If you think

This piece was written in the wake of the turbulence in Charlottesville, Virginia, thus it is aimed at anyone who identifies with white supremacists.  However, any person, of any color, creed, culture, or country can take the admonition for her- or himself, should it apply.

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If you think you are better than others, then act better than others.

If you believe that white is the dominant race, then prove it by showing that love is the dominant trait of humankind.

If you desire to live in peace, live as a peaceful person. But if it is okay with you to be cut down in your youth through violence, then aim your hatred and ready your trigger. And if you dare to think so singularly, know that you have done more than abandoned your own blood relations, but also put them into harm’s way. And if you are a U. S. citizen, know that you are acting in opposition to both the law of the land and the values on which it is built. And if you claim to be a Christian, not only are you sadly mistaken about the Word of God, you are blaspheming it.

If you want to claim for whites this land which stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, remember that you took it from the natives who populated it for long before your ancestors ever knew it existed.

If you hold that you are superior, then show your superiority not in easy things, such as casting off others, but by embracing them; not by standing over the harmed and hurting, but by bending down to help and comfort them. It is easy to dominate and divide; it takes hard work, from a heart which is filled with compassion, to serve and unite your fellow man.

If you believe that white is the superior skin color, then live according to the symbolism by which white is understood. White stands for purity. White represents holiness. And goodness. And innocence. And safety.

White does not stand for bigotry.  White does not represent evil.  Or ugliness.  Or smug supremacy.  Or racism.

Never racism.

If you think you are a member of the perfect people group, then be perfect. Be perfect in your every thought. Be perfect in your every word. Be perfect in your every deed.

If you think you are better than others, then act better than others.

If you think.

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When I was a white man

I had almost nothing to fear from my fellow Americans when I was a white man.

I lived around people who were like me. I carried out my work around people like me. I was able to shop and see doctors around people like me. There was no reason for me ever to put myself into a place or a situation where I would be the different one, the minority, to fear another person or group.

I was always in the majority—the super-majority, where privilege is concerned.

Now that I live as a transgender woman, I do have something to fear—especially because I do not smoothly pass as a genetic female. Even so, I wonder if I still am not inestimably safer in the world than a young, African American male.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The problem with white male privilege is that one has no idea what it means to be in such a privileged spot. It is akin to a sighted person attempting to fathom having never seen anything but darkness.

Even as a so-called enlightened people, far too many of us Americans continue to live in the darkness.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Until last year, I had no idea what it meant to be a minority, and a minority among minorities at that. In my new status, I cannot even be comfortable about a place we have euphemistically dubbed “restroom.” I have no rest when contemplating my next entrance into the women’s space, never knowing if someone will freak out and speak out; never knowing if I might wind up as one of these statistics, which I took from this report: http://www.ustranssurvey.org/preliminary-findings.
• 1 in 8, who have been hassled, attacked, or sexually assaulted;
• 1 in 4, who have been told they are using the wrong restroom;
• 3 in 10, who report keeping from food and drink when out in public so that nature might not call until they are safely at home;
• 6 in 10, who simply avoid restrooms to save themselves the potential for trouble; or
• 1 in 12, whose “holding it” resulted in a kidney or urinary tract infection.

I had spent my life in the majority. I enjoyed the positive side of life, in every possible way. White American. Male. Married with children. Educated. Professional man. Respected Christian minister. Economically stable. Good relationships all around. Every freedom and privilege.

Every freedom and privilege.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I never feared The Man.

I had no need to fear The Man.

I did not respect those who viewed the government, the police, as The Man.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From my young-adult years, I recall conversations in which my peers shook their heads at the behavior of young, African American males, those who lived in Detroit, Chicago, and the like. Why were they involved in so much violence, always dealing in drugs, knocking over the corner bar for cash? Why didn’t they stay in school, work to get a good education, get out of there? The problem, it often was assumed, was that they were nothing more than punks. Thugs. No desire to do good, but only caring to get the goods on the next guy, even if it meant killing him. As if this were genetic.

Empathy was the last thing that my peers experienced for them, and it took many years for me to shed the negative assumptions before they didn’t even begin to rear their ugly head of prejudice and racism.

Until two years ago, my world was almost totally white. This has been an excellent experience, living in Indianapolis. I have met and made friends with numerous black folks. I have learned so much.

The number one lesson I’ve learned? They are just like me. Regular people. Simply trying to get on in life.

I have learned that I am only lighter-skinned than them, which should mean nothing other than I am lighter-skinned than them.

If only.

In the tiny church Julie and I attended for nine months, from July, 2014, through March of this year—which was, as I liked to put it, 50% white, 40% black, and with two of the sweetest old Japanese ladies you’ve ever met—I had some long, edifying conversations over after-worship fellowship lunch.

One of the African American ladies grew up in the South. As a young woman, she marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama. She told of the events with such detail and emotion—I heard in her voice both the courage it took and the fear that could not be shook—that I almost felt I had been right there with them.

Almost.

Talking face-to-face with an African American who actually lived through and worked in the battle for civil rights instilled in me a depth of appreciation for the fight, which I had never before known.

I am old enough to have lived at the time of so many race riots—1968 in my home-state town of Detroit—the Rodney King mess in 1991, when in 1995 blacks cheered for O. J. Simpson as whites were dumbfounded that he had been found not-guilty, and the latter decades of young black men being shot by whites for, well, it depends on with whom you speak and how you lean to determine the reason.

I reached young adulthood just as the Holocaust became a thing of movies and documentaries. I watched them until I could watch them no more, so sickened by the treatment of a group of people for only being different from another group of people.

In the USA, we are barely touched by the racial divides across the globe which result in war, in genocide, in citizens being driven from their homelands. It’s too far “over there” to grab our hearts for longer than the short clip we watch, and then we are onto the latest viral video so that our fancy might be tickled.

As long as my life is not directly affected—I can go to work, buy my groceries, the gas station has plenty of fuel that’s not too expensive, and my TV keeps me fed with eye-candy—I can live as if there is nothing wrong.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I fear that we are living in the greatest age ever of the “I don’t care” attitude. We Americans are so rich—I am referring to the vast middle class, we folks who have good housing and autos, food on the table and health care insurance, and every unhindered right and privilege and gadget and you-name-it—that we need not be bothered.

We don’t need our neighbors, as in days past, so we don’t get to know them. Because we do not know them, we do not care about them.

We whine about the government but, truly, we—the vast middle class—are generally scarcely affected by the many levels of government and their actions, that we do not have to care.

And if we have a family member, friend, or coworker who is in need, who might have delivered the news such as I did last year, or who now has a debilitating disease, or who lost a job and is in real need of tangible help, or who suffered the loss of a loved one or a job or something else traumatic, well, there simply are enough other people around, enough resources, others who are better than we at such delicate matters, that we can click on our “I don’t care” button and be on our merry way.

I hate this phrase—“I don’t care”—more than folks despise the N word.

And if you are shaking your head in disagreement over anything I have asserted in this section, can you see yourself putting yourself on the line for it, for any person’s need, for a social cause, for a wrong which needs righting?

Would you, privileged white person, march for it? Would you place your neck on the line for it?

Would I?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I don’t mean to say that we are not bothered by events, such as those last week which prompted this essay. I do, however, mean to say that the amount we are bothered is minuscule.

We spot and take the exit with ease: “There is nothing I can do about it. I don’t live there. I’m not a lawmaker. I am just a citizen. It’s for others to deal with.”

Does that mean that there is nothing for the vast majority of Americans to do? Absolutely not.

There has never been a greater need for every American to practice the Golden Rule, to treat the next person the way I want the next person to treat me.

There has never been a greater need for every American to practice friendliness toward his neighbor, toward those with whom she works, toward those where all of us interact in our stores and offices and ballparks and elevators and on the street.

We all know that apathy begets apathy, that hatred begets hatred, that violence begets violence. It is a way more desirable truth that caring begets caring, and kindness begets kindness, and love begets love.

There is only one person over whom I have control. That person is me.

How shall I live? How shall I treat the next person I encounter? What kind of ripple will I send out into the world which I directly influence?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I was a white man, I enjoyed every privilege. I have given up the crown of that favor, but I continue to enjoy the vast realm of my white privilege, and every other one I have ever known.

What a terrible thing this is, a full half-century after the civil rights movement, that a young black man cannot boast which I can boast, even as a transgender American.

What a terrible thing this is, that the supposedly enlightened nation of people whom we think we are so often act no better than the very people at whom we look down our noses.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Romans 12:14-21: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

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.

One more time: it’s NOT a choice

 

So many still don’t get it. They don’t hear us. I fear that they refuse to listen. They have hardened their hearts. The case is closed to them. They know nothing, but they know it all. They are experts at everything. Please, give them the task of solving world hunger, peace among the nations, and how I can take off fifty pounds and keep it off, because, clearly, there is nothing that is beyond them.

I prefer to write upbeat articles, themes to move us all forward in life, but, sadly, this piece comes from shear and utter frustration. Forgive me, but my ranties are in a bunch.

This was prompted by yet another person—in this case, a celebrity—insisting that we trans folks are making a choice by being trans. Let’s look at the facts.

Yes, I did choose several things.

  • I chose not to take my life when my daily refrain was, “You hate being a man. You can’t be a woman. Just kill yourself.”
  • I chose not to commit myself to a psych ward, because it would not cure my ails and only be a temporary escape.
  • I chose not to reject my Lord Jesus all of the times when it felt like He was asleep on the job. I chose to trust Him. I chose to follow His instruction, to ask, to seek, to knock down His door until I heard His answer.
  • I chose to keep the vow I made to my congregation and do my job, and thus also take care of my family, even fulfilling my promises on those days when the only thing I wanted to do was sit on my bed and cry.
  • And, yes, I chose to transition—or, more accurately said, I chose to try it, to see if it would help, and it is. Even when it helped, I stopped four times, so badly did I not want to hurt anyone or have anyone hate me. But, when, each time, I crashed worse than the previous time, last summer I finally learned to enjoy the peace of mind I was enjoying and reveal that I was living as Gina and planned to continue to do so.

No, I did not choose several things.

  • I did not choose to be the child who was conceived after my mother had two miscarriages, so that I was in line to have my endocrine system disrupted which left me with hormones that did not match my genetics.
  • I did not choose to have the gender identity question that I began experiencing when I was very young.
  • I did not choose for it to worsen throughout my life. Indeed, if everything that everyone wanted me to try after I went public—beg the Lord’s help more, repent of it as if it were a sin in my life, try to convince myself that I am the male that God made me to be, stop dressing in women’s clothes, concentrate on others instead of thinking about myself—which was everything I did, countless times throughout my life—if any or all of this would have been proper treatment for me, then I would have ceased to have any gender identity question decades ago.
  • I did not choose for the identity question to erupt into gender dysphoria when I hit my early fifties, which means that I finally went from simply wishing I were a female to now hating that I was a male.

I continue to make many choices.

  • I choose to live a highly ethical, moral life.
  • I choose to educate about all things transgender.
  • I choose to bring light to what it means to be a Christian, and that being transgender is no more a factor in being a Christian than being an American, or a factory worker, or a parent, or anything else.
  • I choose to take care of my family in my new role of house spouse.
  • I choose to be a friend to many trans folks from all over the country who have called on me for help—sometimes to understand themselves, sometimes for help with their families, sometimes because they too are Christians, and sometimes it is their family member who is trans, and sometimes because a person simply needs a friend who understands and on whose shoulder she or he can cry.
  • I choose to be a biblical Joseph, who declared to his brothers that the thing which they meant for harm the Lord would use to accomplish good things. This is the Lord’s Romans 8:28 promise to me, to use all things in my life for good . I choose to believe Him. I choose to glorify Him in my life.

To you, who think you know all, I beg you to show some humility.

I beg you to do the one thing that all humans desire, to be treated well and fairly and justly and with respect. For the sake of the entire human race, please do for others what you want from them.

Unless you enjoy division. Prejudice. Ignorance. Bigotry. Hatred. Walls. Walls. Walls.

If these are the things you want, go for it, but please purchase a desert island and practice your deaf-dumb-and-blind-ness there.

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.

Transgender prejudice in the LCMS?

Screenshot 2016-05-07 16.25.46

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is the church body in which I was a minister for eighteen years, the church body to which Julie and I returned in April after nine months in the more progressive ELCA. I needed to return to the LCMS so that I might have a voice in it.

Last week, an essay was posted to the LCMS website regarding the current bathroom debate. I exchanged several messages with its author, Kim Schave, in which we were able to agree on nothing except our common hope in Jesus Christ. Three times, I posted comments to the blog. Each one was not approved and they were deleted. My attempt was unsuccessful to get this critique to her, before I posted it.

Her essay is here: https://blogs.lcms.org/2016/male-and-female-he-created-them

Entitled, “Male and Female He Created Them,” quoting Genesis 5:2 in the King James Version, the essay is subtitled “Protecting the Vulnerable in the Transgender Public Facilities Debate.” I found the piece to be a haphazardly assembled series of thoughts. The author told me, “The point of my post was to offer consolation to Christians who have been mocked, ridiculed and insulted for holding fast to the Holy Word of God in this debate over new policies being pushed on us by the LGBT lobby—policies that put the rest of the population at risk.”

I appreciate the desire to console Christians who are often derided, even hated, when their goal is to be true to God’s Word and to protect people. What I do not appreciate is information presented in a way which displays biases, and too often is superficial and incorrect.

Mrs. Schave begins with a series of questions, beginning with, “Have you been called a bigot?” and concluding with, “Have you noticed how the argument has been twisted to claim that we are afraid of those identifying as transgender as the demographic we fear will exploit those in public restrooms and changing areas?” She then proceeds with a series of statistics and news citations which, because of the way she presents the information, the very likely possibility is created that “those identifying as transgender” will indeed be the demographic Christians fear.

She begins her third paragraph: “It is estimated that up to 0.3% of the U.S. population identifies as transgender, roughly 700,000 individuals. It is also interesting to note that there are 747,048 registered sex offenders nationwide in the U.S.” How is this interesting? How do these two categories have anything to do with each other? I suggested to her that by placing these two statistics together she gives the impression that there is a correlation between trans people and sex offenders. She replied, “My intention with quoting the statistics together had nothing to do with linking the two groups and everything to do with demonstrating that there are similar numbers of folks desiring to be protected in the transgender community as there are criminals who have sexually violated others.” So what? It means nothing that these numbers are similar, but placing them together might put an errant, prejudiced thought into the mind of the reader.

The next sentence begins, “While the prevalence of sexual violence among the transgender population is disconcerting…” Following the link she provided, the cited page clearly says that transgender people experience “shockingly high levels of sexual abuse and assault” against them. Why didn’t Mrs. Schave write, “While the prevalence of sexual violence AGAINST,” rather than “AMONG”? Writing “among” makes it sound as if trans people have a propensity for committing sexual abuse and assault.

This immediately follows the previous sentences which cite how many U. S. trans people and registered sex offenders there are. The impression is vivid: trans people are sex offenders. I asked her to correct all of this. It remains.

This sets the tone for the entire essay. How can the reader continue without a bias against transgender people? I do not contend that it was the author’s intention to create a bias. Regardless of intention, the bias has been created.

After citing numerous news stories about perverts in public places, Mrs. Schave moves to a brief discussion of gender dysphoria, beginning with this: “The medical community has thus far not completely caved to the LGBT lobbyists.” She then discusses how gender dysphoria is listed in the Diagnostic Manual as a disorder, adding “much like other mental disorders” without justifying her addition, and then neglects to outline why gender dysphoria needs to be categorized as a disorder so that those who transition, who often desire or require medical care, might qualify for health insurance benefits, which, more and more, cover these things in the manner they insure any viable condition.

The balance of the essay discusses Scripture and a Christian’s response to these matters. She writes, “When we despise the very way in which He lovingly formed us, we sin against Him.” When she mentions the oft-cited Deuteronomy 22:5 against “transvestism,”—now always called crossdressing—and insists that all people are made “male and female” as Genesis 5:2 teaches, she ignores intersex conditions as if they do not exist.

When Mrs. Schave writes, “Given the fall of mankind in Genesis 3 when sin entered the world, it is not a surprise that our view of the sexes would be corrupted,” she forgets that way more than “our view of the sexes” has been corrupted, but our very sexes have been corrupted, just as every aspect of the human condition has been corrupted. There are many intersex conditions, including hermaphroditism, ambiguous genitalia, chromosomal variations, and endocrine disruption.

If I had been created solely male or female, I would not be a transgender person. Mine is a physical condition from the womb as real as for the one inflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as ever-present as for the one dealing with Multiple Sclerosis, as physically debilitating as for the one undergoing treatment for a life-threatening disease.

Deuteronomy 22:5 does not apply to me (and one wonders why a multitude of verses surrounding it are ignored by the modern church while this one is regularly used) because I am not a male pretending to be a female, or seeking to get my sexual kicks, or trying to deceive anyone. My brain, where my endocrine system was disrupted and malformed, left me with a female identity. After a lifetime of battling myself and my finally becoming suicidal, transitioning to living as a female is for me viable medical treatment.

After citing an LCMS document on gender dysphoria, Mrs. Schave writes, “Indeed it is possible as a Christian to oppose these new understandings being foisted upon us of practices long considered sinful, yet treat those we encounter who struggle with such inclinations with dignity and respect.”

I wrote to her, “Please, learn about this topic before writing about it, before condemning me as a sinner for something you know nothing about—the same way blacks and whites were condemned as sinners when they married each other, but now it’s okay by God’s Word— the same way people with depression were condemned as sinners because they didn’t rejoice in the good life the Lord gave them, but now we know they have a real, physical malady—the same way people were condemned as ‘playing God’ when the first heart transplants were performed, but now these surgeries are accepted by all.”

This summarizes much of why I long to educate in the LCMS. Mixed-race marriages, depression, and heart transplants are but three things Christians once condemned and, without the Word of God changing, now are accepted. What caused the change? Education. Understanding. New and more information about previously unknown things. Yes, even cultural shifts. Gender dysphoria and being transgender is akin to where we were fifty years ago with the three cited issues.

I find my church body sorely lacking in humility. Church leaders are regularly writing about transgender issues as if they possess the final word on it. They argue as if this is cut and dried, strictly applying theology and morality, yet one of the LCMS’ own theologians, my seminary classmate, Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer, wrote last year in our alma mater’s scholarly publication that this is not a condition which is cured by theology and repentance, and it is an intersex condition.

Mrs. Schave concludes her essay, “Often times it feels as though the battle is lost. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).” I agree with her on both our victory in Christ and our continuing struggle. I often feel that my battle is lost in trying to educate Christians, and especially the LCMS which is beloved to me.

The Lord has taught me that to whom much has been entrusted, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48). I trust that He has led me to this day, to fight the good fight of the faith, to rely on the pure Gospel of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus Christ, and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8), which, among others, would be we transgender persons.

I stand with Kim Schave in our faith in Jesus Christ. I also stand with her in my concern for children and others who need protection. I desire calm conversation in the bathroom debate, with no one foisting an agenda on another. Finally, in all of this, let us speak truthfully, without prejudice, caring for our neighbor as much as we care for ourselves.

To a concerned mother

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Yesterday, on a Facebook thread regarding transgender folks and bathrooms, a newer friend of mine posted the following, which I have abridged only for length.

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As you know Gina, I am new to the understanding of the transgender world as far as understanding what all you go through. Because of you and others I have reached out to for real life experiences and what a transgender person goes through I am looking at this bathroom issue from both sides.

Seventeen years ago I went out with my mother-in-law for lunch with my newborn. I got up from the table and went to a family bathroom to breast feed my baby. I didn’t want others to be uncomfortable with me feeding my baby in the most natural, healthy way.

As a victim of assault as a young teenager, I am still very sensitive of potential danger. I have raised three girls and have done everything in my power to keep them safe, as I would have with boys. While I have said to you before with the school situation that brought me to you for understanding and information, I don’t want anyone to be put at risk for any harm for being their true self. While I don’t fear someone whom is transgender, I don’t agree with the gender specific areas being open for anyone male or female to enter them, Those out to cause harm to another are always looking for easy prey and I believe this makes it easier for them.

Most areas have family restrooms for many reasons, fathers out with their young daughters, etc., to give them a safe place to do their business without sending them into a bathroom alone or taking their daughter into a men’s bathroom where they stand against the wall. Am I being insensitive by wanting the gender specific areas to remain and the family/gender neutral areas to be single occupancy? For the potential of being a little safer I have a hard time believing that I am.

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Dear friend ~

You betcha you are on guard for your children, just as I was with my four kids.

I totally understand the desire for privacy, such as you describe, and those who have experienced terrible personal assaults as you have. I admire you for not wanting to make others uncomfortable, and feel the same way about myself.

One never knows the history or current mind-set of the many strangers which might be encountered at any given time. Everyone has baggage, and some folks out in the world have great personal struggles, fears, concerns, and needs which are impossible to see simply by observing the person.

One also hopes that people will simply not be paranoid. Yes, our guard goes up in the situations and aftermaths you describe. Even so, that does not make the risk go up, only the sense of risk. I am reminded of a friend who is extremely afraid of bridges. With her one time as she drove over one, she kept saying, “It’s only a bridge. It’s only a bridge.” The danger for her was no greater than for anyone else crossing that span. It wasn’t the bridge that needed mending, but her perception of it.

When you say, “I don’t agree with the gender specific areas being open for anyone male or female to enter them,” what does this mean? Look at my profile picture. Am I male or female? The fact is, I am intersex. Who gets to decide which one, male or female, rules me? Are my hormones, which tell me I am female, to take second to my body, which is male? Who decides?

Which bathroom should I use? If I go into the men’s room, I am going to face trouble, or laughter, or worse. I truly fear being beaten in a men’s room when presenting as a female.

I, and all my trans women friends, use the women’s rooms, we do so the same as all women do, and we blend in. Rarely do trans women go out in public who are dressed, as one keeps hearing from those against us, as “a man in a dress,” with five o’clock shadow, ill-fitting wigs, and clothes and makeup that are not appropriate to the location. No, we blend in because we want and need to blend in. We are just regular people, who dress and act like regular people.

I personally am okay with there being special bathrooms open to anyone who wants a personal space—where a dad can take a daughter, where a trans person can feel more comfortable, whatever the situation. Let’s have men’s rooms, women’s rooms, and unisex rooms everywhere. I would gladly use them equally for MY comfort, though I navigate women’s restrooms just fine. But, you have those trans folks who don’t want to be singled out because the singling out is a signal that “freaks need to be kept separate.” And, when that is the reason, I stand in opposition to the haters and shoulder-to-shoulder with my trans friends.

I don’t see you as insensitive. Perhaps, you have been hearing some of the scare tactics and they have played on your mind, and you are more sensitive because of the situations you described. Look up the statistics. You will find extremely few instances of trans people sexually assaulting others. No, the rapists and pedophiles are almost always males, who purport to be heterosexual, who blend in with society as regular-looking guys, who often are married and have kids, who don’t have to stoop to dressing as women because they already know how to make their opportunities. THESE are the ones who are predators.

The argument is always brought up about children in bathrooms who would be at risk of men dressed as women who are out to harm them. But, what about boys in men’s rooms and the male predators that have always been out there? The present situation is ignored and scenarios are created that are highly unlikely.

The people who are against us have set up a false argument in order to scare people. They should be ashamed of themselves.

We trans folks might actually be better behaving in public than the general population for the sole purpose that we do not want trouble, because, if we wind up in trouble, our problems are going to be multiplied because we are trans. So, we shop and eat out and do everything else with very good behavior. We use restrooms quietly, get in and out, because we just want to pee and get safely back to living.

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For people out in the public to be a little safer, transgender people are not the issue. We never have been. We are not now. We are being unfairly picked on by those who hate us. This really is no different than when, fifty years ago, whites were disgusted at the thought of sitting next to a person of color, or attending the same school, or sharing a seat on a bus or the same water fountain. Those whites could not imagine black people being equal to their bigoted idea of who they were in American society.

Many people think that, because I am transgender, I am less than them. I am mentally ill. I am a kook. A freak. They are superior for no more of a reason than they supposedly have their act together. They are not weaklings as I am. They are not perverts, sexual fetishists, trying to be someone they are not.

Their shit doesn’t stink.

It is the same mind-set that so many whites had for blacks, and one which many whites still have for blacks—I’ve heard it plenty in my lifetime—and for anyone who doesn’t meet their personal standard, and I am not even going to get into the hatred many have for Muslims, Jews, and others not like these bigots. Because we transgender folks finally have a voice in American society, we now are the whipping girl and boy for the prejudiced class which believes it is superior.

We are a threat to their sense of what is “normal.” They are either too lazy, or too prejudiced, or too bent on whatever their ideology is to learn why we are transgender and what kind of people we are.

They are people who do not want to learn that people like me are just as upstanding as the most upstanding, just as much of a contributor to good in the USA as the best of contributors, highly educated, very successful, hardworking blue collar laborers, health care workers, teachers, serving in the armed forces, faithful spouses, caring parents and grandparents, good neighbors, volunteers, loyal friends—in every way people which make our neighborhoods and towns and churches and schools and workplaces—and the USA—better for our being in them.

What we need is balance. We need calm. We need people speaking with care and listening with patience. We need everyone, on every side of any serious issue, to have compassion for their fellow man. We need honest discussion, not lies and scare tactics.

When we do things right, we can do this successfully for the good of the USA. When we don’t, well, we have good people like you who are properly concerned about what is going on around them, and yet needlessly concerned about things which will never be a problem for them.

Peace,
Gina

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