- In a secret society typically left untouched by the outside world, the Freemasons are struggling to come to terms with the transgender ideology in their all-male fraternity, according to members that spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- In 2018, the United Grand Lodge of England issued a decision allowing transgender individuals to join the secret society but this year, the Grand Lodge of Texas announced its own opinion on the issue, barring transgender members.
- “[One Texas lodge] has several visibly transgender people, these are people who either already took the oath as a guy and then changed or took the oaths saying that they were non-binary, gender fluid, or something … and this is considered a big provocation,” a longtime Scottish Rite Mason from Houston told the DCNF.
The Freemasons, an all-male secret society whose history goes back centuries, have been struggling to deal with the transgender movement infiltrating their ranks over the past several years, according to members who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In 2018, the United Grand Lodge of England, considered by Masons to be the senior of all lodges, announced that it would allow transgender individuals to retain their membership at the lodge or be eligible for membership if they were transitioning to a man, according to the BBC. In the U.S., the issue is far from settled, with conservative Masons in states like Texas clashing with the more liberal fraternities on the coasts, and according to several Masons that spoke with the DCNF on the condition of anonymity, the issue is splitting the society with real consequences for those not falling in lockstep.
“[N]ow that all of these English lodges have been forced to allow females in and the mother Grand Lodge of the world is now being required by its own country’s Supreme Court to force all of its own members to break their oath and let females in,” a prominent central Texas Mason told the DCNF, “America and every other Grand Lodge is now stuck in a gray area, and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
In March, the Grand Lodge of Texas, which oversees all the Freemason chapters in the Lone Star State, issued an opinion on the transgender debate directly contradicting the U.K. decision from five years prior. The Texas Grand Lodge said that it was not possible for a transgender individual to be a Mason based on the way the membership rules were originally intended to be interpreted in 1722.
“A biological woman (meaning an individual who was assigned female at birth) cannot be a Mason,” the opinion reads. “A transgender man (meaning an individual who was assigned female at birth whose gender identity or gender expression is now male) cannot be a Mason. A transgender woman (meaning an individual who was assigned male at birth whose gender identity or gender expression is now female) cannot be made a Mason nor remain a Mason.”
A longtime Scottish Rite Mason from Houston told the DCNF that despite the decision, however, other lodges in Texas continue to have multiple openly transgender members.
“The problem is lots and lots of lodges in Texas have been admitting transgender people, very visibly,” the Mason told the DCNF. “[One lodge] has several visibly transgender people, these are people who either already took the oath as a guy and then changed or took the oaths saying that they were nonbinary, gender fluid, or something … and this is considered a big provocation.”
Additionally, consequences for not following the directives of England’s Grand Lodge can be extreme, according to the Masons. Chapters deemed illegitimate are barred from Masonic charities, special dorms on college campuses, trips and events and can even be removed as a recognized lodge.
In light of this, one of the Masons told the DCNF that it would not surprise him if the opinion was rescinded in a year or two once leadership switched hands to prevent being excommunicated by the rest of the community. Texas Freemasonry is also experiencing a notable demographic shift as older, more conservative members are slowly growing less common while younger, more liberal men take their place, according to the Masons that spoke with the DCNF.
“The idea of gay Masons and transgender Masons is causing consternation and divisive issues and a lot of that comes from the diversity within the fraternity as far as religious and political beliefs,” the Houston-area Mason told the DCNF.
The tension behind the transgender issue is a long time in the making, according to the Masons that spoke with the DCNF. In May 2022, an older gay Mason in Austin, who is a well-known musician and referred to as the Pianist, was written up on charges for derogatory comments against the Grand Lodge of Texas, which is expressly forbidden, after it prevented him from playing music during a ceremony, according to documents obtained by the DCNF.
The Pianist accused the Grand Lodge of being homophobic, racist and misogynistic hypocrites enforcing some rules and not others, according to the document, and the outburst prompted several individuals to file charges, restricting him from nearly all of his rights as a member. To date, the Lodge has allegedly not ordered a trial, and according to the Masons that spoke with the DCNF, it is being delayed to avoid restarting a decades-long disagreement among some members about whether the secret society should accept gay and transgender members.
The accusers who filed charges declined the DCNF’s request for comment, and the Pianist’s identity was not disclosed.
Combining this with the lack of enforcement of the Grand Lodge’s decision, many conservative Masons are feeling disenfranchised and ignored, while some of the more left-leaning members argue that the decision is evidence of Texas Masons’ intolerance of those who fall outside of a Christian, conservative lifestyle or worldview.
“We have a group of Christian extremists who hijacked our fraternity and they want to try to turn it into something churchy … and we’re really pushing back hard on it,” a central Texas Freemason told the DCNF. “So that’s kind of where we’re at right now. And yes, the [Pianist] is part of a greater problem that we’re experiencing in Freemasonry. He just represented everything they hated and there was a perfect opportunity for certain elements within our fraternity to come after him and come after [his] lodge in general.”
“So I’m a conservative Christian,” another prominent central Texas Mason told the DCNF. “I’m a member of my church, my Boy Scouts and my civic organizations and so forth. So my personal opinion is the same thing that it says in the Bible, which is that homosexuality is a sin and that transgender is still defined by the Merck Manual, which is a physician’s manual, as being a mental illness. So I mean, that that’s kind of what I see as reality, [and] that is very divisive.”
The one thing the Masons that spoke to the DCNF all agreed on was that the gay and transgender issues should be handled separately. They noted that Freemason law expressly forbids anyone other than men from being part of the fraternity but says nothing about the sexual orientation of any male members, pointing to several famous gay Masons such as Oscar Wilde.
“Transgenderism is trying to insert itself into the gay community and they are separate issues,” a central Texas Freemason told the DCNF. “And they are trying to hijack the gay movement by making them support transgenderism, saying that if you don’t support transgenderism, you’re not supporting the gays. That’s totally not true.”
The Grand Lodge of Texas did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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