Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Outcasts


This morning, a friend and I were discussing yesterday's conversation about transgender youth.  We talked about the fact that most of the commentary around this issue, at least in our area, centered around this question:  "Why should I (or my child) have to accommodate someone else if it makes me uncomfortable?"

It seems like that is the same question we ask generation after generation... Catholics and Protestants, Immigrants, Blacks, Women, Gays, Muslims, Transgender, Mentally Ill, Drug-Addicted, Poor... our country repeats itself over and over.  "Why should I have to accommodate YOU when I have been taught that you are less than?"  It also seems like the people who hold this sentiment the most seem to do so in the name of God.

WHY?  Jesus loved the outcast, the minority, the one percent.  He loved them most especially so in the face of the self-righteous.  He regularly broke religious laws of the time to make a point that legalistic religion was no match for God's love.  He didn't waste time trying to figure out "why" they were outcasts or if this was some sort of punishment from above.  He loved them where they were.  He had no problem correcting Old Testament teachings that were out of line with a new way of thinking.  Over and over he said some version of "It has been said that... BUT I SAY THIS...".  He was an outcast and crucified as such by people who were so certain that they were acting righteously.

That's the reason that Catholicism, for me, has been a good fit.  It is CERTAINLY not without its share of controversy.  But what it IS, is dirty, messy, boots on the ground Christianity to the disenfranchised.  I love the stories of nuns and priests choosing to boldly go where none would follow to minister to people living in unimaginable poverty and degradation.  That is a far cry from the evangelical teachings of my youth that we should guard our hearts above all else and keep away from a world bent on our destruction.  Jesus taught by example that we were here to do precisely that... love the outcasts, serve the poor.

One woman from yesterday's conversation said she felt like surely she must be living in... California?? Snort.  Another declared righteously that this was JUST like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.   I'd said she was dead right...


Ezekiel 16:49-50 (ESV)
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom:  she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did an abomination before me.  So I removed them, when I saw it.






Monday, March 21, 2016

The Ill-Equipped Defender of Transgender Youth

This afternoon was strange.  Very strange.  The kids were finishing up their school work and I was poking around on Facebook.  A posting in one of my Homeschool Groups popped up with the title, "Parents THIS is wrong, very wrong!" along with the admonition, "Parents PLEASE read."  It seemed like it must be something rather important to warrant this sort of attention.

AND... it was just another crappy, inflammatory, sort-of-factual, but wildly misleading article about the MDE's very low-key attempt to establish guidelines for gender identity in schools.

Most of the homeschool groups, at least around here, are pretty conservative.  There are MANY things I read that I disagree with wholeheartedly but just move along.  For some reason, today, I found that enough was enough.  I am SO TIRED of the fear-mongering, misinformation and hatred that these articles bring about.  Within just a few seconds of posting, the first comment regarding boys trying to get into the girls' locker room popped up.

Really?  Really?  We are STILL thinking that middle school and high school boys will choose to falsely identify themselves as transgender to gain access to the girl's locker room?  REALLY?

This was my response:

I feel like this is a religious and political issue. Not a homeschooling issue. Things like this in this group and others makes me sad. The term was changed to dysphoria in an attempt to describe it as something that was not, in fact, a disorder. Are you concerned that your own children will have the opportunity to express a different gender once they aren't around you? That's not how it works. Are you concerned that your children will be around children expressing the opposite gender? Can't you just teach them what you believe and then move along?

That was all I planned to say.  I don't usually say anything because I tell myself that you can't change someone's mind on Facebook.  But that's not really the truth.  If I'm being honest, I don't usually say anything because I don't want a confrontation.  I don't want to be the odd man out and I often know these people in real life.  But something has to change.  How long are we going to be so barbaric and cruel to those who suffer the most in our world?  I have EVERYTHING in life I could ever need or want.  I am equipped to defend the weak.  It is my duty to speak out against intolerance.  I have lots of friends so I can afford to lose some along the way.

I was prepared for stupidity.  There was, of course, the person who described herself as a tomboy who was just certain that today she would be forced to transition or, at the very least, be declared gay.  Oh the horror.  There were people who figured that boys would declare themselves transgender for the day in exchange for a free pass to the girl's locker room.

What I wasn't prepared for was the UTTER COLDNESS.  I went on to share what little knowledge I did have about suicide rates in transgender youth, what I felt was the MDE's intent behind the guidelines and the changes in the DSM V to remove the stigma and connotations of mental illness.  When I could see that I was getting nowhere with anyone, I said this:

Clearly, I am the odd man out here. I would just ask that you take the time to learn about people that may be very different from yourselves. Please don't let fear of the unknown guide you. These people will lead an unimaginably difficult life and any grace and support that you or your children can offer can literally mean the difference between life and death.

I felt that it seemed like a simple enough request, especially to a group of people who build their lives around the example of Christ.  This was the response I got in return from the article's author:

This is NOT about fear for either side. But a moral issue of what is right and wrong. We all lead difficult lives in one way or another. I had six kids. Most hotels would NOT accommodate us. We had to get two hotel rooms whenever wewent anywhere. That was expensive and very inconvenient. I do NOT demand that the hotel provide us a single room at the same cost simply because we chose to have a large family. Some deicsions have costs and consequences. When a boy/girl self identfies as the other based on feelings, we should not be forced to accomodate them.

Yeah, because being forced to pony up for a suite on vacation to accommodate your large family is EXACTLY the same kind of torment that transgender and transexual youth endure.

And that my friends, is what we fight against.  I know that so many of us can't even get our minds around all that is happening in our communities right now.  We question HOW ON EARTH could someone treat another person so poorly, look down on them so assuredly, speak and act with such utter cruelty.  In the Facebook post above I was THE ONLY PERSON who felt the way that I felt.  EVERY OTHER person in that group was on the other side of the argument.  It literally boggles my mind and yet there it is...  in a group of people who have come together for the sole purpose of supporting one another in an endeavor that is far outside of our society's norms and expectations, we can't figure out how to support other people outside of those same norms and expectations.

It breaks my heart.  It makes me angry.  It makes me sad for the people I have known and loved who died by their own hands because we wouldn't love them.  We wouldn't accept them.  We wouldn't let them use the fucking bathroom of their choice because we were so damn worried about our own small concerns.