I received the email below last night. It’s certainly apropos to my recent post about the aftermath of the “Gay Wars.” Its subject line was “Thank you for being sane.”
I’ve read your blog for a long time, recommended it to many others invested in the whole LGBT/Christian thing, and have found it to be a rare fairy bubble of sanity in an increasingly ridiculous culture. I’ve found it to be both encouraging and maddening at times. It is comforting to know that there are some compassionate Christians out there in the world. But it’s also discouraging to so rarely experience it in real life.
I’m a 29-year-old biracial, transgender/lesbian, Southern Baptist-raised atheist (the hate crime trifecta!) currently living in [a fairly large Midwestern city]. I grew up in a deeply conservative environment, and moved to [this city] several years ago, which is actually a fairly liberal place, given that it’s in [the state it is].
I know that the Christian blogosphere is tired of the whole LGBT debate, and that many Christians have even accepted that on a federal level LGBT equality is inevitable. Unfortunately, the LGBT debate has really been more of the “LG…B…what?” debate: to most people, trans-identified people are still Evil Satanic Marxist Nazi Gestapo Hitler Nazis. You just don’t hear much from the T part of the community, so I thought I might share a little bit.
Yesterday a proposed bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the local non-discrimination laws regarding employment and housing was being read (not actually voted on) at our City Hall. Interested in hearing about it, I went to the City Hall to attend the reading, but wasn’t allowed inside since it was already full to capacity. Quite a crowd of protestors (for and against the bill) was gathering outside. I am a bit of a people watcher, so I decided to walk around and listen in on people’s conversations.
Most of what I overheard was completely ridiculous and expected. I was there for less than 15-minutes before I heard “Nazis” and “Holocaust” being tossed around. Here’s a pic I took of my favorite sign:
Though I pass as cisgender [where an individual's gender identity matches the behavior or role considered appropriate for one's sex], I definitely don’t pass as being straight—so I myself was the subject of a lot of conversation, including many “dyke,” “faggot,” and “abomination” chants. I eventually did get sucked into some conversations, like the one that began when I saw one unfortunate person being cornered by a group of Christian protestors. Things got a bit heated at times. But no one got shot or beat-up. I was actually pleasantly surprised that some people were willing to listen to some of what I had to say.
Despite slurs being yelled at me, being accused of sexually assaulting children, and otherwise being generally degraded for some three hours, the one thing I cannot get over is the conversation I had with one particular woman, by far the nicest, most civil person there. She listened to some of my story, and then said that while she disagrees with “the gay lifestyle,” she doesn’t hate LGBT people, and thought that it was horrible that I have experienced some of the things that I have. At one point I had to stop her, and say “I literally cannot hear what you are saying right now over this guy behind me yelling ‘ABOMINATION!!!!’ in my ear.”
Her response was, “Don’t pay attention to that, it’s not important.”
But no, it is pretty important. I pretty much disengaged from everything at that point—but in every little conversation I got in people kept saying that while I seemed really nice, they just didn’t want their family exposed to transgender people. But what about my family? I don’t get to choose if my family gets “exposed” to a different viewpoint.
Here’s how “being exposed to Christianity” has affected me and my family:
- Years of Southern Baptist teaching taught me that I was so wholly unclean and beyond redemption that the only thing I could do that would be pleasing to God was kill myself, which I attempted to do twice.
- After eight years of belonging to the same church, my family, after I “came out,” was asked to stop attending that church, since its members no longer felt that their children were “safe” around us.
- I have been denied treatment in multiple medical facilities (for non trans-related healthcare) by staff citing religious reasons.
- My partner was denied services at a fertility clinic due to a practitioner’s religious beliefs.
- A woman from a local church phoned my employer and attempted to get me fired by claiming that “people like me” are a threat to children.
- I have had a gun pulled on me and been informed that “people like me” would be shot if ever again seen in that part of town.
- Offensive slurs are used to address me to my face multiple times per week; when asked to stop, people have claimed that I am infringing upon their “expression of religion.”
- I could write pages and pages on workplace harassment—but I might just summarize by saying that nothing makes you feel more like a second-class citizen than having to go to a gas station two blocks away to use the restroom.
- Most importantly: ninety-nine percent of the Christians in my life looked the other way while their brothers and sisters did these sort of things to me and my family.
Christians, my community is suffering. We need help, but you are hurting us. I’ve posted many little Internet tirades before. The first comment is always: “Those weren’t real Christians, that’s not Christlike at all, they’re just misguided, Christians are really loving, there are affirming denominations, etc.” All of that sounds wonderful. But it’s just not a reality in my life. I would love to have some positive, affirming Christians in my life—but here where I live, they seem some imaginary group that only exists on the internet.
I’ve tried very hard to build bridges. I’ve taken risks and put myself out there, only to be disappointed every time. I realize that I’m probably preaching to the choir here. But it’s just devastating to know that once I step away from the computer the fairy bubble is gone, and all I have to look forward to is more daily harassment. I greatly appreciate what you do. I’m sure you’re as tired writing about LGBT issues as people are of reading about them. But it’s comforting to know that there are some people out there who seem to be in it for the long haul, rather than just moving on to the next hot topic after a month or two.
It gets better other places, I guess. But not here.
Don’t forget about us.
I won’t. I can’t. Letters like this won’t let me.