Tuesday, June 02, 2015

In Support of Caitlyn


As many of us saw our first glimpse of Caitlyn Jenner yesterday, formerly known as Bruce Jenner I just wanted to throw my support in the rink for this courageous decision.  So here it is:  Good job Caitlyn!  I was particularly struck with the sentence, "Bruce was always lying.  Caitlyn can be honest." Out of all the weights you have lifted in your life, this one must have been the heaviest, likewise it seems its absence has left you  feeling the lightest and most free. May you finally find the contentment you've been striving for.  Also, thanks for helping the world see 'different' a little differently. I really hope your story helps others in their journey--whether that journey be living authentically, or being a little more open and kind towards others trying to live authentically.

I don't think my support will make that much difference directly in Caitlin's life.  But I do believe indirect support can go a long way in the ripple effect of change, which is one of the reasons I felt compelled to openly share my support on my blog today. Another reason is that as most of you know I am a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church and I wanted people to know that you can be a member a historically conservative, Christian church and still support the Caitlyns of the world in all their transgender glory.  In fact I want both my Mormon and non-Mormon friends to know this.  Our church has been making some long needed positive changes in how it views and accepts the LGBT community, gay marriage and even this recent article asking Dallan H. Oaks about transgender people was considerably open ended for a senior apostle.  Note:  If you are not a Mormon and you click on these links and read these articles, you might think, Really?  Thats progressive?  Trust me, for the church it is.  

When Lamp was born I was given a new set of eyes that forever changed the way I see the world.  I think most of us get a new set of eyes at some point in our life.  Perhaps to some of you it might be a stretch to equate special needs with the transgender community, but for me it's not a stretch at all.  It's about people being born differently, whether on the inside or on the outside, and being free to be who you are.  As I've done the special needs spotlight over the past 4 years one thing I've come to realize is how completely unique each one of us is put together.  I have learned about conditions, diseases, syndromes and disabilities that are so unique I could have never imagined them even possible, let alone a reality day in and day out for someone in the world.  Think of it--the thing I can't imagine is someone else's reality!  Any one of us--and I would suggest every one of us--is born with some part of us that is physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually and even spiritually 'different' than what is considered the norm.  This realization has led me to strive for greater compassion for, well the human race, and all our crazy, beautiful, unique genetic and spiritual matter combined in a billion different ways to make each one of us, us.   We are human snowflakes.  The same and completely unique at the same time.  

Now the problem is that this can be a very slippery slope, so I want to make myself clear.  I don't want people seeing my support for Caitlyn and making assumptions to things I don't believe. The idea that we need to let people be their authentic selves because it makes them happy and God wants us to be happy, doesn't always ring true for me. This line of reasoning could support all sorts of evils I don't believe in--adultery, pedophilia, abuse, etc. But this idea of authenticity and happiness as it pertains to Caitlyn and people like her, I think it is a good thing. Additionally supporting a person in one decision (i.e. transitioning from male to female) does not mean I would support them in all decisions (If Caitlyn wanted to pose for Playboy for example, I would not be a fan of that).  I do not support everything in the LGBT community--partly because I don't know what "everything" means.  But I don't support everything my Mormon friends do or the lady down the street or everything everyone named Phil does either right?  In short, I believe God is loving, merciful and kind, I also believe He expects us to live within laws and commandments. The idea of mercy and justice often seem at odds--and for good reason, it can be a tricky line to walk--but the older I get I feel that it is best to err on the side of mercy and compassion and leave most of the justice stuff to God. 

I have so many thoughts on all this... on transgender, being different, humanity, God, religion and it's not all going to be sorted out today.  

Today I want to say I support Caitlyn and her decision to live her life as a female.  That is all. 

Thoughts?  I would love to hear from other religious peeps out there.  Also, did any of you watch the Bruce Jenner/ Dianne Sawyer interview?  I found that so completely enlightening and interesting.  

As a post script to this post I'm linking to this very compelling and interesting video called Raising Ryland.  I watched this video a few months ago and was very moved and yes, persuaded. This is about a family with a transgender child and their journey on this very difficult path.  If you can't see anything positive from the image of Caitlin above--and honestly, a part of me gets it--please take the time to watch this video and see if you might feel a little differently. When I talk about support and love for the transgender community I always think, what if it were my child?  Again, check out the video here.  

24 comments:

  1. Hi Miggy,

    Thank you for this post. I am a long-time reader and always read your thoughts with great interest. You are such an articulate writer and always spur me to think deeply. I can't answer your question directed to religious readers, as I am not religious myself...

    But I am writing to ask for help, if you feel so inclined.

    One of my friends, Matthew Clowney, is a talented photographer currently in the last few hours of a fundraiser for a childrens' art exhibit featuring photographs of a family with a trans grandmother. The exhibit aims to foster dialogue about trans issues. It's an important and timely exhibit.

    If fully funded, it will become a traveling exhibit and reach children and families across the U.S. But with just 38 hours remaining, it is only 57% funded and that vision may not be realized.

    I'm hoping you can help to spread the word. Could you please post this comment and/or share the link? Learn more at www.transfamilyphotos.com.

    Rosa

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  2. *clap clap*

    I love your blog so much, I always find you have such insightful, kind things to say. I very much like this post as well, and acknowledge that it probably took a bit of courage for you to write, as the religious community you are associated with openly does not support LGBTQ rights. I too, - wholeheartedly- support Caitlyn in her transition and wish her the best of luck.

    It does, however, make me a bit sad that there is such a hooplah about it all. Both in the fact that you felt the need to almost "out yourself" as an LGBTQ (T in particular in this case) supporter and the INSANE about of media coverage Caitlyn's transition is getting. Not because I don't think its awesome and wonderful and refreshing, but FOR THE SOLE REASON that I find it sad its such an issue. One that deserves such declarations and public fanfare. Its sad that you have to declare your support for something that's.....natural. Normal. Another person's personal life choice. Like, you don't feel compelled to write blog posts about an actress going back to her natural hair color. And there are no Vanity Fair covers with Julia Roberts that are like, "hey guys, I'd like to announce I'm really a blond". I wish that someday conversations with a person transitioning will be like: "Hey, just so you know, I am now Caitlyn, and I'm going to live my life as a woman, as my biology and brain have been my entire life." and then you'd be like, "cool. Have you seen the new Mad Max movie? Its gotten rave reviews." The end.

    Someday maybe. But for now, I'm trying to embrace (or appreciate) the fanfare if it means shedding some light and starting a needed conversation about the trans community.

    I really hope this comment doesn't come off as critical of your blog post. I think everything you said is wonderful. Empowering. And commendable. I just can't help feeling like, ok- so you support someone's personal choice of embracing their biology? Cool beans. You'd be a d*** if you didn't...

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    1. RHrad--ha! Your last comment made me chuckle... but I don't totally agree with it. Transgender IS really different--much more different than say dying ones hair (is it dyeing?), it doesn't feel like a typical thing and I don't think most of us associate it with a biological issue. This idea that some day we'll be so advanced we won't see people for the color of their skin, the sexual preferences, gender preferences, disabilities has never really sat well with me. I don't expect people not to notice my daughters limb differences and react--I feel like that's asking people to be less human than they are. Curiosity is also a part of humanity. But I do hope we all are more kind, less judgmental. And that I think will always take some effort.

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    2. (I hope this doesn't double post- because the first time I *think* didn't go through)

      Thank you so much Miggy for your response to my comment. And, I totally agree. You brought an opposing view that I read and was like, yeah, ok. I get that.

      Im realizing now that there are SO many dimensions to the point I was trying to make. And, it shouldn't be about getting to the point where we are just "ehhhh" about differences. It's more aknowledging and supporting the fact that differences exist. Be it being trans, or having limb differences, or being autistic. I'm not equating- just trying to make point that I was wrong in hoping we'd get to the point where we ignored these things. I'm seeing that can be counter productive. Maybe my new hope is that we can acknowledge differences and then know that ppl of all "who, what's and where's" are still worthy of being productive members of society.

      I had this conversation with my mom tonight, who, in my (not so humble) opinion is the smartest most level headed person I know. And she said: "people who struggle because they see the many dimensions of this issue struggle because they are smart". In other words- humans are 3 dimensional, and there are so many facets and layers to these types of topics.

      Thank you SO much for allowing, and engaging, in such a truly progressive and positive topic on your blog.

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  3. I am all for people being their authentic selves.

    Life is too short to live a lie. Would be exhausting.

    I'm not religious, but being all for tolerance and compassion and freedom of choice, I support anyone wanting to live a life that is true to them.

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  4. A great, thoughtful response, Miggy. As a fellow Mormon, I too have learned that mercy and kindness bring the greatest comfort and happiness to others (and, really, myself). I can only imagine the inner turmoil and external barriers that so many others face as they try to find a place in this world.
    My only wish was that world wasn't so focused on how well Caitlyn fits society's standards for female beauty. As if her transition's significance, value, and success were verified by a bombshell appearance on Vanity Fair.

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    1. Yes I get that her sexy cover photo is a little distracting from the actual issue.

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  5. As a Mormon mother of a gay son, I thank you for adding yourself to the growing rank and file of those of us who support and affirm the LGBT community. We have a group of Mama Dragons which is growing every day, as LDS moms with gay kids seek support and a place to help advocate for change on behalf of our vulnerable youth.

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    1. Diane--You know a lot of people still disagree with this position. And in truth, I still agree with a lot of the church's stance on a doctrinal level (which is a whole other post...) BUT when thinking about these things I always come back to, 'what if it were my kid?' What I would want most is for people to understand that they probably don't understand and to treat my kid with the kindness and respect they would everyone else. And honestly I sort wish I had chosen another subject than Caitlyn Jenner to discuss this because it's a rather sensationalized view of this topic. Some of the stories that have been most impactful have been the stories of families and their kids and how this has affected them. Unfortunately I think some people see Caitlyn and see something very unnatural being glorified. I don't know if that all makes sense...getting late...

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  6. http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2438383-155/mama-dragons-lead-the-fight-for

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  7. Love. Thank you for being brave and sharing your kindness. http://momastery.com/blog/2015/06/01/simple-hard/

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    1. Yep. Loved Glennon's response as always.

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  8. Miggy, you inspired me to post this on my FB timeline:

    I'm an active member of the LDS church (Mormon) and I teach human sexuality at a major public university. So in conjunction with the post I shared yesterday about being brave AND kind, I'd also like to share some information about the spectrum of sex characteristics that exist among human kind (i.e., the biological aspects of being "male" or "female"). Because I grew up with very rigid ideas about gender and it's meaning, the first time I heard about the possibility of being "intersex" I was very, very uncomfortable. But facing this discomfort and learning more, combined with my personal belief---which is tied to my personal faith---in every one being worthy of love, has gotten me to the point where now I'm much more comfortable with this information (which is good since I now lecture on it), as well as other "uncomfortable" topics relating to gender and sexual identity. Have I reconciled all facts of the world with my faith I have grown up with? No. And I'm not sure that I will in this life. But I've increased my capacity to feel and show love toward others. And I feel that focusing on how I treat/respond others is the best use of my time and effort. Love (kindness) is the thing. The rest is just details. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJxZe4KAdqU http://www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex
    http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency
    http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/cond…/androgen-insensitivity-syndrome
    Again, no comments on this post. If you have questions about intersexuality, pm me and I can point you to more information.

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  9. As a non-Mormon, non-religious person, it really warmed my heart to see this post! Mormon history is an interest of mine (I have non-Mormon family in SLC) and it's great to see you and others putting a progressive face to the faith. While there are a lot of things I disagree with about Mormonism, it's cool knowing that there are so many other points at which we all as people/Americans/whatever can connect to each other on, and including some that are more unexpected like this.

    I grew up in the Protestant church and left because I felt that my political beliefs (left of center) weren't accepted by the church. It gives me a lot of hope to see Mormons identifying as LGBTQ allies while still strongly identifying with their faith. I'm not sure if or when I'll find my way back to church, but it's great knowing that people are finding ways to practice their political, personal and spiritual beliefs at the same time.

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    1. k.g.-- On the outside Mormonism has a very buttoned up, conservative face. And sure, on the inside we can still be a lot like that. I think people don't often see just how loving and inclusive and even progressive our doctrine really is. For example we believe in God the Father, but we also believe in a Heavenly Mother. We don't talk about her much (which is changning) but I think that's pretty interesting (maybe even mind blowing? I don't know...) point of doctrine.

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  10. Anonymous12:20 PM

    All we can do is say what we believe as Christians: that all of us are sinners, and that none of us are freaks. We must conclude that all of us are called to repentance, and part of what repentance means is to receive the gender with which God created us, even when that’s difficult. We must affirm that God loves all persons, and that the gospel is good news for repentant prodigal sons and daughters, even for those who have trouble figuring out which is which. Russell D. Moore

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    1. Russell D. Moore--Love a lot of your points. The idea that God made us a specific gender and there is no way he would "mess this up" so to speak doesn't ring true to me. People come with all sorts of difference that don't make any sense--people come with all kinds of physical, mental, emotional difference and disabilities. To the people who say, God gave each person a gender and we need to stick to it I say, what about hermaphrodites (people born with both sets of reproductive organs?) And if he wouldn't mess up a persons gender, well why would He "mess up" their arms, their brains, their heart, etc? Personally I don't think it's something God "messed up" on, I think these things happen and I have no idea how/why they happen, but I believe the struggle is real and valid as much as any other person born with something counter to the norm.

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  11. perfectly said. thanks for your post!

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  12. perfectly said. thanks for your post!

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  13. I tried to post a comment yesterday but I was having some "user errors."

    I am extremely involved in Reform Judaism. I don't know if some would consider me "religious." (I kind of loathe that term and prefer "observant.") I'm observant in the ways I choose to act out my Judaism -- mostly as a Jewish professional Educator ... anyway.

    I thought this was an awesome post and I think it's refreshing to see the Mormon church and some of their members giving support to this issue.

    I'm also fairly liberal and a strong supporter of LGBTQ issues and think that we are slowly in the USA understanding and supporting these issues more. Thanks again for your post!

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  14. I am not sure that I agree with you. I especially hate that they chose to show Bruce/Caitlyn as a sexy bombshell... like that makes him more of a woman because he is "sexy.." The feminist in me is really upset about that.

    Also, I was wondering if you have ever heard about this sort of issue in this article? Does it change how you feel? Is changing your gender better than cutting off a fully functional arm? It makes me think...

    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/becoming-disabled-by-choice-not-chance-transabled-people-feel-like-impostors-in-their-fully-working-bodies

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    1. R--Sure...as I said above, this whole sexy magazine cover, and very staged coming out all leading to a new reality show isn't the best avenue to help people embrace this as NOT a celebrity gimmick.

      And yes I have heard of people who want to be disabled and do all manner of things to their bodies to become amputees.... yes this sounds pretty crazy to me. I totally see this separate as someone who is transgender (especially since a sex change operation is not always involved). I actually had this discussion with someone on FB yesterday so forgive me for not taking the time right now to restate everything, but in short yes I think people who want to cut off their limbs need help. I think people who want to live their life as a different gender MAY need help--perhaps it's not ALWAYS a matter of truly feeling like the wrong gender, but by and large I think it's different... here's an article I wish I would have linked to above that really helped me see things differently...http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/18/living/feat-transgender-child-raising-ryland/

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  15. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Miggy, I applaud your courageous support. As Mark Twain said, “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world but moral courage so rare.”
    Mel in Fort Collins

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  16. I like you now even more than I already did. Thank you for your loving, open heart. :)

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