Category Archives: headlines

The Conversation About Mental Illness

People have often asked me how I can stand writing about controversial things, and/or how I can handle the negative comments when I write something that’s widely read … especially the people who know how very sensitive I am (which is anyone who’s known me longer than about 90 seconds).   The truth is, sometimes I do get my feelings a little – or a lot – hurt.  And sometimes I wonder why I keep doing it.  And sometimes I want to just take my ball and go home.

But in many ways, it is far easier to be brave on my blog, where it has the potential to reach many people, than it is on a smaller forum.  Or than it is with people I know – even if you’re using the word “know” in the loose, Facebook-era kind of way.  I like to keep my own little personal Facebook bubble generally light and happy and controversy-free.  Partly because that’s just who I am when I’m not railing about my various causes, but also because I can’t handle the heat.  I can’t.  Every time, EVERY TIME, I think I’m brave enough to post something that’s going to garner mixed opinions … I regret it, I end up crying, or both.  That’s just the way I’m wired, for better or worse.  My blog is different, because even though there’s the potential for a much larger group of people to be much meaner to me, there’s also anonymity.  There’s safety behind the curtain.  There’s the “imagine everyone in their underwear” mind-tricks to keep things in perspective.  In small groups though, there’s just so much raw vulnerability. For a person whose greatest blessing and biggest curse happens to be vulnerability, it can be a lot to handle.

Sometimes I forget, though.  And sometimes I post something controversial.  And then I regret it.  And then I delete it.

I did that very thing tonight in fact.  I posted the thing, a respectful conversation followed, and still I panicked and deleted. I felt an immediate sense of relief …. promptly followed by whatever the opposite of relief is, promptly followed by bawling in the bathtub (the kind of crying where you feel like you’re never going to stop), and texting my friend to talk me down.

The thing is, I wish I hadn’t deleted it.  Because I think it’s an important conversation to be had.  I think it’s one of the MOST important conversations we should have.  So I’m bringing it over here where I feel brave.  Where I won’t feel the need to delete.

Like all of you, I was horrified by the news of another school shooting.  Like most of you, I have strong opinions on what I believe should and should not be done to hopefully help solve the problem.  Like a lot of you, I’ve been saddened and frustrated and angered by many of the memes I saw floating through my Facebook feed.

For reasons that are obvious to any of my regular readers, I’ve felt particularly stung every time I saw a meme screaming, “Mental illness!  MENTAL!  ILLNESS!”

I finally saw one that flipped a switch in me that turned off all reason, and I posted this:

I have a mental illness. It is currently well-managed. When it is not well-managed, the only person – THE ONLY PERSON – I’ve ever thought of harming is myself.

As I said up above, what followed was a respectful conversation.  No one was mean, no one called me names.  The comments were, even from the people who disagreed and/or didn’t understand the point I was trying to make, pretty benign.  “There are lots of different kinds of mental illness.”  “Different people are affected differently.”  “There are many factors at play.”

Yes.  Sure.  All true.

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but for the sake of clarity:  I am not at all suggesting that the shooter was not mentally ill.  People who are of sound mind don’t typically go on shooting sprees.  The fact that people are suggesting he’s mentally ill isn’t actually my problem.

My problem is that we’re perpetuating a stereotype.  My problem is that we’re feeding a stigma.  My problem is that we’re taking this tiny percentage of those with mental illnesses (you guys, this is a TINY percentage) and using it as a scapegoat.  As a way to explain something away.  As a way to make ourselves more comfortable with a situation in which there IS no comfort.  “Oh, well he was MENTALLY ILL.  Of course.” My problem is that we’re holding this one, extreme, violent person and saying:  This.  This is what mental illness looks like.

I hate to break it to you, but mental illness FAR MORE OFTEN looks like the guy sitting next to you on the bus minding his own business.  Like the co-worker you’re joking with next to the water cooler. Like the person who sold you your house, or cut your hair, or did your taxes.  Like the girl in the bare feet and the owl pajamas.  The who falls and keeps getting back up again.  The one who isn’t going to bed until she hits “publish” on her blog post.

A few fast facts about mental illness and violence:

People with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators. (source)

The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is very small. (source)

The public is largely misinformed about any links between mental illness and violence.   (source)

These inaccurate beliefs lead to widespread stigma and discrimination. (source)

Someone in my since-deleted Facebook post asked me, “Are you saying that you think talking about mental illness is harmful?”  And what I think is very much the opposite.  I think we need to be talking about mental illness.  I think we need to know what mental illness is (and is not!). I think we need to have more compassion.  I think we need to harbor less judgement.  I think we need to demand true information, and real awareness.   I think this conversation needs to happen openly, honestly, and in an ongoing fashion.  Because what’s happening in the media right now?  That’s not a conversation about mental illness.  It’s fear-mongering.  It’s sensationalism.  It’s perpetuating a stereotype, it’s increasing stigma, and it is HARMFUL.

Let me say that again:  Make no mistake.  What’s happening right now is harmful to those with mental illnesses, and making those who suffer even less likely to seek help when it’s needed.

I’m going to close with something I wrote on the thread on my Facebook page before I deleted.   It was responses to this comment that were what eventually led me to delete the post.  Because it was so, so deeply personal.  And if you don’t feel heard when you write something so personal … I don’t know.  I think it’s one of the most painful things we can experience.  This is what I wrote, and the kernel from which this whole post was born.

There are so many people, so so many people, who’ve had or currently have suicidal ideation, who are afraid to get help for various reasons. I think the stigma is a huge one, as well as the fact that there is so much judgment attached (ie: How could anyone do something so *selfish*?, etc). But I also think that talking about it just makes people so damn uncomfortable that they’d do anything to avoid it. I get it. It’s uncomfortable. No one’s even mentioned it in this entire thread, despite my having led with it. But my life is valuable too, as is everyone’s who suffers from a mental illness. The problem is, it seems like no one wants to talk about mental illness until someone commits some horrific crime. This tiny, tiny segment of mentally ill people is literally the only exposure that people are getting. And by sensationalizing it, and using it to explain something away (something that is obviously multi-faceted) so many people are hurt. The feeling that one gets, from this side of it, is that your average, run-of-the-mill person who has a mental illness – which is SO many more people than most are aware of – is unimportant. If they take their *own* lives, oh well, as long as they’re not violent towards others. So sure, let’s have a conversation about mental illness, but that conversation needs to include the vast vast majority of people who live/work/exist without ever harboring violent tendencies. Otherwise, it’s just propagating stereotypes and increasing stigmas.

Let’s do better.  Please.

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Filed under about me, bipolar, depression, headlines, mania, mental health, rant

An Open Letter to Kelly Clarkson

In a January 10th interview, Kelly Clarkson defended her decision to spank her kids, saying in part: “My parents spanked me, and I did fine in life, and I feel fine about it, and I do that as well.  That’s a tricky thing, when you’re out in public, because then people are like, they think that’s wrong or something, but I find nothing wrong with a spanking.”  The following is my response to those remarks.

You love your kids.  I don’t doubt this.  You would give your life for them.  Like the rest of us, you’re doing the best you can with the information you have, and you have the added pressure of having your every decision critiqued by the general public.  I can’t pretend to know what that’s like.

I understand what you are saying here.  I do.  You are simply doing what your parents did, and probably their parents too. Those patterns run deep, and they require a lot of effort, self-reflection, and often painful realizations to break.  Your parents loved you after all, so why would they do something that hurt you?  The fact is, they just did the best they knew how to do, with the information that they had at the time.  But we’re not our parents.  And we have more information now.

You say you’re “fine”, which is one of the most common refrains that I hear from those who spank their kids.  But – and I say this in the most gentle way I know how – you’re believing a lie.  You’re not fine if you think it’s okay to hit children.  That’s what spanking is.  It’s hitting.  And it’s hitting someone smaller and weaker than yourself.

The great thing about the passage of time is that we can learn from the generations before us.  Our parents did (and didn’t) do all kinds of the things that we now know more about, and can ideally learn from and do differently.  We didn’t wear seat belts.  Or bike helmets.  People smoked through their pregnancies. They were encouraged to wean after just a few months, or even weeks.  Just the other day I was thinking about piercings (I’m currently in the process of healing my latest one), and how the old school of thought told us to twist the jewelry every day.  Now, of course, we know that this actually impedes the healing process, and that the best thing to do is to just keep them clean and leave them alone.

When we know better, we do better.

There is a big movement right now admonishing moms to stop judging each other, and instead just recognize that people do things differently.  To a large extent, I agree!  I don’t care if you make your kids a homemade balanced breakfast, or if they eat a Pop-Tart in the car on the way to school.  I don’t care if their bedtime is at 7:00 or 11:00.  I don’t care if they spend their free time watching SpongeBob or reading Moby Dick.

The thing is though, spanking is not a parenting issue.  It’s a human rights issue. Children, like all humans, have the right to be free from violence, especially in their own home.  They have the right to autonomy, to decide who does and does not touch their bodies, and when, and how, and for what reason.  Hitting your children not only teaches them that it’s okay to solve problems by hitting, but it specifically teaches them to hit people who are smaller and weaker than themselves.  It also seriously blurs the lines of consent, and lets them believe that, well, sometimes it’s okay for people to touch private areas of their bodies, as long as the person doing the hitting is unhappy with their behavior.

Hitting a spouse – or a friend or a neighbor or a stranger in a bar – is assault, and a serious offense.  There are even animal cruelty laws to protect animals.  46 of the 50 states have enacted felony penalties for certain forms of animal abuse.  The fact that there are no such laws to protect children does not make it right.  Your right to parent as you see fit never supersedes your child’s right to be free from harm in his or her own home.  Because make no mistake.  No matter how you frame it, spanking is still hitting.  And hitting in any way, shape, or form (other than in self defense) is violence.  And it’s wrong.

The ironic part?  Parents that spank do so because they think it’ll improve their children’s behavior.  But study after study shows that spanking actually has the opposite effect.   Spanking makes a child less likely to listen, not more.  It also contributes to later aggression, anti-social behavior, and mental health problems.  This is real.  This is not an opinion, nor is it just empty words. Spanking is harmful, on every level, and the best of intentions (and absolutely, I believe that most parents are well-intentioned) doesn’t change that.

Our kids need our protection. They need our support and our guidance.  They need us to be living examples of what it means to be respectful and patient and kind.

More than anything though, they need our love.

And hitting should never, ever be conflated with love.

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Filed under gentle discipline, gentle parenting, headlines, mindful parenting, parenting

Learning From That Health Club Shower Picture

girlwithtanktop

I’m sitting propped up in bed as I write this, my eight-year-old daughter sound asleep beside me.  As always, she’s a charming mix of rough & tumble and feminine grace, even when she sleeps.  She’s sleeping in the same running shorts and black t-shirt she had on yesterday.  Her arms and legs are golden brown, thanks to the Arizona sun and hours in her cousin’s pool.  The pixie cut she’s been growing out since January is now long enough to be flopping across her face, completely obscuring one of her eyes.  Her breathing is deep and even, her mind no doubt dreaming up adventures that she’ll likely recount to me when she wakes up.

She’s perfect.

Like her three brothers before her, her very existence has made me grow, made me question, and made me think – about so very many things – in a whole new light.  One issue that’s become increasingly important to me since I’ve had a daughter is that of positive body image.   I feel like it’s one of my jobs as her mother to make sure she feels good about her own body, so that she can then go out into the world and accept other people’s bodies, exactly as they are, and truly recognize that beauty really isn’t one-size-fits-all.  And it’s not that it’s not important for boys too, because of course, it is.  It’s just that there’s such a disturbingly high amount of girl-on-girl judgment and shame and ridicule out there when it comes to our bodies.  Everything from fat shaming, to “feed that girl a sandwich” thin shaming, to taking covert pictures of unsuspecting naked women in a health club shower, for the sole purpose of making fun of them and posting them on social media.  

Dani Mathers, a model whose name I’d never heard of until a few days ago, was in an LA Fitness locker room recently, when she decided to take a picture of a naked woman in the shower, paired it side-by-side with a selfie with her hand over her mouth, captioned it “If I can’t unsee this, you can’t either,” and then posted it to all of her followers on Snapchat.  Her defense was that she didn’t understand how Snapchat worked, and that she thought she was sharing the picture in a private conversation, as if that somehow made it better.

What she did was horrific.  I don’t think that’s even up for debate.  She took a naked picture of an unsuspecting stranger who was just trying to use the locker room, and she publicly shared it to ridicule her.   I don’t know anyone who doesn’t find what she did completely deplorable.  She’s been (rightly) banned for life from all of LA Fitness’s locations.  The situation is (rightly) being investigated by authorities.    I hope there are pressed charges.  I hope she genuinely feels remorse.

But here’s the thing.

I think it’s far too easy to hear things like this and get too comfortable in our moral high ground.  We get self-righteous, and sort of… smug. “That’s horrible!  I’d never do something like that!”  And absolutely, I can tell you with confidence and certainty that I’d never take a naked picture of a stranger and post it on my Snapchat.  But am I any better than she is because of it?  Of course not.  We’re all humans here, making our human mistakes.

And when it comes to body shaming, am I completely blameless?  I wish I could tell you that I was.  I wish I could tell you that I’ve never ever disparaged my own body,  or that I’ve never ever made a catty comment about someone else to a friend, or that I’ve never ever made a judgmental double-take at someone’s choice of clothing (or lack thereof), or that I’ve never ever laughed at a photo on People of Walmart.  But I can’t.   I’m guilty too.

I think that most of us know the right thing to do, and the right things not to do, but that there’s sometimes a disconnect between the knowing and the actually putting it into practice…. for all kinds of reasons, but often just because we’re fallible and we make bad decisions.

The fact is, I’m still learning too.  And things like this never fail to remind me that I could do better.  That I have to do better.   For myself, for the people around me,

and most especially for the innocent 8 year old by my side.

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The One About The Boobies

sculpture-naked-bosom-breasts-38444

We talk about boobs a lot in our house (and before I go any further, I’m using the word “boobs” only because it’s my preferred euphemism. I’m not a fan of most of the others, and the word “breasts”, while of course anatomically correct, feels strangely formal. And we’re all friends here, right? So boobs it is. But if you don’t like that word, feel free to substitute your favorite alternative as you go.)

Anyway, as I said, we talk about boobs a lot. Not in a creepy or weird or crass way, but just because we have an eight year old who is extremely open when it comes to talking about… well, everything… and a favorite topic at the moment happens to be puberty. Side note: She also talks about farts way more often than the boys ever did, combined. I always laugh when people equate potty humor with mostly boys, because they obviously haven’t met Tegan yet. But I digress.

She knows – at least in basic concept – about sex, she understands what happens during puberty, and while not necessarily excited about it, she accepts that she’s going to have boobs one day.  She knows that they make milk should she become a mother.  She knows that they come in different sizes.  She knows that you don’t get to pick your size unless you have surgery of some sort.  She knows about bras, and sports bra, and as of recently, she knows about these too:

 

These are the greatest things ever if you don’t wish to wear a bra, or if the cut of your top or dress means that straps would show, or if you’re like me (a 34A to be… lying. An AA, with zero reason to wear a bra for support) and want to be comfortable, but don’t want to worry about any nipple issues.

They’re also similar to what Kaitlyn Juvik  says she was wearing under her (completely modest and appropriate and loose-fitting) black top the day that her teacher reported her for not wearing a bra, because it made him “uncomfortable.” Juvik – rightly – protested, it instantly became a whole big internet thing, and people are quickly jumping to one side or the other. I read one article that had a little survey at the end about whether or not girls should be required to wear bras to school, and the response was rather disturbingly divided down the middle: something like 54% to 46% in favor of yes.

There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start.

1. No teacher should be looking at an underage girl’s chest long enough or closely enough to even be able to discern if she is or is not wearing a bra.  Let’s just start there.  Her shirt was not see-through, it was not sheer, it was not tight.  It was a black t-shirt; nothing that demanded special attention.  Why was he looking at her breasts long enough to determine that there was no bra in the first place?  That to me is a larger issue that I wish more people were talking about.

2. Schools shouldn’t be in the business of policing undergarments.  If Juvik had violated the school’s dress code, this would be a slightly different conversation.  But she didn’t.  She wasn’t showing cleavage, and she wasn’t wearing anything revealing.   I’m not a fan – to put it politely – of the idea of dress codes in the first place, but I understand why they exist, and can even get behind them if they are fair to both male and females… which, let’s just be honest, they so very rarely are.  But the school’s dress code said nothing about bras (as it shouldn’t, because HELLO they are undergarments!)   What sort of underwear someone does or does not choose to wear should  be nobody’s business but the owner of said underwear.  The fact that I even need to say that out loud is so disgusting that I feel like I need to immediately take a shower to wash off some of the ick.

3. It encourages misogyny and rape culture.  We find ourselves, again, with another situation where a woman’s body is deemed responsible for someone else’s discomfort.  THIS IS NOT OKAY!  Women are not responsible for men’s thoughts.  Women’s bodies are not responsible for men’s comfort. Women’s boobs are not responsible for men’s actions.  My body, and my daughter’s body, and Kaitlyn Juvik’s body have just as much right to take up space in this world as my husband’s, and as my son’s.  If someone is uncomfortable due to what someone else is or is not wearing, that is on him, and him alone.

4. They’re just boobs.  Let’s just take a minute here for some perspective.  Males and females both have nipples.  We’re basically talking about a matter of a little bit more (in my case, a very little bit more) fatty tissue beneath them.  That’s it.  It’s nothing to get freaked out about.  Seriously, they’re just breasts.  Yes, I understand that they’re often viewed and used in a sexual context, but these are not genitals.  And you know what?  Even if we were talking about genitals…  I might not be “comfortable” if I were eye-level with the graphic end of a Speedo, but I would defend till my last breath the wearer’s right to wear it. 

It makes me angry, and to be completely honest, a little bit scared, that this is the world in which my daughter will grow up…. a world that wants to tell her that she needs to wear a bra, whether she wants to or not, lest she offend the delicate sensibilities of the men around her.  A world that wants to tell her that she is nothing more than a body.   A world that wants to tell her that she is somehow less than exactly as she is, and that she doesn’t deserve to be here, exactly as she is, as much as her male counterparts.

My daughter?  I’m going to tell her to be strong, and to hold her head high.  I’m going to tell her that she matters, not because some man told her she mattered, but just because she is her.   I’m going to tell her that she can be anything, and do anything that she puts her mind to.

And that it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether or not she’s wearing a bra while she does it.

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In A World Where Rapists Only Get Six Months

brock turner

This is the face of a rapist

I have been sitting here, staring at this blank page, for half an hour now.

So many words, and yet….. no words at all.

The one thought, the one thing that keeps coming back to mind is:  “How in the hell did we get here?  How is this the world we live in?”

I think of that boy.  I think of Brock Turner.  I think of the depravity of a kind of person who could not only do what he did, but show no remorse.  I think of the people who defend him, and of the journalists who want to keep bringing up his swimming records.  Because, apparently, being really good at something is somehow worth more than the woman he assaulted, and the life he forever altered?  Ted Bundy was good at things too.  I think of that girl, and what she went through, and what she continues to go through.  I think of what he took from her.  I think of her family, and her friends, and the people who love her.  I think of ALL the victims of sexual assault, past and present, and how verdicts like this are an assault to them all over again.  I think of the students who stopped the assault, one of whom was crying so hard at what he saw that he could barely answer the officers’ questions.  I think of the judge, the judge who felt a person who systematically removed an unconscious girl’s clothes, then physically and sexually violated her behind a dumpster is not a danger to others, and who couldn’t possibly be punished for more than six months because of the severe impact such a punishment would have on his life.  I think of the boy’s father, who – among other equally disgusting things – said that his son shouldn’t have to pay a steep price for his “20 minutes of action.”

He’s depressed, his father tells us.  He’s barely eating.  He’s a shell of the boy he once was.  It’s horrible what this has done to his life.

And in six months, his punishment will be over.  While the girl he raped is punished and haunted by his “actions” every day for the rest of her life.

But it was the alcohol!  He made a bad decision, and he drank too much.  She made a bad decision and she drank too much.  He’s seen the error of his ways.  He never should have…. drank.  Oh and according to his father he’s “totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”   Wow!!  How noble and selfless!!

How about this, Brock Allen Turner?

How about you educate other college age students not to rape?

How about you tell other college age students that if someone has had too much to drink, you should help them, not strip them of their clothes, push them behind a dumpster, and violate them?

How about you explain to other college age students what consent means, and how consent is something that an unconscious person is not able to give.

How about you admit to the vile and heinous crime you committed, and that you deserve the maximum punishment available?

How about you quit trying to garner sympathy, and whining about how this is ruining your life, and think about the ACTUAL victim here?

How about you apologize not just for your crimes, but for the disgusting and misogynistic and patriarchal society that supports you?  The one that not only allows a rapist to walk free after six months, but wants us to actually feel sorry for him.

I do not feel sorry for Brock Turner.

I feel disgusted with Brock Turner.  I feel anger towards Brock Turner.  I feel rage at a system, and a world, and a society that lets this be okay.

And to his victim?  To you I offer my whole hearted support, and love, and validation.   There are not words for how sorry I am for what you endured, and what you continue to endure.  You are strong.  You are brave.  I stand with you.  Lots of people stand with you.  I hope that you know that.  I hope that you feel our support.

I hope that somehow, someday, I can tell my own kids about the backwards system that supported people like Brock Turner, and about the people like his victim who bravely stood up, again and again, to say “no more”…..

and how that system eventually changed.

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My God Won’t Leave You Stranded On The Side Of The Road

SONY DSC

Christianity has a bit of a PR problem.

As I type that, I want to laugh (except of course that I’m so sad I want to cry), because it’s just about the biggest understatement I could possibly make.

Christianity has a really really huge, colossal PR problem.   The word – and concept – of Christianity has become such a marred and dirty word that I don’t know that it’s likely to ever recover.  In fact, many God-loving people are abandoning the word altogether, because they’re sick and tired of having to follow the statement of “I’m a Christian,” with a hastily uttered addendum of “But not one of those Christians.”  I actually started calling myself a follower of Christ a few years ago, because I felt like it more accurately described my position.

And really, who wants to be associated with… well, those Christians?

People hear the word Christian these days and they think of people like Phil Robertson.  They think of people freaking out about coffee cups.  They think of people freaking out about bathrooms in Target.  They think of people freaking out about the phrase, “Happy Holidays.”  (Are you sensing a pattern here?)  They think of people petitioning and boycotting and generally spending their collective time and energy on being negative.  They think about people withdrawing their funds for starving babies – literally taking food away from hungry children – because of an administrative policy that wouldn’t discriminate against gay people.  They think about bakers refusing to make wedding cakes.  They think about hatred.  They think about prejudice and bigotry and judgement.

And as of this week…. they think about tow truck drivers proudly taking a stand and refusing to tow the car of a disabled young lady who’d just been in accident… all because she had a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on her car.

People hate Christians.

And not because, as some would have you believe, they’re doing God’s work à la Matthew 10:22 (“You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”)  No.  They’re hated because too many of them have been behaving  like horrible, horrible people – and it could stand to be said: not at all Christ-like – and then proudly claiming God as their justification.

And I get it.  I struggle with my love for my fellow Christians too.  I want to cry.  I want to scream.  I want to desperately yell, “We’re not all like this!!”  Yes, 98% of my writings on Christianity have been born of straight-up frustration.  No question.

But I realized something.

In the time it took me to decide to write about this, to find the perfect picture, and to brew the perfect cup of coffee, it dawned on me:

This is not about Christianity at all.  It’s really not.  It’s about select individuals making bad decisions, and using “God” as their cover. I’d like to believe (really, I need to believe) that people are smart enough to see the difference.  That anyone with a working, thinking, rational brain can recognize that a Christian, as in a follower of Christ, is NOT synonymous with a “Christian”, as in “I’m going to leave an innocent girl stranded on the side of the road BECAUSE GOD TOLD ME TO.”

Am I horrified by this behavior?  Yes.  Do I find it absolutely disgusting that anyone would bring God into something so ugly?  Yes.  But my ranting and raving and general defensive word-spewing only serves to bring me down to their level. I’m not the spokeswoman for Christianity at large.  Beyond that though, I can’t control what anyone else does.  I can’t control what anyone else thinks.  If someone wants to behave like a complete and utter jackass and  delude themselves into thinking it’s what God wants them to do, it’s their choice to make. If someone wants to lump all Christians together and label them all as horrible, bigoted, self-seeking sycophants, so be it.

None of that changes my faith.  None of that changes my God.

Have you met my God?

(Ack, I just heard the way that sounds.  Please don’t stop reading.  I do NOT mean that in a door-to-door, “Brother, have you accepted the LORD JESUS as your personal savior??” kind of way.  What I mean is… do you know who it is that I – and others like me – personally follow?  Because let me perfectly clear: It is not a deity who would ever… ever ever ever… ask me to turn my back on someone who needed my help.  In fact, my God is very much the opposite)

My God has more love, and grace, and patience than humans can even comprehend.  Love and grace and patience for ALL people …. Black people and white people. Gay people and straight people.  Christians and atheists and Jewish people.  Sanders supporters and Trump supporters.   Able-bodied and disabled.  People who spend Sunday morning at church.  People who spend Sunday morning at Target.

My God wants me to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor, and to stand up for the oppressed.  It’s kind of the whole reason I’m on earth.  I really believe that.  All this other stuff… it’s just noise and distractions.  And make no mistake;  I miss the mark, a LOT.  (More on that later)  But what I strive for? This is it.

My God wants me to use my powers for good, not evil.  I realize I’m a person and not a superhero, but it’s far more interesting to think of our skills, talents, and gifts as super powers, don’t you think?  I like to think that my super power is writing, but, you know, I’m not God, so….  A few years ago, I thought I heard God to tell me to get trained to teach yoga, so I did.  And I’ve spent many moments since then wondering if that was the right decision.  I had two shoulder surgeries in two years.  I have had chronic physical illness, chronic pain, and the worst anxiety and depression I’ve ever experienced. I’m clearly supposed to be learning something from the experience, and I’m still not sure what it is.   Maybe one day I’ll go back to teaching.  Maybe I’ll shift my focus elsewhere.  But I digress.  We’ve all got powers, and we all get to decide how we use them.  My God wants me to use them for good, whatever they ultimately end up being.

My God wouldn’t ask me not to bake a wedding cake.  If wedding cakes were the way I brought to the world my skills and my heart and my love of Christ, He would ask me to bake two.  He would ask me to make the best damn gay wedding cakes that ever existed, and to do it with love.  He would ask me to throw in some free cookies too.  Not the day-old ones that were sitting out in the case and starting to get dry around the edges, but fresh cookies.  Beautiful cookies, made with the finest ingredients I could get my hands on.

My God wouldn’t ask me to spend my time and my energy and my blood, sweat, and tears on picketing, petitioning, and boycotting. My God tells me that my time is so much better spent doing the work I need to do on myself so I can live out my faith to the best of my ability.  So I can show people what Jesus actually looked like; so I can show people how Jesus actually behaved.

My God wouldn’t ask me to leave anyone stranded on the side of the road.  The entirety of what I feel, and believe, and know to be true about my God and my faith tells me that the moment someone is in need is in fact the very moment that we’re here for. As a follower of Christ, as a person with a heart and a soul, as a human sharing this earth with other people, I am here to help my fellow man.  This is it.  This is what it’s about.  Forget the fact that it was his job as a tow truck driver to tow his car.  Forget that.  He was there to do a job, and he chose not to do it.  And I don’t know… maybe he hates his job.  Maybe he’d had a bad day.  Maybe he had a traumatic Bernie Sanders bumper sticker incident in a past life.  Setting all that aside….  no matter who or what he may believe in, or why he was there, or why the woman needed help in the first place:  as a human being, with values and morals and a sense of right and wrong, there was only one thing to do.  And he didn’t do it.  And then, he blamed God.

Which brings me full-circle to the beginning of the post, and the agony of people behaving badly, and the sadness and frustration of people lambasting Christians as a whole for believing in a God (except they usually words like “imaginary sky ghost”) that would ask them to do something so awful.

Let me say again that my God wouldn’t want me to leave anyone stranded on the side of the road.  Whoever or whatever those people are talking about is not my God.

And I’ll be perfectly clear (and honest).  God knows, I don’t always do the right thing.  I want to;  I do.  But I’m a fallible human. Sometimes I let fear, or pride, or ego, or laziness, or just plain selfishness keep me from doing what I know in my heart is the right thing to do.  I’m a work in progress, like everyone else.  But when I drop the ball, when I do something unkind… IT’S ALL ON ME.  And when you drop the ball and do something unkind, it’s all on you too.  Not God.

My God wants me to love my neighbor.  He doesn’t want me to be an asshole.  Full stop.

I’m tired of having this discussion over and over.  I’m tired of people behaving badly.  I’m tired of the emotional gymnastics I always go through when people rail about how horrible Christians are… when half of me wants to agree with them, and the other half is cut to my core at the hatred, wanting to curl up and cry, “But…  but… we’re not all like that!!!”

Mostly I’m tired of all this ridiculous noise, distracting us from doing what we need to be doing, and what we need to be focused on: Doing the right thing, loving our neighbor, and standing together to say we won’t tolerate bad behavior.  I don’t care who you are or what you believe in.  If you stand for love and kindness, I’ll stand beside you.

I’ll stand beside you, with my God, and work on me.  Work on my patience, work on my compassion, work on my love…. both for the person on the side of the road, and for the person who left her there.  Both for my fellow Christians, and for the people that aim to hurt us. It’s hard sometimes.  But I’m working on it.  I want to work on it.  God wants me to work on it.  Because my God?  He only wants goodness, not bad.  Lightness, not dark.  Love, not hatred.  Anything else is not God.  It’s user error.  It’s humanness.  It’s the dark side of humanity.

But I’ll work on me.  And you (if you choose) can work on you.  In the meantime…..

If you’re going to be a bigot;  If you’re going to do something disgusting and inhumane:  At least own up to the fact that you’re doing so out of your own moral shortcomings, and leave God out of it.

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I’m Not The Meanest Mom

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I realized something recently.  As adults, we like to hear stories of other adults performing some sort of kindness.  We like the feel-good stories of people helping their fellow man, standing up to injustice, or showing love to a total stranger.  It restores our faith in humanity.  It makes us feel good, and it motivates us to be kinder ourselves.  Kinder.  Gentler.  More compassionate. You know what we don’t see all that often?  People sharing about the times they weren’t all that kind, or respectful, or compassionate. And sure, we’re human. We’ve all done it:  We have a bad day, and we inadvertently and regrettably take it out on some poor nearby soul.  But we don’t rush to share those days, because we recognize – both on an intellectual level and on a heart level – that it’s not exactly something to brag about.

But when it’s a parent being unkind towards a child?  We* (as a society) not only tolerate this bad behavior, but we embrace it.  We actually cheer it on.

When it comes to kids, we glorify violence.  We celebrate cruelty.

So while we seem to have it right when it comes to adult on adult behavior, our collective treatment of our children is abhorrent, and getting more concerning by the day. Baby, we’ve got a long way to go.

I feel like it started with the laptop shooting dad, but it has multiplied at an alarming rate since then.  This trend of publicly parenting through bullying, shame, and intimidation is everywhere.  I feel like I can’t go a single day anymore without seeing another one.    Parenting has become a contest, but a sick one.  A contest not to find the sweetest mom, or the most competent mom, but the meanest mom. Everything is backwards.  Meanness is exalted, spitefulness is praised.   Parents boast about how mean they are to their kids, and instead of gently suggesting alternatives (or possibly better yet, denying them any attention at all), we put them on a pedestal.  We feed this very cycle of unkindness.  A quick perusal of the comment threads on any one of these public shamings tells us everything we need to know.  Hundreds, and yes, thousands of positive comments, singing the praises of meanness, shouting their rallying accolades, and devouring anyone who dare stand up for the children.

How can we do this to these little ones, the most vulnerable members of our society?  The people who need the most empathy and the most tender care, are being maligned, minimized and mistreated.

And we’re watching it happen.

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t.  I know we need to keep talking about it.  I know we can’t quietly sit back and accept it.

But it starts at home.  It starts with our own kids.

And listen, I’m the first one to admit I’m not a perfect mom.  None of us are.  I struggle sometimes with patience.  I sometimes let sleep deprivation get the better of me and am unnecessarily short with my kids.  I have to constantly remind myself to live in the moment.  I have to constantly remind myself not to sweat the small stuff.

Yes, I apologize to my children often.

But the big difference between me and the “meanest mom” supporters is that I’m saddened by mean behavior (by or towards anyone), not buoyed by it.  So no, I won’t pat you on the back for celebrating meanness.  No, I won’t be offering any “Atta girl!”s or “Way to go!”s or “Good job, mom!”s.  No, I won’t praise you for being unkind.

And I get it.  My opinion is the unpopular one.  The cool kids are all worshiping at the alter of childism.  Well, I opt out.  I don’t want to be a part of your club.  I don’t stand in solidarity with anyone who rallies around the idea of mistreating children.  I don’t care how loud your voices are.  I don’t care how many members you have.  I don’t care how good your cookies are.

I Opt Out.

In my life, in my world, I will celebrate kindness.  I will cheer for compassion.  I will stand up for grace, and forgiveness, and gentle communication.

Children learn from our actions.   Throwing away a child’s ice cream (because in his childlike excitement he forgot to say “thank you”) doesn’t teach him to say thank you, it doesn’t teach him what it means to be polite, and it doesn’t teach him gratitude.  It teaches him that if someone doesn’t behave in the way we want, that it’s okay to bully them, and that it’s okay to take someone else’s things.

Children learn from our actions.  Spanking a child for misbehaving doesn’t teach him right from wrong.  It teaches him that “might makes right”, that pain and fear are effective motivators, and that it’s okay to use physical force on someone who’s younger and more vulnerable than you.

Children learn from our actions.  Sending a child to time out when he’s having a hard time doesn’t teach him to think about his actions. It teaches him that mom is going to isolate him from her attention, her love, and her touch, at the very moment when he is needing them the most.

Children learn from our actions.  Publicly shaming a child a for making a mistake doesn’t teach him not to do it again.  It teaches him, again, to use bullying to solve his problems.  It teaches him that he can’t trust the one person he should be able to trust the most.  It teaches him to feel worthless, and ashamed, and humiliated… making him even MORE likely to repeat the behavior in the future.

Children learn from our actions.  Punishing a child (as opposed to kindly communicating, listening, and guiding) does not teach him respect.  Or responsibility.  Or accountability.  It teaches him to be bitter.  To be angry.  To be spiteful.  It teaches him to be extrinsically motivated by the fear of mom’s negative repercussions, rather than intrinsically and positively motivated by his own internal sense of right and wrong.

If you want to raise kids that are polite, respectful, and kind, start by being polite, respectful, and kind to your kids.

It starts with you.  It starts with us.

Let’s stop glorifying bullies, and start treating our kids the way we’d like to be treated ourselves.

Kids are people too.

#NotTheMeanestMom

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Christian Support for Caitlyn Jenner

caitlynjenner

Ever since the Vanity Fair cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner was released, my newsfeed has been awash with talk of little else. People are posting their opinions, and sharing their praise, their confusion, or their disgust. Articles are getting shared from the perspective of support and celebration, to the debate over the words “brave” and “hero”, to outright disparagement.

Not surprisingly, the Christian community is not being particularly silent on the issue.

Some of what I’ve seen has been horrific, while others have been a bit “softer”… thinly veiled transphobia behind a veneer of, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think the articles that bother me the most are the ones that purport to offer prayers and compassion to Jenner, while at the same time patting themselves on the back for making different (ie: more correct) decisions in their own lives. At least people like Matt Walsh are transparent about their bigotry.

Thankfully, there are other voices out there as well… Voices of loving, compassionate reason. These voices have been the balm to my weary and disenchanted soul. These voices have lifted me up over the past week, restored my faith in my fellow believer, and reminded me that I’m not alone in my plight or in my frustration. There are lots of Christians out there who are standing up for Jenner, and standing against unkindness.

I started this post as a way to gather some of these positive articles into one place (and will add to it as I find more)… as much for myself as for others.

Read these, and be encouraged.

Dear Bruce Jenner:  Jesus Loves You and Cares for You, by Jarrid Wilson

Four Reasons Jesus Would Invite Caitlyn Jenner Over for Dinner, by Jarrid Wilson

I Went to Church With Bruce Jenner and Here’s What Caitlyn Taught Me About Jesus, by Josh Cobia

Christians, Be Careful What You Say on Facebook, by Zack Locklear

Done., by Motherhood Unscripted

Neither Male Nor Female:  A Christian Response to Caitlyn Jenner, by The Imperfect Pastor

If You Love The Duggars But Not Caitlyn Jenner, What Credit Is That To You?, by Zack Hunt

Thank you.  Thank you for walking the walk, thank you for putting love and humanity back into Christianity, and thank you for being brave enough to stand up for what is right.

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I Won’t Throw Stones… Unless You’re LGBT

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Two fast points right off the top:

  1.  This is going to be long.
  2.  This post was originally going to be about something else.

The whole thing started with Bruce Jenner.  He had just done his interview with Diane Sawyer in which he discussed his transition from male to female.  I didn’t watch the interview, for no other reason than I wasn’t particularly interested, but from what I understand, Bruce is happy now, after denying who he was for a long time.   I’m a big champion of people following their own path, and being their own authentic selves, whoever that may be.  So I say… Go Bruce.

Shortly after the interview aired, Matt Walsh posted an article in which he was being, well… Matt Walsh… calling Jenner “a sick and delusional man.”

Partially in response to Walsh, Jarrid Wilson then wrote a really lovely and grace-filled blog post, reminding us that as Christians, our job was really nothing more than to extend love and compassion to Bruce Jenner, like we would to anyone else.  It always amazes me when people want to refute a call to love, but refute it they did, complete with admonitions that we have the responsibility to call people like Bruce Jenner out on their sin, and that we need to “speak the truth in love” (which, by the way, is one of the most awful things I think Christians say… right up there with “love the sinner, hate the sin.”)

So – at least in conservative Christian circles – Walsh was praised and Wilson was condemned.

Bruce Jenner IS WRONG!  It’s disgusting!  It’s A SIN!  We need to tell him!  We need to tell EVERYONE!  Let’s shout it from the rooftops!  The world is going to hell!

And sure, they’ll recite their “love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetoric, but make no mistake… nothing about the anti-LGBT crusade is loving.  Its whole entire reason for being is to hurt and condemn:  the adult equivalent of the old grade-school tactic of putting someone else down to raise yourself up.

Of course, it’s not like this is anything new.  This has been going on forever.  I’ve been writing about this forever.  But there’s just been SO MUCH of it lately.  Just a couple of days ago, I received a several-paragraphs-long email outlining in great detail how unkind and unloving I am to advocate for being more loving towards LGBT folks. (??) I’m damning them to a life in hell, she tells me, because by not calling them out on their sin, I’m taking away their opportunity for a chance of redemption, which is the most hateful thing I could possibly do.

It’s not the first time I’ve received a message of that sort – apparently writing about issues of faith seems to invite people to try to judge me/save me/throw Bible-verses-as-weapons at me – but given the current societal climate it irked me.

I’m frustrated.  I’m exhausted.  I’m angry.  I am so indescribably tired of this unfair and hateful treatment, thinly veiled in “biblical values”, towards this one specific segment of society.

So that’s what I was going to write about.  How it needed to stop.  How people needed to take a step back, gain some perspective, and focus on their own sin.  Think it’s a sin to be in a homosexual relationship?  Don’t be in one.  Think it’s a sin to have gender reassignment surgery?  Don’t get it.  But this constant persecution is damaging and hurtful and pretty much the opposite of anything that Jesus ever espoused.

Then something happened.  And now I’m more disgusted with the culture of mainstream Christianity than I think I’ve ever, ever been.

The details are still surfacing, but it’s come to light that Josh Duggar  (of the infamous 19 Kids and Counting Duggars) molested 5 young girls, four of them his siblings, over the course of 3 years when he was a teenager.  His parents, though aware of the abuse, did nothing about it for over a year.    When they did finally deal with it, they did so by keeping it “in house.”  He was disciplined by his father.  He got a “talking-to” by a police officer friend who never pressed charges (an officer who is currently serving jail time for child pornography).   He met with his pastor who helped arrange some sort of supposed rehabilitation in the form of living with yet another family friend for a few months and helping him perform physical labor.

This seems as good a time as any to point out that sexual assault is a serious crime, and should be treated as such … not merely “dealt with” at home.

There are so very many things wrong with this scenario, and how it was handled, that I don’t even know where to start.

But oh how Christians are defending the Duggars!!!

Josh Duggar shouldn’t be vilified.  He was just a kid.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

He made a mistake, and he said he was sorry.  Who hasn’t made mistakes as a teen?

He was just young and curious.

They dealt with it in their family, and it’s not our place to judge them.

People are being way too harsh and judgmental.

Judge not lest you be judged.

People in glass houses….

They were an inspiration before, and they’re still an inspiration now.

I’m ……. Seriously?  Are you kidding me?

So, same-sex attraction is such a vile thing, such a pertinent issue to address, that people feel compelled to write to me (some random heterosexual internet stranger who just happens to believe that people have the right to love who they want to love), to warn me of its dangers….. but molestation of young children, a teenaged boy fondling the genitals of his baby sisters, is shrugged off as a teenaged “mistake”… it’s not our place to judge… how dare we cast stones at this upstanding Christian family!….. And after all he did say he was sorry……

My level of disgust is matched only by my confusion.  How do you defend a child molester?  How do you justify freely throwing your proverbial stones at someone because of their sexual orientation, yet demure because of a sudden sense of self-righteousness when it comes to a beloved Christian family that happens to includes a son who sexually violated children?

And don’t misunderstand.  I’m not advocating for the stoning of anyone.   My point is not to publicly flog the Duggars.   Actually what I think should happen now that this has been made public is that the whole family should be investigated, and that someone should ensure that the children are currently safe, and that they have received, and are currently receiving, the needed support.  Based on the teachings of some of the people the Duggars follow, I don’t think it’s unlikely that there is lot more going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about.  Such deviant behavior generally doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and if Josh Duggar was indeed a victim as well, he too should be receiving appropriate counseling that will address it.

What we SHOULD NOT DO is continue to sweep his crimes under the rug and excuse them as mere childhood curiosity.  We should not defend this “good, Christian family” as if they’re somehow people we should emulate.  We should not stand sweetly behind a philosophy of “Oh it’s not my place to judge” when it comes to something as vile and heinous as child molestation and incest.

HE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED CHILDREN.  His parents knew it was happening.  I’m going to judge.

Is he genuinely sorry?  I don’t know.  Has he been forgiven by his victims?  I don’t know.  Has he been forgiven by God?  That’s between him and God.  But I’m not going to sit here – as a Christian, as a human, as a parent of both boys and a little girl – and excuse what he did.

And the fact that the very same people who are doing the excusing are the people who have no problem standing on a soapbox in judgement of the man who works hard all day and just wants to come home and kick back with a beer and a TV show with Adam instead of Eve…. is a hypocrisy of the most disgusting kind.

You’re essentially saying:

Homosexuality = bad

Child Molestation = eh, everyone makes mistakes.

I have never been as disillusioned and disappointed with the current state of the institution of Christianity as I am right now.  I love God.  I Love God.  I am an all-in, whole-hearted, unabashed follower of Christ (even if I never share those stupid Facebook posts that start by attempting to shame you with “99% of you won’t pass this on”……) I will always be a follower of Christ.  But this?  Defending the actions of a child molester, while railing out the other side of your mouth about “sick and delusional men” just because you can’t personally relate to their path?  That’s something I’ll never be a part of.  If I had any remaining sliver of hope that there was a place for me in the whole of American Christianity, that hope is gone.

God, save me from your followers.

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Why We Need To Keep Talking About Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Alcorn, 1997-2014

Leelah Alcorn, 1997-2014

I’ll be 41 in 2 days.

Even at 41, it still stings when I get disapproval from my parents.  At this point, it’s stupid little things:  they don’t like my nose ring, or that I gauged my ears.  They stopped being excited about my tattoos after number 2 or 3. They hated my dreadlocks for every day of the three years that I had them.  Such silly, inconsequential, superficial things, and yet I still – even as a grown, confident, very true-to-myself adult – I still falter, still wilt a little bit under their disapproval.  Yes, I understand that they love me, but the feeling is still there, just under the surface.   The feeling that I’m not living up to expectations.  The feeling that I’ve disappointed in some way.

I cannot imagine, even for a second, the pain of being a teenager… a child… a time that’s confusing and difficult and rife with growing pains even under the best of circumstances… trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in…. and being met with rejection from your parents, the very people who are supposed to be your rock and your protector… rejection not for something immaterial like a hair style or a clothing choice, but for who you are.  

Make no mistake, Leelah Alcorn was rejected by her parents.

In an interview with CNN, Leelah’s mother, Carla Alcorn said:

 

“We don’t support that, religiously  [In response to her identifying as a girl].  But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

 

And you know what, I’m sure that she did love her son. I don’t know Carla Alcorn. I have no reason to doubt her words. The problem is… this son that she loved didn’t exist.  In Leelah’s own words, she knew she wasn’t “Josh” from the time she was 4 years old.  She was 17 when she took her life, so that means that she lived for 13 years as someone other than who her parents wanted and expected her to be.  And when she did tell them?  She was met with disapproval.  She was met with rejection.  She was sent to Christian therapists… therapists who didn’t address her big feelings, didn’t help her with her depression, but instead tried to “fix” her.  Tried to tell her how wrong she was.  Tried to tell her how she just needed to pray it away. Pray away the person that she’d been since she was four years old.

Her parents did not support her, she’d been cut off from her friends, and even her “therapists” (who are supposed to help!) only served to tell her how shameful she was.

I think about how alienated and alone she must have felt and I feel sick.

And if you’re reading this and thinking, “Well it’s sad that she took her life, but being transgender is wrong,”  I don’t care that you think it’s wrong.  And I mean it in the most respectful way possible, but I really, truly don’t care.   Because there’s such a thing as a right and a wrong way to treat people, and we have failed – all of us, as a society – we have shamefully failed in our treatment of people like Leelah Alcorn.

As for her parents:

Her parents have the right to their religious beliefs.  They have the right to disagree with her decision to transition to female.  Absolutely.  But as parents they also had a responsibility.  A responsibility to realize that their right to their own beliefs did not and should not supersede their daughter’s right to feel safe and loved and accepted in her own home.  A responsibility to understand that their religious rights end where another person’s human rights begin (and not just any old person, but their CHILD!).  Leelah had the right to be loved and cared for and protected FOR WHO SHE WAS, not who they wanted her to be.  Even in death, they refuse to call her by her chosen gender pronoun, and that to me speaks volumes.

I hesitate to bring religion into it, because I don’t really believe it’s about religion.  I believe it’s about love and acceptance.  But I feel like it has to be addressed, because I have seen far too many comments along the lines of “This is why I hate Christians.”  [And as an aside, I need to believe that the people who say that don’t actually hate all Christians, because if they did, it would mean that they practice the very same bigotry that they’re speaking out against.]  It stands to be said that not all Christians would behave the same way as Leelah’s parents.   Not all Christians are the same.  It bothers me – deeply – how often I find myself needing to say that, but it’s true.  In fact my faith informs me very very differently.  My faith tells me to love…. deeply, truly, unconditionally. My faith tells me that in order to parent, and parent well, that I need to accept and honor my children for WHO THEY ARE, not tell them through my words and actions that the essence of their identity is wrong or bad or shameful.

My faith tells me that the God I love would not create my child in a particular way (in Leelah’s case as a chid born with male genitalia but who ultimately identified as female), only to want me to reject and alienate the very person He created.

And don’t misunderstand me.  I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be the parent of a transgender child.  I can’t pretend to know the pain of losing a child, and the pain of knowing that my own choices contributed.

What I do know is that the words Leelah spoke in her heartbreaking suicide note reflect not just the anguish of her own life and death, but also speak to a much more universal problem.   There are countless other “Leelahs” out there, and they need our support.  And as the days pass, and people mention her name less and less, I feel almost panicky inside. Panicky because I feel like we NEED to keep talking about this.  I feel like we need to remember.  I feel like we need to take the lesson learned from Leelah’s life and death and live it.

What does it take for our society to wake up?  What does it take for us to stand on the side of compassion and understanding and acceptance for all people?  What does it take for us to err on the side of love?

These are the questions we should be asking ourselves all the time, not just in response to tragedy.

Leelah shouldn’t have died.  Oh she shouldn’t have died!  By all accounts, she was a beautiful and talented soul. But I thank her for leaving her words for all of us, for the powerful and important and timeless message of love, acceptance, and kindness for all.  I pray that she finds the peace that she never found on earth.

 

The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

 

Sending love to all, in Leelah’s honor.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

If you are transgender and contemplating suicide, you can call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860

LGBT youth (24 years and younger) can call the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-7386

For all ages and identities, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

 

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