The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What's Going On?!?!?!?!

The other day, my son came home from school, plopped down in his favorite Lazy Boy and began playing on the PS4.  He had his microphone in and was playing a game with one of his friends down the street.  All of the sudden, I hear him humming a tune, I hadn't thought of in some time.  He even started singing "WHAT'S GOING ON, AND I SAY HEY...."  I told him how much I love that song and I hadn't heard it in ages.  He just said "that song is so annoying."  I don't know what's wrong with kids these days, but they certainly don't appreciate quality music like their Dad.  So, being the kind, loving, and not annoying Father I usually am to my kids, I began singing the song over and over and over, and when I'd get to the chorus, I started shouting "AND I SAY, HEY, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, HEY, YEAH, YEAH, I SAID HEY,  WHAT'S GOING ON!!!!  This literally went on for about 10 minutes with my son laughing while being annoyed with me at the same time.  I almost took a video of me lip syncing it to him at school the next day...... (perhaps tomorrow.)

Anyway, this whole bathroom controversy has me singing the chorus again "WHAT'S GOING ON."  How did we as a country become oblivious to the fact that transgender people have been using the bathroom that associates with their gender preference for years, and now it's like "Oh heavens think of the children" and "we must protect the women."  Don't get me wrong, of course protecting women and children (and men as well) are important.  I just don't see how North Carolina (and other states) laws will help to protect them.  A man going into women’s restrooms to abuse women is already against the law.  A man going into the bathroom to molest children is against the law.  How does further marginalizing an already very marginalized population help to accomplish the goal of protecting women and children?  And I also ask, where is the evidence that such a law is needed .Now, I'm not a lawmaker, but I have to believe that when a law is passed (that is for the protection of the people) than there should be some evidence to back up their argument that this law is needed.  Take speed limits for example.  I'm sure that some good evidence is out there to show that slowing down in neighborhoods protects people from getting hurt.  I don't think that the number 25 just popped into someone's head.  The same can be said for crosswalks and where they are needed, school crossings (it's sad, however children do die or are injured before areas implement improved crosswalk procedures.)  However more to my point, when injuries go down, it shows that there is good evidence that improving crosswalks or having crossing guards helps to reduce harm to the population as a whole.  So, here is my question.  Where is the evidence that this law is even needed?

I've heard people say "It's not that we are afraid of transgender people assaulting women and children, we are afraid of the sex offenders who will take advantage of this loophole to be able to take advantage of women and children."  Again, I ask how often is this happening.  I know that it has happened, and that once is too much, but is the sample size so great that we have to take these types of measures to protect our citizens?  What evidence do the great legislators of North Carolina have that making a person use the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate will reduce bathroom violence? Since there isn't any, this is why I consider these types of bills to be fear mongering.  So, instead of stories, or anecdotal evidence, here is proof of what I am talking about.
The truth about gender inclusive bathrooms in the United States.  I call particular attention to these paragraphs:

“Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day,” according to the coalition. "None of those jurisdictions have [sic] seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state.”
Strangio also noted that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity “doesn’t increase in any way public safety incidents.”
There are two central falsehoods to the legislators’ reasoning, Strangio said. One is "that transgender people aren’t real and [are] inherently dangerous.” The second falsehood is that without HB2, "non-transgender people will take advantage" of the situation -- for example, a man could dress up as a woman to enter a woman's bathroom.
“All this does is to heighten gender policing of everyone by law enforcement, and individual people who do not conform to gender norms are targeted"

So much of what I have seen in the public and on the news is pure fearmongering. I even saw a video that was posted to Facebook that had good intentions of allowing the public to see the faces and hear the horrific stories of women who have been abused, however it started out by saying "states are looking at making laws, making it OK for men to go into the women's room."  REALLY!!!  No, no, no, no, no.  No bill is trying to say that.  Again, fear mongering, at the expense of people whose stories need to be heard. I've heard the argument that a teenage boy will use this to his advantage to be able to go into the women's room or dressing room. Look, I was in High School and Jr. High.  I remember what it was like. There were two insults that could get thrown at a teenage boy that would get his blood boiling.  One "you're gay".  The other "you're such a girl" or some other derivative.  I remember well when I was playing sports into High School, and not one practice would go by without a coach insulting a player's manhood by saying "come on ladies, run faster" or "you throw like a girl."  These were not handed out as compliments. Quite frankly for me it was quite problematic, because I did feel like a girl on the inside, yet I knew I was a boy on the outside, and then I was insulted for doing something like a girl.  Just added to the shame.... but I digress.  Anyway, my point is (and I'm capitalizing for emphasis, not because I'm shouting) IF A TEENAGE BOY COMES OUT AS TRANSGENDER, THERE IS TREMENDOUS SOCIAL FALLOUT, WHICH PREVENTS MANY TRANSGENDER TEENAGERS FROM COMING OUT.  FOR A CIS-BOY TO COME OUT AS TRANS, THE SOCIAL FALLOUT WOULD BE MUCH GREATER THAN THE JOLLIES THEY MAY GET BY HAVING ACCESS TO THE GIRLS ROOM!!!!  I have a friend whose son is transgender.  Female to Male.  He told me that his son would be PETRIFIED of showering  in the men's room.  I don't think that he is alone in this feeling.  Being a teenager is hard enough.  Being a transgender teen is even more difficult.  I have such admiration for those who are able to express who they are at such a young age.  I was much to cowardly.  Now, here is where I may deviate from the norm transgender group.  I've always been accused of being a people pleaser, I guess that is what happens when you are a middle child.  I've always been able to seek for and find middle ground.  I have an office between two others on my side of the office building (there are only three offices on that side), I live in the middle unit of town homes, my favorite song from the 90's was Jimmy Eat World's "In the Middle.... (Ok, that last one is a joke), but I believe that accommodations should be made for individuals who are transgender to use separate locker or changing rooms.  I guess I see where the other side is coming from and why there are concerns, even if I don't believe that the concerns are necessarily true.  I believe that middle ground can and must be found in order for our whole community to feel safe. I read a story of a trans girl who was offered special accommodations for the locker room at her High School and she refused saying in essence "I am a girl and should be able to use the girls room."  Honestly, that story made me cringe.  To me, that is not how we as the transgender community will gain empathy from others.  Compromise is the key to that, not stomping our feet. 
So, I want to get more to the point and the title of this blog post.  I attended a work conference today, and our keynote speaker was a man by the name of Dr. Matt Townsend. He spoke about the importance of relationships.  He used the analogy that often times in our relationships, we get confused when we begin to see smoke and we focus on the smoke, and not on the fire.  Most deaths in a fire is from the smoke, not the fire itself, so it's dangerous to focus on the smoke.  All the headlines we see recently are all smoke.  His next analogy of what is really going on was the fire.  And within relationships, often times the fire is going on because the other person doesn't feel safe, trusted, etc.  So, you ask me what's going on.  We don't feel safe as a community, or as a nation.  So instead of focusing on the real issues (like the rape culture of America, pornography, sexualizing of young girls etc) we get caught up in the smoke of bathrooms.  What is rape culture you may ask.  The type of culture where a woman is more victimized prosecuting her rapist than when she was being raped.  Where the victim is blamed "Oh, she shouldn't have worn that tight outfit, she was leading him on, she may have said no, but her eyes were saying yes."  I had a client come into my office two weeks ago and she had been raped over the weekend.  She had been abusing prescription pain meds and a man took advantage of her.  She sobbed as she told me the story.  Every part of me wanted her to go to the police and nail this bastard to the wall.  She had photos of the bruising on her arms and back as he held her down.  But she was more scared about dealing with being re-victimized by a system that is supposed to protect her that she just isn't able to, and the sad thing is..... I couldn't disagree with her.  I encouraged as much as i could, however in doing so, if I pushed harder, she could have been re-victimized. I really believe that all of this comes down to not feeling safe.  Another example of this type of mentality.  How many sexual partners is it OK for a man to have in our society.  One of my favorite TV shows is How I met Your Mother.  One of the main themes throughout the show was that of Barney's sexual escapades.  One episode focused on how he was able to bat 1000 during a month (30 women in 30 days.)  Now, let's flip that role.  Let's say that was a women doing those things, would she be celebrated?  No.  She'd be called a slut, a whore etc.  There is such a double standard there.  We need to take a closer look at how we view sex and sexual abuse within our community.  We need to find laws and ways to protect victims of sexual abuse, but also find ways to decrease incidents of sexual abuse.  (I'll get to some of my ideas a bit later.)  I believe everyone deserves to feel safe.  I don't think that anyone would disagree with that.  I believe we need to focus on the fire that is not feeling safe, instead of the smoke that allowing transgender people access to the bathrooms of their preferred gender will lead to more sexual abuse.  That just is not the case.  So, I saw this meme that perfectly sums things up for me.  It may be a little offensive to some, and that isn't my intent, but when we look at the statistics of who the sexual predators are, well have a look...

I must add however that obviously not all heterosexual men (and certainly most) are not predatory animals, However statistics show that the the vast majority of sexual assault is perpetrated by a heterosexual male.  And this my friends is what I believe is "what's going on..."

The following link is another example of smoke being thrown up in our faces to not deal with the real issues...
So, what are we going to do about it.......
Well, let me start with the simplest and yet the most difficult.  The Apostle John stated in 1 John 4:8 that perfect love casteth out fear.  Simple right?  Well of course that is the ideal.  If ALL of us could love one another, than we wouldn't live with fear, right?  But obviously, we do have people in our society who don't love one another, don't respect the rights and privacy of one another.  I still say that if we are to truly live our faith, we need to strive to love, even them!  (Easier said than done, I know). I further believe that love and respect go hand in hand.  I was at a conference for work recently and the keynote speaker pointed out that part of the word reSPECT is also the root of spectacle.  "To see".  In order to respect someone, we need to see them, who they are and walk a mile in their shoes so to say.  I was talking to my brother the other day.  He was having a conversation with someone who used to be a member, and has now left the church.  The conversation went something like this: Brother's Friend "Ya know, If I was Satan, and I was trying to go after a true blue Mormon, who goes to church every week, attends the temple, says their prayers, reads their scriptures, holds FHE, ya know the almost perfect Mormon.  There is no way I'm going to be able to tempt him to break the 10 commandments.  Stealing, lying, murder, adultery, lust, etc just isn't in their nature.  But what about the commandment that Jesus left us with.  To Love God and Love our neighbor.  Well, that's where I'd go.  It'd be much easier to manipulate someone into hating their neighbor than those other commandments.  I'd then disguise it by saying that I "Love the sinner, but hate the sin."  That way, not only are they showing some kind of hate in their heart, but they are also judging their neighbors.  That's two sins right there!"  I really believe that he is right.  We lack respect, because we don't take the time to see others as they truly are.

Secondly, we can educate ourselves.  In the ever classic Batman Begins (Any Batman reference is a good reference!!), a young Bruce Wayne goes to confront the mob boss of Gotham, Carmine Falcone.  Carmine looks at Bruce and tells him that there is no way that Bruce could ever understand where these criminals came from.  He was "Bruce Wayne, the prince of Gotham."  Carmine then said "You don't understand kid, and you always fear what you don't understand."  Carmine's thugs then rough him up and send him on his way.  Bruce then takes off for several years to live a life as a criminal, so he could understand their way of thinking. After getting out of jail, Ra's Al Ghoul asks Bruce about his life as a criminal and if he learned anything.  He stated that he learned that when stealing things such as food to survive, he began to question his beliefs about what it means to be a criminal. He started questioning the simple idea of what is right and wrong.  This was never said, but as the movies unfolded, it became clear that he learned that it wasn't him to be judge, jury etc.  He just helped to catch the bad guys, he was not their judge.  This led to him not being able to kill the criminals he was after. He stood by that code.  He realized that he wasn't the judge, jury and executioner, even in a city with such a messed up criminal justice system as Gotham. He understood these criminals on a level that others couldn't.  So, I've already pointed you to a site that explains that transgender or gender inclusive bathroom laws don't show any increase of sexual abuse in those states.  Did you know that 73% of sexual abuse victims knew their victims and only 27% didn't know them.  Now of course any sexual abuse is too high, but stranger sexual abuse is very quite low.  Bathroom sexual violence would generally fall under the stranger sexual abuse.  Fact Sheet.  Once properly educated, we can teach our children, wives etc. that someone who is truly transgender is not going to go into a women's room in a dress with a full on beard and just stand around.  Nor will they look like a woman (or as close as they can) and just stand around.  They will be doing what everyone else is doing.  Doing their business and getting out of there as fast as they can.  If something looks off, use another restroom.  If your worried about your kids go with them, stand outside the bathroom if you must.  My co-worker will go to the bathroom and as her kids go in, she says something as they go in, so if someone is in there, they will know that momma bear is waiting outside.  

Thirdly and at this point lastly, We need to take a look at how pornography is playing a role in sexual abuse.  Porn is everywhere!  A quick google search on pornagraphy and the brain will bring up multiple articles on the harm of pornography on the brain.  I applauded Utah for making this a public health issue, because it truly is. To me, this most certainly is a MUCH bigger issue than the bathroom issue.  Here are some ways to get involved, and get educated about the problem that is pornography.  Fight the new drug

In closing, I'd just like to point out why I get so passionate about not only this issue but trans issues in general.  See, when I was a teenager, I had two great secrets.  If you're reading this blog, you can probably guess what the first one was.  The second one.  I was terribly depressed and hated myself and was ashamed of myself.  I was afraid of death, (mainly because I was certain I would not go to the Celestial kingdom because of how evil I was), so I never really got suicidal.  However, I'm fairly sure that if the things I see on social media today were said to me back than,  I wouldn't be here now.  I don't mean accepting me being transgender.  I mean I would have killed myself.  I'm almost certain.  So much of what I see is just misguided, misworded and sometimes downright ignorant.  As an adult, some of these comments have made me question my life on this earth, so I just couldn't imagine how I would've handled it back then. I'm tired of seeing about or hearing about transgender teen suicides and transgender suicides in general.  It's why I came out.  I want to see suicides go down and understanding go up.  I have such passion, because I don't want a teenager, who is questioning their gender identity to see what others are posting, and that becomes the last straw.  I really wish that people could see that what they post on social media has an impact way beyond.  I've noticed that when discussing these issues, I tend to come across harsher than I may have intended.  There is a simple reason for that.  I'm passionate about saving lives.  Being trans is hard enough.  Being a teenager is hard enough.  Being a transgender teenager...... HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!  Let's work hard to not make things even more difficult for our children.  Teach them to love, listen and learn from one another.  Teach them to embrace differences, then live these principles ourselves.   

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