When You Are Everything You Were Taught to Hate

A first time guest post written by my partner and spouse, Haley.

In the recent wake of North Carolina Amendment One to ban same-sex marriage; CNN had Tony Perkins the president of the Family Research Council, an evangelical think tank and political lobbyist group in Washington, D.C., on their show. The CNN host asked the 49-year-old father of five how he might handle one of his children being gay: “Well we would have a conversation about it,” answered the guest. “I doubt that would happen with my children as we are teaching them the right ways that they are to interact as human beings.”

I’ve got very bad news for Tony Perkins. I grew up the right way. My parents honestly could have been the poster people of American evangelicalism. Now of course since I’ve come out as a transgender woman, the whole crowd will suddenly dismiss their parenting, claim they made some mistake or whatever. But no really, how could I have a more perfect evangelical upbringing? I was the child of a pastor, and my first career was as a pastor. I was homeschooled, a favored method of education by many American evangelicals. I remember going to the Family Research Council with my dad on a trip to Washington, D.C., and hearing about a program for freshman college students on public policy. My mother was a devoted stay at home mom. She did so much to care for me and raise me “right.” Honestly, I feel very crappy at times about how rough it has been for my parents to have their child come out as a woman when they’ve done it all right from the evangelical vantage point. Now sadly they live in a world where the Tony Perkinses of evangelicalism will tell them somehow they didn’t do it right. Every myth about how transgender people come to exist is absent from my story, and yet I am a transgender woman. Having grown up in the evangelical milieu sucks because even though my parents did everything “right” I am still a transsexual. I exist and for no other reason than that I am a transwoman, I am now everything I was taught to hate by the evangelical movement in America.

I grew up in an environment where many groups of people were a threat to God, the Bible, morality, and the created order of things. (And I want it clearly understood that not all of these teachings were explicitly taught to me by my parents; rather, they were taught by a religious system with a lengthy history, and even if my parents supported these ideas they were not their own novel ideas.) Growing up evangelical, I got the clear impression that men were the god-given leaders in life and society and that women’s place was as quiet and submissive mothers of children who preferably stayed at home. Women who didn’t live out that script were “bad examples.” Growing up I realized that gay people were a group to be shunned and avoided. They had “unnatural desires” and should be kept away from children. I learned that Catholics worshipped images and saints rather than God. (But Catholics can flip that around against Protestants as heretics, etc.) I learned that atheists and agnostics were angry and unhappy people who had unresolved issues in their life and couldn’t be trusted. I learned that more liberal Protestants didn’t follow the Bible and that divorced people had major issues and character flaws. I found that people with mental health conditions were rarely treated as if they had a real health condition, usually the suspected source of their “disorder” (the word even in psychology grates on me to this day) was demonic influence, a sin issue in their life, or a chemical imbalance brought about by bad diet, undiagnosed allergies or willfully engaging in addictions (as if that’s really possible).

Transgender people got horrible reviews from the evangelical world. They were supposedly delusional, and mutilated their bodies. “Perverted” was the number one word I internalized about being transgender. From around age 11 when I read a story about Christine Jorgensen (one of America’s first open transsexuals) in a history book and thought “that’s me,” I knew that all that disparaging language about transpeople was referring to me, at least if I was honest about my feelings and came out. That really stunk. I feel really bad about how many gay and trans evangelical kids grow up hearing horrible lies about LGBT people and know that the conversation is about them and that they are being labeled “gross”, “abominations”, “wicked”, or “Sodomites.”

Growing up evangelical, I was raised to be male, evangelical, heterosexual, and happily married to one woman with children. But no matter how much evangelical cultural pressure and “right” environment, I am female, free thinking, bisexual, and still happily married but in a lesbian marriage. I do have children, but from the vantage point of my religious heritage, I am now corrupting my kids and it would be better to the minds of most evangelicals that I didn’t have them so that they wouldn’t keep witnessing “my sin.” And the fact that gender dysphoria is a mental health condition on the books creates the specter that I am under demonic attack, or some unhealthy obsession and (once again) “sin issues”. Evangelicalism as a movement and thought pattern hits a brick wall with people like me. We are everything that the religious movement has spent so much energy trying to stamp out. We are the personification of everything wrong with a “godless age.” I feel bad for evangelical friends and family. I truly am everything their religious system taught them to hate or the very least get angry about. Many evangelicals seem to think that by coming out I am rejecting them, even though I am simply choosing to stop living in fear of beliefs that are just plain wrong. I did not choose to be transgender. But not accepting my identity was killing me. Now that I have accepted it my life has become more fulfilling. I actually want to wake up in the morning while for years the untreated gender dysphoria made facing each day a struggle.

I didn’t have a choice about whether or not I am transgender. Sane rational people don’t choose to become everything they were raised to hate. Receiving mental health care for transition confirms what I already suspected: other than being transgender and a history of gender-related depression I have no other mental health conditions. I am a sane person. Sane people don’t choose to be something which consistently creates very negative reactions in most of their evangelical friends, family, and acquaintances. Who wants their community of origin to think they are profoundly disordered or dangerous? Even if people want to believe transgender people are crazy (gay people were crazy until 1973 according to the APA), why be mean to a crazy person? Crazy people can’t help being crazy can they? Isn’t that the definition of crazy? No, the evangelical world wants to pretend we are a moral outrage against God and force us to “change”, because we aren’t crazy. LGBT people are a part of the diversity of the world. We have always been, and we will exist as long as humanity persists. And that truth demonstrates just how harmful evangelical teachings are about LGBT people. Evangelicalism in America has set itself up against a whole class of persons whose existence just is. I am transgender and no amount of discrimination, mistreatment, and demonization by the evangelical community is going to change that.

Being everything your cultural upbringing taught you to hate is a weird experience. My existence demonstrates the painful prejudices of the evangelical attitude towards many different groups of people as quickly as a mixed race marriage or a mixed race child exposes a racist. Every evangelical is vulnerable in their attitude toward virtually everyone who isn’t them. This world is a diverse place. We aren’t all born alike. And while parents may be able to superficially control their child’s appearance on the outside for a time, they are not able to control of who their children really are.

The evangelical cultural and political movement needs to come to grips with their unresolved “hate” issues. Tony Perkins may think teaching his kids the “right” way will make his family immune from kids turning out gay or transgender, but he’s wrong. Tony and all evangelicals need to figure out how to understand their doctrines in a way that no longer manifests hate just like they’ve started doing about hateful behavior regarding divorce, racial attitudes, and women. And for those evangelicals who say they don’t hate but rather simply disagree, they are refusing to accept how their behavior affects LGBT persons. If hate is the absence of love, how is persistent lobbying by evangelical churches and leaders in the political arena (which over and over again denies LGBT people civil rights and equality under the law) anything close to love? Talk to LGBT children of evangelicals, the moment they come out and be honest about who they are most evangelical families and communities distance themselves from them. Many Queer people aren’t invited to their own family’s weddings, baptisms, and funerals – how is that love? When LGBT persons call the treatment they receive from evangelicals in all avenues of life “hate,” what else are they supposed to call it? They certainly haven’t been feeling the love when Billy Graham takes out ads to take away their rights and make their life harder. They aren’t feeling love when they are excluded from their extended family events because they make people “uncomfortable.”

Evangelicalism can’t have a happy future waiting for it if it can’t change. How many more parents need to raise their children while being afraid that they are not teaching them all the “right ways” and therefore find their identity as parents threatened when a child turns out gay, loses faith, or has anything happen that is off the evangelical script? The fear of raising kids “right” is a huge burden for evangelical parents. How many more kids have to grow up fearing that they are everything they have been taught to hate? How many more families will be torn up over things that were never under the control of parents or their children to begin with? This nightmare lie of raising kids “right” needs to stop! No one should grow up and discover that they are everything they were taught to hate.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03117752360285429048 Jessica

    Thank you for sharing your experience. So many people need to hear this, although sadly many of them will not listen. But stories like yours can still change some hearts and minds, and that's a place to start. I'm sorry you had to go through the experience of being taught to hate your true self. No one should have to go through that. I am happy for you that you have a loving and supportive spouse, and I pray you find all the support and love you need from your friends and community.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06233321050691782148 Michael Mock

    Well and bravely said.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09467506444828517507 mycouchhascrumbs

    Wow, wow wow. This post had tears streaming from the very beginning. I was happy when Melissa said you would be posting, knowing that your words would be so powerful. Keep going. Keep being your beautiful self, just the way GOD (in my opinion, and I know it doesnt match many beliefs) lovingly made you..and not with the intent for you to struggle and try to fix and pray away who you are, how he made you. I do not believe he really cares who we love, what gender we are or what gender we feel in our heart. I dont believe that he is ok with religions using him to hate. I think what he really cares about is our hearts. If we are trying to love him and love others, no matter what. that we are trying our best. That we are living a life of love, that we are not hating, no matter the excuse or the reason. I think you are amazing, I think your wife is amazing. I found her blog months ago, and loved it right away. I love all she stands for, especially the right and the courage to question what is taught in all religions. I believe, yes. But I believe in a God who really does just love us, and wants our love. and wants that love to show in our acts and how we live our life, no matter what path. I think you both are wonderful people, and I love that you are choosing to be happy. My heart hurts that to do so you have to receive all the hate and accusations that you are wrong or not a good person. I wish I knew you both and your children, because in our little place in maine, our family doesnt care. Love to you both, you are inspiring.

  • Cheryl Chamberlain Duwe

    Thanks for sharing. Keep speaking your truth and being you. Your family is an inspiration.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03079480848874087331 Ashley Noelle

    I disagree that atheists are angry people. I disagree that all Christians are horrible evil people. I disagree that all Catholics are worshipers of idols. I admit that I used to carry similar thoughts/assumptions then I had several life lessons that taught me that it is better not to assume and find out for ourselves.

    I am an atheist. I do not believe in Christian scripture. I do not believe in heaven or hell. I do not believe in the fundamental definition of "god". Perhaps, you would call me a free-thinker or free-spirited. I definitely don't feel that I have unresolved issues in my life. Once upon a time, I did and I worked through them. I am pretty content with my life.

    I do love reading this blog because someone, very close to me who had raised me, is a transgendered person. She is in a male body and has not made any transition out of fear that she will lose friends and family. I do wish she will find a courage to come out of closet and be herself, and that is her journey not mine to go through. I will always be there for her no matter what and still love her regardless.

    I do wish that our society is more open-minded and understanding of transgendered people. Lesbians, Bisexuals and Gays have it somewhat easier than transgendered people because they are still viewed as male/female, if that makes sense. I hate the idea of having to raise my son in the world of intolerance, lack of acceptance, lack of love and understanding. This is why I am going to do my damnedest to teach him values of love, compassion and tolerance and respect.

    Good post.

  • Anonymous

    Haley, thank you for adding your perspective to Melissa's wonderful blog about your family. I wish you much happiness as your life unfolds. Maria in SC

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06322639813957066511 Emmasmama

    I am in the midst of my own "weeding out" what I was taught growing up in a fundamentalist church from what I believe to be true. Things I've always believed to be true but, for a long time, was taught that it was a sinful way to believe. Things about God, the Bible, people and even myself. I came out as a lesbian 4 years ago and was truly unprepared for the backlash from my "Christian family". Yep, I had become one of the hated. Thank you for your willingness to share your experiences and your heart. It helps make the rest of us feel that much less alone.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    A wonderful, moving, and wise post, Haley. I am so sorry that you've got such a tough road ahead of you with your family and community of origin, but happy that you have created such a wonderful one for yourself. You and Melissa sound like such amazing parents and amazing people and I wish you every happiness.

    I especially liked this: "And for those evangelicals who say they don’t hate but rather simply disagree, they are refusing to accept how their behavior affects LGBT persons."

    Yes! Personally, I have a hard time being patient with the "I just disagree" attitude these days. Like you say, transgender is something you just are by existing. How do you disagree with a person's existence? Can someone "just disagree" with me being female? No, because that doesn't make any sense. You can disagree with a person's religious beliefs or political opinions or some other kind of ideology. You can't "disagree" with a person's very nature. Words have meanings.

    And, also, like you say, using the "I just disagree" cop-out is a way to avoid responsibility for the consequences of one's views. Maybe a lot of the people who claim not to hate genuinely don't have any real vitriol or malice in their hearts. But they're still helping to legitimize it in others. Do, for example, parents who "just disagree" really think that their attitude isn't likely to make their children feel more entitled to bully that trans kid or that gay kid at school? Do they think that that kid suffers less because hir bully's parents "don't hate, they just disagree?" Do they think it makes one bit of difference to hir that the people who have sent the message that ze is some how less-than don't hate hir existence, they just disagree with it?

    Disagreeing with someone's existence IS hate. It promotes hate in the world and there's no escaping that, no matter how uncomfortable a truth it is. If the word "hate" doesn't fit into people's views of themselves as Good People (and I do believe that a lot of good people think this way, I know some of them), then maybe they should really think really hard about whether or not that view is really consistent with being a Good Person.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01026165522502531149 Jo

    Just a point of hope as well for you. Often, those who don't realize their Evangelical worldview is hate can recover love when it impacts them personally. My little sister came out Lesbian last fall and my Mennonite minister father has struggled mightily. In the end, he is starting to accept that she cannot help who she is and that it is his faith that demonstrates hate towards his own child. Instead of rejecting his beloved daughter, he is slowly walking away from a paradigm that says he should hate her and others like her.

    Before I left that world of Fundamentalism, I once informed my childhood best friend that while I loved her, I could not agree with her sin of being Lesbian. I truly did not understand the hate I displayed to her. When I began to examine everything I thought I believed, I looked at the reality that LBGT exists in all of nature. If I believe that God created all things perfect and that animals do not sin, then I have to accept that God created LBGT within humans as well. I cannot reconcile that God would deliberately create people with no choice but to "sin" based solely upon how he created them. Therefore, I could not accept the paradigm any longer. I was very fortunate that my friend was able and willing to forgive me for my arrogance and hatred when I humbly apologized to her. I'm even more graeful that I had that shift before my little sister needed me to tell I was proud of her and loved her just for being who she was created to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    It's a shame that faith and science are perceived to be at such odds with each other by many evangelicals. Alas, if research is at odds with a fundamentalists beliefs, they will claim the research is faulty or manipulated to corrupt good christians ect. I is twice as sad because scientists have a unique perspective into how truly awesome this universe is, and people without any scientific knowledge are missing out on understanding how amazing god is on an even HIGHER level.

    Here are my two new favorite videos on gay marriage by the vlog brothers (who are christian by the way)

    Part 1: http://youtu.be/PD-INsIbVcw
    Part 2: http://youtu.be/uQw0eLzfGNI

    Part 2 is my personal favorite.

    Thank you for the guest post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03079852628674185384 Karen

    Haley, thanks so much for this post. When life gets you down, and the disconnect from your family and old friends really starts to hurt, please remember that there are LOTS of us out here in cyberspace — real people — who are rooting for you and people like you. As far as we're concerned, you're Just Fine the way you are! Melissa, that goes for you, too!

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    You are a really beautiful person and a very brave woman as is your wife Melissa. Being raised secular I can't really completely grasp the hate christians who are supposed to be all-loving have for LGBT folks but I'm sure your example and knowing you both is making more people reconsider their stances and that's pretty awesome ^^

  • ScottInOH

    It's a pleasure to meet you, Haley. You and Melissa are inspirations.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15478206293584940876 DCKitty

    Thank you for this post, Haley. You and Melissa were one of the key reasons I decided to up and make the call to the transgender advocate at the LGBT-friendly Health Clinic in my city.

  • Anna

    After getting to know Melissa, in a way, through all of her writings, it is nice to finally meet you, Haley!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18005061781402666895 Elizabeth McKinney

    Great post! Thanks for writing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Bravo!

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

    This post kind of makes me wish Hayley was still a pastor. I'd go to her church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02979828437531268794 Rebecca in ID

    I've commented here a few times, though it has been awhile. I would like to just speak briefly, from the point of view of someone who "disagrees", and just explain what that means for me. First I would like to express that I think the signs and language people who call themselves "conservatives" and "Christians" use when speaking to or about LGBT people, are horrific. I don't know how to emphasize how damaging and hateful those attitudes are. I recommend reading BadCatholic's blog for commentary from a Catholic on those positions, also this article by a gay Catholic in First Things, recently: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/05/dan-savage-was-right. And I agree that pat phrases such as "hate the sin, love the sinner" often simply are a cover-up for distancing oneself, showing contempt, etc. But I want to clarify what my position is–first, I do not disagree or disapprove of people being gay. God created us with different inclinations, different struggles, different personalities. However, I do believe that every single person is called to be chaste and live according to the commandments. I know there are gay Catholics and Christians who live chastely. I also know there are straight Catholics and Christians who live chastely amid various struggles. For example, they may have a mentally ill spouse and because of circumstances, no longer have a sexual relationship with their spouse, but be attempting to live well and provide a joyful life for their children. That is just one personal example I know of. Second, I do believe there are certain definitions of things; "marriage" does not mean just anything; it does not cover just any sexual relationship or set of relationships, it does not cover two people who are just very close committed friends, or three people, it does not apply to the relationship between mother and child. You may disagree with my position, but what I'd really like to see is people being able to discuss this carefully without calling anyone who disagrees with them, "hateful". I think things get pretty dangerous when any kind of disagreement with the status quo becomes "hate-speech". I would oppose anyone who says that gays are by definition hateful, as well. I just do not think a conversation can proceed well when that level is reached. On the other hand I see that much of fundamental Christianity invites that level of conversation–but I say, don't go there, don't engage. That's playground stuff, and bullying, and we don't need to go there. Anyway, my main point is to say, here, that I don't want to "ban gay marriage", I just don't agree with redefining something which I think has a particular definition that isn't something we just make up as we go, but comes from nature. I'm not trying at all to argue that point here, but *only* to say that it is possible to disagree with a position without necessarily being full of hatred.

    I would also like to say that I have been reading this blog with a great deal of interest; there are many things I do not understand and am confused about, and a lot of things I don't even have a "position" on, but I do feel a great deal of compassion for your situation, I admire your honesty and courage (both of you) in so many ways, and I pray for your constant guidance in your journey.

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org Becca

    I can explain how "I just disagree" about a different situation: I have friends who, years into their marriage, both fell in love with the same woman. The 3 of them have lived together ever since. I feel there is nothing wrong with 3 people being in love and nothing wrong with being bisexual; I'm very happy for them that each of them is so lucky as to have found *two* life-partners; I think they're a very healthy and loving family. But I disagree that it is okay for married people to be in a relationship with anyone outside the marriage, even if both of them fully agree to it, because marriage under the law is an exclusive and exclusionary institution: Their girlfriend cannot have the same legal rights in partnership with them that they have in partnership with each other, so they are not being fair to her. Furthermore, they live in one of the states where adultery is illegal, so all of them are breaking the law, which could become a problem for them someday. My religious belief that marriage is exclusive (which is one of many reasons my partner and I aren't married; we have an open relationship) reinforces my disagreement with my friends' choice to remain married yet live in this relationship. However, this disagreement does not mean I hate these people, does not mean I can't be good friends with these people, does not mean I think they're a bad influence on my child, does not mean I have to talk constantly about my disapproval; it just means I won't have sex with them (as I won't with any married person) and if anyone *asks* my opinion, I'll tell them.

    I've experienced "I just disagree" from the other side, too, in that there are many people who believe it is wrong that my partner and I live together and have a child together but are not married, but who are willing to associate with us anyway. When I was a Girl Scout leader I had a conversation with a girl in my troop whose parents had told her that they thought it was wrong to be an unwed parent but that it was my choice to make and I was still a good person–she wanted to know if *I* thought it was a bad choice or a good one. I don't feel hated because her parents taught their own child their personal beliefs or because she expressed them to me. I would feel hated if her parents had refused to let her be in my troop because I am an unwed parent.

    People aren't likely to disagree with you being female because you were born that way (if I recall correctly from your comments on previous posts), but that is different from a person disagreeing that it is okay for you to present yourself as male and be addressed as male, or disagreeing that it is okay for you to get sex-change surgery, or disagreeing that it is possible for a person to "really" be born in the wrong sex's body (i.e. they think it's a delusion). They are not disagreeing that a transgendered person exists; they are disagreeing about the appropriateness of the person's response to gender dysphoria.

    BUT! When people get into lobbying to prevent others from living their lives as they see fit because they disagree with the others' understanding of themselves and their own needs, then it is NOT "simply disagreeing"; it's oppression at best and sometimes truly hatred. It's one thing to disagree that someone born female who feels male *should* start presenting herself as male; it's another thing to say it shouldn't be *allowed*. Far too many people are fighting to ban things, or supporting politicians who will, instead of *simply* disagreeing.

    Great post, Haley! You're in a very difficult situation, and I'm impressed at how well you (and Melissa) are handling it so far.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13211182794921080338 Rae Brown

    Thank you for posting this!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    I would encourage you to watch the two video links I posted above.

    You are correct in that a mother child relationship is not a marriage. However, what a marriage actually is, and actually entails, varies widely from person to person and culture to culture, all over the world.

    Marriage has never been universally defined. Just because it is defined for you, does not mean that definition will apply to everyone.

    In the UK for instance, many mosques are not officially registered as places of worship, so any marriages that take place there must then be registered at a courthouse. The courthouse marriage is not an official Islamic marriage, and the Islamic marriage is not a legal one. If two Muslims were to only get a courthouse marriage, it would be an affront to their faith. If they were to only have an Islamic wedding in an unregistered mosque, they would not be legally married.

    I respect your right to have a Catholic? faith and a catholic? marriage but I expect that, in turn, you respect my marriage (which happens to be straight, even though I identify as queer) in return.

    Getting marriages that are already happening (seriously, watch the links) recognized by the government is not the same thing as legally mandating churches perform gay marriage ceremonies. Protecting your religious freedoms in this case, is actually an entirely separate issue from the civil liberty issue of LGBT people not being able to get the same legal rights as straight people.

    If someone wants to live a chaste life because of their own religious convictions, good for them. But a person without those religious convictions will not have the satisfaction of "doing the right thing" by god, and it would be a torment for them.

    I get that you want to keep this integral part of your religion special. But it already is special, because most of the married people in the world do not do the special things tha you do in your religious marriage. They do other weird things, but they are still considered married.

  • Anonymous

    Yours is an amazing and hope-inspiring story!
    I was thinking you might find this useful (if you haven't come across it already) http://clergyproject.org

  • Pastor David

    I was friend and pastor to "Haley" for several years, back when the name was still masculine, the energetic pursuit of various girls to date and marry was in full force, and the professed beliefs were conservative evangelical (stricter than mine and more conservative than anyone else at the seminary he eventually attended). I have many fond memories of conversations and fun times.

    Let me say very clearly: I do not hate you, nor did I teach you to hate anyone. Also, I did not cut off communication with you. I recently offered to friend you on Facebook, but thus far you have refused. You may prefer to avoid me, but then it would be best not to complain about evangelical friends avoiding you.

    I am puzzled how a six-foot-four person with male genitals, a Y-chromosome in every cell of the body, and four children who have been sired by that undeniably male body, can think it is perfectly in touch with reality to believe that a woman lives within that male body. I am puzzled, but I do not hate you, and I do not attribute your identity and decisions to your parents. I think you are on a wrong path, and that troubles me, but I am troubled not because I hate you but because I care. Do not regard all disagreement as hatred.

    Five years ago, when you were in seminary and your name wasn't Haley, you urged fellow seminarians to have a more positive outlook toward fundamentalists. Indeed, your article was titled, "Why I am a fundamentalist." You wrote, "I notice that one group of people are fair game for ridicule: fundamentalists." You noted that "many fundamentalists now go by the name 'evangelical' to avoid the sneers of the 'fundamentalist' label." You went on to point out that what "motivates most people to dislike fundamentalists is their ability to just say what they believe unflinchingly and often times in an untactful manner. And obviously what they believe stands in contrast with someone else, who typically doesn’t appreciate the fundamentalist’s religious concern for them."

    You declared, "The gospel confronts our sin and offers us hope through faith in Christ as Lord. It doesn’t sugarcoat the matter: humans need a savior. Being 'pastoral' is very important in our ministry; however, it cannot be an excuse for refusing to speak the truth. The Ten Commandments tell Reformed Christians that rules aren’t exactly popular. The Bible says things that don’t mix well with the world we live in. Sometimes being Christian means we have to stick our necks out and say, 'This is what God wants in his Word.' So I consider myself Reformed and fundamentalist. I hope that my urgency to proclaim the truth is fundamentalistic, and I hope that my treatment of fellow believers is pastoral, and my theology is Reformed… Let’s not be afraid of stating our positions – and even arguing over them at times – and let’s not be afraid to just speak the gospel and its full implications. In doing so, let’s be a tad more pastoral in our treatment of our poor friends the fundamentalists."

    • http://TransConfusedFamily.com Kim Schroeder

      I cannot speak for Haley, but I can for me. We have some similar issues. I was a strong believer in “when the Bible and I disagree, I’m wrong”. In the early 80′s I asked a girl in university to step aside for the good of the Christian fellowship since we were both running for president of our fellowship. Even though the best supervisors I’d had to that point were women, the Bible as I was taught, said women should not lead men. It went against every part of what I felt comfortable, but I did not want what I felt was right, I wanted what God said was right. Please see it is a sincere heart that denies self to do Gods will. I still search for this woman so that I can make the way right by her. You see, now the attitude I had is not the right one according to those who at that time said it was. I suspect Haley faces the same delima. She, IMHO always wanted what was Gods will not yours NOT hers.
      In my case as a trans female, and former Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Mdiv missions student we are faced with a choice that has only one possible outcome for a heart sincere in its love for God. Honesty. It just did not go away. My praying, study, work, and countless prayers, not to mention the Christian counseling at the divinity school and else where did not change me. I would still dose to sleep at night and jump aware with a scheme that as I drifted of I had become a young woman. I/we could have lied. So many do and they are not devious just don’t see another option. We took the option that was unthinkable, we confessed to you what God already knew. We could not lie to God. We did not lie to God. However, we lied to you by accepting the mantle of Christian service hoping something would change as our dedication matured in service to Christ,but it did not. We were even willing to accept that we failed you, but we can say now we are honest. By accepting the truth publicly yes we have failed you, but we have not failed God at all. I believe God prefers our honesty to you over hiding something that disqualifies us for ministry in your eyes.
      Regardless of Haley’s desire for women and your hinted admiration of her previous masculine form she is the person she is inside. This is how God sees us. He does not care if we are 5′ or 6′. Does it not make sense that our inside self may not reflect what the world wants to see. Is it possible his masculine form is what you wished to use as the measure of the person inside by referencing it so strongly?
      I too lost the respect of many a Christian even that of a Pastor who I helped bring to The Lord in 1979. It is not easy knowing that our act of truth befor God and man will be seen as an act of defiance to God and His Church. We are indeed sinners each one, but we are will to confess our true selves. We tried. We did everything we could to change. We wanted to change. We asked Gods help to change and that of elder Christians. It did not happen our lives improved in service in most if not all other ways, but this intrinsic part of us remained the same. We may have failed you and we do understand why you would feel that way, but we did not fail God. Sadly, there is no place for us in your Church, but our faith remains. my wife and I pray at least twice a day and usually more. I still go to Church, but its the Unitarian church across the street form TEDS in Deerfield, IL.
      pastor David, my wife Kris and I will pray for you this evening as we pray for my best friend the pastor I spoke of earlier. Kim

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

    This statement isn't about Haley specifically since I don't know her, but I'd like to point out that, without proper medical testing, you cannot know for sure that a male-presenting person with visible male genitals has "a Y-chromosome in every cell of the body".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Okay Dave,

    You don’t know my karotype regarding chromosomes, recently a story about an intersexed person who lived as a male and fathered six children came to light in the press after she went in for kidney stones and discovered she has ovaries as well. So since you aren’t my doctor, you are presumptuous claiming to know my medical history and the state of my genitals which to my knowledge you’ve never seen. Even your statement about my height is inaccurate. And let’s not even go there with your professed understanding of my romantic history before marriage.

    I never claimed that every individual evangelical person hates trans people. I said the teachings of evangelicalism teach people to hate themselves if they are LGBT. And these teachings inspire many evangelicals to manifest cruel treatment towards LGBT people. You can quote a snippet from an article I wrote quite sometime ago when I was still internalizing the misguided messages of the evangelical community regarding the transgender part of me. My internal state was miserable largely because I genuinely believed I was a sinful terrible person for having the feelings I did. I thought it was a good thing to feel so crappy, I no longer think that way. I am glad to have that in my past. My life is so much better right now than it has ever been.

    But if we want to start trading conservative statements from the past, I know where your highly conservative publications are available for public consumption. You are on the record promoting courtship/betrothal, male headship, strong creationism and the like. You have a very long history within our once common denomination of being outspoken against LGBT people. And you have been a strident opponent of the ordination of women. However, while I can recognize the views I internalized as my own in the past were damaging to me and to those I shared them with, your interactions on Facebook with other friends of mine appear to be very slanted towards correcting those who do not share your perspective. I wasn’t interested in that sort of relationship. If you don’t like my perspective don’t read my guest post………

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Part 2

    As a young person I was a captive audience to your perspective, I didn’t have exposure to the world of acceptance and love which really is all around each one of us. Even now if I had an inkling that you could differentiate from your views and be a person with a relationship to me separate from “truth” teller, I see no reason we couldn’t be Facebook friends. I have compassion for evangelicals and fundamentalists, their beliefs sadly close them off from so many awesome and rewarding relationships. Other than my beliefs changing, and being open about my identity, not much has changed about the enthusiastic person you once knew. I still love a good discussion. I love theatre which I participated with on many occasions with your daughters. I love gardening. I am compassionate and filled with a desire to make this world a better place. But unfortunately, all that is clouded by the fact that you’ve judged me to be on the “wrong path.” In one moment, I’ve gone from the status of colleague and companion, to mental case and project person to save. The fact you’ve decided I have a poor grip on reality tells me a relationship with you seems quite unworkable at this time.

    Nothing you wrote refutes the content of my article. It is very typical for closeted gay and transgender people, such as I was, to try to avoid the feared rejection of their community of origin by espousing views that are stridently in conformity with their upbringing. Do I need to review the strongly anti-gay preachers who later on admitted the truth that they were gay? I know the fundamentalist does think they are being loving when they confront people with their “sin and error.” At one time I believed that myself. The problem is their beliefs are intrinsically harmful. I have no beef with any one evangelical who misguidedly thinks they are sharing truth out of love and concern. I have a problem with the beliefs themselves that create so much pain in our world. Gay and transgender people just exist as part of the diversity of this world. No amount of “right teaching” or “right thinking” will make them disappear, why? Because they just exist. I just exist. I am sorry that simply existing is so dangerous to the way of thinking both of us were taught.

    In the end -to quote myself from some years ago- I am still unafraid to state my positions, and argue them at times. And I still strive to be pastoral in my treatment of my poor friends the fundamentalists.

    -Haley

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18261932798380141520 Latebloomer

    "In one moment, I've gone from colleague and companion to mental case and project person to save"…. Well said, Haley!! When a person is in the fundamentalist mindset, it's so hard for them to see their own condescending disapproval for what it is. It's so much easier to call it "speaking the truth in love". I've experienced this type of "love" in my family, something like, "I think you are a bitter and selfish person, and you will probably become abusive to your husband and child. But don't be upset at me–I'm just telling you the truth! Now why don't you call me more often??".

  • Emily W

    I don't mean to derail the discussion between you two, but I just read up on Stevie Crecelius, the intersexed individual you mention. I had never heard of a story like that! It's truly fascinating. I guess I thought if you had both sets of organs, neither really "worked." I'd be interested to learn about more cases like this. Also, forgive me for prying, but are you planning on learning more about your biological makeup to perhaps understand better where this deep-seated sense that you're a female comes from?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02979828437531268794 Rebecca in ID

    I was actually not hoping to get into a debate about the ramifications of redefining marriage legally, though it is an interesting one. I was only trying to say that I thought some of the content of the article and some of the comments were leaning towards a view that it is actually not possible to disagree with the legal re-definition of marriage without hating gay people. I just wanted to say that although I do disagree with certain actions (not because of religion but because of the right and wrong written into our natures) and although I disagree with legally re-defining marriage, I do not hate LGBT people and I hope the discussion can be kept on the level of assuming good will on the part of each person.

    As for the discussion itself, I may at some time be up to debating it, and I could sit here and write a long post trying to explain/refute/etc., but I don't believe I am emotionally capable of that at this time. It's just too intense for me with everything I have going on in my life. I do believe there is a place for it and I hope such discussions can be conducted peacefully and lovingly–that is really my *only* point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Rebecca in Idaho, you say "disagree with certain actions not because of religion but because of the right and wrong written into our natures", this sure sounds like a religious opinion. However, let's accept your re-labeling, that perspective is then a private personal ethical belief. Atheists have plenty of personal ethical beliefs. The question is do you want someone else's personal ethical belief applied to you with the full force of the government? I am not troubled by your personal belief as it affects your own ethical choices. When your personal ethical belief motivates you at the ballot box to pass laws which impose your personal ethical belief on other people, that belief is no longer personal and now makes the life of LGBT people harder, how is that loving? Haley

  • Anonymous

    I have rarely met a LGBetc. person who has practiced the same tolerance and respect for persons who have non 'gay' beliefs that they wish were practiced towards those with their 'gay' beliefs. Why is disagreement viewed as such a crime? It is true that some disagree with much love, understanding and non-patronizing attitudes and others don't. That, unfortunately, is life. Not all 'disagree-ers' are filled with hate or even apathy, however. I write this as a person who is not 'white male'. That means I have aspects of my being that are discriminated against. I don't like it. I don't like it at all, in fact. It think it is fine to even legislate for one's beliefs to be represented in the lawmaking process. That doesn't guarantee that everyone's preferences will be given equal legal status, however. Life is messy that way. Reading above, including comment section, I am hearing that not all views are even being represented. Assumptions are being made that all disagree-ers fall within certain bounds. This just isn't true Not all view points from disagree-ers have even been represented here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06072215537523423975 Unknown

    Haley is younger than Dave . Dave is her childhood friends father as well as her former spiritual leader. Dave has expressed both his care for her and a desire toopen lines of communication. Yet Haley not only fails to reciprocate her care for Dave but disagrees with him.so since for Haley disagreeing is hate, Haleyey is showing hate for Dave. And by disagreeing with evangelicals she is showing her form of hate for evangrlucals and her family of origin. Hate….what an.oxymoron from a gtlba. Person. Since love is supposed to be their strong point.

  • Anonymous

    it is understandable that you have anger and frustration from your many years of conflicted gender issues and perhaps need to blame others. but it may be helpful to try to avoid perceiving anyone who doesn't agree with your actions as hateful. regardless of any religious beliefs, the average person will simply find it somewhat shocking to see a man try to become a woman. most will just be confused.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Alright, thanks Anonymous, Unknown, and Anonymous for coming to bat for Pastor Dave I’m betting I know you in real life. I love the circularity of your complaint, I point out how the way evangelicals disagree with LGBT people is experienced as very painful for LGBT people, and that I disagree with the religious motivations for that treatment and that seems to have been taken as “disagreement = hate”. It is fine to disagree about a whole host of issues and it not be hate. Say you like French toast and I don’t, we can disagree and hate of each other or ourselves will never enter the scene. The trouble with disagreeing with someone being transgender; is that person is disagreeing with my existence. It is as hurtful as turning it around, suppose I keep telling Dave that he really is transgender, he isn’t really a man, he just puts on a show and pretends to be cisgender because he is crazy. What if I said; “Dave you need to come to grips with the reality that you are really a woman!” This is how I experience his interaction with me. Do you have active communication with someone who believes you are crazy? Do you feel chatty with someone whose sole goal of interaction seems to be about disagreement on one issue? I have friends and family from before transition who disagree with my transition, but I have been able to have a friendship with them continue because our interactions haven’t been solely an attempt to fix me. They don’t understand my being trans, but that doesn’t matter; we still have pleasant memories together, we are interested in how our schools, jobs, children are doing; and the relationship moves forward. I do not think every person who doesn’t understand my experience hates me. However, people who continually take it upon themselves to fix me aren’t exactly the type of friend I have emotional energy for.

    Pastor Dave’s comment seemed simple to me; attack the validity of my experience, label me delusional, and attempt to discredit my beliefs now by showing that I was an evangelical Christian in the past. I did not experience care and concern for me in his comment, or an interest in opening lines of communication. He certainly hasn’t contacted me privately, so I feel he commented because he doesn’t like my views. He wanted to be “right.” I commented back because I don’t like his views. I tried to live up to Dave’s god and it sucked. That was just my experience. Non-transgender people, who are married to someone of the opposite sex, who don’t have premarital sex, who have children, who have no addiction issues, have never had an abortion, or mental health challenges may find it somewhat easier living up to Dave’s god and may be able to think his comment was some permutation of “caring.” But those of us who just aren’t what Dave’s god wants, might not want a friendship with someone whose entire interaction with you appears to be based on that god. Dave judged me personally, I have simply judged his god as being a conception of god that is at odds with the diversity of the world as it actually is. No amount of attacks on my experience, attempts to shame, or attacks on my sanity will change my transgender identity.

    ……

    • http://TransConfusedFamily.com Kim Schroeder

      The way I like to look at it is,”there are many who want you to be ashamed of yourself for them”. There are others who do (their idea of) Gods will naturally and so want you to endure this kind of suffering for their sake.
      In each case it is because for them it is right and so it makes perfect sense that it just has to be right for everyone else.
      As a point of dry humor; being declared a minion of Satan has two advantages. at least now the pressure it off and you no longer have to worry if you’ll be misunderstood cause that ship just sailed!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    ……
    I think Dave as a person has many redeeming qualities. I don’t think he “is on the wrong path.” Even if I think his views of LGBT people are misguided; I know he didn’t invent them, he is simply trying to follow his religious tradition as he has encountered it. If Dave has experienced frustration over my coming out process, perhaps it is because someone close to him who once looked up to him considerably, can still be transgender, despite being taught and at one time believing the evangelical message on the topic. This opens the scary possibility of who else in his life is in the closet? Who else will some day say? Hey, I’m gay or I am transgender. That is what can freak evangelicals out the most.

    That said, I still care about Dave. I know he cares about me. His pastoral care and concern have helped a great many people over the years. I have many fond memories with Dave and his family. However, hearing one more time, I am wrong, I am bad, I am delusional, doesn’t do a thing. I’ve been hearing it my whole life and quite simply I am tired of that. I don’t need that.

    As I have accepted myself, I no longer believe the evangelical line that either I could choose to be transgender or that I could somehow choose to “fight” it and live a life denying a huge part of me. I am transgender, coming to grips with it has made my life better, if it leaves everyone I grew up with confused and thinking I am nuts, there is nothing I can do to change that. They are the only ones who can decide to face their fears and ignorance and realize that as Haley I have many of the same awesome qualities I had in the past, but what is more I actually like myself and I am free to be myself. I am no longer trying to act like a guy, I am just being me, I do what comes naturally to me. I am a woman who is no longer pretending to be a guy. Sorry I wasn’t honest sooner.

    -Haley

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09779444962182438901 Enigma

    To all the "anonymous" commenter’s: holding personal beliefs that are different from someone else is not classified as hate. But to say that your personal ethics should dictate another person's life at the expense of their human and civil rights IS hate. If you have an issue with LGBT people, you probably believe that their sexual orientation was nothing more than a lifestyle choice. Well here's a thought, if you think being gay (etc) is a bad/sinful choice, than all you can do is chose not to make that choice for yourself. It’s that simple. Personal beliefs dictate personal choices, not the lives of other people. LGBT affirming people are not expressing hate towards non-affirming people. They are not expressing hate because they are not trying to take away your human and civil rights. Oh, and you better thank your god that YOU weren’t born gay, or born in the wrong body, cuz it would be pretty hard to hold on to anti-LGBT sentiment if you were confronted with something like reality.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    It's not the most accurate thing in the world but there's a pretty nice manga (japanese comic) telling the stories of several intersexed individuals which it's pretty cool. It's still being translated and you can read the English scanlation here:
    http://manga.animea.net/aiesu-chapter-1.html

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10172668433266809905 Janet Oberholtzer

    Great comment. Totally agree!
    Love this line… "to say that your personal ethics should dictate another person's life at the expense of their human and civil rights IS hate."

  • Anonymous

    Hi Haley, This feels like a safe place to ramble so here it goes. "may find it somewhat easier living up to Dave's God and may be able to think his comment was some permutation of "caring." ??? Even you know, considering your past religious experience, that the biblical message is that noone lives up to God's standard which is the reason Christ came and died for us. This way we no longer need to worry about "living up to God's standard." I am sure Pastor Dave knows that he has not and never will live up to that standard. Even people who try, which most Chistians do at some point in their walk, end up failing as God knew all along that we would and therefore planned before we were even created to send His son. What a relief that we do not even need to try. He was perfect when I could not ever be perfect. According to my bible, we need the mind of Christ and this comes through a continual ongoing belief in and relationship with Him. This is why the battle takes place in and for the mind. Through all of our pain, God never lets go of us. People of faith will "challenge" you just as you are challenging them. It is difficult for everyone involved and we all need to recognize this. I have a much closer relationship with you than Pastor Dave and yet I have not called you either. It is because I know you have been hurt by me and other religious people already and I do not want to say the wrong thing and possibly hurt you more. This right now is my way of "caring" even though to you it may seem quite the opposite. Please just consider this about all of your close family members or friends who just haven't called. They were not included in your journey and may feel as I once did,that you did not "care" enough to even share it with them. I now, over time, understand that it was not because you didn't care. The only way to know who "cares" is to reach out to one another and at least Pastor Dave is making that effort even if his method is not done in a way that seems loving to you. I don't think his goal is to "be chatty" but the people closest to you in the past need the opportunity to voice their feelings to you, just as you have already done through Melissa and this blog. Disagreeing that you are female is quite understandable for a person that has known and loved you as a male since you were a child. Anyway, I think this is great that you are sharing your feelings with us. Thanks for being honest. It's awsome!!! Love, Noni-p.s. I was not "anonymous, unknown or anonymous" ha ha!! :)

  • Pastor Dave

    You said you still like a good argument, so let's have at it for a bit. I won't quote the Bible, since you now reject its authority.

    Your lack of willingness to friend me on Facebook was based on your aversion to anything I might say to question your transgender identity. What else would you expect from the people who knew you in "real life" and not just on a blog? When you come out as a woman and an opponent of the God you previously proclaimed, do you expect family and longtime friends who knew you as an evangelical man to just say, "That's nice. By the way, how's the weather in the Twin Cities today? How's beauty school going?" Of course we want to know what brought you to this point and discuss our misgivings with you. When an elephant enters the room, I want to talk about it before turning to friendly chit-chat.

    I"m a bit befuddled that in your initial response to me, you would complain about no longer being regarded as my colleague. You repudiate evangelical beliefs as "intrinsically harmful," you boldly "judge Dave's god," and you have left ministry to pursue cosmetology, so you and I are obviously no longer colleagues in ministry–by your own choice. If the God of the Bible is who evangelicals preach Him to be, wouldn't it be fair to say you and Melissa hate God? You titled your guest post, "I am everything I was taught to hate." Perhaps a better title would be, "I hate everything I was taught."

    You mention an extremely rare case of someone who had ovaries as well as male organs. But I don't hear you claiming to have ovaries, nor are you claiming to lack Y-chromosomes or male reproductive organs. You're just saying that I don't know for sure. Fair enough. I viewed you as a male based on your your masculine appearance and behavior at the time, your tall body and broad shoulders, your deep voice, your teenage pursuit of some girls I know very well, and your four children plus some miscarried pregnancies. No one claimed that these were immaculate conceptions or virgin births, and I don't think adultery was involved, so it seems reasonable to assume that you have male reproductive organs. You and Melissa have been pretty transparent and detailed about your transgender journey, so I think that if any female elements had been detected in your body, the blog probably would have said so. I might be mistaken about this, but I'm guessing that you are convinced of your female identity apart from physical evidence and that even if no physical evidence were forthcoming, it would not deter you from considering yourself a woman. From what has been said thus far on the blog, your self-identification is based on your felt psychology, not on anything observable about your biology. If that is the case, it's not entirely obvious that your felt psychology is a more accurate indicator of your true identity than your observable biology…

  • Pastor Dave

    Part 2

    Apotemnophilia involves the intense desire of otherwise sane persons for a limb or limbs to be amputated. Such persons have a strong inner feeling that they are, or ought to be, amputees. In some cases, they deliberately cut off a limb or find a surgeon who is willing to cut off healthy limbs in order to grant a person's inner desire for happiness as an amputee. Such persons may be rational and clear-minded in most respects, but their desire to be rid of healthy limbs is not a healthy desire. So too, a man's inner desire to escape his male biology and be rid of male organs and become a woman is not a healthy desire. People with apotemnophilia can find affirmation from one another, develop an ideology of personal autonomy to exalt the beauty of their desire, and in some cases find a surgeon willing to grant their desire for amputation. But the desire is still not healthy. Likewise, men who want to be women can find affirmation from one another, embrace GLBTQ ideology, and obtain hormone therapy and sex change surgery. But the desire is still not healthy. I do not hate your for your desire, and I consider you rational in other respects. But your inner desire to be a woman, despite your male body, is not healthy. You did not decide to have this desire; rather, you experienced it as a painful burden and battled it for quite some time. Now you have decided to embrace the desire as your true self, rather than fight it any longer. In doing so, you aren't just discarding some aspects of the Bible; you are denying obvious aspects of your own body. This decision has been reinforced by a spouse who didn't like your maleness anyway, has declared her own lesbian preference for a woman partner, and jettisoned evangelical belief in the Bible before you did.

    Those are some of my thoughts about the elephant in the room. Facebook friendship and ongoing interaction may be unlikely at this point, unless you so desire. But I still remember you with affection, and I wish you the best.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Pastor Dave- Obviously we already knew your opinion. Thank you for proving so eloquently how the evangelical theology overgeneralizes, attacks, and disrespects LGBTQ persons, which was point of Haley's guest post. If you are truly interested in answers to the issues you see with being Trans, I hope you will seek to get educated about what trans people actually go through and the overwhelming success rate of their treatments. Again, thank you for proving Haley's thesis, that she is everything she was taught to hate.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    That post was completely hateful and medically ill-informed comparing two very different things (but I don't think I can change or even minimally erode your prejudices so why try) but the thing that really tops everything is this: do you think you can read minds or something?? Afaik from what Melissa has told us in her blog, she is bisexual, she likes men too, she liked Haley when she was her husband and was attracted to her manly aspects and your hate drips especially strongly in that sentence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06831032610484376942 Chad Froese

    Haley, you have written a wonderful post and very good responses in the comments. I too was once of the opinion that there was a useful and moral difference between orientation and lifestyle and that the LGBTQ community should be excluded from marriage. Over the years, as I questioned parts of Christianity and had a male friend come out and marry another, my position changed. I can also see that my once heartfelt intention to “speak the truth in love” was really baseless, flawed, and hurtful.

    It is far too easy to assume that “when I argue with someone, I am simply correcting them out of love,” but when they argue back, “they are being hateful or arrogant/strident.” This attitude is certainly not exclusive to evangelicals, but it appears to be incredibly common. Too many people talk about the difference between sin and sinner but seem to miss the relevant difference between idea/belief and person when their own beliefs are disputed. Those who actively object to equal rights for LGBTs are guilty of furthering a hateful belief, even if it comes from a motivation of love, because it hurts those in question for no good reason. Even the term “sinner” reveals a personal bias and prejudices the conversation. It is inconsistent and wrong for anyone to argue that opposition to LGBTQ rights is loving while rejection of their own position is hateful. That attitude is even more galling when said “hateful” rebuttal is based upon a logically sound summary of religious arguments and scientific (biological and socio-economic) evidence.

  • Anonymous

    It's hilarious that you call the "desire to be a woman" unhealthy, when denying that "desire" is much more likely to screw someone up mentally. How about you cite a professional instead of spewing psychological and biological BS like you're some sort of expert?

    We define mental illnesses fairly clearly: how do gayness or transexuality qualify? Having gender identity issues is not the same as wanting to cut off your arms, thanks for the silly hyperbole: it shows your level of delusion clearly.

    You can bemoan the changes in Haley all you want, but she's doesn't have to listen to your crap, especially when it's so bigoted and blind to evidence.

    As for all this crap about "hating and rejecting the Bible", you're just wrong. You think all those stories of God killing the heathens teaches love of non-believers? You think the fact you believe non-believers deserve eternal damnation is somehow negated by God claiming he loves everyone unconditionally (except for the condition of accepting him as Lord and Savior and worshiping him forever as a mindless drone in heaven)? Actions speak far louder than words, even in the Bible.

    The Bible says God gives people homosexuality and atheism to punish them in Romans 1, so obviously God is hating them by "cursing" atheists and homosexuals with things that will drive them into further sin. And if I recall, we're supposed to hate and shun the things that God hates, and excommunication of sinners in the church is codified in scripture too (1st Corinthians 5). So not hating people would be to defy scripture; yay for you, your attempted persecution of Haley is Biblically consistent.

    But really, when I look back at the Bible as an atheist, it's really just trying to make people feel inadequate and unworthy. "I'm feeling like an atheist? Oh no, God is angry with me, I'm being possessed by demons, I need to repent!" It's trying to trap people in belief with fear and self-loathing. "Doubt is proof of lack of faith and will make you less worthy for rewards in heaven", "human logic is nothing compared to God's reasoning", "atheism is just God handing people over to their self-idolatry". All sorts of barriers to real thought or consideration, all focused on how terrible we are and how much heaven will outshine Earth.

    Your Biblical belief is not healthy. It destroys self-esteems, teaches terrible morality, justifies unspeakable hatreds and violence. Unlike transexuality, Biblical belief has supported racism, slavery, genocide, monarchy, sexism, war, and all sorts of horrible treatment of others. It is an unhealthy mental delusion, which led to my own depression and near suicide on multiple occasions.

    Your accusations of unhealthiness are like the pot calling the kettle black, except that the kettle is white porcelain and the pot is cast iron stained black as death. It's unadulterated delusion, and would be side-splittingly hilarious if it wasn't apparently what you actually believe.

    -kagekiri

  • Pastor Dave

    Kagekiri, wanting to amputate a healthy penis might have something in common with wanting to amputate a healthy arm.

    I am sorry to hear that you have suffered depression and come close to suicide on multiple occasions. Still, your own mental illness is no basis for declaring Biblical belief to be an unhealthy mental delusion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I don't know, the judeo-christian god of the bible deosn't seem too bothered by genital modification, considering how he ordered the amputation of perfectly healthy foreskins.

    And I fail to see how your biblical belief gives you any basis for declaring a genuine medical condition a mental delusion when to my knowledge you are neither a medical doctor nor a psychologist.

  • Anonymous

    Oh really? I guess that my psychiatrist identified a lot of my self hatred as being rooted in my religious identity doesn't qualify as Biblical belief leading to mental delusion. The fact that verses backed up my beliefs entirely, and that they continue to haunt me, sure, you know better than I or actually trained medical personnel somehow.

    Ostensibly, you know the scriptures at least as well as I: when they constantly harp on how humans are inherently unworthy, well, I took it seriously. When they say this life is useless without God, I believed. When they say that Jesus should not have had to die for us, I agreed. The Bible says to beat your flesh into submission (self-harm!) and to take every thought captive for the sake of the kingdom (hating your thoughts). When the Bible says you are cursed for the sins of your forefathers, I saw my inheritance of sins and felt doomed. The beliefs were literally from the pages of Scripture.

    It's anecdotal, sure, but that's better than your sample set of zero. How would you know the causes of my depression? How would you know "God's" work in my life without even knowing me?

    Oh, because the Bible could NEVER be used to hurt someone, it's just so loving! The Bible is why there are fundies out there who want to bring back punishment of gay people, but no, it's impossible that the Bible could EVER lead to hate! The Bible was used to justify 2 millenia of anti-semitism, it's just so impossible that now it's being used to create hatred of LGBT people! It only says they're wrong, the source of all kinds of evil (Romans 1 again), misled and deluded by God, and deserving of eternal punishment!

    Thanks for responding so well to the bulk of my arguments too, because it's citing what the Bible says and commands that shows it as hateful towards gays and transgender people. You still claim these beliefs don't leave to hate? Again, it'd be hilarious if it weren't your actual position.

    Also, nice assumption that all gender identity issues involve body modification, and that it's just wanting to remove your penis for transgender women. Those assumptions are wrong. Gender reassignment surgery for transgender women reshapes the penis, it's not removed. So who's hurt there? Do you have similar objections to shaving, cutting hair, amputation for medical purposes of various body parts, clipping toenails, plastic surgery and other forms of harmless body modification that can nonetheless benefit people psychologically? "God meant for you to be born with a cleft lip, no surgery for you!"

    Biological determinism is stupid unless you're consistent and turn down treatments for diseases and make sure not to set up flood levies or lightning rods or earth-quake proofing. "God meant for you to be this way, so you have to keep being this way!"

    What qualifies you to judge something as unnatural? At least cite something, fer Chrissake. Hell, try using the Bible if real evidence of "unhealthiness" is too hard for you. Oh wait, the Bible just claims it on authority, like you. "God doesn't like it". How convincing.

    -kagekiri

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    Actually, asking about the weather or how school was going is the first thing I'd do. I find things work better if I let a person tell me about their massive life change on their terms instead of jumping into how they're violating my perceptions of reality.

    (BTW, I'm the wife of a conservative Christian pastor who may/may not agree with Haley and Melissa but believe that they are still people and worthy of my love.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03519675898483081005 Mrs. Searching

    I know this subject has been greatly belabored by now. However, I can't help saying that I wrote many things as a young person that I would not agree with at all now. Particularly regarding Native Americans; our would-be cult leader hated them and tried her best to pass that on. Also regarding the Japanese because of WWII. My oldest brother wrote a poem vilifying them and bragging about the bombs we dropped, and it never occurred to him how racist that was until he attended a homeschool conference with her as a young teen. A Japanese man came to their table and she scorned him away and told him to read my brother's poem (she gave him a copy). My brother was horrified and humiliated, and when he came of age he destroyed all the copies he could find.

    Kids do things they regret. Especially when it's the way to gain the approval of their authority figures and peers. Pulling out something someone wrote many years ago proves nothing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13355292731168818557 Laughter

    Maybe it's difficult to understand how someone might consider setting aside the great power having a penis gives one. Because, by being born male with the right dangly bits, you rule the world, your family, your wife, your church, and all the sinners in a limitless circle around you. :)

  • Colette

    "Your lack of willingness to friend me on Facebook was based on your aversion to anything I might say to question your transgender identity."

    Or, possibly, Haley's lack of willingness to friend you on facebook was because you're not really a friend. Would you know that some people actually consider the connotation of the word "friend" these days? I wouldn't exactly call your tone friendly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16370077487849008375 Lina

    Haley, I don't even know you, but I am so proud of you for writing this post. Either you knew what happened in the comments was a possibility, and you took the risk anyway, or you didn't know, but you've handled it with the grace I wish many Christians had. Thanks to the wonderful internet, I know this post will be inspiring to many more than you can ever realize. We all owe you our gratitude.

  • E M

    The hate in these comments is a stinking wreck and it makes me heartbroken to learn this is how far the love of Christ has been distorted by our depraved humanity. We all need it more than ever before and you and your family are in my prayers.

    (Please don't censor this as I know you have been in the practice of doing, I don't see anything inciting about my sadness and wish no ill towards anyone.)

  • E M

    Also, my sadness is even greater towards those who have not experienced God as he longs to be experienced…no amount of throwing verses around could ever compare with the magnitude of love and healing he offers. I realize there is no way to really communicate this in a non-harassing way right now…just know that I tried. While I don't stand with you I don't stand with guns blazing towards you either. It IS possible.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    E.M.- I understand your sadness. That is the main emotion experienced by Haley and I in conversations like this. My goal is to publish every comment, with the exception of comments that are completely off topic or extremely inflammatory. Ulimately Haley chose to stop responding to Pastor Dave because there appeared to be no end in sight, and I chose to delete one of his final comments as well as another anonymous rather than let them incite more and more mudslinging, which I try to avoid on my blog if at all possible.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I can't say I quite understand your objections to your friends' relationship (you call marriage a LEGAL institution but then specify that it is a RELIGIOUS belief that causes you to object to their relationship. Your reasoning is very confusing and seems inconsistent) but, in any case, what you are disagreeing with is a CHOICE made by those people two live in a relationship in which two of the people are legally married and the third is not. Like I said, disagreeing with what people choose and disagreeing with what people ARE are two different things.

    Trans people do not choose to be trans. They were born that way, just as much as I was born a biologically female with a female gender identity. If people want to disagree with all the science, myriad personal accounts, and just plain common sense (as Haley says, who would choose this given the repercussions?) that says that transgender people are "born that way" as much as cisgender people are, well, it's a free country, but I don't feel obliged to act like willful ignorance and unreason in support of bigotry is all fine and dandy.

    And if they think that trans people should just suck it up and live a lie, just like many people believe that gay people should just suck it up and give up sexual and romantic intimacy altogether, well, what they are saying is that trans people should not be able to be happy like they are. Every day people treat me like the gender I feel like I am inside (which often means harassing me and assuming and dumb or incompetent but that's a separate issue…). I get to live my own identity. Thinking that some people should not get to do that just because, for them, living their gender identity takes a little more work than nature did herself is not okay with me. Not okay. It is saying "You do not deserve the same things I do because of the way you were born." People can think that if they want, just like I can think those people are causing harm with their beliefs. Equality under the law is great but it's not enough. Acceptance, not merely legally enforced tolerance, should be the goal and I hope that we will move towards that as a society.

  • Awol

    Disagreeing that 'gayness' is genetic is not the same thing as disagreeing with someone's existence. It is disagreeing with the origin of a behavior or characteristic. That has nothing to do with hate. It is simply a matter of disagreeing about an origin of something that exists.

    To insist that acceptance, or agreement, must happen, rather than just tolerance or agreeing to disagree is fundamentally dangerous. When we deny each other the right to think as we wish, we may as well deny any and all freedoms. Populations will determine, by vote or tyranny or whatever, which behaviors, etc. they will deem acceptable, but that is different that demanding that everyone should think like we do, i.e. agree with us.

    I have experienced the tyranny of a fundamentalist church which had harsh and plentiful restrictions placed on women like myself (no longer there). I realized that if I wished to be respected with all my views, then I had to at least grant the same freedom of views or beliefs and respect to the fundamentalists, much as I intensely disagree with their theological practices and flavors. In fact, what they believe makes me nearly ill, based on my experience being in their church and STILL married to one of them. That being said, I would not want to insist that they agree with me. I would want it to be their choice. I realize that means that life might be more unpleasant for me or even downright miserable, but I am a firm believer in the right of individuals to believe as they wish.

    What they choose to practice and how their beliefs impinge upon me is a separate though related issue. I didn't like their beliefs so I left their church. I don't like all the laws and practices of this country (U.S.A.) so I can work to change those I don't like, in accordance with my convictions. I must, however, recognize that every other person in the country will be doing the same, and that may and has resulted in laws and practices which I, as an egalitarian woman, do not like. I still, still do not think I should try to demand that everyone think as I do, agree with me, etc. I also do not think they are hating me if they disagree with me, and some do. Some people even think that women are more inferior than men, which I could say has to do with my existence (it is actually a characteristic of my existence-my gender, that is), but I still would shudder to think that I should demand that they think as I do. I do not consider these people to be hating me when they think I am inferior as a woman; I know they don't. Some of them are women, in fact. I just consider them to be wrong, sincerely and seriously wrong, but not haters of me. (Of course, some of these people might hate me, but I know that many do not.)

    When we make acceptance of practices our goal, we still are left with the sticky wicket of which practices to accept and which to not accept. In some cultures, it is totally acceptable to have sex with what our culture has defined as 'children'. The children in these cultures don't have a choice, either. I wouldn't want to have to 'accept' that practice if it became the majority view in my country. Who gets to decide what is 'acceptable' after all? No matter the semantics, I hope to never expect another to accept and agree with all my views and practices. I may wish they did, but I hope to never expect it. I also hope to never call them haters of me just because they disagree with me. Hate and disagreement are not the same thing though they may coincide at times. I think it is dangerous and unfair to try to make hate and disagreement-no matter the issue-synonymous.

    And no, I am not writing this as a supporter of 'Pastor Dave', because I am not one, and no, I have never met the authors of this column nor anyone who has written here. I am the anonymous below of May 28th, 2:48 p.m.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06072215537523423975 Unknown

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-24-transgender-penner_N.htm

    Some people struggle even after the gender change.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06072215537523423975 Unknown

    Long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery: cohort study in Sweden.
    Dhejne C, Lichtenstein P, Boman M, Johansson AL, Långström N, Landén M.
    Source
    Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Abstract
    CONTEXT:
    The treatment for transsexualism is sex reassignment, including hormonal treatment and surgery aimed at making the person's body as congruent with the opposite sex as possible. There is a dearth of long term, follow-up studies after sex reassignment.
    OBJECTIVE:
    To estimate mortality, morbidity, and criminal rate after surgical sex reassignment of transsexual persons.
    DESIGN:
    A population-based matched cohort study.
    SETTING:
    Sweden, 1973-2003.
    PARTICIPANTS:
    All 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males) in Sweden, 1973-2003. Random population controls (10:1) were matched by birth year and birth sex or reassigned (final) sex, respectively.
    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
    Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for mortality and psychiatric morbidity were obtained with Cox regression models, which were adjusted for immigrant status and psychiatric morbidity prior to sex reassignment (adjusted HR [aHR]).
    RESULTS:
    The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8-4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8-62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9-8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0-3.9). Comparisons with controls matched on reassigned sex yielded similar results. Female-to-males, but not male-to-females, had a higher risk for criminal convictions than their respective birth sex controls.
    CONCLUSIONS:
    Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Whoever you are, I am glad you are begining to do some research on this topic. The mental and emotional issues for LGBTQ people are about the same as they are for straight people. However, for some reason those issues are only attributed to ones sexual orientation when one is queer. Yes, some trans people do not experience transition as helpful as they had hoped, those risks are well-known and trans people are informed of that risk. Trans people continue to seek treatment because whether they transition or not, they will continue to be trans. And given the major backlash and persecution most trans people experience when coming out and seeking treatment, it is not really surprising that trans people struggle during and after transition, especially when the control group in studies like this were compared to cis-gendered hereterosexual persons, who have not lived or experienced the outright hate directed at transgender people. I'd love to see a study on the psychological outcomes of transgendered people who do not seek transition, vs those who do.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06072215537523423975 Unknown

    It certainly would be an interesting study. The cohort is small, however, and that might be a problem unless there were a national healthcare system such as the one it the study from which to select data.

  • Rebecca in ID

    Sorry for coming back in on this so late, Haley. I'm not sure if you're going to catch this. I don't know if you'll be able to understand my POV on this but I'll try my best. To be very straightforward, I do think that homosexual behavior is harmful and that people who engage in it are mistaken and are injuring themselves. I do not think society should sanction the behavior by re-defining marriage. There are many other behaviors I think are harmful and damaging and I think society should not sanction–the use of addictive drugs such as heroine would be an example. I know homosexual behavior and heroine are different, but I'm bringing up the drug example to make just a simple point–that people don't say other people are haters of drug-users if they don't condone the use of drugs and they even want to continue to enforce laws discouraging drug use. (Don't get me wrong in this parallel; I'm not for laws against homosexual behavior). My point is that people seem to be able to kind of have it out and get into the principles of issues without necessarily feeling hated by the person taking the opposing viewpoint, but this issue is so charged. Probably because of the nasty attitude we see in such examples as the Baptists holding up signs saying "God hates fags". I want to say that I find that attitude utterly abhorrent. There are many same-sex attracted people who do live chastely, who do not hate gays, and who are not in favor of the re-definition of marriage, for many reasons. Again I won't get into it too deeply because I simply can't, but no, I am not referring to anything religious when I say something is written in our natures; I am talking about the kind of thing people mean when they speak of certain species of animals being social, needing certain kinds of food, needing certain kinds of parental interaction. You don't need to be religious to believe that we have a nature with certain needs and certain things which are contrary to our nature and harmful to society. And I realize all that is debatable–but my point is, let it be a debate, assuming good will on the part of the person you are debating with. There are people who are truly skewed and seem to think of gays as less than human or disgusting, but I do not wish to give it to them to represent those in favor of retaining the definition of marriage as it stands.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08312760352116849244 Family Way Doula

    Haley & Melissa,

    I generally identify as female and my spouse generally identifies as male. Those genders match our respective sexes. We often refer to our marriage, ourselves, and each other as 'gender bending'. Light-heartedly, I call him my wife, and refer to myself as the husband. Neither of us really fit into a cisgendered mold, in fact, I'm becoming more at home with the term 'genderqueer'. We are also both bisexual/pansexual, and again, I'm becoming more comfortable with the term 'queer' (partly because I'm finding it frustrating and clumsy to be fully inclusive while stringing letters together to refer to community. LGBTIQA?). I am polyamorous, my spouse is soul searching and exploring the whole poly/mono spectrum. We have been married for 10 years.

    When we started dating I was just putting my heart back together after the break-up of an all-female trio that I had expected to become a permanent arrangement. I was a vocal and practicing pagan (still am). I was a single mother, a raging feminist, and avid debater. I was his extremely Catholic, Eastern European immigrant parents' worst nightmare.

    Thirteen days after our first date, we were planning our wedding. Less than two months after our first date in mid-June, we were living together in a 2 bedroom apartment with my first grader son, and our friend staying on the couch. We were pregnant with our first son together by Halloween, and married nine days after Valentine's Day. Our daughter joined our family 2 years and one month after our wedding.

    Our marriage, like everyone's, has had it's hardships and it's highlights. Sometimes, the fact that we can 'pass' as a 'traditional' couple/family has made thing easier, other times it has made it harder. Reading your story together has resonated deeply with me. The love you have for each other echoes through each and every post that I have read. I loved getting the glimpses of your journey together, many of which felt so very familiar to me.

    I know what it is like to be hated for who you are, and for who you love. While I don't know either of you personally, and I would never presume to think that I truly 'know' someone based on their (or their spouse's) blog posts, I feel confident in saying that I've seen enough to wish that I had the opportunity to know you. Your story, as Melissa has told it on this blog is so incredibly sweet and inspiring. Not because I think you are particularly exceptional (although I wouldn't discount that descriptor, either), but because you are both so relatable. The love shines through, and the reader alternates between thinking 'I've felt that' and 'I miss feeling that'.

    I think you are both very lucky to have each other and that your children are truly and deeply blessed to have you both as parents. I hope you continue to share your lives with us readers as honestly and authentically as you have been, and that you get far more love and hope in the comments than hate. Thank-you for everything you have shared already.

    –Stef

  • Anonymous

    Dear Haley,

    thank you for writing this article. You are an inspiration. Your truth shines brightly to all of us who aren't blinded by hate/dogma.

    Dear Pastor Dave,

    Your arrogance is appalling. I hope that one day you will learn a more humble manner and be able to treat people with respect and love, even if you don't understand them. Until that day please stay far away from my family and myself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10224593627424977328 Jeditiffin

    Haley, I enjoyed reading about yours and Melissa's journey together after having found my way to the site from another site earlier today. I was then even more excited to find a post written by you. Thank you for sharing.

    I chuckled at the anonymous comment about the AVERAGE person finding it 'somewhat shocking to see a man try to become a woman'. I'll tell ya, after 44 relatively average years of life, there's hardly anything that I find even 'somewhat' shocking anymore.

    I hope, as a society, that we're slowly moving away from the perceived need to impose values on one another…it's always stuck in my craw that in a country so fond of celebrating the ideal of freedom, we have far too many examples in our shorty history of working extremely hard at denying it for so many.

    Peace to your entire family,
    Travis

  • Renee S

    You and your family are so inspiring and you are teaching me so much! Thank you for blogging…don’t stop! :)

  • Dubliner

    I’m learning so much about human diversity from blogs like this. I find it easy to relate to Melissa and Haley despite being a cis middle aged woman but I find it very difficult to relate to people like Pastor Dave who are a part of humanities recent past in my opinion. I think I’m fortunate to have been born into the society which gets to experience of 21st century Europe with the technological advances that expose me to the inner most thoughts, feelings and experiences of people I could otherwise never know. I have great hope for a humanity that understand the evolutionary processes that have made each of us what we are and at the same time can transcend those evolutionary pressures to overcome in group, out group mentalities that cause suspicion and automatic disapproval of those not just like us. I hold religion responsible for holding back that process and am grateful to have witnessed in my lifetime in my country the rapid withering of religious belief and with it the distaste for all that doesn’t fit with the religious ideal. I think that much of the US is a step behind in that process but it will come and with it humanity will take a giant step forwards. Hopefully my three offspring will be witness to that in their lifetime. Thank you Melissa and Haley for being part of that process.

  • http://TransConfusedFamily.com Kim Schroeder

    We sure have some similarities. I did not grow up in a Christian household, but I chose to follow
    Christ at 19. Eventually I decided to do full times missions work and entered a divinity program @ TEDS Deerfield, il. The trans thing started at 3 years of age and never went away. i was as dedicated as i could be and ill stare down anyone who would claim i was not sincere in my faith. Due to this sincerity I took myself out of the ministry path because I knew I was not eligible for Evangelical Free Church ministry. I felt as if some of what was written here was by my own hand. Living with being everything you are not supposed to be is quite the experience. My wife and I are attempting to be a resource for family members of trans persons. My specific soft spot is for evangelicals faced with a transgender family member. Thank you for this article! Kim Schroeder

  • http://TransConfusedFamily.com Kim Schroeder

    I should mention my step son is likewise trans and came out before I did. The true hero of our family is Kris Schroeder, my wife. Please note her/our blog site . I think I can learn lots from you and get support. We may be able to return the favor in humble ways. Thank you again from my family to your family Kim

  • ElaineBS

    Haley and Melissa,
    I’ve just discovered your post and want to thank you for being so open and honest, and prepared to face criticism as well as support.
    I am a trans doctor from UK and only in the last decade have I been able been able to come to terms with who I am and to accept myself. I am now sure that God loves me as I am too, as do many of my friends. Sadly, my church did not take so kindly to me when I decided to be open and honest with them. My wife and I eventually had to move churches, to one that loved an embraced us.
    The opposition we experienced was in spite of the fact that I don’t identify as TS and have no desire to be full-time. I wasn’t even planning to attend church as Elaine. It seems that it is as much a ‘sin’ just to be Elaine for some of the time!
    As I am now retiring from my medical work, I am devoting more time to writing and engaging in dialogue about transgender. My background is evangelical, so it’s an uphill struggle, but I feel I owe it to younger trans people to try and help churches to become better and more inclusive places for thos who are different. Elaine

  • Alicia

    “Non-gay beliefs”…such as? What is a “non-gay belief”?

    Because if you mean “lunch is a good meal,” which is a belief that has nothing to do with being gay or not gay, then the statement is irrelevant and the context confusing, but sure. People should be able to disagree about that and be civil about it, and probably (unless someone was really, truly traumatized by a lunch-related occurrence in the past) there won’t be much problem with tolerance.

    But if by “non-gay beliefs” you *actually* mean beliefs that 1. LGBT people don’t exist or they shouldn’t exist or 2. they do exist but their existence is the result of some kind of cosmic malfunction or 3. they do exist but only b/c they’re sinners…then you should be able to see very clearly and easily, with very minimal effort, that it would be extremely difficult for anyone coming out as LGBT to “be tolerant” of those INTRINSICALLY INTOLERANT beliefs. Probably after years of being told those things, glibly, by family members and supposed friends, by their religious leaders, by society. Years of being frequently and consistently reminded that they were somehow “wrong.” It would be awfully tough to sit back and take that again after you’d finally rejected it.

    So is the argument that someone should decide to come out of that shame and internal anguish and then be required, first and foremost, to be polite to the people who continue to (politely, though!) insist that they’re living their own lives “wrong”? Really?? Is that really the priority in this scenario?

    That’s the equivalent (using the previous “lunch is good” example) of finding out that someone you know HAS had traumatic lunch experiences, for years and years, the depths of which you were unaware of until now and that you still can’t understand, and then insisting on continuing to talk about how awesome lunch is and how they should like it more ad infinitum and being confused when they get upset or consider you rude. Continuing to give YOUR opinion of what their life is or should be like when someone is trying to tell you what THEIR experience has been IS rude. There’s no way to tolerate that.

    On the other hand, I know plenty of LGBT people who come out and *are* eventually incredibly accepting of other viewpoints, including ones that continue to deny their personhood.

    So I say this to anyone who may feel they should be free to continually offer their opinions on the lives/opinions/choices/spiritual status of other people as if they had a right to do so: if you haven’t met any of those miraculously forgiving people who will allow you to continue questioning their existence, substituting your experiences for their own, and giving them unsolicited advice without responding rudely, it might not be that *they* are having a problem with tolerance. It might be that you’re intolerable.

  • Alicia

    Careful with conflating “nature” and 1950s capitalist nuclear familyism. Any study of anthropology reveals a huge variety in family structures and the ways that those benefited the societies they served. American nuclear families served an industrial society that required a lot of demand to keep growing (which the modern capitalist economy requires) — thus, men were tasked to go work in factories all day while women were tasked with filling households with lots and lots of stuff.

    There’s nothing “natural” about that. It’s just one historical example of how families have been formed and normalized, and like with most cultural mores, it’s come to define “family” for the people living within that context as if that’s been the reality for all cultures through all of time.

    If you’d like to debate why the redefinition of marriage isn’t a good idea for society, what that means to, say, an LGBT couple who would like to get married and participate in those aspects of society, is that you (or whoever the debater is) believe they shouldn’t be allowed to get married. That it would be BAD FOR SOCIETY if they lived their lives the way they would like to — if they were honest about who they loved, and if they were fully accepted as members of adult civil society and allowed to make their own choices just like all other adults.

    It costs you literally nothing to have this belief. It costs them a LOT.

    You are literally asking LGBT people to sit and listen patiently and politely while they are told why their choices, identities and existence are wrong, and why you (or the debater) know better. This is not a debate for LGBT people. It’s their actual lives.

    THAT is why focusing on whether people fighting for their rights are being polite or not is so ridiculous.


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