Thy Will Be Done

Recently, reconnecting with an old friend left me realizing that the Lord’s will is sometimes daunting and scary…I could lose everything…but it is all His, and I have been put here for His purposes.

Finding the Church

My journey to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church) is not a straight path.  I was baptized Catholic as a baby.  For most of my childhood, I learned Catholic doctrine, and attended Church somewhat regularly.  We weren’t a strictly religious family, but religion was discussed.  One of my favorite memories of my Catholic upbringing was bedtime stories with my Dad, when he read me a children’s picture Bible.  Predictably, my favorite story was David and Goliath (I of course identified with David).

But growing up, the Catholic Church itself did not capture my attention.  I grew bored with Church.  At this time, we had moved to North Carolina and I was introduced to an early-morning Baptist Bible Study in middle school.  I attended it and for a while was completely wrapped up in it.  I misunderstood what was being said, though.  I somehow got the idea that God was a magic genie that would grant my requests if I just accepted Jesus into my heart and told other people about Him.  I didn’t even know what “accept Jesus” meant.  I just knew I had a list of things I needed accomplished, and God seemed to be just the task-master to run my errands.  Needless to say, this didn’t work, and I grew disillusioned with the concept of God.

In high school I became an agnostic.  I worshiped science.  I wanted little to do with God and questioned whether He even existed.  It wasn’t until college when I joined a Presbyterian Christian group on the advice of my close friend and mentor, that I earnestly asked the question of God, “What is Your plan for me?  Why am I here?  Do You even exist?  What do You want me to do with my life?”

This earnest question asked in the middle of the night while on a camping retreat with the Reformed University Fellowship group led me to receive my first witness from the Holy Ghost.  I felt an incredible presence…a feeling of comfort, joy, and knowledge.  I knew God existed.  I could no longer be an “agnostic”, because at this point, knowledge had been poured into my mind.

Gradually, I came to understand the concept of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World.  I attended a Presbyterian Church.  But then a number of things occurred, the most significant of which was my gender transition.

I began to realize who I was and who God wanted me to be.  I began to step into manhood for the first time, and I reached out to my Presbyterian pastor and asked for his support.  He denied it.  He told me in a loving way that he could not condone what I was doing, and that I really should rely on Christ and the community for support in deciding not to go through with the gender transition.  He was asking me to defer my personal medical care to a community…that goes against everything I believe in…politically and spiritually.

I left the Presbyterian Church, and sadly, I left the people in it behind as well.  I joined the Methodist Church, which was on the surface more accepting, but I realized about two years into it that they were accepting of “transgender” people for the wrong reasons.  And there were a number of other beliefs of theirs that I directly disagreed with.  I left the Methodist Church, and was content to not join any more churches ever again.  But then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints found me.

I was on the internet looking for random things on various search browsers and LDS.org or other Mormon sites kept popping up.  I ignored it at first, until it happened again…and again…and again.  I could no longer ignore it–it was clearly a sign from God.  I checked it out.  Many of the LDS beliefs were my beliefs already.  I ordered a Book of Mormon on Amazon.com for something like $0.89, not realizing they were free.  I read the rest of the Old Testament so that I could judge the Book of Mormon by that standard.  I contacted the Missionaries.  But most importantly, I prayed.  I prayed earnestly, as I had in college when I was looking for verification as to whether God existed.  As I had when I was asking whether I should transition, whether it was a sin to be intersex.  And as I had those two other times, I received the same witness from the Holy Ghost.

This Church has revolutionized my life.  I am realizing everything that God wanted me to be.  I am becoming the man He designed me to become.  But I realize that this is not the end of my journey…it’s just the beginning.

Personal Revelation

Recently I reconnected with old friends from the Presbyterian Church….who knew me by a different name, when my voice was pre-pubescent and my body looked different.  I went to dinner with them and shared my books with them.  I prayed for a fulfilling experience, and man, did I receive it.

I explained that I rejected the “gender fluidity”, the “entitlement”, the railing against fake “privilege” that the LGBT movement was exhibiting.  I explained that they are turning a medical condition into a social movement, to the detriment of the 1% of the population who is born like me.  I explained they are making it harder for churches to make policy on these issues, and they are making it harder for conservatives to wrap their minds around what should be the same as any other disease.

And then I explained that I was still “stealth”.  That’s not exactly true–many of my friends know who I am and what disorder I have, and more importantly know who I “was”…though I don’t see myself as having two identities and think of my life instead as one continuous thing, not a “new start” as of my transition…it’s hard for others to see it that way.  And the knowledge of who I “was” can be considered somewhat dangerous.  But regardless, to my Church, to my newest friends, I am “stealth” because they never knew me by any other name.

So as we reconnected in that noisy restaurant, one of my old friends looked at me as I explained the above, and suddenly it got incredibly quiet…as if everyone was whispering at once.  I heard his voice exclusively, as if it were in my own head.  He said, “I know you want to keep this under wraps right now, but there will come a time when you can’t.  When it’s going to become public to people–probably a lot of people.  And you need to know what you’re going to do when that happens.”  I had goosebumps.  I knew the Holy Spirit was using this friend of mine to communicate a very important message, because at that moment, I heard the Holy Spirit say,

“For this Purpose…”

I can fill in the blanks after that.  When the disciples asked the Savior why a man was born blind (did his parents sin or did he sin before his birth?), the Savior said that neither was correct, and that he was born blind, “So the works of God might be made manifest through him.” (John 9:3)

For that purpose, was this man born.

When Jesus invoked Genesis 2:24 in an explanation of marriage, he said, “For this purpose does man leave his parents and cling to his wife, so the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:5)

For that purpose, people were created in two different genders, so they could be joined together for time and all eternity.

In America in the late twentieth century, a woman and a man were told by doctors that they could not become pregnant.  They had a baby in a hospital in the midst of a snowstorm.  He was only their second child, despite a decade of trying to become pregnant.  His outward appearance gave no indication of his inward brain activity, and science had not yet developed to the point where such a thing could be determined, anyway.  He was labeled a “girl”, and raised as a “girl”, despite obvious behavioral and physical difficulties.  Through tremendous pain and social pressure, and after painstaking research and prayer, he discovered his true identity.  He joined a Church that had the authority to ordain him with the Holy Priesthood, which Power extends from eternity to eternity, and which has the Lord’s work as its central focus.  It is given to men only, not by men, but by God.  This young man received his Patriarchal Blessing, which confirmed to him in a message directly from God what he had always truly known.  He was, is, and always will be a man.  He is the Lord’s man.  He will do the Lord’s work.

For that purpose, I was born.

The Risks

If I step out of “stealth,” I could lose everything.  If I go “public”, there is a chance that out of misunderstanding and fear, my privilege to act on my Priesthood could be taken from me.  But I know that the Priesthood will never be taken from me, even if my privilege to act on it might be.  The only way it can be taken from me is if I fail to honor it and drive it away, through personal iniquity.

Interestingly, on the eve of my interview with the Bishop to obtain the Aaronic Priesthood, the lesser priesthood, I knelt at my bed and wept.  I pleaded with the Lord, “Oh Lord, I don’t want to lose the Priesthood.  Please, don’t let him call into question my identity.  Please, don’t let the Bishop ask questions because I don’t think he’ll understand.  He wouldn’t know what he would be doing.”  I paused in my prayer, and realized that I was petrified of losing something I had never had.  You have to understand–I never cry.  I never cry.  This had me weeping like a child mourning over the loss of his father.  This was a deep-felt, intense grief that I could not explain.  If that wasn’t a testimony from the Holy Ghost that this was truly the Lord’s Power, I don’t know what could be.  But regardless, I listened to the Holy Ghost that evening, and I reflected on Jesus’ own words.  “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23: 34) And after pleading that the cup should pass from Him (the crucifixion), He stated, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”  (Luke 22: 42) I echoed the Savior’s words that evening in my own prayer.  I fully understand that Jesus was praying that he would not have to experience the full brunt of every sin ever committed and every hardship ever endured by every human being who ever lived and would ever live in the entire Earth…and I was praying that I wouldn’t be denied the Priesthood.  There’s obviously a difference.  But I was trying to emulate the Savior, not claim my hardship was equal.

No question came up.  The questions in the interview were standard, and I “passed.”  The same occurred for my Melchizedek Priesthood interview (the higher priesthood).  The same occurred for my Temple interview.  The same occurred for my Patriarchal Blessing, and the same might occur for my marriage, though at that point, my wife will of course know about my medical condition, and she might feel the need to bring it up.

I don’t know what would have happened, were those questions to arise.  I don’t know if it would have made a difference, if I just explained the medical condition.  The important thing is, the exposure of my condition is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  I now know that for this purpose, I have this disorder.  So that I can bring the Light of Christ into darkness.  So that I can be the Lord’s hands and feet, and exercise my Priesthood for His work.  So the Glory of God can shine through me.

Will it be painful?  Probably.  There will be people who misunderstand, who are maybe even driven to violence.  There will be loss of privacy when “a lot of people,” as my friend stated, discover my condition.  I don’t need to pray that the cup should pass from me, though, because I have already been told.  “For this Purpose….”

Not my will, but Thine be done.

In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Posted in Gender, Personal History, Priesthood

#BecauseofHim

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I’ve been seeing (and using) the hashtag #BecauseofHim on Twitter and Facebook lately, but I can’t convey, in 140 characters, what the Savior means to me, and just how big my “BecauseofHim, ______” should be.

My story is not unlike many transgender (ie, intersex) people in that I discovered who I was at an early age, and am now living as who I am supposed to be, after a long struggle with the world’s interpretation of who I am supposed to be.  However, my story is unlike many transgender people because I am a Mormon, a Priesthood holder, and because I truly believe it is #BecauseofHim that I am now the man I was always designed to become.

In the premortal world, my life was discussed and decided upon.  I chose to come here, in this body with all its infirmities, and I was entrusted with the task of discovering what it truly means to be a man.  Heavenly Father’s trust in me is tremendous!  I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to come here, have a body, and experience everything I have, including (and especially) my transition.  I was always male, as my Patriarchal Blessing tells me, and as the Holy Spirit tells me.  The Holy Spirit was telling me this from the time I was 2, through all the heartache and struggles with my parents, teachers, and friends insisting I was wrong, right through to the early days of my psychology studies in college, when the Holy Spirit prompted me to click on certain academic articles, and read about “transgenderism”, and finally right through to the moment when He prompted me to pray, and gave me a witness of my manhood.  He was with me when I decided not to go into the Navy, not because I didn’t want to serve the country, but because their policy prevents those like me from entering.  He was with me when I began investigating the Church.  He was with me when I prayed to know whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was true, and He gave me the same testimony of the truth of this Church as He did my manhood, and of His existence, when I first asked in college whether there was a God.  And He was with me throughout my Patriarchal Blessing, when I received final, everlasting confirmation that I am, always have been, and always will be a man.

But before ANY of this happened, there was a Council in Heaven.  One stood and said He would form a world where we might experience these things, and learn and grow.  He knew we would fall, and not be perfect, and be unable to return to the Father.  So He offered to take upon Him, all of our sins.  He offered to suffer, bleed, and die, and then rise.  And another stood, and said this plan was foolish and unfair.  He said that he would come down to Earth and make us obey the Father, taking away our choice, and obtaining all the glory for himself.  The Lord rejected this alternative, and accepted the first Plan, which is the Plan of Salvation.  Jesus Christ was the one who stood and offered to be our Savior.  And Jesus Christ was the one who followed through, coming to Earth and teaching us with all the tenderness, firmness, and Truth of the Father in Heaven.  Then Jesus Christ was the one who took upon Him our sins, both in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the Cross.  The Cross is where his body died, and He descended to the prison where spirits were kept, who could not return to the Father, because they had perished before Jesus had come to Earth.  He set up a ministry for those spirits, so that our forefathers might hear the Gospel in its entirety, and make an informed decision, and return to Father in Heaven.  And finally, He ascended, appearing on the Earth to all those who were faithful, all over the world.  And finally, He ascended all the way to Heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father.

So you see, nothing would be possible without Him.  If there was no Christ, there would have been no Salvation, for there would have been no Sin, because there would have been no Life, because there would have been no World, for He created it at the Father’s direction.

Perhaps I can sum up my feelings about the Lord in 140 characters or less…it is quite simple, really.  It’s simple and True.

 

#BecauseofHim…everything.

 

In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Posted in Gender, Personal History, Priesthood, Scripture

How The Adversary’s Plan Is Alive In Politics Today

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The First Argument Against Free Choice

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe in the Pre-Existence: the concept that we existed as spirits living with Heavenly Father before we had bodies here on Earth, and that we chose to come here (to Earth) while we were still in the Pre-Existence.  Heavenly Father desired that we would be able to progress, but because we lived with Him and had no challenges, we had no way to learn and grow.  We were stagnant.  Therefore, two plans were presented. The Savior’s Plan (the Plan of Happiness, the Plan of Salvation), was the plan Jesus Christ presented to Heavenly Father before a great Council in Heaven.  His plan was that He would, at the Father’s will, form a world where we (the spirits in Heaven) would come to obtain physical bodies.  This world would be susceptible to entropy, and therefore would exhibit all kinds of disorder, and present us with all kinds of choices that we could make.  If we so chose, we would be able to return to Heavenly Father.  Because none of us would be able to be perfect in such a fallen world, we would need a Savior…which would be Christ the Lord.

Lucifer presented another plan.  He thought the Plan of Salvation to be a ridiculous plan.  I can imagine the argument now…

Lucifer, in a grandiose manner and in the most persuasive language imaginable, presents his case before the spirits in Heaven (all of us).  He argues vehemently, “Brothers and Sisters, this Plan of so-called “Happiness” is preposterous!  Do you realize that this plan would mean that only SOME of you would be saved?  Only *some* of you would end up choosing to return to Father!  This is UNFAIR!  Do you really think that some of you are less EQUAL than others?  That you should be allowed to make such a terrible choice?  It wouldn’t be your fault, of course!  You would be subject to a lifetime of trials and tribulations!  Some of your lives would be absolutely miserable!

Take this man, for instance,” picking one out of a crowd, “he would be born addicted to crack.  He would never know his father.  His mother would die when he was twelve.  He would live in a slum with meager rations of food and drink, and because of malnutrition and lead poisoning, and being ignored for all of his youth, his brain would be underdeveloped.  He would never amount to anything, living off of charity and welfare his entire life.  He would become addicted to drugs and live in a cardboard box under a bridge, until he died of exposure on a cold winter night, at thirty-two years old.  Do you *really* expect *this man* to choose this plan of “happiness”??  And even if he did–do you *really* expect, once he was down there in *those* conditions, that he would actually choose to follow the Lord?  The Lord who put him down in these conditions?  The Lord who allows some people–like this man,” he picks another out of the crowd, “to live in a high-rise apartment in Manhattan, making $4 million a year, while others, like this poor man, die in filth and despair?”  He would implore the crowd again, “Brothers and Sisters, I have an alternative!  Send *me* down to this Earth.  I will guarantee *every single one of you* will be able to return to the Father.”  And then he would turn to the Lord and say, “And because of this, I would be exalted far above the Most High, considering that my plan is FAIR, and treats everyone EQUALLY, and guarantees success!”

 

Quite an Argument

Lucifer’s argument won over 1/3 of the Host of Heaven.  A great war ensued, and the 3rd who chose Lucifer’s “guarantee” over the Father’s “choice” were cast down, never to inherit a body, never to get the experience of life, but instead to accompany Lucifer (who was now Satan) as demons, to torment and tempt mankind to do bad things.  Lucifer thinks in doing so that he’s recruiting souls to his side for a great battle that will occur when Jesus Christ comes again, and banishes Satan for good.  And to some extent, he is–those who choose to follow Satan instead of the Lord are under his command.  But that is only true for those who choose to follow him.  All others are tempted and tried by him, but are not controlled by him, and these temptations and trials are the exact thing that we came down to this Earth to experience in the first place, so we could learn and grow.  So Satan doesn’t even realize he’s being used.

But Lucifer’s argument is quite an argument, to win over 1/3 of the Host of Heaven, who KNEW Heavenly Father was the Most High, and that none could be above him.  And this same argument is repeated even to this day, eons later.  You’ve heard it.  It’s the same argument Progressive politicians make when they try to tell you that you’re not capable enough to choose your own future.  You can’t choose that soda–it’s too big.  You can’t choose that salary–it’s too small.  You can’t choose that healthcare, it doesn’t cover enough.  You can’t make your own way without us–we’re the only reason why you’re able to succeed.  And you can’t get through challenges in life–they’re too hard.  Let us take them away from you.  It’s not fair that he makes more than you.  It’s not fair that he had more when he was born than you had.  Let us make it fair.

A very enticing offer.  And one as old as time itself (literally).  Security in exchange for liberty.

 

The Lord is Destined to Win

The Adversary is stronger than ever in our day.  He has had eons to strengthen his arguments, and they sound more enticing than ever.  He has utilized our own compassion in a sick way to pull at our heartstrings, and willingly give up our freedoms in exchange for–not even our own, but *others’* security!  He has twisted charity from its beautiful original meaning of willingly giving of oneself to help others, to mean the compulsory theft of goods from someone deemed “more fortunate” and redistribution to someone deemed “less fortunate.”  He has twisted faith from its original definition of the evidence of things unseen to a harmful, silly, illogical leaping before looking.  He has twisted hope from its original meaning of knowledge that the Lord lives and loves us, to the concept of “bigger clingers” who look forward to the imminent destruction of the Second Coming while clinging to guns and religion in the face of hard times.

The Adversary’s will for us is that we will be miserable like he is.  That we will lose the opportunity to live with Father forever in Heaven, like he did.  He will do anything to make that a reality for us.  He is smart and cunning and has no love for you, and no care for how much he may hurt you and your eternal progression.

But he will lose.  He’s destined to lose, and he has lost at every turn in history.  He seems to win here and there, like the King of Babylon won when he went up against Israel and raped and pillaged and destroyed all that was precious to them.  But the Lord let him know very clearly that he was only able to do what he did because the Lord lifted his finger of protection from Israel, due to their iniquities, and that when that finger was replaced, the King of Babylon was going to be squished like a bug.  And he was.  Charity never faileth.  Good always prevails.  Even if it takes till the end of time, as the Scriptures repeatedly tell us, when the Savior comes and conquers Satan for good.

 

A Warning for Our Time

The Scriptures are filled with examples of the Adversary’s instruments (like the King of Babylon) being crushed by the Lord, and those who trust in the arm of flesh being destroyed.  Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Beware of the ways he will entice you to give up your freedom with things that seem to bring temporary happiness.  Remember that the Lord is the Most High, and although His path is difficult, it will be worth it in the end.

 

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, Amen.

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Posted in Priesthood, Scripture, Uncategorized

The Lord’s Love

Indescribable.  Uncontainable.  Wonderful.  Redeeming.  Overflowing.  These words don’t do justice to the Lord’s love for us.  The only word of that list that might come close is Indescribable.

Everything in nature from the vastness of the universe to the minute details of an atom testifies of His greatness.  The complexity of the physics involved in the workings of the Earth, to the simplicity of arithmetic.  The beauty of a sunset, or an ocean, or of a child singing a song.  The wonder of a towering mountain, or the birth of a star…or that of a human being.

These things may communicate to us a fraction of His power, His wonder, His intellect.  But only personal experience truly testifies to us of His love.

And how He loves us so.  He doesn’t just love the “best” of His servants.  He loves ALL of us.  Enough to send His Son to die for us.  But that one great act is often forgotten in the moment.  When we are at our worst, when we are in the pit of despair, when hope seems not only lost, but non-existent.

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When a drug addict lies on a dirty mattress in a cockroach-infested apartment, curled up in a fetal position, rocking and shaking and sweating from withdraw, feeling like he will die.  The Lord is there.

When an executive spends twelve or thirteen hour days in the office during a layoff period, straining his marriage almost to the point of breaking, and then hears that he would be laid off anyway…his career aspirations dashed and his family life in shambles.  The Lord is there.

When a student stares at an essay she didn’t write, stressed for time with an impossible schedule and four more assignments due, none of which she has time for…and she is ready to make the final, desperate decision to send the essay to her professor and cheat for the first time.  The Lord is with her.

The Lord is with the child with leukemia who struggles to get through the night.  The Lord is with the premature neonate, whose tubes and wires outweigh him, his tiny chest fighting for every breath.  The Lord is with the drug dealer selling dirty needles in an abandoned, condemned building.  The Lord is with the soldier who cries for his fallen brothers.  The Lord is with the single mom who works three jobs to pay the rent.  The Lord is with her children, who think gang life is the only way to support themselves.

He is with the pastor who professes his love for the Lord every Sunday.  He is with the crack addict who can’t remember his own name.

He is with all of us, always, now and forever.

When I was dealing with the cyberbullying on Twitter following a comment about racial slurs, people said things like the following:

“I stopped listening for “god” and instead listened for myself.  Now I don’t want to kill myself anymore.”

He heard and saw this person’s heartbreak.  And of course, if she knew this, she might scream, “THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU HELP ME?!?!”

Why don’t you take it all away, Lord?  Why do we have to have pain?  Why are there mudslides, and earthquakes, and tsunamis?  Why are there terrorist attacks, and plane crashes, and recessions?  Why are there genocides, and why is there rape?  Why is there murder?  Why is there sorrow?  Why did you let that guy get addicted to crack, or that woman lose her job, or that child get raped by his uncle?

When Jesus arrived in town after Lazarus had passed away, and He learned that his friend was no longer alive, He wept.

Jesus wept.

The Lord weeps when the drug addict shoots up with a dirty needle.  He weeps when terrorists end the lives of innocents.  He weeps when mudslides sweep away families’ homes of cherished memories.  He weeps when a child is victimized.  He weeps when jobs are lost.

The Lord is always with us.  He doesn’t often intervene…occasionally He will part waters, calm seas, stop the mouths of lions, stay the flames of fiery furnaces, and otherwise rescue us.  The days of miracles are not over.  They are still upon us, if we choose to look.

But miracles aside, He is always with us.

Oh, how I wish that woman who wrote that tweet, about ceasing listening to the Lord and starting to listen to herself, so that she no longer wanted to kill herself, how I wish, so fervently, that she could have stopped and truly listened to what He had to say.  Because it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are going through, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, in your deepest hour of despair, if your heart is open, you will see the Lord standing with you, His hand guiding you, protecting you, directing you, and surrounding you with angels who sing comforting carols by your bedside.

He embraces you in His open arms, because He loves you!  HE LOVES YOU!

He made you, from the very beginning.  He knitted you together in your mother’s womb, and breathed your spirit into your body, a spirit that dwelt with Him in heaven before you came here, and agreed upon your trials, knowing that they were *exactly* what you needed in order to return to Heavenly Father’s arms.  HE KNOWS YOU!  He knows everything about you!  He knows what makes you tick, and He KNOWS that you can get through what you are facing.

How I wish you could hear the angels sing.  Just close your eyes, and listen in your deepest hour of despair.

He is there for all of us.  Every single one of us.

My fellow brothers and sisters who struggle with gender identity, know that He made you.  Know that He loves you.  Know that He *designed* you, and you are not broken.  There is no such thing as broken.  Your body might be malfunctioning, but that happens for the same reason that mudslides happen, and hurricanes, and earthquakes, and cancer.  Your soul is not malfunctioning.  Your soul is the gender you *know* it to be, and the Lord made you this way so that you could overcome this challenge.  You, more than anyone, know what it means to be *your* gender.  You, more than anyone, have that eternal definition imprinted in your brain because you *know* it isn’t correlated to the way you look, it is correlated ONLY to your spirit.

Listen to the Lord.  He is right there with you.  He loves you.  His love is indescribably big.  It is certainly big enough to envelop you forever and always.  He designed you to fit right in His arms.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Posted in Gender, Scripture, Uncategorized

My Future Family

My Recent Thoughts

I spent 21 years being a boy, and am only very recently a man.  Not only am I only recently a man, I also find myself somewhat suddenly a man.  The transition to manhood has not been as gradual as is typical for most boys.  I am not sure yet if my mind is moving through the emotional transition to manhood at the same pace as other boys’ minds do, and my thoughts about family, responsibility, romance, and the like are simply accelerated because of my age.  In other words, I don’t know if my thoughts are outrunning my mind’s capacity to handle them.

This might seem quite confusing without some context.  Allow me to direct you to this post for some background on my recent journey to manhood.

However, if you’re still with me, this post is an exploration of my present psyche as it pertains to my future family.

Where I Just Was

My bedroom is painted blue, with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.  Star Trek action figures and starships adorn my dresser, desk, and bookshelves.  Mulder’s “I Want To Believe” poster hangs on my wall next to a replica of the moon that lights up when you put batteries in it.  I’ve had the same racecar writing pad on my desk since I was 10.  Buzz Lightyear and Captain Picard have watched me type for over a decade.  A spacewalking astronaut provides inspiration, hanging just above my monitor.

I spent most of my chidhood yearning for recognition of my boyhood.  Yet I also spent that time being a boy.  Usually, people who are “transgender” (more aptly named “intersex”) reverse those two sentences.  For me, they are correctly ordered.  *In spite* of my medical challenges, I spent *all* of my time being a boy.  And *because* of those medical challenges, I remained a boy longer than most.

So the impact of my boyhood on my life, I think, might be greater than most.  I retain a good portion of that boyhood, even while I’m still a man.

Where I’m Going

Some things will have to change as I get older.  I can’t retain this boyhood room forever.  I can paint every new room I enter in every new house I live in to model this ideal boyhood room, but only until I marry someone.  Then this boyhood room will probably turn into a girl-i-fied (I’m sure that’s a word; look it up) “Master Bedroom” and all these boyhood toys will be relegated to my man cave–my study/den/room-without-female-decorations.  And as the room becomes a secondary residence instead of a primary one, so will my boyhood.  I can’t dwell here forever.  Unlike Peter Pan, I must grow up.

While I certainly *want* to grow up, and have a wife and children, and get on with my adult life, the notion is somewhat worrisome to me, if not downright frightening.  One doesn’t spend 21 years emotionally as a child and then just step right into adulthood.  The Priesthood has helped tremendously, and has gotten me to the point where many times, I yearn for marriage and parenthood.  I look forward to the day when I will hold my new baby in my arms, and will feel the same emotions of immense responsibility, pride, and joy that most new fathers feel.  I already am planning my children’s schooling (DEFINITELY homeschooling!), imagining driving down the road with them in the back seat, and thinking about the enormous family tree that I am going to create by adopting a slew of children into our loving home.

As for a wife…I imagine the two of us as partners and best friends in everything.  Facing life’s challenges together, being the strength and might, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, for our growing family.  I imagine us as inseparable, joint forces against evil in the world.  (Do we sound like superheros to you?)  I imagine us lovingly educating our children on all things intellectual and spiritual.  I imagine building a miniature kingdom, a safe haven from the world outside, where our children can explore and learn and grow.

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I don’t know what she’ll look like.  But I know I’ll be attracted to her, and that she’ll be attracted to me–all of me, as I am.  I know we’ll disagree on some things, and we’ll complement each other in some things (like geometric angles, we may be opposites but together we will add up!).  I know we’ll always be united on things that really matter.

Timing

I have to constantly remind myself that the Lord is making me into a man in His time.  He will not force me into anything I am not ready for.  And there is a woman out there being prepared to be my wife, as much as I am being prepared to be her husband.  We will love each other for who we are, and though there may be challenges, and we will certainly each have sacrifices to make, as long as the Lord is in the center of our homes, He will care for us.  And our union will be forever, so I hardly should be worried about when we will meet during these few years on Earth.

And I write these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Posted in Gender, History, Personal History, Priesthood, Uncategorized

Conformity vs. Freedom: A Case for Diversity

The Decision to Write About My Little Pony

I have to admit my initial reluctance to write a blog post about My Little Pony.  It’s not that I have anything against the show…in fact, I’m quite neutral on the show.  I never watched it.  I know essentially nothing about it.  It’s not even that there are about 10 million more interesting things going on in the world that are blog-worthy…(Crimea, for example, or the missing Malaysian flight, or the daily Constitutional violations our government commits, or the upcoming elections…I need not continue).

Instead, my initial reluctance to write about 9-year-old Grayson Bruce’s story stems instead from my initial internal argument about what I would write.  On the one hand, I don’t think that Grayson’s school or his parents should fight his battles for him.  On the other hand, I think the school’s response gives the wrong message to kids, and needs to be corrected.

Backstory

In case you are unfamiliar with the story, 9-year-old Grayson Bruce likes My Little Pony.  A decade ago this would hardly have been a news story.  But with a growing prevalence of attempted suicide among young boys who are thought to be homosexual, and with the increasing intensity of cyberbullying, and with government’s overreach, especially in schools, growing at a dangerous pace, this story is a perfect storm and deserves a spot on the headlines.

To quickly summarize: the kid likes an unpopular show, as a result, his classmates bullied him physically and emotionally, and the school did essentially nothing but encourage him to hide his feelings in order to stop the bullying.  Conform or die.

The Perfect Storm

Common Core is a symptom of a much larger problem of parental disengagement and cultural disease.  This seems like a harsh statement, until you look at the facts.  First, Common Core is nothing new–it teaches the same failed methods of math, reading, science, etc that have been tried before (when I was a kid, it was called Chicago Math and it lasted about a year in my school before they realized that no one was learning anything).  What is new is that schools are allowing the Department of Education to suggest a “common” curriculum–basically making all schools conform to a set of standards, or at least encouraging them to do so.  This ‘dumbing down’ of curriculum selection and gearing curriculum toward standardized testing (which is a major factor in Common Core) is a natural consequence of big government/authoritarianism/conformity.  It brings the top down and the bottom up to make everyone fall somewhere in the middle.  Its result is a mediocre, slow death of individuality.  This principle of bringing the top down to bring the bottom up is not new, either.  It’s been tried in so many countries it’s hard to count.  The results have ranged from perpetual mediocrity to mass murder, but never excellence.

Meanwhile, as society prepares a generation of drones who can’t think for themselves, schools send the message of more authoritarianism and one-size-fits-none regulations via zero tolerance policies.  You bring a spork to school, you chew your Pop Tart in an L shape, you do anything that steps outside the rigid parameters of conformity, and you’re out.  Expelled, or suspended, or in some cases even arrested, and your future hangs in the balance because of a school that’s been given way too much power over you.

What is the purpose of school, anyway?  I thought it was to train future productive citizens of the country in basic things they needed to know.  How to balance a bank account.  How to read, write, and do basic math.  How to think critically about a problem they might face.  How to do a trade that might get them a job.  How far away have we gotten from that common sense purpose of sending our kids to a building for 8 hours every day?

Finally, the trend of cyberbullying is on the rise, and many in my own political camp (libertarians) will claim that this is a falsity, but I experienced it myself.  It’s not the same as it was when I was in school, because before Twitter and Facebook became your primary residence instead of a place you visit every now and again, you could escape the constant barrage of suggestions that you go kill yourself.  You could go home and log off those websites for most of the evening and still have a relatively normal social life.  It was harder to bully people because you had to deal with the people directly.  When a jerk stole my tator tots every day in the cafeteria, I finally snapped and jumped up, put him in a headlock, nearly cut off his air supply, and made him spit out the tator tot.  He never bothered me again.  You can’t do that to someone who is firing electrons at you.  Nor does he have any incentive to stop firing those electrons.

So how does this all fit into the perfect storm?

Imagine a world where you don’t quite fit in.  This is probably easy to do, if you’re LGBT, or if you’re a different color than everyone else, or if you’re intersex, or if you’re a Mormon, or if you’re…I don’t know, a *human being*.  EVERYONE is different, and NO ONE fits into every crowd.  Authoritarianism, Common Core, Socialism, Big Government, whatever you want to call it–a giant authority that has lots of rules to “protect” people–has to make actual rules in order for their bureaucracy to work.  That means that those “zero tolerance” policies can only cover so many things.  There’s plenty of evidence of this truth.  Perhaps they classify all sharp objects as “weapons” and your spork gets you suspended or expelled.  They couldn’t have foreseen that you might bring a spork when they made that policy because they are human beings, and it’s impossible to foresee every possible circumstance.  That’s why big authority is inherently flawed.  But I digress.  They have these rules to “protect” you, but it’s inevitable that someone will be outside a protected class for some reason or another.  What happens then?  In order for this bureaucracy to stand, in order for it not to collapse in on itself, the only solution is the one that fits their mantra of a COMMON purpose.  You must CONFORM.  You must be like everyone else.  If it’s not in the rules, it can’t happen.  And that’s a scary world, indeed.

Solutions

Back to My Little Pony.  Here are some proposed solutions to Grayson’s problem:

1. Homeschool.  This is the best option, and the one they’re going with right now.  It’s best because Grayson was in a worse spot anyway, in a government run school that forces all kids to advance at the same pace, and doesn’t recognize individuality.  All kids would benefit from homeschooling.

Sidenote- If we deregulate the education industry and allow for private homeschools to form in neighborhoods, the tried and true method of the one-room schoolhouse would come back, and would offer salvation to working parents.  Classes would be small, curricula would meet the needs of the individual children, and attendance would go up until about 8th grade, at which point attendance would be voluntary if the student was apprenticed and learning a trade (like computer programming, or being an electrician, or whatever).  It would get kids into the workforce early, teach them about earning/saving money, would provide cheap labor, and would equip them to go on to college with some real life experience instead of extending childhood for 4 years so they can drink and party and learn about liberalism on the taxpayers’ dime.

2. The school could do diversity training.  Real diversity training.  Not the kind where they teach white kids that they are inherently “privileged” or form sessions where they exclude entire races of people in order to somehow foster diversity…instead, the kind where they teach people what MLK, one of my heroes, wanted everyone to understand.  We can be different and work together.  We are *not* the same.  We *are* different, and that is what makes us a beautiful civilization.  We should embrace, not shy away, from differences.  This would likely not decrease the frequency of the bullying, but it would probably decrease the intensity of it.

3. The school could revoke its zero tolerance policies about violence (assuming it has them), and let the kids fight this out.  This seems like an archaic way to solve a struggle, but it works for children.  Even if you lose a fight, you still stood up for yourself and you are respected for it.  Kids need to learn to fight their own battles.  Mom and Dad (or the school, or the government) won’t be there to do it for them forever.  They also need to recognize the consequences of their actions.  When you choose to make fun of someone, you might get punched in the gut for it.  When you choose to punch someone in the gut, you may get a detention for it (I said revoke zero tolerance policies, not revoke all punishment for violence).

Conclusion

I think all LGBT people and all Mormons have a really good reason to be libertarian.  We are minorities.  We know something with a surety inside ourselves that drives us to be different from the rest of the world.  We have such conviction about who we are…or at least about who we are *not*…that we act differently, and we don’t conform.  We should support any system that increases people’s ability to choose for themselves what they want, and we should reject any system that restricts creativity and individuality.

If Grayson Bruce can teach us anything, it’s that we should be prepared to support the next generation of kids who dare to be different.

For a really great video on bullying, see this:

And for what Glenn Beck had to say in response to Grayson, see this.

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Posted in Gender, Personal History, Politics, Uncategorized

How (not?) to Deal with Contention

My History with Contention

I am no stranger to contention.  I was born a boy in a girl’s body, so even before I hit kindergarten, I had gotten into plenty of arguments with my parents, my brother, and random grown-ups at grocery stores.  I argued I was a boy.  They disagreed.  I usually lost the argument.  Once I entered kindergarten, similar arguments took place, though by this time I learned that I wouldn’t win by simply stating the obvious (“I’m a boy”) and instead had to argue for other points that were still fair game.  Though I don’t remember this, I apparently lost Candyland to a boy who was the size of a third grader, who was in my class.  In retaliation, I spit on him and started a fight.  Having ADHD, I was restless and bored, and prone to start conflicts for my own amusement.

I didn’t always start the conflict, though–I was frequently bullied as a kid.  I got into verbal and physical altercations with kids at school who made fun of me for various reasons.  I was short (and still am).  I was smart (hopefully still am?).  I could act like a know-it-all (working on this one…).  I was hyper (definitely still am).  I have a very Type-A personality, and wanted to control everything.  I was not afraid to let an idiot know he was being an idiot.  I was also not afraid to be unique. I wore boys’ clothing, played with boys, and was interested in things only boys in my class were interested in (like Pokemon, and 007: Goldeneye, and hockey).

As a teenager, I continued to be unique, hyper, and something of a know-it-all.  I continued to be bullied, though it was less frequently physical bullying.  I continued to have no qualms about engaging in a conflict, and putting my opponent in his place.  I took kickboxing lessons, and sparred with my friends, and commanded a Laser Tag team (yes, I was that cool).  I was aggressive and had a lot of pent-up anger and energy for which I needed an outlet.

In college, I found a way to channel my aggression into politics.  I frequently started debates with friends who were liberals, or even with my friends who were conservatives.  Being a libertarian without a libertarian student organization, I joined the College Republicans and debated the College Democrats regularly, in a controlled setting.

I still love debating, as anyone who knows me will attest. But what I don’t any longer love, or have any need for, is seeking out contention.

What’s the Difference between Contention and Debating?

A debate is an intelligent argument between two people with different positions.  It is based on facts.  Both parties mutually respect one another and come into the debate with the assumption that the other party has as much information, intelligence, and morality as the other party, but has somehow come to a different conclusion.  Abiding by these principles of debate, parties go into a debate with an investigative attitude–they are trying to figure out what made the other party conclude something different.  They are not trying to attack the other party simply because he has a different idea.  These rules are frequently broken in favor of contention, which is the spirit of animosity between two people that usually stems from lack of respect and giving each other the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes, contention is warranted.  I don’t really care how a burglar came to the conclusion that he has a right to break into my house and hurt my family.  His actions will result in much contention between us, probably to his detriment.  But more frequently, contention is not warranted, and has no place in interactions between two parties.

This Week I Was Eviscerated, Burned at the Stake, and Fed to a Pack of Hungry Wolves

This week I was the recipient of a lot of unwarranted contention.  I didn’t seek out this contention, but I probably should have anticipated that it would start.

It all started with a comment I made on Twitter.  The topic was verbal slurs, and why it’s offensive to refer to someone as “tranny.”  It should be obvious, but in case it’s not, I’ll summarize.  Using any unscientific word to describe someone, regardless of your intentions, will frequently be seen as a slur, and a slur is hurtful because it implies that you think of this person as less than human.  Referring to someone as “tranny” implies that you think because of a person’s “transgender” status, they are less than human and, if you make the leap in logic, “killable.”  It doesn’t matter whether this was the intention or not.  This is the implication, and the implication is bad enough to warrant a person to fear you.  Especially when there historically has been a connection between slurs and violence against individuals.

I made the following comment: “IMO, we need to re-evaluate “offensive”.  Most offensive slur?  “Cracker” -implying slave owner just bc one is white.”  I followed it up with the comment, “Also offensive-anything describing a person that should be self-ID’d. It’s MY choice if I want to be called #trans.”

At first, backlash sprinkled through like a tiny leak in a roof.

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“Uh, no…RT.”  That simple two-letter code, RT (retweet), from someone who adamantly disagreed and had a large following of others who adamantly disagreed, allowed for the roof to collapse, and the water to pour in.

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At first, I tried to answer some of the tweets.  I tried to explain that what I was saying had nothing to do with “social power,” but rather had to do with what was offensive.  Of course, being labeled as “white,” my opinion was apparently irrelevant.

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I tried to explain that the reason why “cracker” is more offensive than any other slur is because other slurs label someone as “inhuman” or “killable” — essentially, a victim of the crime of prejudice (at best) or genocide (at worst), while “cracker” comes from the term “whip-cracker” which essentially means that because a person is “white”, he is labeled as a slave-owner.  The perpetrator of that prejudice, or genocide.  I would much rather be labeled a victim of a crime, than the perpetrator of it.

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I should have realized at this point that I was actually making things worse.  Engaging with people who don’t view your opinion as valuable will only end in contention.  The rules of fair debate have been broken.  The other party doesn’t view you as an equal, he views you as inferior.  Ironically, this was the very thing that we were talking about–slurs imply that the recipient of the slur is inferior.  But anyway, I made things even worse for myself.  By standing on the roof and trying to address each rain drop, I just essentially painted a giant target on my house, so that a barrage of cruise missiles could be aimed directly at it.

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This was my last coherent argument against the assault of which you have only caught a glimpse.  I was trying to explain the concept of how the damage oppressors do is far greater than the immediate consequences of lost property, families torn apart, and lives lost.  A thinking person will realize that no one ultimately benefits from oppression, especially not those who perpetrate it, because they do a huge amount of damage to their own people in addition to those that they harm (for decades and maybe even centuries afterward, creating a precedence for hatred and violence and an excuse for more atrocities to occur at their descendants’ hands).  And the damage doesn’t stop when the atrocities stop.  For example, only just recently did Germans feel comfortable enough to wave the German flag in sporting events.  Families are still being re-united after all this time after the war.  Look at the DECADES of damage the Nazis did after the atrocities were over, to their own people.

A faithful person who believes in God also understands that the harm they do is even greater than the centuries of oppression and damage to self esteem that they may kick off with their evil acts.   They also damage their own souls, maybe for eternity.  Certainly, God forgives all.  But if you have so destroyed your own soul such that you aren’t even willing to *ask* for forgiveness…then you have essentially damned yourself to eternal torment.  The oppressors suffer eternal torment, while the oppressed can be resurrected in a perfected form and live for eternity with God.  Clearly, oppressors do a TON of damage to everyone involved, and it’s wrong to claim that anyone benefits from oppression.  I can see how my statement might be twisted, but if one was willing to step back and think, one might realize that what I meant was what I explained in the last two paragraphs.  A couple of people actually did realize this.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t even see these posts because after this argument, the opponents skipped the cruise missiles and launched a nuclear attack.

I won’t repost some of the things they posted, because they’re inappropriate for young audiences (in case any are reading).  But essentially, I was called a white supremacist, Nazi sympathizer (anyone who knows me knows that these two things really got under my skin), my LDS faith was attacked, and plenty of foul language was used.  In addition to all of this, the 1% were attacked, plenty of liberal philosophy was thrown around, and I realized what I should have realized at the beginning of this conversation.  I had lost their respect.  They weren’t listening to what I was saying, they were just attacking.  They didn’t care to understand.  There was no point in continuing the conversation.

So I logged off.  I turned notifications off.  I turned on The Mormon Channel (which hasn’t been working on my computer lately but it suddenly did!  Just when I needed it!) and I did Chemistry homework.

And that is how you handle contention when you have the option of leaving.  If your opponent has decided to go nuclear, LEAVE.  There is nothing to be gained by staying.

What To Do if You Can’t Leave

Sometimes we can’t leave.  We’re at work, or school, or it’s a loved one who has gone nuclear, and we need to stay.  In this case, you have to try to regain safety of the conversation.  Social media is a terrible place to try to do this, because everyone is isolated from each other, there are about 10,000 opponents against you, and you have no time to respond at all before another accusation has been mass-tweeted around the world a few times and you’re getting more hate mail.  But if you’re face-to-face, you can stand your ground, regain control of the conversation, and remove contention.

1. State what you DON’T want to do.  This helps to make the conversation safe.  “I don’t want to imply that you’re being unfaithful to me.”  “I’m not trying to turn this into a fight.”  “I don’t want to tell you what to do.”

2. State what you DO want to do. “I’m trying to understand the source of these discrepancies in our finances.”  “I want to understand where you’re coming from.”  “I just want to know why you think that’s true.”

3. Actively listen.  This means listen to what they’re saying, then give them a cue that you’ve heard them, and understand them.  Make eye contact.  Nod.  Wait until they’re done speaking.  Then say, “It sounds like you’re saying the bill might have gone to the wrong address.  Is that what you mean?”

4. Ask for their solutions.  This helps them to understand that you’re interested in what they think, and want to compromise.  “What were some of your thoughts on how we could fix this?”

These tips and more can be found in the Crucial Conversations book, an excellent resource for dealing with contention.

Remember: the Spirit does not dwell where there is contention.  This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit won’t dwell with you while you’re being attacked.  But once you’re attacked, you have a choice to make.  Will confronting the attacker lead you to lose the Spirit?  Do you need to confront the attacker in order to defend yourself, your family or friends, or your Church?  What are the consequences of your upcoming battle?  Sun Tzu brilliantly writes in The Art of War that a wise commander always weighs the implications of going into a conflict before committing.

The Lord wants us to be successful, happy, and productive.  He wants us to make good decisions about what conflicts we engage in and which we decide aren’t worth it.  I testify to you that if you pray for the Holy Spirit not to leave you, He will guide you on the matter of which encounters to break away from, and for which you must go to battle stations.  I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Posted in Gender, History, Personal History, Politics, Uncategorized

Decoding Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly Discussion on “Transgenderism”

Bill O’Reilly – The O’Reilly Factor

Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly Converse About “Transgenderism”

My parents recently told me about a conversation Bill O’Reillly had with Megyn Kelly about “transgenderism.”  Since I don’t subscribe to a cable or satellite service, I didn’t see this conversation when it happened, but I tried to find it on Youtube after the fact.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it.  But this was their brief account of the conversation.  Keep in mind, this is now second-hand information:

-Megyn Kelly asserted that “transgender” people were not the same as those who experience “gender fluidity”

-Bill O’Reilly mainly agreed with her

My parents perceived O’Reilly to be “coming around” to understand some of the facts, whereas his previous opinions have been biased against “trangender” people.  Their perception of the conversation was that Kelly was trying to explain that being “transgender” is a real thing, whereas others who “pretend” to be “transgender” are inadvertently hurting those who are actually “transgender.”

In this post, I’m going to break down the difference between “Transgenderism” (Which is really Intersex), “Gender Fluidity“, and Personality traits.

Gender Fluidity is a Social Movement; “Transgenderism” is a Medical Condition

I’ll probably get a lot of flack for saying this, and I’ve already said it in another post, but “Gender fluidity” is not the same thing as “transgenderism” (and I typically don’t call the condition “transgenderism”, but hear me out for a moment).  I agree with Kelly’s point on this matter, and I think it speaks volumes that it is finally starting to get universal recognition.  People are no longer just lumping everyone who is non-conforming into a category of “freaks” and moving on.  Admittedly, this is exactly what I did before I understood my own disorder.  I would never have considered myself “transgender” then.  It’s good to see mainstream media people talking about the condition as an actual medical condition.

But as the disorder gets more universal recognition, and as I alluded to in my other post, there is a darker side of this “progress” we have made.  There is a social movement that is pushing for “gender fluidity”, or the concept that you can change genders.  That you can be “whatever you feel like”, *whenever* you feel like.  That you might be something in between a boy and a girl.

There are several points to contend here.  I’ll tackle them one at a time.

1) “Gender fluidity” argues you can be “whatever you feel like.”

FALSE.  For most people, “whatever they feel like” *is* what they are supposed to be.  For me, I felt like a man and I am a man (even if my body exhibited predominantly female characteristics before I received treatment).  But my existence as a “transgender” man does not mean that all people who say they “feel like” some gender are supposed to be that gender.  I can only imagine the pain and anguish that a person must go through to feel like they are supposed to be something they are *not* actually supposed to be.  I’ve never had to deal with addiction, but I know plenty of people who have.  If you “feel like” something that isn’t God’s plan for you, then living “however you feel” is fundamentally wrong.

At the same time, no one knows what gender you are supposed to be but you, and God.  It is up to you and God to work this out.  It takes prayer, and it takes a lot of patience and the willingness to live however God intended you to live.  The rules of the world may say you can be whatever you feel like, but God created you to be *you*, and as Dr. Seuss put it, “no one is youer than you, and that is truer than true.”  You may have to struggle through some feelings in order to live the life you were always meant to live.  But living the life God designed you to live will make you *way happier* than living the life you thought would be easier, or you thought you “felt like”.

Finally, being “transgender” is not the same as “feeling like” you are supposed to be another gender.  Being “transgender” is *knowing* that you are supposed to be another gender, and that your spirit is that other gender, and always will be.

2) “Gender fluidity” argues you can be a gender “whenever you feel like” it

FALSE.  Gender does not change.  It is not fluid.  You cannot be a man one day and a woman the next.  An eternal spirit inhabits your body.  It will live forever.  It has gender.  Gender is an eternal characteristic, which you have had from the moment of creation.  You are *you*.  You will *always* be you!

I went to a youth group in the city when I was first starting my transition.  It was for kids and adults 16-24.  We would share information about our week during the first few minutes of the meeting, and then we would do an activity. Most, even if they were “questioning” their gender, were consistent.  Week by week they would come in and say that they felt like they might be an (insert gender here), because of XYZ, and that they had known this for a long time (most since they were toddlers), but weren’t sure if they wanted to make the big jump and live as an (insert gender here).  Then there was another person.  I will call her S, and use female pronouns, because she asked for female pronouns more often than male pronouns.  Confused?  Let me explain.

S came in dressed in a beautiful red dress, high heels, long, wavy brown hair with highlights, make-up…*definitely* a stereotypical female.  She asked for female pronouns during our opening exercises.  She giggled, and used stereotypical feminine gestures, and acted like one would expect a “gender-conforming” girl to act.  Then, before our activity began and after we had finished our pizza, she suddenly arose, walked out of the room, went to the bathroom with her backpack, and came out with a shaved head (her hair must have been a wig), a man’s t-shirt, gym shorts that went below the knee, men’s tennis shoes, and no make-up.  Then she asked to be referred to as P, and to have male pronouns.

This, Megyn Kelly was trying to explain, is not “transgenderism.”  This is gender fluidity in action.  This is a person doing whatever she felt like.  Is there anything wrong with that?  Being a libertarian, I believe everyone has a right to do whatever they want, even if they’re making a mistake, as long as they’re not hurting anyone.  Additionally, if this person was questioning her gender and was using this safe environment to find out what her true self was, then fine.  But at the same time, I wouldn’t encourage this as a permanent way of life.  Because as I already pointed out, the Lord has a plan.  While you figure out what that plan is, experimentation is not a bad thing.

But calling experimentation, questioning, or “gender fluidity” the same thing as “transgenderism” is a bad thing, because it reinforces incorrect information about us and hinders others from understanding the medical condition.  This was the point Megyn Kelly was trying to make.  Those who are “questioning” and those who are “gender fluid” should not be labeled “transgender,” and vice versa.

3) Gender Fluidity Argues That You Might be Something In Between a Boy and a Girl

I don’t know.  I don’t have proof that there is no third or fourth or twenty-ninth gender.  But I do know that the Lord’s Word is that He created us man and woman.  He certainly created our bodies “in between” sexes, in some cases.  Otherwise, there would be no genetically “intersex” or mentally “intersex” (ie, “transgender).  Being in between sexes, though, is not the same thing as being in between genders.

Being born “in between” genders would mean that you would be permanently, for all of eternity, as long as your spirit exists, in limbo (like S was in my youth group).  God tells us that gender is eternal, and that it doesn’t change.  So being born with a gender identity other than “male” or “female” means that you would eternally be that gender.  That means that when your body is perfected during the Resurrection, it would have both male and female characteristics.  I suppose it’s possible for such people to exist in Eternity.  I doubt they would get to experience the Plan of Salvation as fully as those who are resurrected as either male or female, to follow the roles that the Lord has given us.

Roles Don’t Mean Inflexibility

Just because the Lord has given us roles to play–men becoming strong paternal figures and women becoming strong maternal figures–doesn’t mean that you can’t have a unique personality as a man or a woman.  The Lord’s universe is so vast and diverse, filled with people on this planet and others, of all different cultures, races, intelligences, and shapes and sizes, that it is inconceivable to think that He would limit us to very strict personalities that society has dictated fit into these paternal/maternal roles.  The best instructions He has given us are found in The Family: A Proclamation To The World.  Other than those instructions, He’s pretty much left it up to us.  Just follow the Commandments, and you can have any personality you want.

Personality, however, is not gender identity, nor is it gender fluidity.  Wanting to exhibit certain feminine or masculine characteristics in your daily life because you feel it’s a good “fit” for you and your situation, and helps you be all that Heavenly Father wants you to be, is not the same thing as feeling that you *are* a certain gender.  Nor is it the same thing as *knowing* you are a certain gender.

So in summary, we can come to the following conclusions:

1) “Transgenderism” is a term used to describe people who have a medical condition where their brain physically develops differently than their body, and they think and act like the gender opposite to their biological sex.  “Transgender” is “I am a man.  I may look like a woman on the outside, but my brain developed as a male brain does, and I think like a man, and I will always be a man.”

2) “Gender fluidity” is a social movement where individuals believe that gender is not constant, that gender can change based on feel, and that people can be whatever gender they feel like, at whatever time they feel like.  “Gender fluid” is “I felt like a girl this morning, but now I feel like a boy.  Tomorrow I might feel like a girl again.”

3) Personality is something everyone has, and personality characteristics can include stereotypically feminine or masculine traits without a person being “gender fluid” or “transgender.”  Little girls can play with trucks and cars without their parents worrying that they are “transgender.”  Little boys can shift between playing dress-up and playing video games without their parents worrying that they are experiencing “gender fluidity.”  Just because society deems certain traits to be “feminine” or “masculine” doesn’t mean that a person is “gender fluid” or “transgender” if they happen to exhibit those traits.  Like they do in osteopathic medicine, you have to look at the *whole person*.

So this is what I believe O’Reilly and Kelly were trying to talk about.  This blog, I hope, makes it a little clearer what the lines are.  Please check out my post about how “Transgender” = “Intersex”.  And finally, I want to bear my testimony that it’s of vital importance that we love all people, even if we don’t agree with what they do, how they think, or what they believe.  We are one enormous family, with one Eternal Father.  We are going to return to Him and give an account of how we have treated our fellow man.  Let’s make our Father proud of us, and let’s bring the Light of Christ into the world.  I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Posted in Gender, Personal History, Politics, Proclamation to the Family, Scripture, Uncategorized

Medical School

Moses tells his people to look upon the staff and be healed.

I am spending a huge amount of time researching, studying, and otherwise preparing for a career in medicine.  A significant portion of this preparation is required to attend medical school.  To give you an idea of what this entails, I’ll list some recent accomplishments:

-Completing Biology I, Organic Chemistry I, and Organic Chemistry II.  I’m enrolled in Biology II and General Chemistry II (because I needed another Chem credit).

-Shadowing a physician (this was fun!  I want to do it again!)

-Volunteering as an EMT (I could write a blog post just about this!  I could write a *blog* just about this!)

-Writing entrance essays, filling out forms, making applications of various sorts

-Praying.  Lots and lots of praying, and thinking, and reflecting, and more praying.

So why do all of this?  If it sounds like it’s a lot of work, IT IS!  It takes up a huge chunk of my time.  It basically has *become* my free time, outside the Church.  Yet somehow (I know, it’s an ADHD thing), with more to do, I actually accomplish more overall.  But anyway…

I want to be a doctor.  I want to be able to look at a patient with a set of symptoms and think about the problem like a giant jigsaw puzzle and put the pieces where they belong, and solve the problem.  Every time I learn a little more about how the human body works, I feel like I have gained golden nuggets of knowledge, and I hunger for more.  I have an insatiable curiosity about the world around me, about how things interact, and how the puzzle pieces fit together.  I see God’s hand in everything in nature that I observe, especially the human body.  And I feel closer to Him, the more I study.

I have received multiple promptings from the Holy Spirit that I’m on the right track.  I’ve received the calm reassurance of knowing that I’m doing what I should be doing. My Patriarchal Blessing also tells me that this is the pursuit that fits me–this is what my mission in life is.

And I love it.  I’m passionate about medicine.  I want to help people.  I’ve been a patient–I know what it feels like.  I know the acute fear that comes from going into surgery for the first time, and I know the progressive, creeping fear that comes from not knowing what’s wrong with your body.  I know the difference it makes to the healing process when a nurse or a doctor seems to really care about you.

I want to be a doctor.  And I’m willing to do anything I need to do to make it happen.  No matter how many hours I need to study or how much of my free time is eaten by this venture, I will get to med school, and I will enter the field of medicine, and I will make an impact in my patients’ lives.

It is a blessing to have found such a passion.  I am blessed with many passions, actually.  Just wait till I write a blog about the Final Frontier!

I pray that you will be able to search your heart and find something that you are also passionate about.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Posted in Medical School, Personal History, Uncategorized

For the Children Like Me

Way Back When (Not That Long Ago)

When I was little there were very few, if any, resources available to explain the medical condition of being intersex or transgender to parents or children.  My pediatrician told my parents it was a “phase” and later family physicians echoed this.   Even the debilitating physical challenges that came with puberty were treated with pain killers of increasing intensity and ultimately birth control, but no one ever thought to look into the root causes.  I was unable to articulate what I was feeling, because when I tried to explain “I’m really a boy,” I was met with either dismissive or judgmental answers.  So I shut down.  Clearly, my feelings were so foreign to everyone around me that there was no way they could possibly understand.  This is what I referred to in my first post as “disconnecting” from my body.  I essentially went into a state of denial, and didn’t associate my body with me.  In my head, I remained a twelve-year-old little boy (emotionally) for the rest of my adolescent years, and completely ignored my developing body, no matter how physically or psychologically painful it became.

I want children today to have a better answer than this denial and this silent agony.  I want children, teens, and their parents to have answers that I and my parents didn’t have until I was 21.  I also want the world to experience the love of Christ, and I want anyone who interacts with an intersex person to feel love and compassion, not pity, or hatred, or judgment.  Finally, I want the world to know what loving and supportive parents can do for a kid’s self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and success in transitioning.

What I’m Doing About It

So I wrote TRANScending Earth for (mainly) teens and their adult supporters, to explain the spirituality and science of being intersex.  It goes into philosophy of addiction recovery, parts of which are very applicable to trying to decide if you want to physically transition or not.  It goes into how to have a relationship with God, and how keeping God in the center of your life is vital to a healthy transition.

But there was still little, if anything, out there for little children.  Kids who are old enough to understand the concept of a girl who “used to be” a boy, or a boy who “used to be” a girl.  Kids whose parents or siblings might be transitioning.  Kids who themselves are intersex (maybe called “transgender”) and are dealing with the turmoil of gender identity.  And parents who have young children in these circumstances.

So I wrote and illustrated Lee Bold for the little ones out there who need a simple but loving explanation of what is going on.  Lee Bold is the story of an intersex (“transgender”) eagle who was born with a boy’s brain and a girl’s body.  I chose eagles because they symbolize freedom, and Lee’s story is one of parental love and support leading to his ability to spread his wings and soar!

Lee Bold was written and illustrated with Mormon Channel music playing in the background, so that every stroke of my pencil, every click of my mouse on Photoshop, every keystroke on my keyboard, was done in an atmosphere of Christ’s unconditional love.  Before submitting it to Amazon for review, I knelt and prayed that it would find its way into the children’s lives who need it, and that it would change hearts and minds.

Just like a book about divorce, or surgery, or another subject difficult to explain to children, I wouldn’t recommend reading this book to children who have not already encountered the gender identity situation.  It is designed for children who know someone who is transitioning or who were born intersex, themselves.

Here is the Amazon link.

I hope this post doesn’t come across as me trying to sell the book.  That’s not what I’m trying to do.  I only want to share with you this endeavor of mine, to spread the love of Christ, the spirit of acceptance and determination, and provide a spiritual resource to little children who were born like me.

This is a preview of Lee Bold.

Lee Bold Letter to Grown-ups_edited-1 Lee Bold Cover 1_edited-1 Lee Bold Page 1

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Posted in Gender, Personal History, Uncategorized
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