The road to hell…

The road to hell…

blog post blurred photo(All quotes, unless stated otherwise, are written by Sarah Plake)

A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday. Okay, that part isn’t new or newsworthy, it’s why that matters. Someone on a Kansas City News Facebook page shared an anti-transgender meme that featured her then nine year old child. Even now her child is, just that, a child. She thought about ignoring it but, well, this is her baby. So she called in reinforcements. That’s where I came in.

I very rarely enter the comment section. I joke that’s where the trolls live but, in reality that’s pretty close to the truth. My first foray into the comments years ago was a shock and a half. I’d expected it to be the online version of The Letter to the Editor. Heavily moderated and edited for brevity. What I found was the online version of a drunken college party but with worse grammar. But I do make exceptions on wading in there for friends.

I found the offending comment right away and my friend’s request to please remove her daughter’s photo, stressing that she was just a child. I took this photo hours later, obviously he didn’t care. And that’s why his name has not been edited out of the image. I’ve edited the girl and I’ve removed everyone else’s names. I even removed my friend’s profile picture. But him? Pfft. If he can’t be bothered to remove a child’s photo off the internet, so be it.

blog post retortThe comment was on an article regarding transgender youths and medical procedures regarding them plus transgender athletes. It quickly became obvious that pretty much nobody had a frigging clue what the hell they were talking about. I mean here’s a quote about the bills being proposed in Missouri and Kansas.

“Kansas House Bill 2210 and Missouri House Bill 33 would make it a crime for doctors to perform any gender-reassignment services, procedures or surgeries for transgender children under 18, which includes puberty blockers and hormone therapy.”

Puberty blockers for pete’s sake. They’ve been used for decades to treat precocious puberty. You know, like when a five year old girl starts getting her period or an eight year old boy grows a beard? They are not new or experimental or dangerous or permanent. There is no reason to stop them. Absolutely none.

A Republican, of course, introduced the bill in Kansas to protect children because, in his words, “I don’t think a child would ever think about something like that if their parents or others around them weren’t telling them that they can choose to be the opposite gender. I think this is something that’s just being forced on kids.”

Meanwhile his co-sponsor is only opposed to children being “surgically altered”. She goes on to say that “if a child has a tendency or curiosity, or there is a ‘fad’ to be gay, the child [needs] a parent who is open to conversation with the school, [their] pediatric physician and then an experienced child therapist to work with the child before permanent decisions are made.”

Really? Really??? I mean totally ignoring the whole bizarre “fad to be gay” thing, what did she think happened? Sadly the reality is she doesn’t have a clue. I bet she’s never spoken to a single trans adult or the parent of a trans child let alone a trans child. Neither of them have reached out to a paediatrician or any other doctor who works with transgender youths. I mean that’s all just patently obviously. No one who’d done any amount of research would think children are being “surgically altered”.

blog post commentAnd they’re not the only ones. The more I read, the more I find there’s a whole swathe of people who claim to be fighting against kids transitioning on their behalf. They can’t believe a trans child would know their gender at seven years old; someone must be forcing them to think they’re transgender. Meanwhile they’re just as likely to say that of course their five year old son picked the blue ball, he knows he’s a boy. It’s only the trans kids who don’t know their gender. The cis kids not only are allowed to know it but they have their noses rubbed in it (gender reveal parties anyone?).

And multiple people, like the co-signer, are there wailing about the six and seven year olds getting surgery and how it’s abuse and it needs to be stopped immediately! Umm… it never started to begin with. I have no idea where they come up with this idea but there’s always someone new who’s positive a kindergarten student is going in for gender confirmation surgery.

And the people who just want to be “reasonable” and let trans kids minds have a chance to mature before starting any kind of treatment. Kids and teens change their minds so often and they shouldn’t be allowed to make such life altering decisions at such a young age.

Wait… what??? Teens can join the military and see live action. They can get their driver’s license and take control of a several tonne vehicle which could easily kill themself and/or the people around them. They can take out a massive loan for post secondary education, one that will take decades to pay off, and one which they could end up taking out on a program they ultimately don’t like. They can get married. They can have a baby (or more). They can have a tattoo and/or piercing in a variety of places. They can have sex, which, depending on the person they’re with and the STI they have, can be very life altering. Where the fuck are these people at recruitment centres with their signs reading “Getting blown up is a life altering decision”? Why aren’t they protesting student loans? Especially in the States where they can’t be forgiven no matter what circumstances you’re in. Why aren’t they fighting against child brides? But, no, it’s only against trans people.

I just read a tweet by someone who goes by the name Tamra Bonvillain, which reads, “Not allowing trans teens to go on blockers/hormones is also an irreversible choice”. This is absolutely true and absolutely never mentioned in these bills or in conservative discussions regarding transgender youths. These people are saying they’re trying their hardest to protect the poor innocent children and teens but have never spoken to a single transgender youth. They’ve never thought of the ramifications of their actions. Why not? Maybe it’s because they’re not trying to protect transgender children. They don’t want to believe trans children even exist. They don’t like trans people. They don’t accept trans people. They think of trans people as being horrible and abominations of nature. And there’s no way innocent children could be any of that.

So they claim it’s adults causing it and try to legislate them out of existence. If they’re not having name changes in the classroom, or using the correct washroom, or playing on their proper team… those people don’t have to think about trans children at all. They get total ignorant bliss. Unless they have to notice because a child simply won’t just go away and then it gets ugly. I read one story a year or so ago where a child, a literal prepubescent child, wanted to use the girls washroom. Parents of her classmates got together and she was called such things as “it”, “the thing”, and “half baked maggot”. Fathers were bragging about how it was going to be their son who beat her up. Parents. Of children her own age. How could they tuck their children in at night, kiss their foreheads, and marvel at how young and precious they were while literally referring to another child that same age as insect larva? It just doesn’t make sense.

Or, well it does. They don’t like trans people. They don’t know anyone who’s trans and they don’t want to know anyone who’s trans. Children are innocent and therefore can’t be trans, someone must be forcing them. Unless they prove they really are trans and then it’s fair game to call them a maggot and share their picture in a meme that mocks them. And, well, the kids get ignored until they’re adult and can’t be legislated out of existence anymore. And then they’re mocked and harrassed for looking different and not fitting into gender norms, like they picked the wrong puberty on purpose. And so on and so forth and I’m sick of it and furious.

Friends talk and share stories about health care woes. Of having to teach even the good doctors how to treat them. Of being called “it” and “he-she” by medical professionals. Of having doctors simply refuse to treat them. Of a man who died of ovarian cancer after a three year struggle to find a doctor willing to treat him. A woman hemorrhaging from her leg who was made to walk downstairs to an ambulance, while the attendants mocked her, because they didn’t want to touch her enough to help her onto a stretcher. I even found my own psychiatric intake papers from 2016, shortly after I broke up with my then fiance, stating I had a “recent breakup with a ‘boyfriend’, who was actually a transgender female to male”. She went on to state that the relationship “was perceived to be romantic in nature”. I really doubt she’d have written any of that if Lenny had been a cis male. The psychiatrist literally recoiled when she found out.

For the love of all we hold holy and/or dear can we not just listen to other people, care for other people, and accept other people? Can we stop trying to make decisions for people without finding out what they want and actually need first. Can we accept people as, you know, people instead of othering them in a derogatory fashion? And… this should be complete and utter common sense here… can we please not take the picture(s) of children, make derogatory memes about them, and spread them around the world wide web? It doesn’t cost us a single thing to be kind.

I don’t know when…

party roomI don’t know when it’s going to happen, sometime when social isolation is lifted, but I’m going to host a pride party and it’s going to be fantastic!

I found out that our party room (as seen to the left) is only $50 for three whole hours. Just look at it! Plenty of space, plenty of tables, and a big kitchen island for buffet food.

I’ve been going on Aliexpress to look at party supplies and have found a bunch to buy. I want a photo backdrop for, well, photos and pride pins so everyone can go home with something. I’ve also found some gorgeous plates too. I can buy the cutlery and cups at Dollarama.

Right now it’s too early to invite people but I have a bunch in mind for invites and can’t wait to see their faces, it’s been far too long since I could visit friends! And to see everyone at once would be amazing!

I need to order the decorations soon because they take a month or two to ship and I get nervous. I’d rather have them here well before the time they’re needed. And by then, hopefully, we’ll be closer to an actual date.

We won’t have a pride parade  this year but at least we’ll have something. And I can be happy with that.

pride-napkins

The cutest napkins I got at Homesense last summer!

Call me Colin…

Colin and his pierced ear

Colin with his first pierced ear

Colin has a way of edging topics into conversations and this time was no different. I can’t remember what the original conversation was. Computers? Video games? Politics? But I do remember the rest.

“I really like the name Colin,” he mused. “I think I’m going to keep it no matter what gender I am. Even as a girl.”

I get the feeling that most people figure Colin just “got over” being trans like he’d get over a bad first date or a friendship that drifted apart. It’s not the same thing, it’s not something you just get over. It’s a part of him, like his eye colour or shoe size. Not something he can change.

Earlier, in another conversation, Colin started talking about stopping being transgender. I asked him if he still struggled with gender dysphoria. His response?

“Not anymore. I pushed it down as hard as I could and locked it away so now I don’t feel it anymore.”

I’m no expert but I don’t think that’s how it works. I have a feeling that someday that locked away dysphoria is simply going to explode and I don’t have a clue what to do about it.

He’s not male, no matter what pronouns he uses, and he’ll continue to not be male. All I can do is hope that he accepts it when it blows up in his face and can no longer be ignored. I’ll be there the best I can. The rest is up to him.

Good luck Colin, my hidden daughter. You are loved.

What about the kids?

I wrote a blog post a year or so ago about The Transformed Wife, back when I thought she was a small time blogger like me and not a bigger blogger with a book under the same name and a very active Facebook page. She’s one of many Christian bloggers who feel they have God’s ear and a need to speak for him. Apparently that big Bible isn’t big enough. She’s a Mommy blogger as well, which means she’s also speaking for the children. What she feels is right for them… how children should behave (straight, cis, and obedient).

There’s one group that tends to be voiceless, especially under the weight of those fundamentalist Christian words, and that’s LGBTQIA children. Fundamentalist Christians are very big on marrying the opposite sex and raising yet more Christian children. Be fruitful and multiply. LGBTQIA children don’t fit into their plans. Fundamentalists tend to be rigid in their thinking so, instead of changing their thoughts they try to hammer the child in place.

Remember Leelah Alcorn? She was a transgender teenager being raised by fundamentalist parents who would not accept her for who she was. They did everything the Christian right said they should do. They got her into counselling to try and convince her she was both male and straight, blocked her from liberal influences (especially any that affirmed her as trans), and banned her from seeing her supportive friends. And she died right after Christmas several years ago… walked in front of a transport truck because she couldn’t handle being seen as male anymore and didn’t think she’d ever be seen as female.

Fundamentalists think being LGBTQIA is wrong… flawed… demonic. They take great pains to claim they love us but they don’t. Their so called love is tainted with hatred. I watch it in the States, where people who claim to be deeply religious trod on the rights of the LGBTQ community regularly (especially the trans community). They forget the little eyes watching them, presuming their innocence must mean they’re straight and cis. All the children learn what they’ve been taught. The LGBTQ children learn they’re wrong, flawed, demonic, and hated. Do the fundamentalists know they’re teaching their children this lesson? Do they care? I know they love their kids, the straight ones at least. But that’s one hell of a lesson.

Love is more important, and stronger, than hatred. Love is what’s important. You love the child you have, not the one you assume you should have. And you care for that child, doing your best to raise them with their spirit and soul intact. They aren’t toys to be discarded curbside when they no longer fit your narrative. And they aren’t clay to be moulded into your ideal shape. Love your children, accept your children, for who they are. And, Lori Alexander, if you’re reading this, be the mother your children needs… not the one you think your audience wants.

Colin on a spring walk

Colin when he was using zie/zir pronouns

Safety…

I still don’t know why I clicked play. It was several years ago, when Russia was hosting the Winter Olympics and people wanted to get the word out on how bad Russia was to it’s LGBTQ citizens. Someone made a video compiled of the videos homophobic people made. LGBTQ people had no protections so abusers felt they could do anything and record it for further “enjoyment”. One young man was handed a bottle and told to insert it into his anus. He begged for mercy. It was denied. I can still hear his screams.

Then videos surfaced, in the Middle East, of gay men being thrown off buildings. And the public hangings continued in Saudi Arabia. And a friend of mine is gender fluid but she can’t let anyone know in her country.

I’ve watched the battle for equal marriage in the States become a success… and the struggle for trans rights stagnate. Some wins… some losses. The transphobic side is downright scary. When an elementary school girl wanted to use the girl’s bathroom the school chatroom quickly devolved with people calling her a “half baked maggot”  and “it” then bragging over which one of their sons was going to beat her up. Her family quickly moved.

Then there’s Uganda with it’s virulent homophobic atmosphere. It’s pretty much illegal to be LGBTQ, as if people have control over their sexual orientation.

Poland has declared 1/3 of the country to be LGBTQ free. Of course everyone knows that’s not the case. It’s not like the LGBTQ community dissolves when a law like that is passed, we’re simply forced into hiding. What’s going to happen to all the LGBTQ adults? What’s going to happen to the kids who are slowly realizing they’re not straight or cis? I’m betting Poland’s going to see a spike in their suicide rates soon. The question is will they care?

The States pretty much said “hold my beer” as Greenville County, South Carolina tried to remove a resolution passed in 1996 with the opposers stating ‘that lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policy makers, because they are incompatible with the standards to which this community subscribes’. They didn’t have enough people there to pass the vote so it’s been moved. Now one of the councilors wants the whole county to vote on it in a resolution in November. Nothing like having your human rights put to a vote while people debate on whether you’re harmful to children.

Closer to home there’s the Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, who wanted parents to be aware if their child joined the Gay-Straight Alliance, despite the fact that 40% of homeless youths are part of the LGBTQ community, a hugely disproportionate amount. What he proposed wasn’t safe for the children in those groups but he plowed on with it anyway. It passed.

When Kathleen Wynne was the premier of Ontario, she decided sex education needed a huge overhaul and worked with parents and educators to create a plan more suited for today’s society. It also included age appropriate discussions on LGBTQ people and people freaked out. They acted like their kindergarteners were going to learn about gay sex when all they were doing was learning the names of body parts and reading books like Heather Has Two Mommies. There were protests but Wynne refused to budge. All children needed comprehensive sex ed. Then there was an election and Doug Ford won. One of the first things he did when he entered the office was reverse the sex ed programme back to the 90’s version. Back to the one which had no mention of the LGBTQ community or sexting or the internet. Anything to keep children from hearing about the queers.

And now there are evangelical Christians blaming the LGBTQ community for the coronavirus. Pastors such as Steven Andrew are saying things like:

“God’s love shows it is urgent to repent because the Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies,” the minister said in a video posted to YouTube.

“Our safety is at stake since national disobedience of God’s laws brings danger and diseases, such as coronavirus, but obeying God brings covenant protection… God protects the USA from danger as the country repents of LGBT, false gods, abortion and other sins.”

My son Colin backed away from being trans and transitioning a couple of years ago ostensibly because of fertility reasons, the hormones are more likely than not going to cause sterility and he wants biological children. So Emma and the she/her pronouns went back in the closet. But that wasn’t the only reason. Every single time we headed out Colin/Emma fretted about what clothes to wear… terrified of being attacked at the bus stop. I promised I’d fight the attackers but he didn’t have much faith in my middle aged 5ft 3in self.

Where is our safety? These laws are supposedly for protection from the LGBTQ community, even though we aren’t harming anything and only ask for equal rights. That apparently doesn’t matter. And, for every win, such as equal marriage and repeals of conversion therapy, there’s a loss, a rollback of rights. I wear a rainbow scarf given to me by my ex Lenny and a rainbow cat pin from my friend Jen and wear both with pride. I still worry about attracting negative attention although thankfully I haven’t received any.

Maybe someday we’ll all be considered equal but not today. Not tomorrow either.

me-on-the-bowmanville-creek-trail

Me with my rainbow pin and scarf

 

Five years ago…

Five years ago a lovely young woman walked in front of a truck. She felt hopeless… without a future or an accepting family. Her name was Leelah Alcorn, something her family couldn’t accept even after death.

Don’t just love your children, accept them for who they are. It can be one hell of a ride but they’re taking that ride regardless of whether you’re with them or not and it’ll be easier on them if you’re with them.

Leelah will never have her chance but there are countless Leelah’s out there if you listen. Please support the kids (and the adults for that matter). Let them know you stand with them. Give them a chance to live. Leelah asked for this world to be fixed. Support will go a long way. And if you want to read my original post from 2014 you can find it here.

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