Following the tragedy of the death of Leelah Alcorn the response has been understandably negative towards parents of transgender children. However, this letter offers advice to Christian parents. It's well worth a read.
"Queer" is not a term that is universally recognized and understood in the common vernacular. So in honor of Pride this weekend, I attempted to present the many different sides of what being queer means. "Queer" can be used to describe someone's sexual orientation or stand as a political statement. Its definition has many dimensions, from gender identification to a resistance against structural rigidity to a strange sensation or state of being. "Queer" isn't a word that many people clearly understand when used to describe yourself. Allow me to elaborate what being queer personally means to me, as "queer" means different things to different people.
Being queer is first and foremost a state of mind. It is a worldview characterized by acceptance, through which one embraces and validates all the unique, unconventional ways that individuals express themselves, particularly with respect to gender and sexual orientation. It is about acknowledging the infinite number of complex, fluid identities that exist outside the few limited, dualistic categories considered legitimate by society. Being queer means believing that everyone has the right to be themselves and express themselves without being judged or hated because that doesn't fit in with what's normal. Being queer means challenging everything that's considered normal.
Being queer means ceasing to think in binaries like "male" or "female," "gay" or "straight," "monogamous" or "non-monogamous," because there are more than two sides to every person and every context. It means being aware of and OK with the fact that our own identities and sexualities are always in flux, never static. Being queer means recognizing that there are alternate gender identities, such as transgender or genderqueer or androgynous folks, and respecting that these identities are just as legitimate as those that are visible.
A queer worldview deconstructs and obliterates all established notions of gender. Gender is a set of socially constructed roles arbitrarily assigned to everyone based on physiological reproductive traits. Being queer means embracing supposedly "masculine" and "feminine" traits as simply universal human traits and ignoring the behavioral expectations that are socially imposed according to our non-consensually assigned gender. Genitals don't tell men that they can't wear dresses and women that they have to wait to be asked out; cultural norms dictate gendered behaviors. Being queer means doing away with gender altogether, because it restricts the ways people can freely and unlimitedly express themselves.
Being queer means being attracted to anyone, with no regard to a person's gender or sex. It could mean someone is attracted to more than one gender, or even two genders. Being queer means you like what you like and you accept that your desires are dynamic and you are open to change. Being queer means being sex-positive and recognizing that sex is good and everyone has the right to have as much or as little of it as suits them. It means thinking about sex in different ways other than the heterosexual, male-pleasure-oriented, meant-for-reproduction kind.
Being queer means constantly questioning what's considered "normal" and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. It means criticizing who sets these norms and recognizing the privilege that comes with being able to identify as "normal." Being queer means confronting all forms of oppression and bringing as many unheard, minority experiences and stories to light. Being queer means addressing and understanding the intersectionality between race, gender, sexuality and class and how it affects each person's experience and identity differently.
Being queer means searching for alternate ways of being and living. It means learning to appreciate and celebrate difference and striving for constructive, fair and happy ways to coexist with each other. Being queer means constantly looking for ways to be as inclusive as possible in order to create a world where everyone feels safe and accepted, in which there is true equality for every single person.
Being queer means embracing a free and open-ended identity by casting off all other identities that categorize us, and defining ourselves simply as human beings.
For a sassier, more explicit version, read this on nadiacho.com.
What must it be like for someone, everyday of their life, to be asking "Am I in the wrong body?"
That old American Indian proverb "Never criticise a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins" seems very apt. How can we criticise another person when we don't really understand what they are going through? Here is a story where an Army officer, serving on the front line, identifying as transgender, has amazingly bravely 'come out' and now explained their story. We salute you.
The US media are currently reporting that many States are still in favour of 'gay therapy' where those who identify as LGBT can be 'cured' of this malaise by some form of counselling. Now the NHS is instructing its practitioners that this is not to occur. The word 'normal' is occasionally used to describe the hetrosexual majority and hence the remainder can be deemed to be non-normal. How wrong this is. We are all human. Here is an article reporting the change in NHS policy.
A collaboration between a number of organisations has allowed the following tool to be produced which allows for others to receive an education in the various ways we can describe gender. Really valuable.
This article from Scotland explains how someone can wake and feel that they are either a man or a woman. Their dress may change accordingly. Moreover it makes that comment that our possible view of just 2 gender types is manifestly wrong. I wonder how that might feel? Possibly more than emotional roller coaster.
Vicky Beeching 'came out' last year and received a very mixed reaction. Here she gives her story. It does go on for some time but even the first 15 minutes will give you a greater understanding, depending upon where you start, of the struggles confronting one who identifies themselves as LGBT.
A wonderfully illuminating talk about the non-binary nature of gender. We often wish to put people into a box, labelling them conveniently. This often occurs with those who identify as LGBT. But what exactly are we doing when we do this? This video explains about how we often devalue people and make them second class citizens. It was filmed in 2012 but is still relevant today
Since the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn there has been an uprising related to preventing such a tragedy again. Reparative Therapy, the process where people can be healed from being gay, is now the focus for a petition so it can be stopped.
An article, for Christianity Today, which highlights the feeling is here. Rev Sally Hitchiner was quoted in the article as saying:
Rev Sally Hitchiner, founder and director of Diverse Church, a support network for LGBT young people in the Church, said that the use of reparative therapy is also prevalent and among the LGBT Christian community in the UK.
Whether your child has come out to you, or if you found out unintentionally, your child needs you now. Every child's worst fear is that by coming out their parents will reject them. No matter what your beliefs, fears or prejudices, you need to let your child know that you love them.
Your child is the same person he/she was before coming out of the closet. Remember, someone's sexual orientation is just one part of who they are. Your child who loved Manchester United and/or Rihanna is still the same kid you've loved since birth. Nothing about him/her has changed. You just have more knowledge about his/her life. Take this opportunity to connect as you did before you knew they were gay. Was there a favourite meal they liked or place you all liked to go? Make sure you continue to do the things, if possible, you did as a family.
Continue to show an Interest in Your Child's life. Talk to your son or daughter. If you feel comfortable asking questions about their sexual orientation, do so. But you don't need to focus on sexual orientation. Talk to them about school/work, other activities and interests. Studies show that children whose parents take an interest in their lives are less likely to engage in risky behaviour.
What You May Be Going Through
You may blame yourself for your child's homosexuality. Don't. It's not your fault. Most scientists and psychologists agree, people are born LGBT. It is not something that you could have influenced.
You may feel depressed and isolated, like you have no one you can talk to. Speak to some trusted friends, and speak with us, so we can walk alongside you on your journey.
Things will be different now than perhaps you hoped for your child. Most parents believe their children will grow up to be heterosexual, get married and have children. Letting go of that dream for your child can be hard. Remember though, that was YOUR dream. Your child may still choose to spend their life with one partner and have children. Even though your child did not choose to be gay, they may make some life choices you do not agree with. Although this may be hard for you, remember, it's their life and they have the right to live it as their own.
What Your Child is Going Through
When people come out, they often question their place in society. They wonder how they will fit in with the family. Will they still have a family? Get married, have children? How will their church or faith community accept them? Will their friends accept or reject them?
You have a choice. You can help your child feel accepted and loved, or you can add to their feelings of isolation. Make sure your child knows they still have a place in the family, no matter what the outside world tells them.
You can help your child connect with a supportive community. Many cities have support groups for gay and lesbian youth. First check the group out. Offer to drive your child to a meeting.There are many support groups on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet that you can join and contact parents in your area. STOP-Homophobia.com is just one of them.
Support your child if someone makes a disparaging remark against gays. If they are a victim of harassment or homophobia, stand by their side.
Who Can I Tell?
Who to come out to is ultimately your child's choice. Who you tell can have a consequence on their life. On the other hand, you might need to talk to someone and don't want to keep such important information to yourself. It's important that you be able to get the support that you need. Check in with your son or daughter before you tell anyone about their sexual orientation. Let them know you need to be able to talk to people to get support for yourself. REMEMBER you can always talk to support groups online, many anonymously.
If Your Religion Says Homosexuality is a Sin
Some religions call homosexuality a sin. Others are more open and accepting of gays and lesbians. The debate is still out on this topic and probably will be for a long time. If your child was raised in the same religion as you they are probably having lots of conflicting feelings. Take a look at the work of some Biblical scholars who have a different interpretation of the Bible. We believe that you can be a Christian and gay.
[Taken from http://www.stop-homophobia.com/comingout.htm]
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