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In the general public, there seems to be utter confusion over the definition: transgender. That's kind of where this all begins, which is just compounded by all the fear and misinformation about who is actually doing any molesting or engaging in voyeurism, regardless of how rare those things actually are.

It's just so hard to tell all the fearful people to please stop for a second and breathe, because they're all whipped up into such a frenzy and no actual facts or reason are getting through.

I'm putting this here to just try to get down a few thoughts, then have some of you comment with your thoughts, and maybe together we can eventually put together something that can actually be shared to the masses, or at least to some of the more fearful individuals, and then hopefully diffuse some of this irrationality before some people truly get hurt or lose their lives over this.

And please don't be afraid to share with me if I'm getting any of this wrong, because that's the very last thing I want to do.

Okay, so step one, transgender people are real, just like cisgender people are real. Cisgender people identify as the same gender as their physical gender. Transgender people identify as a different gender from their physical gender. Transgenderism has been declassified as a mental disorder since December 2012. So there is nothing wrong with a person because they are transgender. Just like there is nothing wrong with a person because they identify as cis.

This is really not a difficult concept if one understands that the body and the mind are two different entities. Christians are likely to split that into: body, soul, and spirit. Either way you look at it, most people have an understanding that we are more than just one part. To illustrate these parts, our body doesn't immediately cease to exist when our conscious self is no longer present. In life, sometimes those parts seem to align with an arbitrary baseline concept of gender, and sometimes they don't.

Step two, what we are on the inside (basically our real selves, our thoughts, emotions, memories, personality, likes, dislikes, beliefs) needs to play lead in determining how we coexist with our bodies, at least as far as options that are made available to us. Though not a mental disorder, the reason why it's good to keep the term: transgender is so the medical professional can confirm the diagnosis and be able to offer options to their patient. How all of this is facilitated and to what degree and the order in which any changes are made is ultimately up to the patient. Many times the goal is not to "pass" for the other gender, but sometimes it is. Sometimes the desires for specific changes are all intertwined with social norms of a particular culture, and sometimes it isn't.

Step three, and continuing that thought, as cis people, (which I am, and that I also benefit from cis-privilege) it is important to remember that it is not the responsibility of a transgender individual to "look" like a particular gender for them to be addressed with the pronouns that they prefer. They shouldn't have to earn that right from anyone. Transgender women aren't men wishing they were women, or playing like they are women, or fooling anyone into thinking they're women. They are women, full stop. Transgender men are not simply wishing they were men, or role-playing men, or trying to pass for men. They are men. End of story.

I think there are still too many fearful people who think that transgender women are men in drag, or that transgender men or women are perverted or over-sexed or confused or predators. I think we need to clear up the definition before we can really go any farther and show that there have been precisely zero documented instances of a transgender person molesting anyone in a public restroom.
21 April 2016 @ 11:18 am
Just me, at work, tweetin' and visiting this old beloved RA LiveJournal between jobs.

Reston is kind of overcast today as I look out on Sunset Hills Blvd.

T. is at her PC browsing sites. I'm a little bored and wish I had some local furs to converse with, and maybe share a lunch.

A local red panda lets me know when his roommate/condo owner is away on a trip so I can stay at his place and not have to drive the distance home every night. The couch there is actually more comfortable than Kefkah's was when I was stationed in Frederick and crashed at his place a couple times each week. The next time is coming soon in May. He's a good fur, a musician, and a Bernie supporter like me, so we have good conversations.

I've been having some good contact online with Papabear, as he's known in the fandom. You may have heard of him--he runs a great advice column for furries. It makes me wish I was more fully aware of the help he gives when others had come to me for advice. I do the best I can, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. Anyway, we've reciprocated with links to each other on our websites. Ours is on the Resources page, so go check him out.

I had another MRI done earlier in the week and just got news today that everything looks okay. They were just ruling out the possibility of me having a tumor pressing on my inner ear, which I don't. So it all comes back to what they originally suspected, Meniere's disease which has caused severe bouts of vertigo. The main treatment is a low salt diet and prescribing diuretics. I already don't intake a lot of salt, generally less than 2500mg a day, but they want me down around 1000 which is near impossible, but I'm trying. The good news, I haven't had a vertigo attack since April 3rd. There for awhile, I was getting a bad one once every 1.5 to 2 weeks.

My life journey has brought me to a place I never thought I would be, a life that is pretty much devoid of organized religion or conventional Christian faith. This hasn't changed my passion for standing up for others' rights to embrace their faith and their sexuality and/or gender identity. I still care about right and wrong, and I'm probably more thankful than ever for the beautiful things, both large and minutely small that life has to offer.

If you embrace a faith, make sure it's your own and not someone else's expectation of what they want you to be. Remember that faith is personal. Don't let anyone tell you you're wrong for believing the way you do. You follow your path.
Posted this to my LJ, Jarrel asked me to share it here

The same lady who did that amazing animation of a werewolfess dancing and singing to Kei$ha's Die Young recently released this

02 April 2016 @ 07:54 am
Lot's of furs I know including Arkers are at Furry Weekend Atlanta right now. Do any of you have fursuit pics of yourselves or your friends you'd like to share here? We'd love to see them!

Renee and I are going down to her parents' this weekend to celebrate Easter a week afterwards because of some schedule conflicts of extended family members last week. I'll be trying not to over-eat. Speaking of fursuit pics, I can't fit into mine anymore. I've always had trouble with metabolism and trying to lose any weight at all, but it all somehow got even harder after my gall bladder surgery.

As the Beatles said, 'it's been a long, cold, lonely winter' but what do you have planned for this summer?
27 March 2016 @ 09:17 am
All over Mexico, there are many yearly traditions associated with Holy days throughout the year and Easter is no exception.

Their one tradition of burning effigies of Judas Iscariot was altered slightly this year as the effigies purposefully took on another likeness.

Huff Post article

I probably should admit here that at one point while reading, I laughed so hard I was crying, and I wanted to share this with a group who might also find this amusing. It's my hope that this doesn't taint the atmosphere of anyone's Easter / Resurrection Day's family or religious tradition, but I think it's important to have a glimpse into other cultures' observances. ;)
Reading this article just makes me sad. There's more drama here over a nice yearly Sunrise Service that was ultimately cancelled than the goings-on at any furry convention. The chaplain was being a condescending ass too, and I'm glad he's been fired. But the good news, the church at the center of the controversy is offering a solution. (The bolds are mine)...

By Lisa Gutierrez

After 16 years, there will be no citywide Easter sunrise service in Stockton, Calif., this weekend.

The Christian leadership group that sponsors the event called it off because it doesn’t want any more of the bad publicity that it has had since late January.

That’s when Jim Reid, senior chaplain for the city’s police department, sent an invitation for the event to the Rev. Terri Miller, whose Valley Ministries church has many LGBT members.

Miller had never been invited to participate in the event. But the pleasant surprise didn’t last long.

She was later uninvited.

According to Fox 40 in Sacramento, Reid followed up his invitation with an email in early February telling Miller that she’d been invited by mistake.

“Your congregation are welcome to attend but we do not feel it would be appropriate to have you sitting on the platform with the pastors as we are diametrically different in our view of scripture when it comes to homosexuality.” Reid wrote.

The email made Miller angry, and she made it public. The police department placed Reid on paid leave and later fired him.

“What he wrote in there does not match what we stand for as a police chaplaincy nor as the Stockton Police Department,” the Rev. Michael Delgado with the police department told local media.

The department also apologized to Miller, who said she wanted to use the flap to educate people about acceptance and inclusion.

So even though she wasn’t welcome to sit with other pastors on the main platform, she made plans to attend the service with her wife.

Which could have been the end of the story. Until it wasn’t.

Earlier this month the Stockton Leadership Foundation, the group of community leaders and pastors that sponsors the Easter service, canceled it.

In a statement, the group pointed out the “large time and resource investment” that the event required.

“This investment has always been worthwhile because we believe there is no more powerful message than Jesus crucified, buried and resurrected on the third day,” the group wrote.

“This year SLF believes that this transforming message will be overshadowed as a result of the well-publicized clergy invitations. Now the discussions throughout our city and in our publications do not emphasize the core message of Easter – Jesus’ resurrection.”

Reid, who serves on the group’s board of directors, told the Stockton Record that the controversy would have created a “media frenzy” and inferred that it was Miller’s fault that the service had attracted public attention.

“I felt it would defeat the purpose of having it,” Reid said. “I didn’t think it would bring glory and honor to God. I was in favor of canceling.”

Stockton assemblywoman Susan Eggman told The Record she hoped a more inclusive sunrise service would rise out of the controversy.

LGBT publications that have weighed in have couched the story in pointed terms: Stockton is the town that canceled Easter so it wouldn’t have to pray alongside gay people.

“It’s just disheartening to me that here these folks claim to be Christians … and are squandering this opportunity because of some perceived differences instead of uniting under the banner of what this day is supposed to mean,” said Miller.

The Record’s editorial board weighed in as well, calling the group’s decision “unfortunate.”

“Much has been written and said about Stockton’s reputation over the years,” the paper wrote. “Shuttering a community Easter sunrise service isn’t going to help that ‘rep.’

“But if an inclusive replacement is accomplished, then Stockton is the city that puts aside intolerance for Lent — and well beyond.”

Miller’s church has decided to host its own sunrise Easter service at 6 a.m. in downtown Stockton; pancakes later at the church.

Everyone is invited.

The article
14 March 2016 @ 10:55 pm
Fluffy, shiny, scampery Happy Birthday wishes to jarrellwoods! Blessings and peace be upon you now and tomorrow, my friend. /^|..|^\
14 March 2016 @ 09:20 am
(I couldn't think of a proper title, so Shrug Guy will have to do.)

I've been thinking about this community a lot lately. My church, which was previously a safe space for queer people, got a new priest and is now as conservative as possible. They kicked our Rainbow Catholics in Christ group out. (See page 5.) So I'm searching for a new safe church. Kind of a struggle when you're Catholic. My fiancee is writing a research paper about queer Catholics--she wasn't raised in any particular Christian environment, so I'm sort of going back in time and remembering all of my theology lessons from middle/high school to help her. And then I saw those lovely pictures of everyone at VancouFur visiting with Syrian refugee kids!

So: hello.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Hamilton soundtrack
Just yesterday, I had an online acquaintance unload on me in ways which were quite surprising. Renee had to tell me what an SJW was because I'd never heard of the term. I mean I would have Googled it, but she had noticed the acronym which had previously gone unnoticed as we were still trying to find anything coherent in this very weird, very angry series of emails I'd received.

For years in especially the 70s through the late 90s and even a little beyond, I had unwittingly benefitted time and time again because of being white, male, and Christian. This is nothing new in this country. It's been going on for many decades, even a century or two before I was born. Race means nothing to me at least as much as I am able to separate my true feelings from the reality of the privilege that I still to this day benefit from. It means everything though, to those who experience real oppression every single day they are trying to navigate through a society that is geared toward people who look like me.

Do I have to hate my whiteness or the whiteness of others to be authentic in my desire to be fair to non-white people? No. I was not responsible for the color of my skin or the features I inherited from my family. It is not required for anyone to hate any aspect of themselves to be able to have and exercise genuine empathy toward other people.

But we're living in a time where the privileged have been made to believe they are the actively oppressed. The series of hateful emails I mentioned were permeated with this belief, like I was some sort of traitor to my true self, like I was the cause for so much suffering to people of my own race. The word "race" was not mentioned, but I picked up on all the dog whistles throughout their message.

A lot of folks are talking about Trump. We can't get away from it. It's all over the news. He's barely had to fund any of his own marketing because the news outlets do it for him. I'm of a belief that if Trump (or Cruz for that matter) become president, it would be devastating to this country and to the world. There are forces even within the Republican party which are trying to stop that from happening. But Trump is only the symptom. He's only a personification from years of cultivating fear and hatred which have found fertile soil in this nation among mostly white people who look like me. No matter the level of privilege, if you can convince that class of people that they're being oppressed, bad things occur.

I'm concerned over the ugly things I see rising up in this country right now. When Trump is ultimately defeated as I believe he will be, these ugly, fearful, hateful ideas, and the millions of people who hold them unfortunately will remain. And that's a problem for all of us, no matter our stripes. I want all of my brothers and sisters here to be safe.

How Trump Is Inspiring A New Generation Of White Nationalists

WASHINGTON -- The gathering on the eighth-floor rotunda of the federal government’s Ronald Reagan Building looked, at first glance, like any other Saturday-evening D.C. cocktail party.

But this was no ordinary affair.

The 50 or so people in the room were there for the winter conference of the National Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Arlington, Virginia. On its website, NPI describes itself as a group “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States.”

In NPI's telling, white Americans are increasingly under siege in their own country, doomed to be a hated minority as people of color grow ever more numerous and politically powerful.

And Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy has given the group's members more hope than ever that help is on the way.

The article
07 March 2016 @ 01:43 pm
I'm troubled, and it's all tangled up in Religion, and so I thought it might be appropriate to talk about it here. I ask that people be respectful if they choose to comment.

As a child, I was attracted to many things about the Christian God I was presented with. I could honor a God who was Love. I could respect a Jesus who said "Let the little children come to me", who healed the sick and fed the hungry and even turned water into wine so people could party. A Jesus who told his people to "Be the Good Samaritan" in a context where Samaritan meant someone who was of another race, another religion, and another country--a person held in suspicion and distrust by his listeners. A Deity who said, "Love your brother as yourself" and showed, by his example, that "brother" meant the Samaritan, meant the woman, the child, the stranger--that in this context, "brother" meant (as the Priest told us) everybody and not just family. After all, we were all Children of God.

I was told we could ignore the vengeful God of the earlier chapters of the Bible, ignore Him demanding that a conquered people's men get circumcised--and then while they lay in pain, He sent the Israelites to slay those men. Ignore turning people into pillars of salt for not being hospitable, and all of that other scary stuff because Jesus brought a new covenant, a new Testament.

I had doubts about that religion as a child, but who doesn't? But my doubts were not about the big teachings so much as how they were implemented in a world that didn't value me as a girl as much as it valued my brother, just because he was a boy. In the end it was the nature of my mystical experiences that led me to identify as Pagan, not a rejection of Jesus or his teachings. Whether or not he was more "the Son of God" than any of us are children of the Deity, he showed the kind of wisdom and compassion I would want to see in any leader.

Which leads me to my disquiet today.

I'm very troubled by the self-identified-Christian leaders who are running for President and other national and state offices on the Republican side. Instead of preaching love, they want to break up families by taking away the right of gays and lesbians (and statistically half of bi, pan, and enby people) to marry. They want to take the right of transgender people (and maybe intersex people?) to pee in peace. They want to turn away children and families who have lost homes to bombs and terrorism. They are fighting to limit poor people's access to the voting booth, to healthy food--and even to birth certificates. They are unwilling to demand any kind of safety feature or improved regulation of guns when we have a "mass shooting" on average every day in this country.

In short, they are loudly shouting hatred and fear, not love and compassion. Worse, this prompts a significant number of loudly self-identified Christian people to vote for them.

I find it troubling that so much of what I grew up learning was called "un-Christian behavior" is so firmly espoused by people who yell that they are Christian, and who think (or say they think) that America is a Christian nation.

It bugs me. No, it bothers me a lot, on a very deep level, both intellectually and emotionally. I know that a lot of Christians do try to emulate Christ's teachings. I'm not trying to put down Christians or Christianity. There are a lot of Christians whose faith inspires me, just as there are people of other religions whose faith inspires me. There are also atheists whose eloquent discussion of their beliefs and how their beliefs help shape their behavior inspire me. But I'm digressing. Or maybe not--it is important not to belittle the good people of this world, no matter their race or religion or gender or whatever. But still,

I don't understand how those Christians can feel they are following Christ's teachings while they are spouting so much hatred! How can those Christians feel they are emulating Christ by putting fear in front of love and compassion? I mean, I understand fear--so did Jesus, if the record his disciples left is accurate. Look at his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane. But after his tears and prayers, he showed courage and grace and stood by his principals. He didn't pick up a weapon to try to kill the men who came for him.

I am very troubled when I see religion--any religion, but especially a religion which teaches that the primary law above all others is love--used as a bludgeon to hurt people. And I look at all the ways I am a minority--I'm a woman with chronic illness, a single mother (though my kid is grown), a bi/pan person in a long term relationship with an obviously transgender woman, and a Pagan--and all this hate-mongering makes me afraid.
Current Location: the real world
Current Mood: troubled