Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven, but . . .

What would you like to know about Heaven? Will the people who have gone before us be there? Will there be chocolate? Will we have a physical resemblance to our human selves? I suspect that a number of people are interested in knowing how to get there.

Jesus is very explicit about this in Matthew 25. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Welcome strangers. Clothe those without clothing. Care for the sick. Visit the imprisoned. In particular, the marginalized.

The similarities between the Pharisees of Jesus' day, and the religious leaders who persecute LGBT people today, are so striking that it truly leaves no room for argument. What we as Christians often fail to see, is that these people (the Pharisees and the persecutors) are perhaps the most marginalized of all of God's children, for they are truly separated from God.

So, what does it all mean?

My task is not to respond in kind. My task is to respond with kindness. Any attempt at forcing another human being to change their heart is vain, misguided, and egotistical. Hearts are changed when a person allows another to see God at work in them.

Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your {Creator} in Heaven." My task is not to tell them what to believe, but rather to allow them to see how what I believe is of the light.

How do we get to Heaven? Open the door for someone else.

What will it be like? More amazing than I can possibly imagine. From I Corinthians 13 - "Now I see but a poor reflection, then I shall see face to face." And I do think there might be chocolate.

I Was Lost, But Now, Not So Much

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was told that she wasn't really a little girl. No wonder I was lost. So this little girl had to pretend to be a boy, and she could never tell anyone that she was really a girl because God didn't like that.

Now, it is important to know that the people in her life truly did not understand that she was really a little girl, they loved her very much, and they were trying to do what they thought was right.

In the 1960s, there was little understanding about transgenderism. I spent hours and hours in the stairwell of our home, along which the Encyclopedia Britannica set was kept, searching for an explanation of what was wrong with me. No wonder I was lost? It's a wonder that any transgender children of the era were able to survive at all.

There are many situations where children grow up wondering what is wrong with them. Few are the ones that can bring out such a violent social reaction as not fitting in the boy/girl binary. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the death of Roy Jones. He was 17 months old when his mother's live-in boyfriend decided his behavior was too effeminate, and proceeded to beat him to death. The man later told police that he was just trying to get him to act like a little boy.

Under what circumstances, would a transgender child believe that it is ok to be who they are? It's not 1960 anymore. Information about transgenderism is available at the click if a mouse. Yet many are still proclaiming that God doesn't like that. But many are dispelling the lie.

It is not difficult for me to identify the single most destructive factor in my being lost for so long. Those who preach the evil of LGBT are responsible for much pain, even death.

So now I know that God loves me, always loved me. Now I am blessed to be able to share that truth, in the hope that someone will see, someone will hear. Now I know that I am asked to pray for those who persecute me. I try. I was lost, but now, not so much.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Turning Four in the Backyard of Westboro Baptist Church

It is the fourth anniversary of my living 24/7 as a woman. I have now lived 7.5% of my life as me, and 92.5% of my life pretending to be someone, not me. At times, the one thing I most wish people could understand about transgender, is that I did not become a woman. I simply stopped pretending to be a man.

In my four years of life, I hope I've blazed a trail or two, but most of the steps I have taken, were on a road first traveled in these parts, by Jane Newman. Not only did she blaze the trail, she did it in the backyard of Westboro Baptist Church at a time when that was extraordinarily dangerous. Every transgender person in Kansas owes this woman, and her wife (Helen), a huge debt of gratitude.

When interim Pastor Patrick Rogers asked me to be the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka Outreach Ministry coordinator in the Fall of 2007, I told him, "If in six months, Fred Phelps doesn't know my name, I'm not doing my job." I believe that the most powerful weapon we have in the battle for equality is visibility. To that end, I have tried to be as visible as possible. Doing this in the backyard of Westboro Baptist is part of the fun.

The widely held perception that WBC sets the standard for LGBT discrimination in Topeka could not be further from the truth. That dubious distinction likely belongs to Topeka Bible Church, the church attended by Topeka's Mayor - Bill Bunten. I personally witnessed an "educational" workshop on the evils of being gay. This workshop was attended by over 300 people.

Being openly transgender in the backyard of WBC is like jumping off the low diving board into a pool with a few plastic sharks. They are like the flies at a picnic. The have so little impact in Topeka that they take their show on the road. In Topeka, they are pretty much a non-event.

That said, being openly transgender in Topeka, Kansas (anywhere in Kansas) is like walking blindfolded from the ten-meter diving platform without knowing if there is water in the pool. The potential for violence is always there. Every time I publicly identify myself as a transsexual woman, I increase the likelihood I will meet with this violence.

So as I celebrate my 4th birthday, I also celebrate the knowledge that what these people might do to me is meaningless, when compared to having to live with the knowledge that I could have done something to change the way it is, but chose not to.

The 27th Psalm vs 1-2 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?"

In the first four years, I have spoken with, or in front of, easily a thousand people. Tens of thousands more have read about my journey in papers across the country, thanks to one article by Jan Biles of the Topeka Capital Journal (http://cjonline.com/news/local/2010-12-19/transgender_woman_finds_her_way), which was subsequently picked up by Associated Press and Transgender News.

In my third year, I was honored to be chosen to be a member of the Board of Directors at Metropolitan Community Church (http://www.mcctopeka.org/). Last August, some awesome people helped me found the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (K-STEP - http://k-step.org/). Recently, I was equally honored to become vice-chair of Kansas Equality Coalition (http://kansasequalitycoalition.org/).

I am looking now toward the 5th year of my life. I hope it is even more busy than the 4th year. As for turning four in the backyard of Westboro Baptist Church, I am pretty sure Fred Phelps knows my name.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Do Not Like This Man Named Sam

I do not like this man named Sam

I do not like this man named Sam
I do not like it, sad I am

I do not like to hurt our schools
I do not like the way he rules

I do not like this man the Gov
I do not like his kind of love

I like, I do like KNI
For bottled water, tears they cry

I do not like to lose the arts
I do not like to lose our hearts

I do not like his power trip
I do not like his widening grip

I like, I do, the HRC
I like to see all people free

I do not like his hate of gays
I do not like his "Christian" ways

Do not take from those with less
Do not touch the SRS

Do keep your hands unto yourself
And place them not on women's health

I do not like this man, the king
Of do and don't and everything

I like, I do, that this is noted
I did not like it when I voted

I do not like this man named Sam
I do not like it, sad I am

© Stephanie Mott 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Frankenstein's Monster

I have been asked to speak at an abnormal psychology class about transgenderism. The significance of this is far greater than you might think. True it is, that normalcy is not on my bucket list. But abnormal? Not transgender people. If anything is abnormal here, it is the people who continue to espouse the idea that gender identity outside the boy/girl binary is a mental disorder.

Part of the problem lies in the assumption that biology trumps psychology. There is no reason to assume this, and quite frankly, we only do this in the arena of gender. In every other socially constructed and socially appropriate arena, we identify the person by what's on the inside.

Frankenstein is Dr. Kenneth Zucker. Zucker is famous for forcing gender-variant children into reparative therapy to conform to his expectations for male and female behavior in children. He considers transsexual women a "bad outcome" for gay men. Zucker is a darling of the "ex-gay" movement because of his work "curing" gender-variant children. (tsroadmap, 2011)

Zucker is Frankenstein. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) is Frankenstein's Monster. Zucker continues to be a major barrier to removing transgender from the DSM. If Gender Identity Disorder is a psychological problem, why is the solution biological?

Another significant part of the issue is the blatant and purposeful failure to recognize the natural and normal diversity in human development both biologically and psychologically. The question often asked is, "Why are some people transgender?" The question should be, "Why wouldn't some people be transgender?"

Finally, it's the connotations that come with the word, "abnormal". No one called Michael Jordan abnormal. However, when someone doesn't fit in the girl/boy box, they are called deviant, abnormal, and sick. There is nothing wrong with people who are transgender. The abnormal psychology belongs to the people who think there is.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just What Kind of Tour?

Four hard hot days. Hoping that just one person would be helped. One set of eyes opened.

Amazing discoveries of self, life, people, and God.

The story behind the story is that among the wonderful Facebook posts of well wishes, were the horrifying posts about Sam Brownback's promotion of marriage, as he sees it.

The public denial of the humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender people as having the right to love, or the love to parent.

The things that have been done by Sam Brownback in the name of Christian values, are more comparable to Nazi death camps. The deliberate public proclamation that a group of human beings is not human, is a statement in the likeness of Adolph Hitler, not in the likeness of Jesus.

Yet I witnessed the eyes of Kansans as I spoke the word, transgender. Reactions of fear, empathy, anger, contemplation, and love. Mostly a recognition of human value.

Just what kind of tour was it?

I am changed. Exactly how is yet to be discovered. I can only pray that I am changed in the way God would have me change.