Thursday, September 17, 2015

Due Diligence

A phrase I hear often is, "they have no skin in the game".  It is usually said by a mom who has gone to hell and back with and for their LGBT child.  It's usually said in reference to a quick dismissal or invalidation of a person or their experience due to someone's own personal beliefs or opinions.

When your opinion is so loud that you lose the chance to connect to someone.  I do this, we all do.  We know all the answers, or we know what we want to hear so we skip out, we shut down or we ignore an opportunity to enlighten ourselves.  I know for me a lot of it was fear that I would be wrong.  Once I accepted where we were at and the decision we had to make for our child my spiritual life fell apart.  Not because God left me.  I was so scared.  I was scared of losing people, I was scared of losing the faith I'd always had and I was so scared that trusting God would mean I was doing the wrong thing.  I'd read the Bible from the point of view handed to me for my whole life and I didn't want to go back to the person I had been before.  

Hebrews 4:12 has always been one of my favorite verses and once we let my daughter transition I became terrified of it.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

This past Monday I went to a board meeting at Troy High School with a lot of angry parents.  If I was where they are I'd probably be angry too.  Two women got up and spoke to the board citing bible verses to a room of about 50 during impassioned speeches pleading for the perceived safety of their children.  They used their Bible verses to try and condemn my friend.  They called him a homosexual, which he isn't and said he would burn.  

Ever since Monday Hebrews 4:12 has come at me with a fresh understanding.  I believe the Bible.  I struggle with it and I pick it apart, I always have because I'm curious.  It's been my sword.  But if we look at the Bible as a sword that makes it a weapon.  A weapon that is sharper than any sword.  A weapon that cuts straight to the heart.

I have quite a few friends who have their CCW.  The checklist for actually getting a license to carry a gun is pretty crazy: I totally get it, you could kill someone if not properly trained.

Yet with the sharpest weapon in our possession we don't need a license.  Heaven and Hell.  That's some pretty big stuff.  I mean you're talking about someone's eternity.  

We drop Leviticus: Engage.
We drop Romans: Lunge
We drop Matthew 19: Parry
We drop Gen 1:27: Allez
We drop 1 Corinthians 6:9: Touch

We lunge and lunge waving our sword with our eyes closed, other arm on our hip in abject confidence.  We have the Bible and the God of the universe behind our speech, we close our eyes as a show of trust.  "Dear God please prepare their hearts for what I'm about to say."  Quoting myself.  God is big enough to pick up the bloody mess I've left behind but does the person I've just injured understand that?

In a room of 50 people telling the couple trans people who you don't understand and have never met that they are going to hell is pretty...I don't even think I know the word for it.  It leaves me with anxiety.  You took your sword, closed your eyes to the person you were aiming for and shot true.  Thankfully this person had people who know his heart, who stand by him and have loved him through years of well-intended flesh wounds.

The same can't be said for every person we battle.  The word of God has stopped me in my tracks at times.  It has created paradigm shifts in my life and all my life, even now I've had support from good and godly friends and family.  I can't imagine the reality of handing someone any part of Leviticus with the best of intentions without knowing that you'll be there to handle it.

I remember my spiritual parents helped bring me back to Jesus 16 years ago and they sent me home with instructions to read James.  They knew me.  They loved me.  They'd be there to help me flesh it out.  They knew I had family and a church to back me up.  James was rough and I think I'm due a reread with fresh and more mature eyes.

Before you wield your sword you have GOT to know your battle.  You have got to keep your eyes open to see the damage you may be inflicting.  You have to have some background.  You have to understand where your "opponent" is coming from.  You can't open fire on just anyone.

I'm a self-admitted fan of Girl Meets World.  BMW was such a HUGE part of my childhood, why wouldn't I watch?  Last week they tackled autism and I cheered.  Because awareness!  Because Farkle!  Because education!

Farkle: Thanks for the way you guys treat me.  And thanks for studying all of it.
Cory: Woah woah woah, you guys studied?
Lucas: Hey, our friend was worried about something.
Maya: So we learned about it.  If I knew it was studying I wouldn't have done it.

The kids studied because they had skin in the game.  They had a friend who was going through something.  They did their due diligence so they could understand and be supportive.  They did their research so they could be better friends.

Talk to people.  Learn about people.  Jesus did.  

When you do battle, be ready.  Know what you're going into, know why you're going in, know the person on the receiving end like the back of your hand.  When you know what you're facing and your own personal motivation it WILL affect your battle strategy.  You may be causing undue damage.  You may be inflicting wounds you aren't prepared to heal.  You may not notice the wounds that are already there and yours well may be the final blow.

The word of God is living.  It's active.  It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  I should be wielding that sword in my own direction to whittle away the undesirable.  I will never wield it at a stranger.  Please, never wield your most dangerous sword at a stranger.  Drop John 3:16 instead.  Drop love.

Monday, September 7, 2015


I heard it again tonight. "God doesn't make mistakes." My responses usually vary from the same ideal. This will be no different but a little more personal.

When I was a young girl, still in single digits I was at the Toledo Zoo with my aunt and her Girl Scout troop for The Lights Before Christmas. It wa the dead of winter and I had my warmest, thickest coat on. Suddenly my heart exploded in my chest, I'd never felt it beat so fast. I told my aunt and I remember her putting her hand on my thickly, covered shoulder horrified because she could feel my heart beating through my coat from my shoulder. It eventually calmed down, I saw a doctor, wore a halter monitor with no events to record, got some explaination and carried on with my life periodically having tachycardic episodes and eventually finding ways to resolve them.

Flash forward 20+ years to January of 15. After years of stress and the weight of what we were going to got to me I began having anxiety. For some reason that would cause my heart to act up. I saw my doctor and she said WPW. I'd never heard that before. Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome is what I have. I'm not special, it's anything but rare. It's actually almost common. Non life-threatening for the most part. Most people who have it are asymptomatic and never need more than a pill if that. Mine was affecting my life. I've had days when it's so touchy that i'm almost afraid moving will cause an episode. I don't take stairs, I do little more than walk unless my terror of a 3 year old runs away at high speeds. There are plenty of people who live with this. That's their choice. There are people who take meds to help contain it. I chose the surgery. I don't want to keep gaining weight from being sedentary. I want to be able to run with my kids. I want to feel a panic attack come on and not prepare to stop heart rates over 180. I don't want to fear a possible eventual cardiac arrest.

There are an estimated 700,000 transgender people in the US alone. All of them were born that way. Due to lack of knowledge, social and familial stresses or influence some may not have realized it for quite a while. Like with WPW some people are little affected and can deal with just presenting as their gender identity and nothing more.  Others desire a more physical intervention via pharmaceuticals to help align the exterior with the interior mindset. Still others eventually realize that in order to have less burdens, in order to free themselves from the constant reminder that the outside doesn't match the inside they choose to go ahead with identity affirming surgeries. Surgeries to better their quality of life and possibly extend their life expectancy.

No one is saying God made a mistake. He gives us what we have so we can learn from it. So that they help us to become better followers of him and to help other people who will come after us.  Maybe my heart condition that I was born with was given to me so that I would better understand my kid. Or so that maybe you will.  #belight #belove #weareflawless

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Great Bathroom Debate

A week ago I was pulled rather willingly into online debates about a bathroom controversy in a neighboring town.  What I didn't realize was that I knew the mother and that this week was going to change my life.

Everyday last week a self-proclaimed abortion activist and father stood out in front of the Troy City Schools board of education to protest the districts allowing a transgender boy being allowed to use the boys restroom.  He claimed violation of his kids privacy and as it stands he will be back out there next week, though we will not and have instructed the amazing kids who stood with us to ignore him and let their lives get back to normal.

While he and I manage to keep civil I still question his motives as this has gained a fraction of national attention and he has started all manners of social media, a website, you name it.  He has done everything from lie to parents, refuse to hear people and deeply invade the privacy of a young teenager.

Starting Tuesday a small but mighty group of counter-protesters, including myself joined him outside the district offices.  We got honks and waves from parents; hugs, high-fives and thank yous from students passing by.  When one amazing kid thanked us for coming to stand up for them and asked if we'd be back I said, you wanna come out cuz we'll be here.

And they did and so did we.  We got to hear from high schoolers how they don't understand why parents feel they are the sum of their genitals (I've used that word more than ever before in my life-my phone now autocorrects for it) and how some of their parents don't support them but they know they are making the right decisions anyway.  Those kids were so brave.  To stand up to society and social norms, to stand for what they believe.  They stood up for the kid who was different because they know that they are all different and that that's okay.

I found my inner activist this week.  I wasn't aware she existed.  I was advocating on the street, I was really advocating on FB (sorry friends!  It was for a good cause!) and I was starting to feel really good until I got a little too cocky and started not being as gracious as Christ would have wanted me to be.  Thursday before I left for work I got slayed, brutally on FB.  I mean this guy didn't hold anything back and I just shrunk.  I felt myself getting defensive, I felt myself getting depressed (which also is how most trans kids feel who read your smarmy ass comments anyways--think twice before you post!!) and that's not like me.  I'm usually defiant, even when I'm wrong.  I went to work and was wholly preoccupied and finally I just prayed, I can't figure out what I need to say back, what do I do.  I hit a point where I felt God saying, what will your response say about me?  That really threw me because I knew it but I hadn't really been checking myself.  If you know me I speak as quick as possible, usually.  Then the words to Toby Mac's Speak Life got plastered in my head, where they've been since then and I just can't.  My rebuttal was inconsequential.  My response was everything.  I was humbled.

I can't sit back and be silent because something was awoken in me this week that has been sleeping for a very long time.  My kids, my friends kids are going to grow up in a world where people are refusing to be informed.  Where people don't want to understand where people come from and don't desire to make that effort simply because they hold their own beliefs.  They're growing up into a place where miseducated or misinformed people believe that a 7 year old trans girl is only in the bathroom to look at your kids privates.  Where every human on the face of the planet is reduced to what is in their pants and are demanding birth certificate checks or even genital (there it is again) checks at bathrooms or to play sports.  How is ANY of this OK?????

Keep the tranny in the separate bathroom they've said.
(Circa 1960, thank you.)

If you have a penis you go in the boys room, if you have a vagina you go in the girls room.
(Even if you have breasts and look like the hottest girl I've ever seen.)

Make all them go outside in the porta potty and then charge them for it.
(Again with the Jim Crow laws...)

Send them outside and make them take a water bottle.

And then every other comment where they demanded that CPS investigate the parents calling THEM perverts and sickos and child abusers.

I don't need you to agree that I'm parenting my child properly.  I'm certain that if I looked I could find ways I think you're raising your child improperly.  I do need you to teach your kids to be gracious and merciful and to respect all people in spite of their differences, even if you don't understand it.  To not teach your kids a spirit of fear because that can lead to misunderstanding which can lead to bullying and violence.  I need you to teach your kids that bathrooms are places where we expel waste, wash our hands and then leave.  I need you to teach your kids that they should NEVER ask someone what is in their pants.  Wait, you thought that was understood?  Tell that to the million comments I've read in 7 days about multiple bathroom issues from grown adults who still can't see people as anything other than man and woman.  It is NOT ok to talk about someone's genitals!!!  Unless they brought it up, then go for it!  It's especially NOT ok to talk about a KID'S genitals.  You can wonder, you can't ask.  You can contemplate, you can't ask.  You can think that the prospect of whatever is in their pants is off-putting for whatever weird belief you carry but again, YOU STILL CAN'T ASK?!

Hey Suzy!  I haven't seen you in a while, how are you?
Fine Jack, it's good to run into you.  By the way is that a dick in your pants or are you sporting a Va-jayjay?

Man: So you're a woman?
Woman: Yes.
Man: No you aren't.
Woman: Yes I am.
Man: Prove it.

Totally normal, I know.  You wouldn't ask anyone else in the world, you don't get to ask a trans person.  It's offensive and none of your damn business.

Let's set that aside for a minute.  For the parents who are afraid of the trans girl in the girls room because they don't want their daughter seeing a penis.  I need you to stop and right now and think about where that fear comes from.  Have you ever seen someone's genitals in the bathroom? Have you ever gone into said bathroom with the intention to see someone else's genitals.  If so, you have bigger problems than your daughter seeing a kids penis through the crack in a stall.  While I get that the threat to our kids, all of them, is real placing your fear of the unknown on an innocent kid who happens to be different is plain cruel and also, not the kids problem.  Predators will not dress up like they're asking permission to get your kids.

Watch your words.  Speak life, not just to your circle but to everyone (I'm working on this) and try to get to know someone before you decide what kind of parent or person they are, what kind of struggle they're going through and if they are an actual danger.  You might just make a friend, you might just open your mind and you might just learn something about loving without conditions.

Handy helper for teaching your kids about transgender people (no disrespect to those that fall near the center of the spectrum, just trying to keep this simple):

One of the greatest things about the world we live in is that there are all different kinds of people in it.  There are short people and tall people.  There are thin people and larger people.  There are people with all different color hair.  There are people with white skin, black skin, brown skin.  There are people who have disabilities and there are people without.  Most boys are born with boy parts and most girls were born with girl parts.  But sometimes things don't go as planned when they're growing in their mommy's belly.  The important thing to remember is that different doesn't mean less.  You aren't better than anyone and it's your job to love and help everyone no matter who they are.

If you're a Christian you can add or detract at will as long as at NO point you tell your child that being transgender is a sin.  It isn't a sin anymore than autism is a sin and neither you nor your child are the judge.  As long as you don't imply that they are sick people who need our prayers, that elevates your child above their peers and will incite bullying when she echos, You're sick in the head and my daddy told me to pray for you!  Your kids are listening.  Teach them love.  Please.  For my kid and so many like her.

For news and info follow @TransBathRmFact or #transbathroomfact on Twitter.