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Friday, January 25, 2013

INCLUDE TRANSGENDER WHEN MENTIONING GAY & LESBIAN




The following is a comment to a blog post on wordpress that I was denied from making. It is just one of many that have been denied. I am beginning to be quite frustrated with them. They just disappear what I write usually, but this time I was able to copy it before that happened. Maybe they think I'm too controversial, I just don't know. But I feel strongly about what I wrote, so I'll make it a personal post:



"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", yes, I would even go further than just the notion of 'threat'. I say, There is no justice for anyone, when there exists injustice for anyone...for all privilege is sullied, and not justified.

You mention how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate for equality far broader than just racially. True. He would be advocating for LGBTQIA and women's rights, because he would know that anti LGBTQIA bigotry and sexism bigotry is far worse than even racism. Was there any doubt that a Black man would be elected before a woman or an LGBTQIA person? Absolutely not, there wasn't.

I have been a gay rights advocate since helping my mom work for Jimmy Carter in 1975. I was 12. I knew I was a girl at 4, but I hid it for then next 45 years. But I always, especially in my adult life did all the Gay and Lesbian Rights activities, events, marches, and advocacy. I have been a high ranking Democratic official, fighting tooth and nail against fellow Dems in our Platform Convention on planks, that I won, and in the Rules Committee, that I won. I am very proud to have been doing this, happily, all this time. But, alas, I am growing increasingly distasteful and offended by my own specific community, transgender, being left out of everything. Marches, events, activities, Groups, Blogs, advocates, simple conversations...we are left out of everything. And people can't tell me the broader community is "implied", because *no* it is not. As a Platform Convention Vice Chair, I well know, that if we are not mentioned, we are not included. Period!

I am sorry I chose your post to vent on, virtually everyone is guilty of this. I'm assured by others that the more conservative members are more open to only these exclusive words. Seriously? I have to lobby for my rights dictated by how the bigots feel about me? Ignorant people are the ones whose minds need to be changed, and if they are not seeing our specific community included, if they are never informed about us, they will never change their minds about us. Gays and Lesbians do not have equal rights, but they are considered a human being in more places than people such as transgender folks are. Trans people are not even in the Human Rights Charter, except for Ontario, in all of North America. We are not even 3/5ths of a human. We are les than was a "slave" or a "savage".

So, yes, this MLK Day and week, it is nice to reflect on the greater need for inclusion for full equality. But hey, all I ask is that we, a community than has more inclusiveness, love, empathy, compassion, and tender loving kindness, than any community on Earth, *be fully inclusive of our own community*! Include transgender in every gay and lesbian thing we title, label and advocate for, in everything we do. Remember me. I am a human being. My name is Leah.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I BEHOLD A DREAM: FOR I BELIEVE IN HOPE (a poem)





I have been asked by several people to compose a poem. I have never really written one, and I don't have much of an understanding of how they are constructed, or what the ingredients of a good poem are. This is my first attempt, so be gentle with the criticism. I would appreciate further guidance or suggestions on how to improve. Maybe I will attempt another.

I was watching the Presidential Inauguration of our President, Barack H. Obama, today. Most of you know I worked for Organizing For America, and had the time of my life on the incredible campaign that most people thought we couldn't pull off. It took a lot of hard work by thousands of dedicated people with Liberal and Progressive values, of Collective Accountability and Responsibility. The President's speech today laid out a bold defense of Collective Activism, which is People and Government. The other side preached against Government, preached against Love, Empathy and Compassion, and openly and proudly with smirks, mocked these things as heresy.

Thank God we elected people in government that don't openly hate and mock government. Things are changing in America. There is more and more diversity, for which I am happy to see, and proud to openly affirm and celebrate. As a multi ethnic, bi-racial, transsexual lesbian, Mormon, I am loud and proud of my diversities. I am just getting to know myself, which is both exhilarating and scary. So today, we celebrate the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr's, Birthday, and I was contemplating his legacy, and all of his compelling words and speeches. I thought I would write a poem, and dedicate it to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and President Barack H. Obama.


                                I BEHOLD A DREAM:  HOPE OF LEANORAH

I behold a dream
Not a dream to hide, nor to shirk
But a dream to share and enlighten
For I believe in Hope.

I behold a dream
In my dream there is love
Oh, how there is love.
Love for all children
Love for all women
Love for all men
Love for all difference
Love for all similarities
Love for Unity
Love for Equality
Love for Love
Conditions, there are none
Oh, how there is love
For I believe in Hope.

I behold a dream
In my dream there is empathy
Oh, how there is empathy
Empathy for misfortune
Empathy for the crestfallen
Empathy for lives lived in guile
Empathy for the oppressed
Empathy for the denigrated
Empathy for those given trial
Empathy for courage
Empathy for empathy
Oh how there is empathy
For I believe in Hope

I behold a dream
In my dream there is compassion
Oh, how there is compassion
Compassion for kindness
Compassion for the priest
Compassion for the priestess
Compassion for the alienated
Compassion for the least
Compassion for the subjegated
Compassion for humanity
Compassion for people
Compassion for compassion
For I believe in Hope.

I behold a dream
In my dream there is affirmation and validity
Oh, how there is acceptance and celebration
Oh how there is tolerance, and empowerment
Oh how there is edification, and uplifting
Affirmation for lesbians
Affirmation for gays
Affirmation for bisexuals
Affirmation for transgenders
Affirmation for genderqueers
Affirmation for pansexuals
Affirmation for transsexuals
Affirmation for asexuals
Oh how there is celebration of Equality and human rights for all
For I believe in Hope.

I behold a dream
Not a dream to pride or smirk
But a dream to flare and  brighten
Not a dream to bury or shame
But a dream to care and righten
Not a dream to shelve with apathy
But a dream so bold as to fan a flame
A flame of valiance, a flame of courage
A flame of desire, a flame of endurance
To lite this fire, that is my dream
For I believe in Hope

I behold a dream
Where there is no inequality, there is no injustice
Where there is no stingy, there is no scrooge
Where there is no greedy, there is no needy
We work together for the further view
We work together for the undiscovered country
We work together, for there is no bordered country
We work together, not for the chosen few
We work together for the further view
We work together-overcome the fools
We work together-overcome the tools
We work together-faith in the new
We work together-charity in the service
We work together-for the hope of the one
Oh how there is working together
For I believe in Hope.

I do behold a dream
I do want to dream
I do want to build Zion
I do want to make the world a better place for all mankind
I do know I will have to overcome the Earth from the fools who negate
I do know we'll have to expend great and marvelous works
Works for transcending
Transcending the reprobate
Transcending the bully's
Transcending the selfish
Transcending the hateful
Transcending the bigots
Transcending the sully's, despoilers and spiteful
Transcending those who dream their stuff don't stink
Oh how I love being trans
In my dream, the world is pink
For I believe in Hope.

For I beheld this dream
I know we can make heaven a place on Earth 
My dream is asking us all to try
I want to do more than just cry
I submit this dream in earnest 
Let us not ask why, but let us ask how
Oh I have so much love-for I have my Hope
And I have my dream
This dream I do behold
The Dream of Leanorah

     


Monday, January 7, 2013

LOSING MY RELIGION, STRENGTHENING MY FAITH: COMING OUT TO MY CHURCH, Part One (The Old Bishop)

The following is the contents of my Facebook Life Event post; First Coming Out At My Church/ Bishop Confrontation, followed by a post on a couple of things I forgot to include earlier, that really stuck in my craw. I added some final thoughts, and share my testimony, at the end. I feel that yesterdays event is significant enough to capture it here. I apologize to all those who have read this already.

I posted this yesterday as my LIFE EVENT STATUS: MY FIRST OUTING TO MY CHURCH/ BISHOP CONFRONTATION. My wife didn't speak to me on the 20 minute drive to church this morning. We walked into Sacrament, about 30 minutes early. She pointed her finger at me and told me, I don't want you sitting anywhere near me. It's not like we've ever sit that close together. There was always a highly visible chasm. Now there was an entire room. I sat in the back, realizing that the Bishop wanted to talk to me during Sunday School. That time came. I walked in to see the Bishop. I had been outed by my wife, but to me it wasn't that big of a deal, because this Bishop is being released next week, and we get a new Bishoprick. I never really felt the Spirit, and he seemed to want to get me to see that I should just live with the status quo, which to me is like unto a cuckholded spouse, without the adultery. I'm in a freezing basement, never with my family for anything, let alone holidays, or even meals. We have been celibate 17 years. He read to me from the policy handbook about gays and lesbians (our Church has no policy on how to deal with us). He said, that what you have are feelings, and you can just keep then in check, like you have been doing for the past 45 years. I brought up how I love the Gospel, Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the atoning sacrifice, and that I have honored out Temple covenants. I brought up the Proclamation on the Family, and how I believe it is a blessing to have, and that I am comforted that it is "gender" is what is sacred and eternal. He twisted that, and told me our society has misused the word sex, and that gender actually is male or female, not sex. I told him gender is between the ears, and in the heart, spirit and soul, while sex is between the legs. He would have none of it. He said, you will not be doing what Heavenly Father wants you to do, if you act on your feelings. I didn't want to argue or be defensive, because those are things everyone warned me about. I was surprised to see another transgender person, that outed herself to me this summer. She has long hair past her shoulders, so she was easy to spot in Sacrament. I went up to her and told her I was about to see the Bishop, after having told my wife and family on Monday. She hugged me, and wished me the best of luck. I told the Bishop every Ward in the Church has several of us, only closeted. Our Ward has others besides me, and that I know others who have retained membership, and are Bishops and Stake Presidents. He said that isn't true. He asked me who, I told him it's not for me to say. The Church needs to address this issue specifically, so we know where we really stand. We are everywhere, in far greater numbers than you can possibly imagine. He seemed to be in denial, like Iran's President saying, "there are no LGBT people in Iran". That made him a laughing stock to the world, and our Church is rapidly doing the same, unless we truly address us LGBTQIA people with inclusivity, and absolute validity. I felt he thinks I'm totally invalid in being who I am. The good news is, I get a total do over in the next few weeks. A new Bishop is coming next week, and I convinced this one to leave it to me to bring him the first words about myself. I will be so much better prepared, that much is certain. I am so tired, and very dysphoric now. This is the Epiphany and also my middle daughters 21st Birthday. So, Happy Day. All is Well.          

I believe it is a Commandment that we are to never judge people. The scriptures are replete with anti judging verses, hundreds of them. The couple of times we are given permission to make some discernments, are not in the context of judging a person. My Bishop tried to tell me we are commanded to judge one another. It took all my strength to not come back with, "You Gotta Be Shittin' Me!" He also tried to say there exists no Mormon women who believe there exists any sexism, or that males have any advantages. He went further, "I doubt if many women in our society believe that there is male privilege". I brought up that, "Why would I choose this transgender upon myself? Women are subservient in our society, they are considered lesser, denigrated, oppressed, taken advantage of, paid 75 cents to men, a 6 cent improvement in 45 years!, and generally have a lesser standing in our society. Why would I willingly choose to give up the advantages I experience every day I present as male? He proceeded to tell me I was full of it. "Oh no, that's not true. No one in our Church believes that, and only a few in the world believe that." Excuse me? (WTF....Over!) Those are two of the most asanine Church positions I have ever heard in my entire life. And I have to deal with such ignorance, that is bigotry, at the same time that I am called to the matt for being transgender, because my wife angirly outed me, before I could tell him? But I rant. Sorry. Like it says here.....Just don't judge anyone. Love everyone.

At this point, I would like to insert my testimony, lest I be thought of as apostate, or a quitter, or a loser. I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that he came and lived a perfect example for us to follow. I believe everything in our lives should reflect favorably on living a Christ-Like life. That we are commanded to love one another above all else, save the love we have for our God. To live a Christ-like life means to unconditionally love, accept and validate all human beings for who and what they are. Christ came to serve the alienated, ostracized, denigrated, hated, despised, the different, oppressed, non-conforming people of the Earth. We are to serve one another, for in service of our fellow man, we are in service of our Lord. We are to treat every human being as if they actually are Jesus. For whatever we do unto the least valid, least affirmed, least loved, least successful, it is as if we are doing it unto Jesus. God is no respecter of persons, neither is he a disrepecter. God has no more respect for a heterosexual than any gay or lesbian or bi person. No more respect for a cis-gender person than a transgender person.

I believe in the atonement of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. That he died, in an atoning sacrifice for all of the sins of all the people that ever have lived, are living, or ever will live. I believe that Jesus is our supreme intercessor, who will plead our case before Heavenly Father and Mother, who will judge us. I personally, in my opinion, do not see Jesus as ever losing a single case, and he will defend everyone, without exception.

I believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Lord, that he restored the Church, and translated the Book of Mormon for this dispensation. I believe in the Bible, Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants, as far as they are all translated correctly. I believe Thomas S. Monson is our Prophet at this time. I have deep affectionate love for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Mormon, and I will always be a Mormon. 

I also know that I cannot abide my current Status Quo. I must make the necessary moves to become my Best True Self. To bring myself away from guile and continuing as a fake human being. I do know who I am, and I know that God knows I know who I am. My salvation would be in jeopardy if i were to continue along the old path of the past 45 years.  I will leave it to others to discern my sincerity of love for the Gospel, and my degree of faithfulness. Flawed men may see fit to punish me, to conditionalize my membership and participatory level in the Church. I will go through tremendous emotions, and very painful hurt. I will experience exclusionary practices, and yes, be subject to political prejudices, skewed religiosity, and the whims of local leaders. I must not let this bring me down. I pray to Heavenly Father, that I will not acquire enmity for my Church or any members thereof. I pray that I can maintain my testimony, my identity, and my love, empathy and compassion for all people, that my Faith, Hope and Charity will shine forth around me and within me. I pray that I may continue to serve others, and to edify them, and lift up all people. I pray that I can dig up my buried Talents, and utilize them for the benefit of others. My Heart is full, and I am thankful for my life, and this opportunity that I have been given. These things I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

THE COLD STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: HOW I CAME OUT TO MY WIFE AND DAUGHTERS

As some of you may by now know, I am no longer in the closet to my wife of 24 years, and my three daughters ages 23, 21, and 19. I went through with my plan to "Come Out" to them on December 31, 2011.  I did it, I went through with the Granddaddy of all Coming Outs. It had to be done in the morning if it was to be done, since they always leave early, and stay gone for two days with her family I am ostracized from. I have yet to see them come home.

Here is how it went down. I stayed up all night on Sunday night, contemplating, pondering, praying, and seeking online, facebook and twitter friends that have become my dearest friends. Many of them have become my close Sisters, whom I truly have deep love for. I got a tremendous amount of encouragement, love, empathy, compassion, tender loving kindness, full understanding and acceptance. For that I am very thankful. I may have chickened-out without you guys, so thank you so very much. I am such an outlier in everything in my life, and every fiber of my being. I know for a certainly that God did not make me to blend in, to conform, to fit in (a box), to march in lock-step (in any fashion, especially goose), to be apathetic, indifferent, or acquiescent. Most of all he did not make me to be a Pretender, a guileful, fake human being. All these things were on my mind as the time drew near. I looked up online web sites, including LDS sites, and none of it appeared to help me much, in fact some of it was quite offensive to my spirit and disedifying, and that is not what I was about. All in all, I was left to the friendship online and especially in my new facebook group I co-founded with 2 of my most beautiful and wonderful friends. Please check out my new group for Transgender Mormons and Allies. Everyone in every aspect of the trans community is welcome, every person with present or past Mormon culture background is welcome, and everyone who is an ally to both trans folks and the Mormon culture, or just one of them, is welcome to join. We are entirely inclusive and loving. Our Motto is "Always Safe, Always Love", and we mean it.  Just look us up in facebook groups "Transgender Mormons and Allies".

So, I was left to my group, and my close friends online, from which I derived much strength, courage, and love. My prayers were fruitful, in that I was affirmed in what I was about to do. At about 10 am, I said, this is it, this is what I am supposed to do, and now is the time. This is the very last time I walk up these cold, dank, alienated, basement stairs, as Bob, the guileful fake human being. This will be the last time I scrape off this horrible stubble, from what is perceived as Bob. This will be the last time I will comb the bald head of a man named Bob. So many last's, and such an undiscovered country full of firsts to be exited about. Always reminding myself, yes, "this is really happening". The best advise I got was to be sure to present my whole coming out with tender loving kindness, not to argue, or raise my voice, or become defensive, because it is about the only thing I remembered. I chose not to go upstairs with a script, or even a list of any promptings. This was going to come directly from my heart, Leah's heart, and the Spirit of guidance and edification from Heavenly Father and Mother, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. I would be amiss if I didn't also acknowledge all the prayers and fasting and positive energy and radio waves, expressed for me, and about me. I definitely felt it all, and it not only buttressed me, but validated my spirit, and engendered my courage and countenance. I truly want to thank you all for that.

Having gotten myself about as ready as I was ever going to be, and having heard the floor boards, above my head, creak with the stirrings of my family, I mustered my faculties together and headed up those lonely stairs. I found only my youngest daughter downstairs in the living room. I asked her where everyone was, and what their plans for the day were. She said they were all upstairs, and that they were planning on leaving in about an hour. I told her I needed to see the whole family, for an "important announcement". She went up and immediately I heard my wife exclaim, "Ladies, I need you downstairs, right now!" My heart kind of sunk a little bit, realizing that she knows what is coming. After having all gathered in the living room, I stood before them and started to speak. "I want you to know that I am very proud and thankful to be your husband, and I am very proud and thankful to be your father. I do not regret either one. This is something I have struggled with all my life. This is something I have known about since I was 4 years old." Then I started crying. I was temporarily unable to continue. It was the opposite feeling from when I came out to one of my Boards (of Directors), where I felt everyone else was in slow motion, and I was moving in hyper senses working overtime. This time it was almost the opposite. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, and my senses were dulled.

Finally, my wife just came out and asked, "what is it Bob", in a soft and kind voice, but not loving. I struggled for a moment, contorting my mouth and face, wiping away tears, "I am Transgender". "We've known", was my wife's quick response. It was so matter of fact, and so rapid a response, I was not surprised, but I was thrown off guard somewhat. "no, not just cross-dressing, full on transgender", I added. They said that yes, "we know, we've seen it on TV, and elsewhere, we know".  At this point I perceived the smirks on two of my daughters faces, as the looked at each other. There was stillness and silence. Heads were down. I didn't feel at all to add anything. I did ask them if they had any questions. They all said no. "I will always be your father, I will never regret being your father, and I will always be your Dad", I said. My wife then asked, "so what are you going to do now?" I told her that, "I plan to transition sometime in the future". "Well then, your going to have to start looking for a place to live", was my wife's cold response. Then she added. "and you will make an appointment to see both Bishop's". (it was announced on Sunday, we are getting a new Bishop on Jan 13.) I think she plans on telling the Bishop right away, and initiating the end of things the way they are.  I responded that "yes, I will make the appointments, and I will see both Bishops". What misfortune of having to do this hard thing twice, and dealing with two Bishops, one of whom I have no idea, who it is. So this was about all there was. I had to ask, "can I please get a hug?" My youngest daughter, age 19, home for Christmas, from BYU-Idaho, came immediately to me and hugged me. My oldest daughter did, begrudgingly, followed by my wife, with the same unloving, begrudging attitude. My middle daughter, who previously  held me in open contempt, just refused to hug me, and remained seated. No one said anything else, as it was a cold, and unaccepting atmosphere, that nothing more could be added, without getting hurt feelings and raising ire's. I decided then, that my most cold stairway had just been climbed. It is a stairway to heaven, and the transition from it being a cold one to a warm one, one with love, empathy, compassion, faith, hope, and charity in it, is just beginning.

I walked out of the living room, and into the kitchen. I could hear them talk about trans people. About Gender Confirmation surgery, revealing their understanding of the process, "the penis is inverted", and such. I opened the fridge, revealing very little food. The family already doesn't share food with me, and they get all their holiday time food from her family. There was only a large jar of pickles. So I grabbed myself a couple of pickles, and just stood in the kitchen, not yet ready to go down the stairs as the un-closet'ed person I have become. I soon figured it was of no use, and probably wrong to, to just stand there and eves drop on my family, so I took my sour pickles, and as proudly as I could, walked down that cold stairway, for the first time as Leah, and the true and authentic woman, I have now told the world that I am. Oh, I am still Bob, for a little while, but Bob was always me, Leah. I am one in the same. I am a human being, my name is Leah, and I am a woman. I am good, and I am dang ready to start roaring. Wait till everyone gets a load outta 'me'.

This is the first day of the new year. So Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2013 is the best year in lives of all of you. It is the first day of the rest of my life. I have been reborn, refreshed, renewed. I am still in the process, this whole business of 'Coming Out', and transitioning. I have many hard roads to travel, many cold stairways yet to climb. But I am on my way, and I am up to the challenge. December 31, was my sister's birthday, the one that committed suicide, 21 years ago, at age 14. I picked this day to come out to honor my sister, as well as mourn her, and rise above the pain I have for her. It is now a special 'birthday' for me, and will always and ever more be a day of remarkable celebration.

All my Love and warmest regards and wishes for the Happiest Year Ever,

Leah.