live honestly, and when we act in harmony with our identity, in ways that increase net human benefit. Homosexuals are merely more lucky than pedophiles, because morally acting in harmony with their gay identity is much more feasible (e.g. they can choose a lifelong committed partnership). Pedophiles (by nature, not necessarily by behavior) are, in my view, truly unlucky. I can see them looking wistfully at a homosexual: those whom pedophiles wish to partner with can't even give meaningful consent. I am grateful that the unnecessarily stigma of being gay is fading; I am at more of a loss for how to help some of the more marginalized groups whose identity, were it realized by behavior, would generally prove net harmful, rather than net beneficial. I am saddened to think of the closeted, lonely, and frustrated lives I imagine many pedophiles live.
One could also consider polyamorous folks, whose identity often leads them to form loving, sexual, romantic relationships with several partners. This type of behavior, if open and committed, might be morally acceptable or advisable. However, the morality is greatly hindered because of natural human jealousy of the first spouse, and the normative expectation that marriage entails an exclusive commitment in the arena of sexual/romantic/emotional intimacy overlap (hence, poly folks often break commitments in order to be true to themselves). For the polyamorous and the pedophile, I think the morality of their behavior is affected by the reality of their identity: however, the calculus is far from complete after that lone consideration.