I realize not everyone has an education in social science – I certainly don’t. But the mistakes of the Regnerus study are easily understandable by the layperson, and those in the media whose job it is to report on this have an obligation to do so accurately in the course of informing the public. Here, many of them have failed, and because of their lack of diligence, they’ve unjustly impugned parents like me and my partner in the minds of millions. They are responsible for that. Does this not warrant an apology?
Topics include my personal religious history, Mormonism, being transgender, my YouTube fans and foes, Mike Huckabee and Chick-fil-A, anti-gay boycotts, the importance of gay pride parades, marriage in religion and civil law, the difference between marriage and civil unions, and the effect of the contraception mandate on employers.
Here, the adherence to definitions of gender based on bodily history and birth-assigned sex has led to the plain absurdity of treating a girl who identifies, presents, and lives as a girl as if she were something other than female. And in their haste to stop someone they saw as a boy from wearing clothes designated for girls, they very nearly ended up putting a girl in clothes designated for boys. Their insistence on rigid definitions disconnected from the reality of gender would have led to a situation much like the one they initially sought to prevent. Confronted with the dilemma of either recognizing that anatomy and medical history aren’t the final word on gender, or actively mandating cross-dressing, they seemingly preferred cross-dressing.
Personal things are people’s lives. Does this not matter? Not to those who take our objections to such treatment as evidence of mental or emotional deficiency, rather than part of the completely normal, completely human desire to be accepted by others and interact with them on an equal footing without being pointlessly shunned. For anyone else, it’s an entirely legitimate and unchallenged expectation. But of course, when we, the alternative lifestyle, expect this, we’re just being needy.
While Moore might just be a religious huckster or opportunist, it’s also entirely possible that he genuinely believes being gay means a life devoid of true happiness, and he feels that God personally called him to stop having relationships with men. It could be that his life was indeed terrible, and that his religious beliefs have helped him to become happier and more fulfilled as an individual – unlikely as it may seem.
All of this might be the case, but none of it tells us anything about the validity of various supernatural and theological concepts. Moore’s religious feelings and life experiences do not mean that the idea of “sin” is actually a real thing, or something that ever had any bearing on him. It does not mean that this “sin” is something he was “set free” from, or that it is something that anyone can be set free from. It doesn’t mean that “sin”, whatever it is, has these particular dynamics at all. And it doesn’t mean that being gay constitutes one of these “sins”.
Alexander Aan of Indonesia has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for saying on Facebook that he doubted the existence of God and posting cartoons of Muhammad. Just for exercising the same freedom that we do every day, he was beaten by a mob and convicted of “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity”. I ask that you please take the time to sign and share a petition for the White House to call on the Indonesian government to free Aan and respect citizens’ right to freedom of belief and expression. The petition has less than a month to gather the 21,000 more signatures needed for an official response, so let’s work fast and do what we can to fight this injustice.
Legally speaking, the Boy Scouts are a private organization, and they’re fully within their rights to exclude whomever they choose for any reason at all, with no accountability to anyone. But we still have every right to expect them not to discriminate against people without good reason, just as we expect everyone else not to be racist, sexist or homophobic. Instead, the BSA has decided that the “life-changing benefits” of scouting should be denied to an entire segment of the population that they’ve deemed immoral, unclean, and poor role models. They have done this without even the barest explanation of why they believe this is so. Rather than pretending that there’s any sort of reason for this and hiding behind an unaccountable secret committee, it would have been more honest if they had simply told us, “Because screw you, that’s why.” That’s all it really boils down to when someone calls you immoral and refuses to say why.
First came the dreams, night after night, carrying the vision that refused to be ignored: myself from another life, if I had always been a woman. Undefined in her features, but unmistakable in her perfection. A formless ideal, overwhelming in sheer force of promise, shocking me awake at the sight of her. A tantalizing, desperate glimpse of what might have been, a fading afterimage slipping from my grasp.
The last time she appeared, I saw through her eyes, standing on a podium before a faceless crowd. She explained: If I had the choice, I would have made everything female. The epiphany that eluded my waking thoughts, blasted into consciousness by a mind that knew no limits. I couldn’t go back to sleep.
Decisions were made.
The first bra I ever wore was chosen by my partner, a voluptuous expert by necessity who knew exactly what I needed. Padded, sculpted, a shape for someone who has none: “barely there.” Apprehensively, I held it in my hands, simmering with the fear that it might just be wrong. Face to face with the spectre of feeling like no more than a cross-dresser, a man in a bra.
I slipped it over my head, pulling it into place, taut against a flat chest. Her face lit up as she adjusted it upwards – just right. I stood there a moment, paying close attention to how it clung to my body. Unfamiliar. Uncertain.
“Put your shirt on,” she encouraged me with a smile. The skin-tight, tie-dye green one from my hippie aunt and uncle in Seattle. With something new underneath. Small before, it was even smaller now. I walked to the bathroom mirror, tense and unsteady. Was this going to work?
The light came on. Her. Me. Life itself trembled, shifted, came to rest in a new pattern. Synapses rewired themselves at the sight. The painting, grown beyond its frame. The other half of the puzzle, the missing pieces flying exuberantly into place. The vision alive.
Does OxyContin possess some property which presents a much higher risk of addiction than all other opioids in common use as painkillers? When used properly, is it still more harmful than other opioid painkillers? Are these same objections somehow inapplicable to other opioids, which also pose a risk of addiction and can be harmful when abused? Or does Dr. Caplan believe that OxyContin itself now inherently possesses some kind of Aura of Badness just because of the widespread trend of people abusing it?
It’s revealing that such a false equivalence is even necessary for them to make. We don’t see them arguing the reverse – “pedophilia is just as bad as homosexuality!” – even if this is exactly what their equation of homosexuality to pedophilia entails. Pedophilia is able to stand alone as a Very Bad Thing. Homosexuality isn’t, which is why the comparison to pedophilia is needed. Its perceived Badness must be elevated.
When cis people expect that their gender will be acknowledged by others, no one balks at this. It’s so utterly normal that no one even notices it. They only make an issue of it when trans people expect the same.
I recognized that I don’t need to have intense, unbearable gender dysphoria in order to be trans. I just need to prefer living as a woman over living as a man. Being uncomfortable in my body isn’t a requirement. Being more comfortable as a woman is all it takes. The old shoes don’t have to be such a poor fit – the new ones just have to fit me much better.
In retrospect, I can see that there were plenty of choices available to me throughout all of this. Could I have chosen not to present as a woman, not to take a female name, and not to go by female pronouns? Yes. I could have chosen not to do any of this, at any step of the way. Would I have survived if I had chosen differently? In all likelihood, yes, but I doubt I would have truly thrived. Because of the choices I made, the world that’s opened up to me is better than anything that came before. And knowing what I know now, I would never choose to go back.
It’s always puzzling when people think that children can’t legitimately know whether they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and any knowledge of these concepts will only “confuse them”, yet accept without question the assumption that all children must be straight and cisgender. This is the result of a mentality that pathologizes sexual diversity and gender variance as somehow being caused by bad influences – it’s beyond their comprehension that this could actually be a natural, normal and acceptable part of who someone is.
I’m able to pursue my own chosen path in life, free from the fear of displeased deities and controlling religions that would tell me what I must do with myself. Most religions have little of any value to say to a woman who was raised as a man, assuming they have even the most basic grasp of such a concept. And when going through a process of self-discovery and change that’s so intensely personal, the hostility from a world that views you with suspicion and doubt is challenging enough without having to guess at the desires of a god and whether you’re in compliance with them – desires which the religions of the world still can’t come to an agreement on.
Other people have to get used to using your new name. You have to get used to hearing your own name, responding to it, and internalizing the fact that this name refers to you, and you are that name. All of this can feel like chipping away at a mountainside – or trying to re-color it with a single paintbrush, one stroke at a time. It’s not as easy as you, or others, learning your name the first time around and simply acquiring the appropriate label for a person. We’re working against an established history here.
Almost no one has the time required to bring a single person up to speed on the difference between sex and gender, the reality that gender is not always congruent with sex, the sexual differentiation of the brain and how this process can go awry, the various studies about trans people and their findings, the effectiveness of transitioning, the ineffectiveness of attempts at a “cure”, the importance of evidence in forming our beliefs about the world, the painful realities of dysphoria and transphobia, the value of being decent toward others, and everything that’s necessary to bring trans people into their personal Sphere of Individuals Who Are Treated Like Human Beings and Have Their Suffering Taken Seriously and Their Knowledge, Experiences, Identity and Self-Determination Respected.