I’m (Not) the same person I always was!

When I first was coming to terms with being “transgender” I spent a lot of time reading about ways to “come out” to family and friends. The dominant advice for dealing with problematic family was to make sure they knew that you were still the same person.

I’ve seen this in many articles and on almost every trans* help site I came across. And at first I believed it. It made sense, after all when you come out or transition you aren’t changing the inner core of your being, you are simply being more true to what you feel was always there, despite attempts to socialize you against it. And I understand why one would want to tell a worried and/or freaked out parent or guardian “I’m still me.” But it isn’t true.

Here’s the thing. You are still you. But you’re shedding parts of your identity that you never felt connected to, you are re-framing how you interact with the world and how you want the world to react to you. You may be shedding old worldviews, and going through some agonizing self-reflection.

I spent months wrestling with the god of my youth, an angry vengeful super being who was everything I disliked or was afraid of in my father, only magnified. I had always been told that parents were supposed to model the Love of God for their children, but since “God” was always “He” I never made any connection with God and the warmth and patience of my mother. God was someone who loved me only if I loved him back, took care of me and supported me only if I did something he approved of, and would react violently to any mistake I made. Shedding a belief system like that, which is something many LGBTQIA+ individuals have to struggle with, is scary and if you come through it alive and whole you will be different. Now I’m less judgmental of others, I’m open to wisdom from all corners of the world and from all aspects of humanity, I no longer feel the need to make my friends believe the Christian claims, or believe them the way I did.

No matter what it is you (or a friend) struggles with, it will change you. Hopefully it will bring you to a place of loving acceptance of yourself and an Unconditional Love for others. Just remember, you are going to change, but you are only going to be growing deeper into who you truly are.

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A Progressive Christian Defense of Planned Parenthood

I just want to endorse this message.

Approaching Justice

Planned-Parenthood-signs-afp-640x480

A number of progressive Christian authors have come out in opposition to Planned Parenthood and abortion rights or they have wanted to give voice to the moral ambiguities involved in the issue. The latter I respect. But as a progressive Christian I wanted to offer an alternative position. One which affirms and supports the work of Planned Parenthood and the importance of access to reproductive health care.

I write this as a gay man. As someone who can never become pregnant. And as someone whose knowledge of women’s reproductive health needs are limited. And yet I find a continuity between LGBT equality and reproductive justice. Both relate to not just bodily autonomy but the ability to determine the shape of our lives. And it is not an accident that it is the same folks who are working to restrict both. A kind of violence against the integrity of the person…

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Why I Changed my Mind

In my last post I said that I couldn’t vote for Hillary because of her lack of support for some socialist policies that I believe will be extremely helpful for this country. In the few days since then I have changed my mind, which is something I was always open to doing.

This summer I’ve been taking an online course in Global Women’s and Human rights. We’ve talked a lot about violations of these human rights and recently we discussed the effects of war on local populations. We first looked at a blog run by an Iraqi woman called Riverbend that was online from 2003-2007. She chronicled how the treatment of women deteriorated following the U.S. invasion and Iraq went from being #1 in women’s rights amongst Arab countries to a mess of contradictory laws that curtailed and confused the existing laws.

After that reading we watched the PBS documentary “Women, War and Peace” a look at the effect war has on women, children and their communities on a global scale. In this documentary Hillary made several appearances to talk about the atrocities, what we can do about them, and what she has done and continues to do in order to address the issues. Watching this documentary I thought to myself, these don’t sound like the words of a woman who would “annihilate Iran if they dared attack Israel.” So I did some research. While Clinton did make the threatening remarks, she has been supportive of Obama’s nuclear deal. I will stress that her thoughts on this are not perfect and stem from an immense distrust of the Iranian government, but I do hold out hope that the voices of the people can bring her towards a more peaceful, creative position.

Additionally I discovered that according to statements made on Monday (7/13) she is intent on ensuring a living wage for American workers, for raising taxes on the extremely wealthy and ensuring that the money made by the employees for the companies makes it back to the workers.

Beyond that there is this Facebook conversation I was briefly engaged in recently. I was on a thread for liberal/progressive discussion of politics, the following is what happened:

M: I feel that it is time we had a woman president. She may not meet everything we want, but it is a huge step forward in terms of representation of half our population.

S: i will never vote for any candidate based on their genitalia

V: Why? Old white men got us where we are today.

Me: It has nothing to do with genitalia and everything to do with that fact that in the 250 years of our country’s existence, half of our population has gone unrepresented in the highest position of power.

S:  “it has nothing to do with genitalia” vs. “i feel it is time we had a woman president” .. yep.. sure doesn’t.. that’s obvious.

S:  if hillary and elizabeth both ran, you wouldn’t even know how to vote then..

Me: I would vote for Elizabeth hands down. Why are you generalizing and making sexist statements?

S: you said it’s time for a woman to be president and I’m the one making sexist comments? how about YOU stop making sexist comments.  just because you don’t think it’s sexist.. doesn’t mean it isn’t sexist.. surprise.

N: Now you are being disingenuous, S. This country has never had a female president, ever, and women are still underrepresented in government. Of course some women would love to see a female president, the same way black people were thrilled to see a black man become President.

S: hasn’t ever had a native american president either.. is it time for a native american to be president? and, if not, why not?

N: Were African Americans racist because they supported Obama over Clinton? Of course they weren’t. And sorry, but I’m not going to play semantics with you S. I’m just pointing out that many women feel strongly that it is time for a woman to be President. It has nothing to do with sexism, no matter how much you say it does.

S: if i said it was time to elect a latino president and he would get the latino vote automatically, would that be racist?

V: No

N:  No, S. It wouldn’t. You are proving my point.

S:  ok then.. im not the jackass whisperer, somebody else can try if that want.

Me: I’m a trans woman. I do not have a vagina, so for me it has nothing to do with genitalia and everything to do with representation and lived experience. I would vote for a Native American, I would vote for a Latino candidate, and because we haven’t had a female president in the U.S. despite that many other developed countries have I will vote for a woman.

S: im out.. no need to bother talking to me cause i ain’t hearing anything any of you have to say. you have shown me how you guys think and i’m scared for the country.

The problems with S’s statements are many. From assuming I’d vote for someone based on genitalia, to saying it’d be racist if a Latin candidate automatically received a majority of the Latin vote, to saying I’d be unable to choose between Warren and Clinton “because of genitalia” This conversation made me realize that it is time we had a woman president. Many other countries have had one, and the sexist statements made by S and people like him are never going to go away while we wait for the “perfect” woman who does everything the men want.

So in short what we have is an imperfect candidate, like all candidates. Clinton may not share all my views on war and the economy, but she shares enough. She advocates for women’s rights as human rights, and she is representative of a huge section of our population(50+%.)

That is why I changed my mind.

Sanders, Clinton, and “fears” of losing.

The following is something I was going to post as a status on Facebook, but then realized my thoughts could be better articulated here.

I will support Bernie Sanders as long as Sanders is in the running, all the way to president and beyond if he makes it. Just like when Obama ran there are “fears” that he can’t beat Hillary. And while I would love to be able to give my primary vote to a powerful woman, I cannot support her in the primary. If there were an alternative female candidate who was truly socially progressive, I would vote for her, but as of yet none has come forward, which is a shame because a woman in office would have possibly the biggest impact on the value placed on women in american society. If Hillary ends up being the democratic candidate, I will vote for her, not because she is a democrat, but because she supports more of the issues I care about than any of the running republicans who are focused not on helping this country but only on policies that go against anything and everything the democratic party has done in the past 8 years. I believe that if the “anti” form of republicanism(anti-lgbt, anti-science, anti-environment, & anti-women, anti-poor, anti-foreigners, etc…) were to disappear then there are many things that the GOP could offer this country.

This came up when I saw an archive post from 2008 about fears of Obama losing to Hillary and that situation being compared to the Sanders one. And I do hope the comparison is apt and that Sanders will gain enough momentum to win. The sad part of this is, I really would love to vote for Hillary, but I can’t bring myself to vote for someone who is actively  for war with Iran, has threatened them with annihilation if Iran were to attack Israel, and believes the use of Nuclear weapons can be justified. (Stay tuned for why I think war and annihilation are the worst possible “solutions”)

I have heard criticisms that many liberals and progressives are saying they can’t support Hillary because they really bring themselves to vote for a woman and so are screaming “Corporate!” as the reason for their inability to support her. This is ridiculous, as I have many friends who have outright stated they will vote for Hillary no matter what since they want a woman in power. More power to them I say, if Hillary wins I will celebrate the U.S. finally doing something many other countries did years ago….

I will vote for Sanders not because I can’t bring myself to vote for a woman, but because the Senator has repeatedly voted for tax increase on the 1%, is avid in his support for unions, has stressed that is intolerable for there to be as much poverty in the U.S. as there is, and so on and so forth. I do agree that it is unfortunate that he is yet another Old, Well Off, White Man, but sometimes we go where we have to to find what we need.

Busy Week, Many Celebrations!

This has been a busy week, first there was an wonderful Interfaith gathering to celebrate human dignity and LGBTQA+ Pride, the SCOTUS ruling legalizing Marriage Equality, Cincinnati Pride, my Birthday, a New Age Full Moon celebration, and PayDay, wait, what was that about SCOTUS?

That’s right! The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 5-4 decision that the 14th Amendment grants equal marriage rights to all unrelated couples seeking legal matrimony. Of course the Religious Right, which includes mostly fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims bemoaned the resolution declaring that it would lead to the end of the world, but there have been many Christians, Muslims and Jews who have celebrated this decision as embodying the highest ideals of their respective traditions, namely Inclusive Love, Empowering of the Oppressed and Marginalized, and Rational Thought. As a mystic myself(not to mention a trans-lesbian) I happily celebrate this decision as one tiny, but much needed, step toward achieving greater equality and freedom. Woooooo!!!!

The night before the SCOTUS ruling came down my partner and I attended an Interfaith gathering in honor of LGBTQA+ Pride week. The gathering was hosted at a local Episcopalian cathedral and consisted mostly of members of different faith traditions sharing thoughts on the Divine and the relationship of LGBTQ believers, devotees, and practitioners to each other and our unique yet similar definitions of the Creator/Source of Life. I personally really enjoyed the words shared by the representatives of Reform Judaism and the transgender Episcopalian Nun! That was an exciting experience, especially since the media so often highlights the voices of the exclusionary christians. And it was really great to participate in prayers, thoughts, good vibrations and energy all directed towards the acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQA people and have that be followed up by the SCOTUS decision the next day.

Saturday the 27th was the Cinci Pride Festival, my first pride event. I enjoyed myself, but honestly I was let down. We were unable to attend the Parade and the Festival was mostly vendors with a few things of interest scattered about. There were some drag performances and a commitment ceremony!!!! Which my partner and I participated in, I have the ring to prove it! 🙂 There were headlining pop performances, but since it was chilly and intermittently rainy we left, came back to the house and watched like 3-4 episodes of The Fosters. (Which is a great show.)

Anyway, then came the 29th which is my Birthday!! I’m now old!! Okay not really, I’m just 23 and no longer of desirable age for anyone. ever. Kidding! I’m prettier than ever, I dyed my hair black and I think you are gorgeous!
So on my birthday my partner and I drove to Louisville for a cookout with my family. Now I was initially very upset about this trip as I had been hoping to take my newly 13yr old sister shopping as a late birthday present for her, unfortunately there were some complications on their end and it never happened. I was also very trepidatious about how my family was going to act around me, were they going to respect my name and pronoun change? In the end it ended up being mostly unfounded fear, they did really well and I got to spend time with my sister talking about shows and fashion and just generally being happy to hang out. My dad was obviously made uncomfortable when my younger brother used the wrong pronoun and then corrected himself.

And sadly I did confirm that my dad really did call the Girl Scouts “Homosexual Terrorists” in a conversation about how “their morals have changed”, so much for my hope that the report was exaggerated. :/

On the first of July, the first of two Full Moon this month, my partner and I attended a Full Moon Peace Jam Drum and Flow, an amazing meeting of hearts and love gathered to celebrate the wonderful creation which is our home. I was reminded of some aspects of Christian ritual that unfortunately in the Christian circle I used to belong to were used in manipulative ways, but here were condemnation free and entirely about embracing Love! We danced for almost 2 1/2 hours straight, laughing and loving and staring curiously at the protesters with their “Jesus died for your Sins” signs. That marks the third time I’ve been at an event that was protested (the Interfaith service, Pride festival, and now this.)

So a lot of rejoicing and celebration this week, which is good for our souls in times where angry hatefilled individuals and groups are still burning black churches and attacking LGBTQ folks. We need to remember that in the midst of the hate, Love Wins.

Have a great day all, and remember

Create, Don’t Kill.