I Am … Was … Speechless

For the first time in a long time, I am speechless. I have been for awhile, that’s why I haven’t written anything here since March 29th. I have been absolutely drained, indignant, and exhausted. I was feeling like my work as an advocate was irrelevant and ineffective. It’s not that I became weary of writing, I still love it very much, but I was torn that there was so much going on in my own movement that I disagree with, and I was particularly torn over what I will discuss in a moment. It’s hard to criticize both sides, it makes you feel alone. Then last week, I received a message from a former schoolmate and friend who reminded me that what I’m doing as an advocate is important. With that being said, let’s talk about the more troubling reason I have been speechless … the mind-numbing absurdity of the religious right.

It’s very easy for those of us who engage in pop culture, as progressives, to become blind to the dirty religious underbelly that still permeates our culture. We see progress, laws passed to protect us, backlash and swift consequences for laws that harm us, and our world continues to get better. But behind it all, behind every “religious freedom” bill, and in response to every celebrity who speaks out for us (thank you Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and others), there sits the brooding and plotting bitterness of the religious right. Every day, the most outspoken evangelicals take to their radio and television shows, their websites, and the publications who print their material, to spew more misinformation and hatred about us … and they have become so comical, so cartoonish, yet so dangerous, that I was left speechless.

By now, everybody knows about North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” HB2. For those who don’t you can Google it, I will not give it anymore credence by posting a link. In a nutshell, this bill keeps all counties and cities in North Carolina from enacting anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ people. It actually prohibits municipal governments from extending non-discrimination ordinances to LGBTQ+ people! HB2 is the result of the irrational fears and panicked reactions of those furious over their loss of privilege, as they take to the streets screaming about “religious freedom.” Arguments for the bill were (are) few, focusing mainly on the debunked “allowing Trans people to use the restroom that best matches their gender identity will make way for pedophiles and other perverts to just say ‘I’m a woman;’ and get access to our wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.” Never mind the fact that sex crimes have not gone up in places where Trans people are protected while they pee. Never mind the fact that nearly everybody in North America who goes out in public regularly, has most likely shared a restroom with a Trans person and didn’t know it. Never mind the fact that most in favour of the legislation are getting their information from a book that is very obviously not an authority on LGBTQ+ issues, and its evangelical messengers who are just as ignorant as their congregants.

As soon as there were consequences from companies like PayPal … as soon as celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr started cancelling shows in North Carolina … as soon as politicians decided to veto discriminatory legislation in their own states … the loud and proud religious opponents of equality absolutely lost it. And they continue to lose it! Their anger is manifesting in more and more outrageous claims. Some of these claims are getting so outrageous that I have personally spoken with fans of these people who are starting to raise their eyebrows and question what is being said. This is unprecedented. In my experience, it’s very rare for a follower of any popular evangelist to question what that evangelist has to say. This is a good thing, but at the same time, we have to stay on guard. There are, after all, still many who believe it, and more fear means more risk of violence.

I wonder what it’s like. What is it like to live everyday in fear of what you have never encountered, a fear that only exists because of what a minister told you, or what you think you read in the Bible? Even when I was an evangelical Christian, I wasn’t as out of touch and afraid as these people are. It has really begun to reach a different level. America is boiling over, and it’s causing turmoil beyond her borders as well. Angry evangelicals, the ones who seem to have forgotten how to form a coherent thought or argument, are influencing the impressionable, and violence toward gay, lesbian, and transgender people the world over is going up at the very time it was starting to go down. This is a particularly scary time for Transgender people, who are being subjected to such an obscene level of misinformation that walking out the door can cause an anxiety attack. And all of this is happening because extreme conservatism is in its death throes, and Christian extremists are scrambling to ruin as many lives as they can before the ship goes down.

I have had two reactions to the comical, yet dangerous behaviour of these people over the past few weeks. The first is to laugh. When I hear a full grown adult crying about how they can no longer exercise their religious freedom to oppress others, I find that so pathetic that it’s funny. The second is to become altogether angry and sad. Their rhetoric, as cartoonish and silly as it is, is doing real damage. My fellow Trans people are being killed in droves, my fellow LGBTQ+ people hunted down and murdered all over the world, and all because of the lies of people who use religion to gain dominance. That’s what this is all about, after all. Christians in the west have had the upper hand for so long, that the thought of losing it scares the hell out of them (pardon the pun). So many of them say “I do not condone violence. I am not a hater. I do this out of love.” These are the same people who support Uganda’s laws that punish homosexuality with jail time, and Russia’s reluctance to act in any way respectable. They say nothing of the “corrective rape” of lesbian women going on in so many countries, and some have even gone so far as to praise the actions of ISIS when they throw gay men from rooftops. At the very least, they stay silent on all of the harm, preferring instead to use their voices to say we’re wrong. If this is love, I don’t want it.

If you think you don’t support violence, think long and hard about what initiatives you do support. Learn about the beliefs of those who do support direct violence against me and people like me. Anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs and rhetoric is standard everywhere. It’s all in the same pot, and if you go around condemning me, I am going to see you as just as dangerous as the gun-wielding psycho hunting people like me in Russia. My desire to live, my instinct toward self-preservation, keeps me from differentiating between you and the predator in Africa waiting for the opportune moment to rape an LGBTQ+ person. I know you don’t want to be lumped in with those people, but your rhetoric is the same. And I know it’s the same, I have spent the last three years learning that it’s the same. I know very well the minds of those who wish me harm, either directly or indirectly. Don’t you dare tell me this is out of love.

So I was speechless, I have been speechless, but I guess I’m not anymore. As a matter of fact, I’m more pissed off now. It’s still not safe for me to be myself in some places, and that is unacceptable.

Should Christian Leaders Be Made To Perform Same-Sex Weddings?

Since the wave of marriage equality first began to sweep the globe, many Christian leaders have expressed concern over what this might mean for them. Many worry that the state (whichever state or nation they hail from) may impose upon them a legal obligation to perform same-sex weddings against their convictions. It is indeed true that in some places this has happened, but by and large it hasn’t been an issue … until now. People are starting to call for this, citing discrimination, and a defeated bill in the U.S. state of Georgia this week would have protected against such a law. The question I wish to discuss today is whether or not the state has any business making Christian leaders perform same-sex marriages at all?

It may surprise you when I say that I am strongly against making church leaders perform same-sex weddings. Allow me to explain.

Among the many values that I espouse, separation of church and state is high on my list of priorities. The church is, of course, subject to certain laws (though not enough in my opinion as I feel they should be paying taxes) – governance is, after all, the role of government. But when it comes to matters of faith, religious conviction, doctrine, and things of that nature, well, we have the protection of religious freedoms for a reason. Now, I am all for fighting against the church. I criticize Christianity, and a number of churches in most of my writing, and I have good reason for it. They have no right to influence us in the public square unless we are all afforded the same opportunity, but their practices within their houses of worship are some of the many things freedom of religion is meant to protect. As distasteful and hurtful as their refusal to accept same-sex couples is, it does not fall under the category of religious practice that has to be banned for obvious reasons (ie: human sacrifice, sharia law, etc). When we do ban such things as a church refusing a couple wishing to marry, we venture onto shaky ground. A precedent for restricting freedoms is set, and that puts us all at risk.

Marriage is NOT a religious institution. It is a legal institution in which the marriage license, at least the one that is binding, is issued by the state. As a structure responsible for ensuring free and equal protections under the law, it is incumbent upon the state to legalize and legitimize marriage equality. Not so for the church. While I think that churches that do not perform or recognize same-sex marriages are wrong and should be confronted about their discriminatory beliefs and principles, having the state mandate their actions in this regard would be an actual violation of religious freedom.

At this point in a growing number of nations, marriage equality is the law of the land. Same-sex couples can get married the same as heterosexual couples can, and enjoy the legal benefits that go along with that. There are also a small number of Christian denominations and churches that do believe in marriage equality. The United and Presbyterian denominations, some churches and dioceses within the Anglican/Episcopalian communion, and a scattered number of others, for example. LGBTQ+ Christians who wish to get married in a church can make that happen, and I do hope to see more churches open their doors to them in the coming years. But none of this happened through legal mandate. The churches that solemnize same-sex marriage decided to do so on their own. This is what has to happen in places where church and state are recognized as two different entities with very different roles.

If things were different, if the church issued legally valid marriage licenses for example, I would feel very differently about this. And it’s not that I think churches should be given a pass on their exclusion. It’s just that marriage equality as a matter of law, is a legal issue. Many churches believe and do things that I and others are disgusted by, but they have the freedom to do those things because we have freedom of (and from) religion. I wouldn’t want to live in a country where this was not the case. Passing legislation that makes Christian leaders perform religious ceremonies that go against their religious convictions is, in my opinion, a step too far. Such a restriction on religious freedom effectively puts my own freedoms at risk, and that is something I am not prepared to accept.


Who Is Declaring This “War On Gender?”

What’s with this trend on the right of fighting against the wars we’re supposedly waging on the left? Every year, the viewers of Fox News are treated to Bill O’Reilly’s insane antics over his made up “war on Christmas.” Those of us who want equal protection under the law are constantly accused of waging a “war on religious freedom.” Now, in the midst of the raging debate over Trans people using the washroom, a bunch of very vocal people are fear-mongering over a supposed “war on gender.” A war on gender? What?

It’s pretty easy to tell who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t when it comes to gender issues. For example, if you think we are all born as one gender or another, you are confused about the difference and relationship between gender and sex. If you think that all Trans people identify as the gender opposite their assigned sex and seek physical transition, you have obviously never bothered to learn anything about Trans identity; and if you think there is a war on gender, you have failed to listen to those of us who have been trying to explain this to you ad nauseum.

I’m going to take a different approach to this today, by saying that the acceptance of Trans identities, and the openness with which we listen and understand, reveals a beautiful truth about humanity. What the right has failed to realize, perhaps what many of us on the left don’t even realize, is that our movement is changing conventional wisdom on the human condition. What we have always thought, or known, about ourselves is not diminished by this, rather it is enhanced by the realization that we are much more complex than we ever imagined. As LGBTQ+ people become more emboldened, more confident in coming out and living their authentic selves, we learn more about our species. The movement sweeping our world is not a war on gender, it’s a revolution of discovery!

The bible, used by the right to justify opposition to progress, is not a textbook. It does not speak truth to the human condition, and the view(s) of humanity contained within its pages is simple and rudimentary, with little nuance. We are more complicated than that, and to embrace humanity is to try to understand that complexity. Passing judgment is something we do naturally, but when we depend on an ancient text to pass judgment in the ‘now,’ we do ourselves, and those we are judging, a terrible disservice. To insist upon this method, and to ‘double down’ on what we know, or even suspect, to be insufficient, is the very embodiment of willful ignorance. This is the problem in the church today. Too many people just don’t care enough. Too many people prefer to cast aspersions instead of seeking truth, because seeking truth, and attempting to understand it, is hard. It’s much easier to take what they have believed for so long and cling to that as infallible. What a horrible injustice it is to reject the fulfillment of discovering more about the world around us.

So I ask those who say we have declared war on gender: who is declaring this war on gender? I am what many of you would mistakenly call a “gay activist,” am I declaring war on gender? The only war on gender is the one you have made up. Just like Bill O’Reilly and his war on Christmas, you are fighting a figment of your imagination. There is no war on gender, we are merely learning. We are embracing new knowledge, preferring not to sit stagnant with ancient beliefs. Refusing to accept the ever-expanding library of knowledge about who and what we are, in favour of a belief that diminishes our complexity is, quite frankly, insulting. Why are you so threatened by the rejection of gender roles? Why are you so threatened by the notion that a person can be born in the wrong body? Why are you so threatened by a person who is biologically one sex, but whose brain is organized as both male and female? Why do you refuse to even try to learn about the reality of a gender identity that doesn’t fit the male-female binary at all?

Do you know how much we suffer? We live on edge, constantly having to check our words for fear of what we might let slip, and to whom. At 34 years old, nobody should be afraid to come out to their parents … but I was. Do you know how demeaning it is, how utterly dehumanizing, to be afraid to show your true colours, to be afraid of physical attack that too often ends in the deaths of our peers, and do you know that the suffering we endure is entirely your fault? Ideas based on religious beliefs and convictions, picked like low-hanging fruit from the pages of scripture, have been applied to social conventions with devastating effects. Those who hold these are to blame for the pain we endure. If those ideas were not pushed and insisted upon, if everybody embraced the beautiful diversity of the human condition, we wouldn’t have these problems. The issues we face are not internal, they are brought about by the exclusionary and restrictive norms and practices of tradition. My struggle, for example, is not with myself; it’s with the consequences of living openly as myself.

Think about that last statement for a minute. If you still can’t imagine any reality other than the make-believe one where me and my cohorts have declared war on gender, you’re not worth wasting any more time on.

Why Two?

The question has been asked, and it’s time it was answered. A select few mainstream evangelicals are posing this question, and although responses have been attempted, none have yet proved sufficient. “Why Two? Why not three, or four, or ten?” This question, of course, is about marriage. Having won the battle for the rights of two people of the same sex to marry, we now face a question designed by evangelicals to trap us into a moral corner. The assumption is that we are insistent upon marriage being confined to only two partners, and because they see our victory as a redefinition, they want to hear our explanation as to why we insist upon two. “If you are redefining marriage anyway, why stop now? Why two? Why not more?”

Now, if you are in the pro marriage equality camp, and you do feel that marriage must be confined to two partners, I would love to hear it. But our movement was never about just two. It’s about equality, and the historic fight won in the U.S. Supreme Court was about people of the same sex being able to enter into a marriage contract with one another – two because that’s the marriage convention we have. If a group of polygamists/polygynists began demanding the right to marry tomorrow, I for one would not have a problem with it; and here’s why:

Relationships that have a sexual component, in this case marriage, hinge on consent. The reason we do not allow children to marry children, or adults to marry children or animals, is because children and animals do not have the mental or emotional capacity to understand the meaning of such relationships; and cannot appropriately give consent. In the case of adults, be it two or more than two, consent can freely be given. Polygamy may not be right for you, it certainly wouldn’t work for me, but where consent is present, I see no reason to impose restrictions on it based on my own distaste. I can’t answer the question “why two,” because I am not of the mindset that it must be only two.

I must admit, I find this question a bit curious, considering where it comes from. Those posing it are firmly in the “only two” camp, and every time a progressive says what I just said, they feel a small sense of victory. “Ha! See? They have no morals! They say they are good people, but they just contradicted themselves!” The problem is that nobody contradicted themselves at all. I am a good person, and believing that marriage between consenting adults is okay, be it between two or more people, doesn’t make me a bad person. Among the many assumptions these opponents make is the belief that we agree with their morality, at least to a certain point. “We believe marriage is between two people, they agree with us on that, so if they say polygamy is okay, they have made a moral contradiction.” The reasoning behind this question is ludicrous, and based on an unfounded premise. Many of us do not agree.

The first five books of the Bible talk positively about polygamy frequently, and it’s used in all sorts of contexts – economic necessity, social organization, even by divine command. Two-person marriage is not the only God-ordained form outlined in the scriptures, yet it is seen as a fundamental issue of morality today that only two people, one man and one woman, be granted the right to it. The question “why two” is a good one, but it is being asked of the wrong people. Those asking “why two” need to have the question turned back on them. To the evangelicals asking us “why two,” I ask the same of you. I never said “two,” and the funny thing is your Bible doesn’t insist upon it either. So why two? Why is it that you are so adamant that marriage be between two people? Let’s be honest, you have more scriptural support for your arguments against same-sex marriage than you do against polygamy; and that’s not much. So why two?

As a final thought, consider this. We on the progressive left are being challenged on moral grounds by people who believe a book that says a woman, subject to the will of her father, can be forced to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Exodus 22:16-17). We are being asked “why two” by followers of a God, eternally unchanging, who allows polygamy under certain circumstances (Genesis 16:1-11), and is arguably generally accepting of it when you take all of scripture into account. We are being asked “why two” by people who assume we think “just two.” They don’t know if we feel this way, they just assume we do, and cry moral foul when it turns out we don’t. To our evangelical opponents, perhaps you would care to answer the question: Why two?


It’s Not “Gender Confusion”

When talking about Trans issues, despite having no knowledge of Trans issues, many evangelical activists like to use the term “Gender Confusion” (or “Gender Confused”). It’s time this was confronted. When people like my favourite evangelical Dr. Michael Brown use this term, it feels like nails on a chalkboard to me. Now, for the record, the reason he is my favourite evangelical is because he is so adamantly outspoken about LGBTQ+ issues, even having written several books on us, but has so little knowledge it’s actually comical. As laughable as his work may be, however, he wields a certain amount of influence, and so do his colleagues. People need to know that Trans identity is not a matter of confusion.

Terms that minimize the validity of LGBTQ+ identities always tend to stem from the same premise – “It’s wrong because God.” The term “Gender Confusion” is inextricably linked to the idea that “God doesn’t make mistakes.” Indeed, “man and woman he created them” is right there in the Bible, and it makes sense that a believing Christian would take that to mean we are all born as one or the other. The obvious problem with this is that people are trying to pin down God’s plan … a plan that is supposed to be unknowable.

So how are we to know what God’s plan is? While it’s true that Genesis lays out the plan for procreation, how do you make sense of people who are born infertile, or those who are intersex? Did God make mistakes with those people? You wouldn’t say so, would you? You would say that they were born that way on purpose, a part of God’s plan, the reason for which we cannot know; and the reason you would say that is because you can’t deny physical evidence … but it’s easy to deny what you can’t see. Gender identity is invisible, and when it enters the discussion, God’s plan is no longer a mystery. All of a sudden, the plan is known, God doesn’t make mistakes, and Trans people are merely “confused.”

Does this not look like faulty logic to you? Is it not the height of arrogance to claim a faith in an unknowable God, and have the convenience of changing the narrative to claim to know exactly what he wants when it suits you? Is this not exactly what we mean when we talk about religion being used to justify hatred or dislike? Gender variance is unseen, it has an element of mystery, and instead of trying learn about it, how cowardly it is to grab your holy book and impose your own biases upon it.

It would be troubling indeed if Trans identity was a product of confusion. To come out and live openly despite the dangers of doing so, to struggle through the rift between social ideals and self, to live in constant fear, to fight for proper healthcare … all due to confusion? We don’t attribute women’s issues to confusion when many women face similar struggles, so why do it with gender identity? Granted, the doctrine of original sin allows for such confusion, attributing it to our fallen nature, but once again we have the application of personal bias to reach a desired conclusion.

Take a moment to consider these questions. Could Trans identity be part of God’s plan? What if the struggles faced by Trans people are due to human social bias, a bias that God did not ordain? All Christian denominations teach that humans are flawed and fallen, what if our dislike of difference is the flaw? Maybe Trans identity isn’t the problem. Maybe the problem is the use of the Bible to justify condemnation. Maybe … just maybe … you’re wrong.

At the end of the day, we are here, we are very real, and many people are going to have to learn to deal with that. Trans identity is broad, it is many things to many people, and if you are not willing to ask questions and accept that diversity is a wonderful thing, I feel sorry for you. You may be confused, but we are not. Trans identity is not “Gender Confusion.” Ask and learn, or bask in your own ignorance. Either way, we know who we are.


The Significance Of Justice Scalia’s Death

If you haven’t already heard, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia peacefully¬†died in his sleep¬†on February 13, 2016 at the age of 79. Appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1986, Justice Scalia was a longstanding opponent of virtually every old school value that seeks to discriminate, deny freedoms, or otherwise oppress. He was anti-marriage equality, anti-choice, and pro-death penalty; a position in direct conflict with his ‘pro-life’ views. He consistently disagreed with progressive decisions on gender and racial equality, as well as protections based on sexual orientation. He was a massive hypocrite, having no problem when rulings went his way, but claiming the Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds when they ruled against him. In the 2004 Elk Grove Unified School District v Newdow case, as well as in a later 2013 interview, he demonstrated a belief that Christian values should be allowed to influence certain policy decisions. In short, and contrary to what some have written already, Justice Scalia conducted himself in the legal arena in accordance with his personal religious beliefs – and effectively against the U.S. Constitution that he is said to have loved.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, upon hearing of Scalia’s death, tweeted “The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY.” This says a lot.

Now, many have written that Scalia will be remembered as a brilliant legal mind, a man to be admired. I respectfully disagree, but before I continue let me be clear that I am in no way celebrating the man’s death. I am merely having one of the many discussions that Antonin Scalia’s judicial legacy demands. That being said, I am a firm believer that although we need not dwell on the deeds of the departed, if a person acted despicably in life, that does not change after their passing; and should not necessarily be kept silent. The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, a man who left a reprehensible legacy from my point of view, demands discussion. His death carries with it huge implications for the future of America, which brings us back to Donald Trump’s tweet.

“The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement …” It’s amazing how so much can be said in so few words. At the time this is being written, President Obama has not yet announced whether he will appoint a successor or hold the decision over for the next president, but if I have been reading the cultural and political tide in America correctly, two things are almost certain. (1) the next President of the United States will likely be a Democrat, and possibly one who is not beholden to the traditional establishment (let’s hope), and (2) that will result in the appointing of liberal justices to the Supreme Court. In other words, far-right conservative Justice Scalia will likely be succeeded by someone who holds progressive views. This will bring a breath of fresh air to a seat that has been held by a hateful anti-equality blowhard since 1986. As long as the Supreme Court is responsible for ruling on social issues, a new liberal face will better ensure positive outcomes; and a more solid base in support of the views held by the liberal SCOTUS contingent. Granted, the Republican Senate will do whatever they can to keep this from happening, but even a more grounded conservative would be an improvement.

So let’s discuss the root issue with the ‘Conservative movement.’ To be absolutely blunt, the Conservative movement is one that seeks to deny equal rights and protections to all who are not cis white male. For those who aren’t familiar with this term, a cis white male is a person who is caucasian, has a penis, and identifies as a man (cisgender). I realize that your knee-jerk reaction may be to dismiss this statement as a conspiracy theory, but this is all well documented and researched. As a matter of fact, modern Feminism and the LGBTQ+ rights movement is about this very thing – our patriarchal system run primarily by white men – and if you want a current reference point, I encourage you to start following the U.S. Republican primaries. The comments being made about social issues and policy by Trump and company show us exactly what the Conservative movement is … and it’s not pretty. Justice Scalia was a part of that movement, and every time one of their members passes away, our potential for good grows just a little bit more.

Society is becoming increasingly secular. Humanist values continue to permeate our social consciousness, and as that happens, we reject and push back against outdated ideas that hold us down and deny us our full humanity. The politicians who are already liberal-minded begin to come around and follow suit. As the cis white male Conservative movement ages and loses members, those voices are not being replaced. Instead, liberal progressive voices are rising to fill the void. The time will come that the patriarchy will have lost all relevance, and that time is closer than many of us think. This is why Justice Scalia’s death is so significant. One of the most influential voices in the American patriarchy, a voice that held a position of great power, has been lost. That voice will not be replaced. Instead the position will be filled by a progressive, and those who enjoy cis white male privilege … people like Donald Trump … are right to view this as a big loss for them. It is, and that’s exactly what equality looks like. You see, contrary to what many claim, this isn’t about the proletariat overthrowing the bourgeoisie. It’s about equal footing, equal opportunity, equal dignity, respect, and freedom. Equality requires privilege be lost. Cis white males need not be cast asunder as inferior to anyone else, at least I don’t want to see that, but the privilege they enjoy by virtue of an uncontrollable condition of birth has to disappear.

I am not cisgender, but I am white, and I do have male genitalia. Although I don’t identify entirely as male, I look the part. As a result I have cis white male privilege, and that has kept me from experiencing many terrifying things that are everyday concerns for members of other minorities. Since coming out as gender variant, I have struggled with fears that were foreign to me, and that has given me a small sense of just how powerful cis privilege is. White privilege is more powerful still, and it is so vital that we tear down those walls. It’s too easy for those of us with white privilege, for those with cis privilege, to condemn and marginalize without even realizing it. We have to keep ourselves, and each other, in check. Privilege has to be done away with. Each and every loss for the Conservative movement is a step closer to that goal. The loss of Justice Antonin Scalia is a potentially huge win for progressivism, liberalism, and equality.


An Open Letter To Franklin Graham

While combing through the news this week, I came across a story about how Franklin Graham, in the midst of a vile attack on the LGBTQ+ community and our fight for civil rights, has called Transgender people “predators and sexually perverted.” When are these evangelical preachers going to realize that their actions against people they fear are completely contrary to the teachings of the man named Jesus they claim to follow?

Mr. Graham:

So I’m a predator and a pervert, am I? I identify as Genderqueer, which puts me under the Trans umbrella, and at 34 years of age, I have never preyed on anybody for any purpose; nor have I ever had the desire to do so. Your hateful diatribe against me and those like me reveals a willful ignorance (you do, after all, have access to education on these issues), a fragile ego that feeds off of demeaning and degrading others, and an un-Christlike heart. You should be ashamed of yourself.

As a child, I was in awe of your father. Billy Graham and his message was ever-present in the charismatic and evangelical movements of the time. He was a powerful speaker, and I was convinced that he was ordained by God to spread the gospel. I later came to see him as a charlatan, a man who is not only dishonest, but deliberately deceptive, a man who played on the hopes and fears of people while tugging at their purse strings. You, sir, are just like him. The difference, though, and this is what makes you worse, is that you are actively campaigning to deny basic human rights; and using vile degrading language in the process.

I suppose, Mr. Graham, that you are actually quite proud of yourself. You did, after all, win your last battle to keep discriminatory policy on the books (referenced in the link above), and you are no doubt thrilled that a dozen states still have unconstitutional sodomy bans in place (as of 2014, and to my knowledge these have not changed). But while you insist upon making it difficult for us to be recognized as human beings, and as you carry on this disgusting crusade, listen carefully when I say that you are going to lose. You see, what was once a secret, what used to be dangerous to say, is no longer taboo. Of course in some conservative places, it is still dangerous to say that you are gay, Trans, or even an ally, but in most places it’s now safe to come out. The genie, as they say, is out of the bottle, and it can’t be put back in. We are out, and in the face of oppression we stand proud. That pride is why you will lose. We aren’t going anywhere, and we sure as hell are not backing down from a petty, vindictive, arrogant person like you.

I want to suggest that you sincerely try to learn about who and what we are, about the challenges we face, and about the legitimacy of Trans identity. I want to tell you that at your age it’s not too late. I want to encourage you to find it in your heart to stop fighting against humanity … but I’m almost ashamed to say that I don’t actually care if you do any of that. I am very proud of how I handle my advocacy. I am proud of my insistence on civility, my discretion with labels and ‘name-calling,’ my honesty … but I’m sick and tired of people like you. Since you’re so honest about wanting us to be treated like second-class citizens, and about wanting to deny us basic human rights, here’s a bit of honesty from me to you. I want to see you fail. I want to see your ministry investigated, to have your tax-exempt status revoked, and I want to see you fall out of favour with those who you and your father have been cheating and stealing from all these years. I want to see every piece of legislation you fight against passed, and everything you fight for struck down. And if everything I want happens, it still won’t be enough. Why? Because I could never wish enough ill will on you to match the pain and devastation you want to see levelled against us. I don’t want you put in prison for your beliefs. I don’t want to see you physically assaulted. I don’t want to see you homeless. I don’t want to see you subjected to unconstitutional restrictions on your rights and freedoms. I could never match your hatred for me, because I don’t have it in me to feel that way toward another human being.

Mr. Graham, you may think I’m a predatory pervert, but I encourage you to look in a mirror. I don’t prey on people, nor do I use them … but that’s exactly how your father got rich. I don’t publicly talk about my sexual preferences … but you seem obsessed with the preferences you imagine I have. I fight for people who are taking their own lives … while your fight is the reason they take their own lives. Stop calling us predators and perverts, Mr. Graham. You’re obviously projecting all over yourself.