How “Christians” Push LGBTQ Families Farther Away
Two examples of “Christians” getting it wrong: from personal experience, and social media
Several years ago, when I first realized I had a child who was gender nonconforming (and possibly even trans), there weren’t many resources available for parenting this kind of child — at least not that I could find. Not in the south. Not at public libraries, in bookstores, online, or through local LGBT Centers. And though daytime TV was full of talk shows covering a gamut of topics, nobody was talking about trans and gender nonconforming kids, particularly, gender nonconforming boys.
Sure, we all understood concepts like “tomboys.” But the problem was a double standard; the problem was that there was no socially acceptable acknowledgment of boys who were feminine. That was considered taboo.
I don’t just mean “feminine” in the sense of activity preference, or, of mannerisms, or personality traits, but rather, feminine in a more stereotypical, broader sense. Meaning, boys who are inherently feminine, all the time, in every possible way (and it’s not about sexual orientation).
Not only was there no socially acceptable acknowledgment of these boys, there wasn’t even a polite word for describing them.
It was 2008, after all; Chaz Bono had only just begun his public transition, and Caitlyn Jenner wouldn’t officially come out for another 7 years. Of course, we’d just learned of young Jazz Jennings — but she was seen as an anomaly, especially, for having been so public, so young. At the time, trans kids were thought to be enigmas, significant deviations from the norm.
This turned out to be a vast miscalculation on society’s part, and, an unfortunate assumption. Stories like Leelah Alcorn’s, and especially, the stories of black trans women remind us of that. Despite the lack of tangible resources back then for parents like me, there was one thing that 2008 had in abundance: blogs.
Tons of them.
Though online discourse was rapidly migrating over to Facebook walls, or 140-character tweets, blogs still proved to be relevant. They provided deeper insights and more heft than social media platforms seemed to offer. Blogs weren’t simply echo chambers; they encouraged you to be introspective. And, through compelling stories told well, they perhaps even encouraged us to develop more empathy for the misunderstood.
Blogs also provided something for everyone, from the mundane chronicles of suburban mom life, to the deep, political analyses of prominent, influential figures. Perhaps most importantly, many blogs supplied niche content that managed to connect an oasis of otherwise isolated people, at a time when social media was not yet prepared to handle such a task.
This was how I found Lori Duron and her blog, Raising My Rainbow.
During some of those fitful times when I was a parent feeling torn between conventional wisdom and forging new territory with my feminine young boy, I frequently scoured the internet for blogs — surely there were other parents in America raising the same type of child.
When my youngest was born, I’d already birthed son and daughter, and figured I understood parenting from every angle. But I found myself in very unfamiliar territory with my third child, and I wanted to do this parenting thing right, or, at least, without too much collateral damage. In searchinig online, I hoped to find material that might speak to me or impart some kind of profound wisdom.
In the southern, conservative, small, “Christian” town where we lived in ‘08, conventional wisdom advised “survival” at all costs. It translated to advice like: “whip it out of him; teach him how to be a man; don’t let him be bully bait.” But my husband and I couldn’t get anyone to understand, let alone, accept, that femininity was hard-wired, woven into the very fabric of this assigned-male child. And we could see that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the way our child was built.
I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to break their young, innocent child’s spirit in attempts to “make him a man.” I couldn’t ever justify injecting a child with a dose of shame and guilt simply for being one’s self — which would ultimately metastasize into a lifetime of shame and guilt — just so that others could feel more comfortable in the child’s presence.
Turns out, I vastly miscalculated the amount of bigotry that breeds and thrives within small, conservative, “Christian” towns. Not only did people seem to think there was something very wrong with us allowing our child to express authentically, they also questioned our motives, both to our faces and behind our backs.
By the time our child was nearing the age for public school kindergarten, being pressured to explain things became a regular occurrence. Why was our little boy allowed to wear princess dress up costumes outside the confines of our home? One woman at church was fond of repeatedly asking me, whenever my husband wasn’t around, “How does Matt really feel about this?” Another church lady felt a need to constantly assure me, “Don’t worry; he’ll grow out of this phase.” Had I looked worried?
Our neighbors across the street (also fellow church-going “Christians”) had kids around the same ages as our older two, and they’d all frequently play together. I’ll never forget the day my three kids left to go to their house, and almost immediately, my oldest came back saying those kids had just announced, “My parents said you and your little sister can stay and play, but your little brother isn’t allowed over here anymore.”
This was made worse by the fact that this happened on the heels of a conversation I’d just had (in church) with these boys’ father, where the topic of “gay people” came up, and he proudly proclaimed that he’d kick his boys out, “if one of them ever came home announcing they were gay.” I remember challenging him on that, asking if he thought that was honestly showing unconditional love. He doubled-down, alleging that “being gay is a sin. The bible makes that clear. I can’t tolerate it. Some things are not worthy of acceptance.”
On other occasions, I’d be approached in public by complete strangers who said things, in front of my child, like, “that boy’s gonna get himself hurt one day lookin’ like that,” and “y’all need to nip that in the bud, make him tone it down a little.” I was told stories of other parents I knew from around town, who also had “feminine” boys, only, these parents had taken measures like hauling the older sister’s used ballet costumes to the dumpster, so their young son “wouldn’t be tempted to wear them ever again.”
It was right around this time when my husband and I had a long talk about the need to move out of this small conservative town. Which was unfortunate, because we’d been there for thirteen years. We loved our house, which was built by my father in the 1960’s, and we loved living in the country with a large yard. The quietness of no traffic, and the freedom to let our kids play in the street and our pets roam, safely, without fear, was just icing on the cake. But it wasn’t worth the intolerance it looked like we’d be forever facing simply for accepting and embracing our child.
Raising a family in this climate, which also purported to be a community of “loving Christians” certainly did nothing to help my faith in organized religion. Finding the Raising My Rainbow blog gave me hope, and I took comfort in reading Lori’s posts about raising her “gender creative” son.
Though she was across the country, in a much more liberal, LGBTQ-friendly city, her experiences with ignorant mindsets virtually mirrored mine. Her son and mine were close in age and seemed like they could be soul mates. Her child identified as “gender creative,” meaning he didn’t conform to traditional or stereotypical gender norms for his sex assigned at birth. I hated she dealt with the same type of bigotry we did, but reading her journey from across the country helped me feel a lot less alone on this journey.
Over the years, my child rejected this assigned male gender role, expressing more and more feminine, and growing less and less comfortable as a boy. Meanwhile, I still followed the Duron family’s blog, watching as they became more active and prominent in the LGBTQ community. Their child had embraced being a gender creative boy, while ours had tried that label on for a couple of years, but eventually rejected “boy” altogether, socially transitioning throughout 5th grade.
Though our kids’ gender journeys ended up looking a little different, we’ve always seemed to experience the same battles as their family, often, in what felt like real time.
We’d been in our current home and city for ten years without the type of bigotry we faced in the small town. We even found a local church (out of several) that welcomed the LGBTQ community.
It was around this time last year, when I noticed a Facebook ad for Primary.com, a baby and kids clothing company that claimed to offer “better basics without logos, slogans & sequins.”
The company had made a heartfelt post on Facebook, saying they were proud to call the Duron’s son, CJ, and his family their friends. Below it was a sweet picture of CJ, all dressed up for Pride (for which he was Grand Marshal that year). It made me smile silly when I saw him rocking out a rainbow array of apparel:
But. Lo and behold, a pang of leftover PTSD hit me. Reading the first comment below this Facebook post slapped the smile right off my face. It was from a self-professed Christian. Because, of course it was.
It took me right back to conservative, small-town, “Christian” America. I knew this language. I was entrenched in it for 13 years.
I took screenshots of the whole thing, planning to dissect the anatomy of a so-called Christian Facebook post. I guess I was too tired then. But here it is, now, in all its narrow-minded glory, because I think this level of bigotry needs to be called out every time.
Dissecting a Typical “Christian” Facebook Post
I might not have been bothered by “Christian Woman’s” claim that “we’re all entitled to our opinions,” had she not just called the fabric of this child a “lifestyle,” and claimed it was “pushed” on him.
Next, there followed a whole wide range of comments, mostly, not in “Christian” Woman’s favor. Which was a relief to see. There were amusing and witty one-liners:
There were hilarious memes:
There were astute observations and pledges of new loyal customers:
Wow. This was kind of a nice change from the “Christians” of late who posess a persecution complex and seem to hijack various social media threads. There were even cautions about the ramifications of religious bigotry:
There it was. The lone, almighty “Good Samaritan,” just trying her damn best to help a fellow sister out. I mean, maybe she’s secretly BFFs with “Christian” Woman and this was just for show. But I kind of believe she’s the random casual observer that she portrays here, one who felt united in the shared persecution complex that so many of today’s “Fox News Christians” seem to be plagued with. (It’s a two-parter):
And this is exactly what’s wrong with “Christianity” today.
Just to recap:
- A harmless Facebook post was made by a company, praising & applauding a family who shares the same values as their company.
Imagine. A company that’s passionate about kids. Giving praise to a gender creative child. Who is very much a part of the LGBTQ community. Who is teased and bullied at school just for being his authentic self and refusing to live in the closet — whether or not that has anything to do now, or later, with his sexual orientation is no one’s business; not to mention, gender identity and gender expression have nothing to do with sexual orientation in the first place (but that’s a story for another day).
Oh, and, just a reminder here, that the company posted this whole thing to social media during Pride month. And they posted it on their own company page.
- “Christian” Woman drops in and feels the need to leave her 2 cents. Which is her prerogative, and her constitutional right, for sure. But. This is a public forum. Where she is out in the open, and thus, exposed to those who are willing to call her out for this nonsense — which is exactly what it is: nonsense wrapped in bigotry, parading around falsely as “Christianity.
But also, what’s happened here in the span of roughly a paragraph, is that she also:
- managed to undermine Christianity,
- attempted to intimidate a large company by saying “you’ll no longer get my business” (as if they need it),
- disparaged some very good parenting (a.k.a. having unconditional love for one’s child — meaning, exactly as he is, not how his parents thought he would or expected he should be) as being “sad”
- used ignorant, homophobic speech by defining a whole community of people as a “lifestyle,” and proclaimed that loving & supporting such kid is “pushing” said “lifestyle” on them (that whole “gay agenda” thing, y’know?)
- attempted to gaslight everyone reading by stating, “nowhere in my post did I say anything about hate” (but she implied it. If it walks like a duck and acts like a duck…guess what?), and then,
- claimed it’s not “hate” that she’s displaying, but rather “disagreement.” (To be really clear, she disagrees with how someone was born).
Another “Christian” Woman jumps in to say a lot more of the same, but ramps it up a notch. As I previously mentioned, I know the language, so allow me to interpret:
“Unlike the rest of these comments”
(I walk on higher moral ground than everyone else here, because I’m going to next say…)
“thank you, “Christian” Woman, for making a stand for what you believe in and for truth.”
(Logical fallacy. If it’s her opinion, as she clearly stated it was — see above — then it can’t be “truth.” Opinions are not facts, and facts are not opinions.)
“Doing so is not hateful”
(except, oh… you know… the entire LGBTQ and TGNC communities — but hey, who’s counting, right?)
“Not accepting what is wrong is not hateful”
(actually, it is. Because it’s not for the Christian — or anyone else — to determine that the way another person is born is inherently wrong, and furthermore, insinuating as much is indeed hateful).
“Love the sinner without loving the sin.”
(Ah, that overused, stale, Christian cliche. I knew it’d show up somewhere. So, I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and bet she doesn’t apply that same principle to, say, child abusers, rapists, and murderers. In fact, I’ll bet you she not only calls herself pro-life — which actually means pro-birth — but also, is pro-death penalty for, you know, child abusers, rapists, and murderers.)
“I pray this sweet boy finds Christ one day!”
(Um… 1. how does she know that he hasn’t already, and 2. furthermore, what if he’s Jewish? Or Buddhist? Or Athiest? Or otherwise straight with God? It’s not for her to judge that of him. Only Christ can see the heart.)
“I share your opinion and will not be supporting the company either”
(Busted! She just stated it’s an “opinion,” so there’s no way it can also be “truth.” Also? I kinda doubt she was supporting the company anyway. Just sounds like more empty intimidation: “Well, no, I haven’t actually bought anything from them… but… but… I totally would have, if they weren’t pushing the GAY AGENDA!”)
“I usually stay out of these sorts of things on Facebook”
(This strikes me as perhaps false. I mean, it certainly doesn’t sound like this is her first rodeo)
“but you had so many people getting on you for being “hateful” yet they were being hateful to you”
(again, “Christian” Woman came to the company’s page and dropped the first bomb. She’s not an innocent bystander here.)
“Thought you could use a friend and some positivity ;) God is Good! And to anyone else who reads this and disagrees, save your breath. I won’t be responding to your comments. I’m simply standing with a sister in Christ. God bless.”
I decided to respond back to her. My response was this:
Dear Another “Christian” Woman, I know you said you’re not responding, so just food for thought; no response necessary:
I am a lifelong Christian. I was raised Presbyterian, briefly, and then southern Baptist, so I know the Bible well. Have also studied Biblical history, examining it from the historical context in which it was written. I’ve had near death experiences which have only made my faith stronger.
I don’t do organized religion anymore. I moved beyond that when I realized there are no denominations in Heaven. And sadly, most self-professed denominational Christians have gotten the Bible wrong, and more importantly, they’ve gotten the message of Jesus Christ wrong.
I know all the counter-arguments, how Baptists preach that we are supposed to hold our brothers and sisters “accountable,” that we are supposed to “approach them in love” to “call out sin,” that the Bible is the “infallible word of God” meant to be taken literally, etc., etc., etc.
The very thing that most Christians today fail to realize is that, if they are to abide by the infallible word of God, as God’s inspired message passed through and written down by men, as it’s presented in the Bible (which is really more like an anthology of books, by many authors — many of which were written by women but thrown out by the male patriarchy of the early church), then they must use that same blind obedience and apply it to the whole Bible.
To that end, have you given up all of your worldly possessions to follow Christ? Have you followed the Old Testament, which laid out all the rules (such as, you are not to plant different crops next to one another, nor eat shellfish, and we should stone women to death for various offenses, to name a few)? Have you followed all of those rules, which Jesus Himself said He was not coming to abolish, but to fulfill?
I know the answer to that. The standard answer. That Jesus did fulfill all of that when He paid the ultimate price by giving His life for all our sins.
But He also said the greatest commandment was love. That love was THE most important, above everything else. More important than judging others, more important than prayer, more important than clanging like cymbals, proclaiming empty, overused phrases like “God is Good!” and “I’m praying for you.”
“Hate the sin love the sinner” does not even mean what you think it does. For that matter neither does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all of the other verses and parables that Christians have cherry picked to fit a false narrative that LGBTQ+ people are committing a sin (just for being born wired the way they are).
Here’s another example: Christians who use the Bible verse “spare the rod and spoil the child” to justify spanking their kids. They are completely blind to the fact that when these Biblical stories were written, the rod was used by shepherds as a tool to gently lead and guide their sheep, not to beat them with it.
Did you know that less than 1% of the entire Bible says anything at all about homosexuality, which actually wasn’t even a word or a concept when those books were written? So obviously, it wasn’t too high on God’s priority list.
The Bible says absolutely nothing against gay adults in a loving, consensual relationship. But, it does speak to the crime of gang rape. Likewise, nowhere in the Bible does it say that being born transgender, gender creative, gender nonconforming, or intersex, for example, are sins. There are references in the Bible to people who were “made eunuchs” and “born eunuchs,” which may be the Bible’s most solid evidence affirming that LGBTQ+ people are born that way.
I appreciate that you want to help a sister out, but if you really wanna go there, you should go all in. Know that your willful ignorance is a sin. Your judgment of what is “wrong” vs. right is a sin. “Making a stand for what you believe in and truth,” when it goes against God being the ultimate authority in discernment, is a sin. Assuming that this sweet boy hasn’t found Christ is a judgment, and therefore, a sin.
I will pray for you, “Christian” Woman, and for you, Another “Christian” Woman, that God will open your eyes and your ears and your hearts, to receive the message and understand that there is a place where scientific evidence, historical facts, and faith can all commingle. That using religion to justify bigotry is intolerable. Especially intolerable is using that religion to pretend that you love someone when you still hate integral parts of them, and when you use those parts to discriminate against an already misunderstood, marginalized community of people. That’s not the unconditional love of Christ at all.
If Jesus Christ were to step foot on American soil today, he would absolutely be hanging out among the LGBTQ+ community, and every other marginalized or minority group who has been unjustly persecuted in this world.
I’m simply standing firm as a child of God, a Christian, and the parent of a transgender child who was born that way. God bless.
I will freely admit, I’m definitely a liberal snowflake who is easily triggered by religious bigots who live in willful ignorance, especially when it’s 2019 — Google that sh*t! — and, I’m definitely someone who’s easily triggered by those who discriminate against my kid and every other person in the LGBTQ+ community.
And you know what? God bless all those whom the so-called “Christians” would fail to recognize as “the least of these,” for they are truly the most marginalized communities in 2019 America. Like, immigrants hoping for a better life, and black trans women, who are disproportionately and unjustly murdered in vicious, violent ways, just for trying to survive.
These are the very people who are dire need of the type of unconditional love that comes from the real Jesus — not from the ‘clanging cymbals’ who condemn everything they’re ignorant of.