Category Archives: Gender identity

No Homosexual Lifestyle???

In August of last year, the darling of the progressive Christian world, John Pavlovitz, wrote a post titled Repeat After Me: “There is No Such Thing as a “Homosexual Lifestyle.”  What?!? No homosexual lifestyle? I find that hard to believe. I mean, if there’s no “homosexual lifestyle”, that means I’ve been an asshole for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That is a turn of events I just cannot accept.

Look, there are numerous places where the Bible plainly states homosexuality is a sin. Here are a few of those places:

  • In Leviticus 18:22, God told Moses that men shouldn’t lie with men as they do with women because that is an abomination. Of course, a few chapters earlier, God also told Moses that the people shouldn’t eat pork and shrimp. But, I love pork and shrimp, so I ignore that part. Thank you, God, for the miracle of proof-texting!
  • In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul said that “homosexuals” won’t “inherit the kingdom of God”. Yes, I know the word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in the Bible until the middle of the 20th century. But, the words that have been rendered as “homosexual” are slang terms and we really don’t know what they mean. But, hey, if we don’t know what Paul meant, what’s wrong with interpreting it in a way that benefits us “normal”, straight folks?
  • In Romans 1:26-28, Paul tells us that men and women gave up natural, God-ordained relations and defiled themselves with icky, same-sex shenanigans and were promptly punished for it. Sure, in the very next chapter, Paul tells us that God condemns the kind of judgement he just threw out, but that doesn’t help my case, so I’m ignoring it.

Seriously, is this man, this “pastor”, trying to tell me that my deeply held religious belief about the homosexuals, based on a Bible verses that have been few proof-texted and cherry-picked within an inch of their life, is wrong? Really?

According to Pavlovitz, “We all have a gender identity and a sexual orientation and these things all fall along a vast and complicated continuum. It is this specific combination of both how we see ourselves and who we are drawn to that form this essential part of who we are.” Oh, come on, “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”? Everyone knows God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And, Eve was always Eve, not Steve who decided he was Eve. No less an authority than the Southern Baptist Convention backs this up in their resolution “On Transgender Identity”. How could that many Baptists be wrong about something like this?

He also says that the Christians are holding onto “the prejudices and fears our faith inherited 3500 years ago when we didn’t know what we know now” and is “deliberately choosing to not know now; preferring religion to reality”. Well, of course we are. Otherwise we might have to change. And, if there’s one thing we don’t do very well, it’s change.

Look, the bottom line is that accepting homosexuality as innate and not a “lifestyle” is just another step onto the slippery slope that will ultimately lead Christians to live by the teachings of Jesus and start loving our neighbor and turning the other cheek. God only knows where that could lead.

2016: The Year In Review

This has been my mantra for the year.

Well, beloved, we’ve come to the end of another year, which means we’re about to be inundated with “Year in Review” posts/articles/programs. And, yes, I’m doing one, too. “Year in Review” posts aren’t what you’d call a regular feature here. Unlike my annual Thanksgiving posts, I haven’t written one of these since 2012. I’m not exactly sure why, it’s not like the past four years have been uneventful or anything. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m writing this one. Probably because I figure a post about 2016 will get some views and, like all writers, I’m a bit of an attention whore.

The consensus view seems to be that 2016 has been a rather shitty year. After all, it’s seen:

  • An orange-hued shit demon take advantage of the pain and fear of a large swath of the country to become President of the United States,
  • A bunch of idiotic yahoos in my home state of North Carolina pass an obviously discriminatory law and then commit political suicide by standing behind it in the face of overwhelming opposition both in the state and abroad,
  • The most deadly mass shooting in U. S. history, in which 49 people were killed because of their sexual orientation and/or gender expression.
  • Unarmed black men shot down by the police, mostly for the crime of just being black (that’s not new, but it was a big part of this past year).
  • An election that may have hacked by the Russians. At the very least, they influenced the voting toward the candidate they preferred.
  • And the death of a beloved celebrity every time we turned around.

Not exactly the best year on record, huh?

Still, it hasn’t been all bad. 2016 has also seen:

  • Working class people find a new (unlikely) champion in a 78 year old Jewish socialist. Now, if the Democratic Party (who likes to think of itself as “the party of the people”) would just get on board.
  • An announcement that Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman would be replacing former president (and slaveholder) Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. This is good because not only was Jackson was a slave owner, he was an asshole.
  • Jabba the Hut stunt double, Roger Ailes, resign as chairman and CEO of FoxNews. Ailes did so amidst a hail of accusations that he has a proclivity for making lewd remarks and/or advances to his female employees. And, punishing them when they reject him.
  • Pat McCrory lose his job as Governor of North Carolina to Roy Cooper. The best part is that McCrory engineered his own downfall with the hated HB 2, which was actually supposed to hurt his opponent, Cooper. Ain’t karma a bitch?
  • Samantha Bee debut her most excellent show, Full Frontal, on TBS. Bee, smart woman that she is, blew off the industry standard  live interview portion of the news parody format and stuck with her strength, scathing, intelligent satire. And, the television world is better for it.
  • A new Star Wars movie come out. It’s called “Rogue  One” if you’ve been living under a rock. I’m going to see this weekend and I can’t think of a better way to ring out this year.

Do these things offset losing David Bowie and Carrie Fisher in the same year? Probably not, but you’ve got to accentuate the positive. Even when the positive is not all that great.

It’s been said that 2016 has been the worst year ever. But, the truth is, it hasn’t. Not by a long shot. We’re not engaged in a global conflagration, an entire race isn’t in the process of being exterminated, there isn’t a plague killing off a significant portion of humanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s been fun and I’d like to do it again. Just that it’s not been that bad. Hey, most of us even survived it. I’m not giving odds on 2017, though. I have a feeling it’s going to be a motherfucker.

An Open Letter About My LGBT Kid

parkers-first-legal-beer
My son, Parker, enjoying his first beer. Okay, his first “legal” beer.

Lately, I’ve seen a few straight progressive bloggers write about parenting children who are LGBT. It might be speculation about how the author would react to the news that one of their kids is gay. Or, it could be an open letter telling parents what they should say to their LGBT kid. As the parent of a child who is part of the “T” portion (see photo at left) of that acronym, I thought I’d respond to this new blogging phenomenon. And what better way to do it than an open letter! I mean, they’re so effective.

 

 

Dear Progressive Bloggers,

     First, I want to thank you for your concern about my son and his well-being; not everyone feels that way. Here in North Carolina, we are dealing with a law that can put him in harm’s way whenever he’s out. And, I have seen some truly awful things said about him and other folks who are LGBT, so please be assured that your good intentions are appreciated.
     But there is a problem. You see, so much of what I read about parenting a child who is LGBT seems to be written by folks who either don’t have a kid who’s gay or they don’t have any kids at all.  Now, while I appreciate your interest in my child’s welfare, I have to let you know that any advice you might have to offer on how raise/relate to him makes me laugh. Honestly, you’re almost as funny as parents-to-be who claim they won’t let their child watch television because, “The TV isn’t a babysitter” (FTR, the TV is a great babysitter, it’s how most parents of toddlers get things done). And, your words carrying about as much weight.
     I find it interesting that actually having a kid who is lesbian, gay, bi, or trans  doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for penning an article letting those of us in the trenches know just how we’re fucking up. Granted, many of us may not have those fancy letters after our name (MDiv, DD, etc.), but amazingly, we have managed to raise healthy, happy, astoundingly queer offspring without the benefit of your education, status and/or stature within the progressive community. Isn’t that crazy?
     Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, this letter has certainly taken an ugly turn.” Yes, it has. And, you should probably grab hold of something because it’s about to worse.
     I don’t presume to speak for all parents who have an LGBT child, but I have had it up to here with sanctimonious, educated-beyond-their-intelligence, progressive preachers (because, no matter what you think, you’re not acting very pastoral here) telling me how to care for my son when they have zero skin in the game. Unless and until you’ve dealt with all the crap that comes with having a kid who is LGBTQ, your words don’t mean shit to me.
     I can hear some of you now, “But, Joel, we’re not talking to open-minded, progressive parents like you. We’re trying to reach those awful conservatives who have done so much harm to young people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA.” I hate to break to you, Skippy, but you ain’t reaching them. And, if by some weird chance they did click on your post, they wouldn’t make it past the first sentence of your holier-than-thou bullshit. Take it from someone who used to be one of those “awful conservatives”, words like “empowerment”, “parenting mantras” and that ridiculously ever expanding acronym used a couple of sentences ago are a one-way ticket to Ignoresville.
     So, what should you do? The same thing you tell those of us among the Great Unwashed to do when the conversation turns to issues other marginalized groups deal with: sit down, shut the fuck up and listen. And, if you want to do more, amplify the voices of people actually dealing with those issues. Because, right now? You’re just a “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”.

Trans-parenting

Wednesday evening, my son Parker and I spoke to some of the members of our church family about our experiences with transgender issues; he, as a trans man and me as the father of a person who is transgender. This is the video of that talk. If you can’t watch it, what follows is a close (i.e. improved) version of I said. I hope you enjoy it.

I have a friend who likes to say, “I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.” I have to amend that because, while I do love Jesus, I cuss a LOT. I am going to do my best not to do that tonight, but all I can guarantee is no f-bombs.

Now, I’ve always been pretty liberal around social issues: I figure as long as no one’s getting hurt, it’s none of my business. Never really been concerned with who somebody loved. I was thinking about this and said to myself, “Yeah, but you grew up in rural North Carolina in the 60’s and 70’s. How many gay people did you actually know?” Come to find out I knew quite a few; at least four people have come out since we graduated high school. The signs were there; two of those people got fake ID’s, not so they could drink, but so they get into Daddy-o’s and dance. (Daddy-o’s was the place to go in central NC during the disco era)

I attribute this liberal attitude to two things: 1) my parents always taught me to judge people based on who they are, not something they didn’t have control of, like the color of their skin or their sexuality. And 2) I was out of the church during the heyday of the evangelical insanity surrounding LGBT issues. So, I didn’t have to deal with that.

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to this stuff; I just want to put that out there, right up front. I do know more about it than I ever thought I would. That said, sometimes, I feel like I’ve just scraped the surface.

As Parker said, he came out as trans in 2013. I was at the beach, relaxing and having a good time when I got a phone call. It was Parker and he said, “Dad, I didn’t want to do this over the phone, but I need to tell you that I’m trans.” I think my response was, “Okay, then. This is a heck of time to tell me.” I didn’t care and, to be honest, I wasn’t really surprised. It was something I had seen coming for a while. In fact, as soon as he told me, everything fell into place and made perfect sense.

When your kid drops a bombshell like this one, you’ve got two choices: denial (which never works out well) or acceptance. I chose acceptance. When I signed on for this parenting gig, it was for the long haul and I couldn’t write him off. But, acceptance means you have to start educating yourself. So, I started researching and learning.

Now, the one thing that taught me the most, and you’re not going to believe this, is a South Park episode. It’s called “The Cissy”. C-I-S-S-Y, which comes from the term, “cisgender”, or what a lot of folks (erroneously) call “normal people”. Basically, it means you identify with the sex you were assigned at birth.

I’m not going to go into the details of the plot, but as it starts, Cartman is tired of waiting in line in the boy’s room during recess and not having enough time to do what he wants to do. He finally gets fed up, sticks a bow on his hat and says “I’m ‘transginger’. That means, I can use the girl’s restroom.”  If you think that sounds a lot like certain Republicans these days, you’re right. And, when your elected officials start to sound like Eric Cartman, you’ve got a problem. South Park gets a bad rap all of the time, but they’re doing some of the best social commentary on television these days.

So, what I wanted to talk to you about is what it’s like to be the parent of a kid who’s trans. For me it was humbling, more than anything. By the time Parker was 18, I didn’t think I knew everything about being a dad, but I did think I had a pretty good handle on it. As it turns out, I did not, In fact, I found out how much I did not know. There was an avalanche of new things to learn.

Like names, for instance. When you’ve called someone by one name all their life, it’s a little difficult to start calling them something else. Add in the fact that the new name is a different gender and things get even harder. But, it’s one of those things you do when you love someone.

Then, there are pronouns. Pronouns are hard. Again, calling someone “he” when you’ve spent the past 18 years calling them “she” is not easy. There are new gender-neutral pronouns like “zie” or “hir” along with those old standby’s,“they/them”. I like to consider myself a bit of writer and, as someone who works with words, these phrases are a bit…, difficult to work into a conversation. But again, it’s one of those things you do when you love someone.

Let’s not forget the discrimination. I’m a straight, white cisgender man who lives in the South, which means if you were to look up “top of the heap” in the dictionary, you’d see my picture. So, I don’t know much about discrimination first hand because I’ve never experienced it. Now, if it was me who was being treated this way, it wouldn’t that big a deal. I could handle that. But, it’s my kid. It’s a lot different when it’s your kid they’re talking about.

As most everyone knows, I used to work for the Raleigh Fire Department and firefighters are generally very conservative people. They come from a traditional, working class background and I’ve had to listen to a lot of BS from them lately. At one point, things got so bad, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“There have been a lot of ugly, hateful things being said by people who support HB 2 and the fact that some of these words are coming from people I have counted as brothers and sisters, people who I served with as a firefighter, feels like a betrayal. We shared meals together, risked our lives for each other and the community and talked each other down after dealing with trauma that threatened to break us. And now, you want force my son, who is transgender, into situations that expose him to harassment, humiliation and even violence for incredibly thin, even ridiculous, reasons. That hurts. A lot.

I know that, eventually, we’ll get past this. One day, things will be normal again; not the same, but “normal”. We’ll be able to laugh and joke and tell the war stories we all love hearing, even though we heard them a thousand times before. But, not now. Right now, I don’t believe I want to talk to you people.”

Now, if I had seen one of my friends post something like that, I hope I would say, “Whoa, I need to back up!” But, that didn’t happen. Basically I was told to “get over it”. About the nicest response was, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about your son”. But, it is my son you’re talking about. How can you not understand that?

As I said just a minute ago, there’s violence involved. There was a study conducted in the DC Metro area that found almost 70% of people who are transgender have experienced harassment up to, and including, violence in bathrooms. And, I don’t believe that’s an anomaly.

It’s hard being a parent in today’s world with all the crap you have to worry about. Now, as the parent of a kid who’s trans, you get to add something else: the possibility that someone will do something stupid to your kid because they don’t like trans people. I’m not stressed enough whenever my son walks out the door, worrying about the normal stuff he might encounter So, now I’ve got this extra dose of angst to go on top it. That is probably what bothers me more than anything.

There are only two ways that I can see someone’s motivations for supporting these laws. One is that they think my son is predator who might use an ordinance like Charlotte’s to find new prey. The other is that my child’s well-being is less important to them than an imaginary threat. And, the “bathroom predator” threat has been conclusively debunked. Something like 200 municipalities and 18 states include gender identity in the anti-discrimination laws and none of them can trace an increase in sexual assault back to these laws.

While it’s tough, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are good things that have come from this:

  • I finally have a son. His older sister used to  say that Parker was the “boy” I’d always  wanted. We didn’t know just how right she was. Now, we get to do stuff together we might get to do otherwise; this comes in particularly handy during the male bake-off (the rules say men can’t get any help from women) because he’s a much better baker than I am.
  • He can talk to people! The change since he began to transition is amazing. Talking to strangers was almost impossible, to the point that he couldn’t even order food at McDonald’s. Just getting that extra layer of junk (the dysphoria) out of the way a massive amount of difference.
  • There has been a big improvement in his mental health, if only because, now he can talk to his therapist. I have gone to therapy sessions with him and sat in the room for an hour and listening to the doctor try to get him to say something. And, not a word in response.

While I do worry about his safety, I don’t worry about how he will make it in the world. I can see this huge change in him and I know that he has a community that loves and accepts him and that makes all the difference in the world.

“Targeting” Our Daughters?

Last month, the American Family Association kicked off their #BoycottTarget campaign, which aims to push Target into changing its trans-inclusive bathroom/dressing room policy. Recently, Faith2Action joined in this effort with their “Don’t Target Our Daughters Day” protests scheduled for June 4th. As Enid Strict would say:

To promote their protest, the group has put out a video. Perfectly attuned to its target audience, it ends with an appeal to sign up “before there’s another victim”. followed by footage of a man running out of what or may not be a Target store for an undetermined crime, chased by a woman shouting, “Stop this guy! Call the cops on him!” Boy, that is some top-notch dog whistling, right there.

So, what’s the point of this special day? According to the organizers, it’s a “moment to stand together” and alert the public to the retail giant’s decision to allow “predators and sex offenders” to enter women’s restrooms and dressing rooms. What, do they think the rest of us don’t know about Target’s bathroom policy? Believe me, we know. Mostly because its opponents won’t shut the fuck up.

I have to admit, I’m a little confused about the whole thing. Especially the fitting rooms. Are the ones in Target’s ladies department set up differently from the men’s?  In the mens dressing rooms, you take your items into a private little cubicle, close the door and try on your clothes. And, those doors have locks on them.

So, what, the women’s dressing room just a big open space where your junk is on display for everyone to see? Because that’s about the only way I could see this being a problem. And, even if that was the case, wouldn’t a guy just hanging around, waiting for tasty morsel to show up kind of…, oh, I don’t know, stand out?

And, as for bathrooms, who in their right mind believes anything sexual is happening in a public bathroom? Have you been in one of those things lately? Maybe women’s restrooms are different, but a lot of men’s rooms are about two steps away from being classified as a toxic waster dump. I don’t know about you, but that’s not an atmosphere I find conducive to sexy time.

Look, even the cleanest public bathroom has an undercurrent of revulsion.  Because, even if it was so clean you could eat off the floor, you’re still surrounded by strangers taking care of disgusting (albeit necessary) bodily functions. I don’t like being around my own…, well,  you know. I sure as hell don’t care to experience the same from someone I don’t even know.

And, I have a question for the folks at Faith2Action: Why wasn’t this “bathroom predator” thing a problem until it was your daughters who were “at risk”? Are you somehow under the impression that boys don’t get molested? Because they do (not quite as often as girls, but still…). I don’t know, maybe you believe your 7-year-old son, simply by virtue of his maleness, can somehow fight off the advances of a determined adult with less than pure intentions. Because that’s such a realistic assumption.

It’s interesting to me that many people who call themselves “Christian” find trans folks icky.  I mean, we’re talking about people who follow a man that embraced the most marginalized people in his society and they’re dumping all over what is arguably the most marginalized group in our society. And, they’re using children to do it. Fuck.

You know, this is one of those times I wished I still believed in a physical Hell. Because I’d love to say there’s a special place there for anyone who does this kind of shit. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

 

HB 2 A “Blatant and Baseless Overreach”

satire defThe rest of the country has not been kind to North Carolina the past few month. Since the passage of HB 2 in March, the state has lost as much as $500 million in economic activity, seen shows cancelled by popular performers, faced travel boycotts from multiple states and countries, and become the butt of cruel jokes. All because we want to protect our wimmin and kids from a bunch of freaks transgensders sexual predators. Now, the U.S. Justice Department has weighed in, informing NC officials that HB 2 violates both Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act and is, therefore, “facially discriminatory”.

Yesterday, our illustrious governor, the Honorable Pat McCrory, appeared on “Fox News Sunday“, to whine protest about the letter. It seems that he is unhappy about the amount of time the Justice Department had given the state to respond to the charges.

“We don’t think three working days is enough to respond to such a threat,” McCrory said. “It’s the federal government being a bully, it’s making law, and it’s their interpretation.”

Why, that makes perfect sense! Any fool can see that three working days isn’t anywhere near enough time to come up with a response to the Justice Department’s threat. I mean, sure the law took less than 12 hours to debate and pass, but our leaders need a sufficient amount of time to deliberate and come up with common-sense answer.

After McCrory complained pointed out that the federal government was now going to start telling private companies who could use what bathroom, Wallace asked if he would regard it as “government overreach” if the group in question were African-Americans and not people who are transgender. The guv’s answer? “But we can definitely define the race of people. It’s very hard to define transgender or gender identity.” Exactly. While we’re at it, let’s set up some special water fountains for trans people, too. Separate but equal, of course.

Wallace, who appears to have found his journalistic integrity seemed particulartly quarrelsome, asked, “How many cases have you had in North Carolina in the last year where people have been convicted of using transgender protections to commit crimes in bathrooms?” After repeated attempts to evade the question and blame the whole thing on the Democrats, he finally had to admit that there were none. At this point, things were not looking good for the governor.

But, our Pat wasn’t done yet. When Wallace asked “But, if there’s no problem, then why pass the law in the first place?”, our boy replied, “But, there can be a problem…” Exactly. We need to be protected from all the things that might happen. I’m thinking about asking my representative to propose legislation outlawing alien abduction. Granted, such a law would be as effective as HB 2 is in preventing sexual assault, but that’s beside the point.

Well, it’s Monday, and this morning our esteemed leaders responded to the Justice Department’s warning theat: the governor and Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry have filed suit in federal court calling the Justice Department’s demands “a baseless and blatant overreach.” Amen and hallelujah!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I applaud this action; to do anything less would be selling out our kids to the PC culture that is ruining this once great nation. Sure, it might cost North Carolina billions in education funding and our kids won’t be able to read or write, but at least they’ll be safe from those mythical bathroom predators. And, isn’t that what really counts?

McCrory: “I Might Be In Trouble”

Can you say, "Oops"?
Can you say “oops”?

On Tuesday, Governor Pat McCrory went on The John Boy and Billy Big Show in his continuing (pathetic) attempts to control the damage HB 2 is doing to his campaign, not to mention the state of North Carolina. The 15 minute interview was mostly a rehash of the whining and bullshit that has characterized the conservative response to the shitstorm this law has brought on. But, interestingly, he said three things I hadn’t heard before.

The first came when he was listing all the people/organizations/companies he considers hypocrites for their stance against the law. In this list, McCrory included a certain rock and roll icon, saying:

“I love Bruce Springsteen. I love his music. But he canceled a concert in Greensboro. By the way, they only had 8,000 tickets sold, with all respect. Hmm. But Bruce doesn’t mention that. They didn’t get the ticket sales they wanted.”

My god, man, if you’re going make shit up, at least try and make it believable, will you? Seriously, Springsteen probably can’t remember the last time he sold just 8000 tickets for a show. And, if he does, it was probably for a 6000 seat venue.

It’s bad enough that the comment was obvious bullshit, but it was bullshit that was incredibly easy to verify. With a single phone call to the Greensboro Coliseum’s PR director, Andrew Brown, Politifact found that “The Boss” had sold not 8000 tickets, but 15,000. In fact, there were only about 100 seats left for the show. According to Brown, “It’s safe to say it would have sold out.” Of course, when they called him on it, the governor apologized for using “the wrong number”. Why, that makes everything better!

For the second, ol’ Pat slipped up and allowed some genuine honesty into this sad attempt to pander for votes on a show that was filled with what can only be called “sycophantic ass-kissery”. At one point, he told these two fawning groupies, “Society is changing quickly and anybody who gets in the way is in trouble. And I might be in trouble. I might be looking for a side job over here.” A side job? Pat, if the polls are any indication, you might need to dust off your resume and start putting out feelers for full-time employment.

Those polls show Attorney General Roy Cooper leading McCrory from anywhere between 2-10% (RealClearPolitics average = 4.3%).  That’s one hell of a turnaround considering that McCrory held a fairly consistent lead over Cooper (as much as a 7% at its highest) prior to the passage of HB 2. Afterwards, though? It’s been all down hill for McCrory, with the last 4 polls showing Cooper ahead. Saying that it’s not looking good for the guv is a lot like saying George Wallace was “a little racist”.

The third was, umm, ahh, oh what was the third? There was Springsteen didn’t sell many tickets, “I might be in trouble” and, let’s see…, I can’t. The third one, I can’t…, oops. Yeah, I know that joke goes back a ways, but it’s a classic.

You know, as much fun as it is to watch the disintegration of the Republican Party on a national level, seeing what’s happening to these local turds is giving me a joy boner. With any luck, it’ll stay up until November.

A Few Words About #BoycottTarget

unisex-toilet-32058_960_720
Don’t you think this bathroom stuff’s done got out of hand? (with apologies to Waylon for appropriating his song title.)

As if things weren’t crazy enough with this bathroom business, America’s favorite holier-than-thou prigs, the American Family Association, weighed in on the issue with their #BoycottTarget campaign. On April 19, the country’s second largest retailer issued a press release stating, “…we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” As my dad would’ve said, “Good on you, Target.’

But, that statement was more than the fine folks at the AFA could stand. As is their wont when they find something offensive, they put out a petition calling for a boycott of Target. Funny how some “Christians” get their knickers in a twist when others treat trans folks like, oh, I don’t know, human beings?

Even though their petition has garnered over a million signatures, I’m guessing it will be about as successful as their efforts to get certain shows taken off the air, like “Lucifer”, for instance. This show, one of their prime targets, is coming back for a second season. Boy, you guys really knocked that one out of the park!

But, that’s old news. What’s new is that the AFA’s efforts may not end with a mere boycott. In an interview with “Breitbart News Daily”, the AFA’s director of governmental affairs, Sandy Rios, seems to say that the group has sent men into Target restrooms to test the “barriers”:

“I think there’s no question that when you say that there are no barriers in the bathroom,” Rios said, “and that if men or women feel like they are men or women, the opposition of however they are equipped, and you have no restrictions, the net effect will be that people will not be stopped. We’ve already had people testing this, going into Targets and men trying to go into bathrooms. There is absolutely no barrier.” (from Right Wing Watch)

Let me get this straight: After being told repeatedly that men sneaking into women’s bathrooms for nefarious purposes just isn’t a thing, these knuckleheads decided to,,,. send men into women’s bathrooms for nefarious purposes? (discriminatory, not molest-ey ones) Why, that makes perfect sense!

Now, if I’m going to be fair, I have to point out that this premise is a bit thin. I mean, Rios says that “We’ve already had people testing this…”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those people are part of the AFA. Or, that it’s actually happened; historically, Rios and the AFA have had a rather loose relationship with facts. While there’s not much I wouldn’t put past these people, I’d like to think even they would draw the line at something like this. That said, when it comes to attributing basic decency to folks, I have been wrong before.

Unfortunately, beloved, it doesn’t end there. Several “Christians” appear to have taken a page out of the Westborough Baptist Church playbook, going into Target stores to “evangelize” by telling people that God is a vindictive asshole who will destroy them for living the life they were created to live. Or, even for treating those people like, well…, people. Wow. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s a God I want to know more about. Mostly so I can stay the fuck away from Him.

But, things are getting tough for trans/homophobic assholes people who believe in “traditional values”.  If they’re going to be true to their convictions, they can’t even shop at Wal-Mart anymore.  You see, in 2011, the retail giant included people who are transgender in their anti-discrimination policy; which means they can use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Well, that’s inconvenient.

Look, it you don’t like Target’s bathroom policy, that’s your prerogative. And, if you don’t want to shop there, that is also your right. Hell, if you want to associate yourself with a certified hate group, I won’t try to stop you. I wish you wouldn’t, but it is your privilege to do that. But, you really should stop claiming it’s all about safety, since we all know that’s bullshit. And, while you’re at it, could you stop calling yourself a Christian? Using women and children to hide your bigotry is cowardly, not Christ-like.

What Does “Alice in Wonderland” Have to Do With HB 2?

AAIWLast year, in a moment of what can only be called “insanity”, I decided that continuing my education would be a nice thing to do with all the time on my hands since retiring. While it has been…, let’s say, challenging, at some points, at others, it has been incredibly interesting. Take, for instance, the banned book essay I’ve been working on the last couple of days. I mean, who knew “Alice in Wonderland” had ever been banned? And, the reasons? Oh, you wouldn’t believe some of the reasons. Like the one I’m going to tell you about today.

It seems that, in 1900, Woodville High School in Haverhill, New Hampshire “suspended” Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” from classroom use. That’s what the sources say, not banned, but “suspended from classroom use” (not sure what the difference is, but it’s very specific about that). Why did they do this? Because they claimed it contained “expletives,sexual content and derogatory characterizations of a teachers and of religious ceremonies”. Well, okay then.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering “Where might these sexual references be found? In the caucus race? The Tea party? Maybe they’re in the Mock Turtle’s story or the Knave of Heart’s trial.” Who knows? Before you start looking for your copy of “Alice” to see if these accusations are true, let me save you the trouble: they are not. I just finished it a couple of weeks ago and I can’t think of anything even remotely sexual in the entire book.

Documentation for Woodsville’s claims is, evidently, lost to posterity; that’s if it even existed in the first place. One of my librarian friends (fyi, you know you’re a nerd if you have more than one friend who’s a librarian. I have two…, that I know of) told me that, quite often, the reasons books are banned hasn’t always been made clear or even given; at least not in writing, anyway. So, we are left with this odd little blurb that casts a less-than-wholesome light on one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. Weird, huh?

Okay, I know that was a lot of background, but I had tell you all that so I could tell you this:  Banning “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for non-existent “expletives and sexual content” makes about as much sense as forcing trans people into bathrooms where they’re likely to be harassed because you’re afraid of mythical bathroom predators.

Just as I have to wonder what kind of mind can find sexual references in “Alice”, I also have to wonder what kind of mind can justify discriminating against people because they’re a minority, or they’re different, or they’re “scary”, or whatever, all in the name of protecting women and children from a non-existent threat. Especially when that means means exposing someone else’s children to a very real one.

That so many people who support HB 2 (and other similar laws) claim the name of “Christian” blows my mind. How the hell can you claim to follow a man who hung out with hookers, lepers and tax collectors and told his followers to love everyone and then turn around and dump on the most marginalized people in society (duh, trans folks) with laws that push them even further to margins? If you don’t think this kind of thing makes Jesus cry, you don’t know Jesus. At all.

Republicans: “HB 2? It’s Not Our Fault”

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From Kevin Siers and the Charlotte Observer

Many of the arguments in favor of North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (aka HB 2) sound juvenile at best, paranoid and delusional at worst. We’ve been treated to some really.., let’s say, interesting defenses for what some North Carolinians are calling Hate Bill 2, including mythical bathroom predators and what amounts to grade school whining. To say all this doesn’t us make look good is like calling World War I a minor kerfuffle; i.e. a massive understatement.

I keep telling myself, “It can’t get any worse than this.” And, every I do, you know what happens? It gets worse. Just this week, a candidate for attorney general spoke about the need to “keep our state straight“. Really, y’all, he said that. Out loud. And, in public. Where people could hear him. Now, it’s one thing when a relatively obscure state senator says something so absurd; it’s another when it comes from the man holding the highest elected office in the state.

Recently, our “distinguished” governor Pat McCrory upped the ante on the bat crap crazy dialogue that marks the Republican response to any criticism of HB 2. And, let me just say it rivals any remark he’s made the entire four years he’s been in office. If you follow NC politics at all, you know that’s saying something .

Just a few days ago, the following statement appeared in a New York Times article: “On Thursday, he (McCrory) said he suspected that the entire matter had been orchestrated by Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, to give Democrats an advantage in a tight governor’s race.” Oh, great, the chief executive of our state is in one of the world’s most widely read newspapers sounding like a deranged nutbag.

There are a multitude of problems with the governor’s accusation, not least of which is the fact that he has absolutely nothing with which to back it up; mostly because the whole thing is bullshit. But, he’s also crediting the Democrats with waay more intelligence (not to mention cunning and guile) than they actually have. The only reason we haven’t had 50 years of consecutive Republican rule is that the GOP is even more screwed up. The Democrats may be incompetent, but the Republicans have lost their damn minds.

If you think all this sounds a little crazy, you’re right. That because it doesn’t have anything to do with real reason HB 2 was passed: the thing was actually a ploy to back McCrory’s opponent in the upcoming election, Attorney General Roy Cooper, into a corner where he’d lose important votes no matter which way he went (read the full story here). Unfortunately for the guv and his pals in Raleigh, it’s done just the opposite; the latest polls show Cooper leading the governor by as much as 6%. I don’t know about you, but I find that hilarious.

With any luck, come November, we may get rid of the worst governor we’ve seen in God know how long. If we’re really lucky, we’ll also lose a few of the legislators who have done so much tear down what was once the most progressive state in the South. And that, my friends is one of the few bright spots in this whole sordid mess. Granted, it’s not much of one, but I’m pretty sure it’s about as good as we’re going to get.