Are LGBT people pedophiles?

Have you ever been on the dirty end of bigoted prejudice—you know, because you are THIS you automatically are THAT?
• “I don’t trust that man. He’s a Jew. You know Jews. They will do anything to make a buck off you.”
• “That woman has worked in this McDonald’s as long as I can remember. She must not care about finding a real job.”
• “He’s German. He’s stubborn. Don’t waste your time trying to reason with him.”

I could write these all day. The one that prompted this essay takes me once again to Roger Jimenez, the Baptist minister who, after the Orlando massacre, preached the worst combination of bad theology and bigoted hatred: “Are you sad that fifty pedophiles were killed today? Um, no. I think that’s great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job, because these people are predators. They are abusers.”

What is the easiest way to note stubborn prejudice? When anyone declares something about an individual or group, which has no basis in fact, and asserts it as if it is true, it is fair to make the assessment that the speaker harbors negative suppositions and, very likely, the hatred which so often accompanies them.

Pedophiles. Predators. Abusers. From where did Jimenez get his information to make these awful assertions? He certainly did not get them from any factual reporting, such as I found by reading a number of studies on the topic, searching “profile of a pedophile.”

Among the several studies, I found this one to best represent them:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140916142130-238758622-characteristics-and-behavioral-indicators-of-a-pedophile

In this report, the US Department of Justice provides the list it developed of characteristics and behavioral indicators of a pedophile, of which these are the top five:
1. Most often an adult male.
2. Usually married.
3. Works in a wide range of occupations.
4. Relates better to children than adults.
5. Socializes with few adults unless they are pedophiles.

As one goes through the list of twenty-two items, none of them indicates that homosexuals are prone to being pedophiles, or that pedophiles are more likely to be gay than straight. Even more, since gay marriage is so new, item two—usually married—added to item one—most often an adult male—speaks volumes about who the majority of pedophiles are: Men who are married to women.

It is not only gay men whom people like Roger Jimenez unfairly target. I have previously related the story of a trans friend who suffers the same prejudice. I will refer to this person with male pronouns because he continues to live as a male.

When, several years ago, it was his intention to transition, he informed his family. One of his children’s spouses reacted this way: “You are a pedophile and you will have no contact with our children.” To this day, my friend has not been able to see those grandchildren. He has not transitioned, continues to be married to his wife/the grandmother, interacts with his other children, and by all accounts is a fine citizen.

What is it that makes some people react in the manner of my friend’s family member and Roger Jimenez? Is it not the exact same thing as is behind those white people who think all black men are a danger to them, and those Americans who think all Muslims’ motives are suspect, and on and on and on?

It is this: Not only are you not like me, but you are so different from me that you cannot possibly be respectable.

And it is this: I am so offended by what you are, in my mind you will be the worst version of that I can imagine.

And it is this: The hatred for you which I harbor I will make known wherever I can.

The essence of human trouble is self-centeredness. In the Christian faith, we know that this self-centeredness stems from our sinful nature. The entire world can vouch for it in the simplest example witnessed in every people group, everywhere, in every age: You never need to teach a young child how to do wrong, to steal a toy from another, to cry to get his way, but you do need to teach a young child how to do right, how to share, how to behave.

From this self-centeredness comes every form of evil, including bigotry and prejudice.

We really fight the urge to treat others the way we want them to treat us, and when a person or group offends us not only is the desire to fulfill the Golden Rule squelched but we easily and quickly give ourselves permission to put the worst construction on their lives.

That’s the way it is. It does not excuse it. It lets no one off the hook. It only explains it.

Hopefully, understanding it, we can combat it. As one of my trans friends says—this has quickly become my own mantra—when you get to know a trans person, it is hard to hate or be afraid of trans people.

You can change “trans” to whatever you want, whomever it is in your life which drives your own xenophobia, which is the fear of the unknown.

Finally, if you are a Christian and are espousing bigoted hatred, you are giving a bad name both to Jesus Christ and to every Christian who works hard to live the Golden Rule. If this is you, you are a hypocrite who is in need of looking into the mirror and repenting of your sin.

The Good News is that Jesus Christ has taken and borne your sin and given you His Holy Spirit that you know the Lord’s love AND possess the ability to practice it.

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Please, use my name

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It was a big change, going from minister to lay person. In retiring, everyone who knew me as their pastor wanted to keep calling me Pastor. It was done from love. It felt good. While I encouraged people to begin calling me by my first name, if they wanted to call me Pastor I was fine with that.

When, last August, I changed my name from Greg to Gina, many made the switch without incidence. Many did not. I understood the challenge involved with this. I was patient. Now, I was not only leaving the ministry, I was leaving behind my birth name.

Revealing that one has gender dysphoria is hard enough for some. Revealing that one is transitioning from male to female is a much greater leap. Changing names makes it all so real. The person who is transitioning needs to be as patient with his loved ones, friends, and peers as he or she wants from them.

I received several communications, for several months, in which the writer wrote, “Dear Greg,” and then made the case for the insistence on my birth name. In each case, the writer was a Christian, some of them were ministers, and they stressed that Greg is the name in which I was baptized, and then they urged me to take seriously the arguments they laid out.

I have not been addressed as Greg in so long that I cannot recall when it last was. Now, I am experiencing something else, and this one hurts me even more because there is no explanation accompanying it.

In the past two weeks, I received several messages and emails which were addressed to no one. There was no salutation. The people simply began with their first paragraph.

Often, in online communications, especially short ones and those following immediately on the heals of another, one does not include or continue to write a salutation. These communications are not those. These are longer, more formal messages and emails, some with folks whom I don’t know.  Definitely the type where “Dear Gina” would be appropriate.

I want you to know: As much as you struggle with my dramatic change, I feel like a non-person when you don’t use my name.

In some cases, I have been the one initiating the conversation. Each time, I used “Dear So-and-So,” and concluded with my standard closing, “Peace, Gina.” When the reply came, the person closed with his or her standard closing, say, “Regards, Mary,” but did not begin the note with a salutation.

Two times, I deliberately wrote replies with a salutation, where I often would cease with that, and included my standard closing to demonstrate the formality of the communication, to test the waters. Both times, the reply came with no salutation but with the person’s standard sign-off.

Many years ago, a teacher pointed out how a political opponent never used the name of his foe. The other guy was “my opponent” or “the senator from Indiana” or whatever worked in the context, but never the man’s name. To say his name, my teacher pointed out, would legitimize him, and the politician did not want to do that.

I feel illegitimate when people refuse to use my name.

Please know how terribly hard on me has been transitioning. I have written plenty on it. I have done that to educate, so that all might know that this is not undertaken lightly. It’s not a whim. It is the stuff of life’s greatest struggles.

I continue to have my struggles. They are easing, but they are not done. I take things to heart perhaps as deeply as anyone. I long to be accepted. I’ve always longed to be liked. My name is as important to me as your name is to you.

It’s a Golden Rule thing. Even when something is hard for us, even when we have our objections, our job is to treat others as we want them to treat us. I have made this the aim of my life, and have practiced it in the toughest spots, treating the other person with respect even when I did not respect the person because of his behavior.

You might not respect my transitioning. I understand that it is very hard for many. I will continue to educate.

In the mean time, I respectfully ask you to use my name. My name is Gina.

I do not despise my birth name. If I did not have this tremendously challenging situation, I would still be happy to be called Greg. It’s a good name. I am pleased to possess it.

But, for now, Gina is my name. In fact, it’s my legal name.

Please, use my name.

Finally, kindly take note that in my relationship with you I show you the three things to which I committed myself when I became a pastor: to be friendly, to show respect, and to demonstrate loving concern to all people, no matter what.

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To close on a lighter note and demonstrate that all is not “woe is me,” and even to show that my sense of humor is as dorky as ever, I present the meme that my friend, Jan, created for me soon after I posted this essay on Facebook. If you know Stewie, you know that compliance is the only course of action! 🙂

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Bathroom liberty for all

Enough arguing. Enough posturing. Enough beating up each other. It’s time for a resolution which serves all. In this essay, I propose the solution.

Restroom-1

I care about the needs and rights of our trans youth, but I also care equally about the needs and rights of our youth who have been sexually assaulted. And our youth who are socially awkward or overly shy. And our youth whose family or religious upbringing is more strict than the general culture’s. And any other category one might imagine, and let us imagine them so that we understand that all youth potentially have serious challenges in the many facets of social life.

Regarding our nation’s youth, President Obama’s administration last week brought the bathroom debate to the entire nation. While no new law was fashioned, plenty of excitement was created.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex. This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”

One reaction to this informed me that both the Fourteen Amendment and the Civil Rights Act provide for the full rights of all Americans, which would mean that all people are allowed to use the bathroom which is right for them.

These bathroom concerns are only about discrimination, right?

Not so fast.

As a transgender person, I long to be protected, I desire full civil rights, and I appreciate every privilege the average American enjoys. Equally, I strive to care for all persons affected by any situation.

I long for this to be the attitude of every American.

Life provides us with countless opportunities to practice the Golden Rule, to treat others the way we want them to treat us. Sadly, this flies in the face of our selfish nature, which wants the other guy to think of my needs first.

And so we hear the trans community screaming for its rights, while forgetting the needs of others. And so we hear from every other sector screaming for its rights, while not giving a hoot about trans people.

Some equate these days with those of African Americans’ fight for their deserved rights. Where I find many comparisons, this is not entirely the same. The similarities end when there are honest sensitivities.

When whites got the heebie-jeebies over things like using the same water fountain or dining at tables next to blacks, their anxieties, fears, even hatred, were borne of prejudice, of deep-seated biases which were not based on facts. Thus, they were dishonest.

In the bathroom debate, there certainly are dishonest feelings, prejudices held by many. They are heard plenty. Once again last week, the popular blogger, Matt Walsh, wrote on the topic and he continues to refer to us as “transgendered”—always in quotes, as if we are not real—and calls us “confused.” The conservative The Federalist posted this piece in light of last week’s government letter to schools: “Obama Threatens Schools: Let Men in Little Girls’ Room or Else.” The readers of both of these have added their “hear, hear” affirmations.

There are plenty of people who are transphobic. There also are plenty of people who have honest concerns, real sensitivities, even true fears, which have nothing to do with trans folks.

As I have been debating this heavily, I have been given a lesson in not having grown up female, a person who never was abused just because she was there. I have heard from several women who have been sexually assaulted. It is not uncommon for these women to carry a phobia for spaces where they might be prone to a man who has harmful desires.

I checked several sources for statistics. I find these two numbers to be accurate and eye-opening:
• Nearly 1 in 5 women have experienced a completed or attempted rape.
• Nearly 1 in 2 women have experienced some form of sexual violence.

This simply is unacceptable.

I really am not a fan of comparing numbers, but many are, so here goes: The number of women who have been sexually assaulted or had sexual violence carried out against them dwarfs the number of transgender people. While this shall not be cause for any lessening of the concerns for we trans folks, I take very seriously how many others are holding cards at this table.

We trans folks are far from the only people who long for peace and comfort in using our desired restrooms.

Since the government’s letter focused on schools, I will now do that. School culture varies by size and type of school, size of town, area of the nation. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation because we do not live in a one-size-fits-all world.

Many school districts have been dealing with this issue for years. I have read some marvelous success stories where concerned people, with helpful spirits, acted wisely and resolved their issues. For the most part, you and I were never aware of these because they were handled discreetly.

As with the need to remember the adult women who are vulnerable, how much more children? Too many children have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by adults and peers. But, a child need never have been sexually hurt to experience honest anxiety over these bathroom issues. Children do not have the benefit of maturity, of experience. If they are very young, they might know little about the sexes. If they are teens, they very possibly experience plenty of awkwardness regarding their changing body, sex, the opposite sex, and peers. Add into the mix those who are socially awkward, reared in stricter homes and churches, or are just plain shy. And one never knows when terribly challenging gender identity issues are brewing, or a young person already identities outside of the male/female standard.

I was so shy in high school, with my own gender identity issues always simmering under the surface, that I never once used a regular restroom while in high school.

I loathe the forcing of anything on anyone when concerns are honest. I find the concerns of parents, of women, of children to be genuine.

The cry we hear is “children’s safety.” “Safety” is more than concern for things physical. “Safety” includes emotional well-being.

Last week, a friend wrote, “How come Americans always argue with each other instead of working together to find solutions?” I believe I have fallen upon a solution when I remembered the Americans With Disabilities Act.

When this act was made law, it put the vast majority of American stores, schools, hospitals, churches, and workplaces into the spot of having to change or add to bathrooms, not to mention some entrances, sidewalks, and parking places. This law cost many establishments a lot of money to come into compliance.

But they did it.

And the USA is better for it.

And the number of people with disabilities who use these bathrooms, these good parking places that often remain empty, these . . . is how many? It doesn’t matter. Americans with disabilities matter, and so the law was wise and just and necessary.

All-Gender-Restroom-Sign

Plenty of other countries already have figured out what we are arguing, but if we must do things The American Way then let us commission some creative designers, builders, and architects to draw up plans to make our bathrooms and locker rooms safe for all, with privacy levels which meets everyone’s needs and standards that span the spectrum of public places.

As several have said, all of the hullabaloo around bathrooms have been a solution in search of a problem. What had been a non-issue to almost the entire population now is being talked about as much as The Donald and The Hillary. Now that it is this huge issue, it must be addressed.

Echoing the Americans With Disabilities Act, I call for the Bathroom Liberty for All Act, which would address both restrooms and locker rooms, and set standards for every setting as affected by the Disabilities Act.

Every American deserves to know that wherever he, she, or they might be, the law is the same, so they don’t have to question whether there is a safe place or what the law is in that place, so their expectations are always the same, just as with disabled Americans.

What do we do in the interim? Well, what did we do for our Americans with disabilities before we made the many required updates?

Until we can sort this out and remodel our bathrooms and locker rooms, let us be honest with our concerns and fair with our neighbor. Drop the propaganda pieces. Stop the shock videos. Cite statistics accurately. Cease with unfairly portraying trans folks AND care for the weak and vulnerable and sensitive of every age and situation in life.

I promise that I will practice the Golden Rule toward you. Will you promise the same toward me?

Let us make into law the Bathroom Liberty for All Act. Let us do it now. Let us quell all concerns so that we can move on and once again provide all Americans what our great land of freedom has always offered.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.