More hate mail arrived last week. Not volumes of it, but enough to force me to scan my inbox for unfamiliar names. When the negative mail increases, I usually go online to see what is happening. A few weeks ago, it was a controversy about my book being on display in a Mississippi library. This past week it was a right-wing media article.
I spoke on International Women’s Day to the employees of the Owens Corning Company. I loved my interaction with the people who set up the virtual event. I thoroughly enjoyed crafting and presenting my keynote. As usual, I left 25 minutes for questions and answers. The talk was not recorded.
During the Q&A I answered one question by mentioning the source of much of the opposition to the civil rights of transgender children. I said that contrary to popular opinion, according to an NPR/Marist poll, the opposition to trans kids is not coming from Trump voters, 61 percent of whom believe transgender people should have the same civil rights as others. Some of the greatest opposition is coming from evangelicals. A Pew Research Center study found that 84 percent of white evangelicals believe gender is immutably determined at birth. Over 60 percent believe society has gone too far in accommodating transgender people, yet only 25 percent know someone who is out as a transgender person.
A few days after my time at Owens Corning, I was greeted by a headline in a right-wing media source that reflected negatively on Owens Corning and misstated my comments. Apparently, a company employee or someone connected to an employee had taken issue with what I said and instead of reaching out to me, reported it inaccurately to a news outlet.
I am accustomed to being attacked by the right-wing media. But I hated that a company brave and bold enough to invite me to speak on gender inequity was also attacked. The attack was unfair to the Owens Corning Company and its employees.
I know what I said in my talk last Tuesday. I know the vulnerability and heart I showed in that presentation. I saw the supportive comments pouring in from employees. I know what those who put together the conference said after I finished. I am profoundly disappointed that a single person could choose to take such a wonderful experience and turn it into a right-wing news story. Since 2016, that has happened more and more frequently. But the biggest problem is not the occasional attacks targeting people like me. The biggest problem is the attacks on our children.
I have been doing an increasing number of interviews about the awful anti-transgender laws in Texas, and the equally offensive laws passed in other states and pending in scores more. Virtually all these laws target transgender children, their parents, and healthcare providers. The good people at Owens Corning will be fine. So will I. We have the resources to dismiss spurious attacks without losing much sleep. But the children and their families? I am really concerned about them.
We already have families who have reached out to Left Hand Church, telling us they are leaving conservative states and moving to Colorado, where they can be a part of a society that supports transgender children and their families. We welcome them at Left Hand, where we show them support and love.
Transgender families in Texas are in danger. Vulnerable children are at great risk. Trans kids already have a suicide rate 13 times higher than their peers. My heart aches for these children, their families, and their medical providers.
The parents of these transgender children, desperate to nurture and protect their loved ones, are beside themselves. This past week I talked with one mother for over an hour. I don’t know that I brought her the tiniest bit of comfort, other than providing a listening ear. After the conversation I said aloud in my living room, “My God people, have a heart.” I spent most of my life among evangelicals. I cannot believe that they are willing to attack vulnerable families and courageous healthcare providers just so they can win the culture wars. But as Scott Peck said a few decades ago, “Ninety-nine percent of the evil done in the world is done by people who are 100 percent convinced they are right.”
Who decided transgender people should be on the front lines of this ridiculous culture war? We are only .58 percent of the population, about one in every 200 people. None of us chose to be transgender. Who decided we should be attacked just for being who we are, and then decided that it wasn’t trans adults they should attack, but trans children and their parents? And who decided that healthcare providers who have studied diligently and worked tirelessly to keep us alive should be vilified and even prosecuted simply for ameliorating our suffering in the world?
I am frightened. Given what is happening in Texas and other states, it appears I should be frightened. I am grateful for companies like Owens Corning, that welcome me into their space to talk about gender inequity and transgender rights. It is a reminder that the majority of Americans are supportive of our community.
My plea to evangelical Christians opposed to transgender rights is simple. For God’s sake, have a heart. Children are dying.
And so it tragically goes.
13 thoughts on “This Is Frightening”
Amen, sister!! Those 2 lines ring SO TRUE for all of us (or very nearly all) who have every been fortunate to hear you & see you, Paula!
t sounds like the kind of positive-energy-dominated setting in which someone feeling alienated / threatened / angry often will find it quite challenging to put together a calm, collected, adult, socially appropriate expression of disagreement or concern.
We all know what it’s like to some degree when we find ourselves apparently singularly out-of-tune with what seems to be a cohesive shiny-happy group vibe, one that might not receive our difference well if we risk forthrightly offering it. (Despite your skillful, responsible approach as a leader / facilitator.)
The classic easy-lazy alternative to mustering courage when outnumbered is, as you know way better than I, to GO LOW.
Sneaking off to weaponize a seriously distorted and mean-spirited caricature of what you shared that day is so pathetic and seriously hurtful, to you and to the people whose lives that toxic sneak-attack is meant to further constrict & oppress.
You do what you do in such a smart, brave, grounded, and heartfelt way, Paula!
It must be so painful, and often frightening indeed, to get hit yet again with such nasty, narrow negativity.
May God bless you, hold you, and continue to strengthen you in your courage for tomorrow!
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Hmmm . . quotations apparently got deleted somehow. I don’t see an Edit button.
At the very top of my comment should be:
“I know what I said in my talk last Tuesday. I know the vulnerability and heart I showed in that presentation.”
Then in the space after the “Amen, sister!!” lines the next one should be:
“I saw the supportive comments pouring in from employees. I know what those who put together the conference said after I finished.”
Yeah, I don’t know how to fix that, Barry. You’re not the first one that has happened to. Thanks for your words, and for the clarification here.
Thank you for your good work! You speak truth to power. So glad for the companies who do care. So sad the good people of the evangelical world are willing to sacrifice their children, our children; truly a sad reflection on their voice.
American evenagelicals are usually the least Christian of all. Most have not read the Bible and if they have, they twist the words to reflect their own twisted sense of reality. Jesus never meant what these people claim. Actually if Jesus came back today, He would be treated as less than hum and would be deported. He did not speak English, He spoke Hebrew. He had long hair and wore robes, some may say He wore a dress. He spent time with the weak, the poor, the prostitutes, and the outcast…all people evangelicals detest. Why? Because these people cannot line evangelicals pockets with money. Evengelicals worship the “golden calf”.
Thank you for speaking the truth in Love so bravely and humbly.
Never in a million years would I have ever believed the steps backwards this country has taken these last few years when it comes to the LGBT communities, their rights and respect. We had been slowing progressing, understanding everyone is human and should be treated with respect and dignity. These insane laws and disrespect to our fellow humans is sad and horrifying. There is so much other hate and hurt in this world one could focus on, just look at Putin or Saudi Prince who just killed 81 people while at the same time saying he would change justice in his country. Everyone, love, is love, is love, is love.
well put. so sorry this craziness, so fear driven, is happening. And these same evangelicals are all “right to life”, but of course, its not about lives but control. Hard to not hate in the face of hate.
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I admire your bravery. I know that it’s hard to get knocked down seven times and stand up eight, but you have a community behind you, people who will lend you a hand–figuratively, literally–as we are going through what Brene Brown calls “The Biggest Sort of All”, the drive in spaces both on- and off-line to find people who believe what you believe and shut out any dissenting opinion.
Sometimes those opinions end up as Nazi-level legislation in a state that is becoming increasingly polarized for those who live within it.
Sometimes those opinions make us take stock of the world around us and choose to give a hand to someone who has fallen.
On my drive to work today, I realized that, as someone who survived a very dysfunctional family (and helped turn it into a very loving, very functional family), many in the Evangelical community talk about God in a way that actually makes God dysfunctional, which means the Church is also in a dysfunctional relationship with essentially a False God. It’s insanity. It frightens me, how endemic it’s become to stray from the idea of loving our neighbor and making the choices to honor God with how we love our neighbors to this self-righteous buffoonery that is putting lives in danger because people decided that God’s whole idea of justice actually means hatred.
Take my hand, Paula. These are tough, horrible, difficult times. I work in education. I have two transgender students on my caseload. I know of two more. I want to be a light in their lives, and yours.
As with all things, the only way out is through, and the only way through is to gather together in every space we have–virtual, in person–and hold hands as we combat bigotry, hatred, and this idea of a god who is not at all like our risen Savior.
We’ve got you.
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This is just so bad for the children, I have LGBT. Here is recent info about Texas and Idaho. I live in WA State (next to Idaho). https://www.yakimaherald.com/opinion/column-idaho-texas-show-that-red-state-attacks-on-transgender-residents-are-getting-more-unhinge/article_b30a8541-b13c-5863-99f2-a2ecc9d8e5f9.html
If you can’t access it let me know and I can send you a copy of it (email or post it here).
..meant to say LGBTQ friends. ….
Hey Paula…don’t know if this is the place to put this comment but wanted to let you know I am really enjoying your book. I ordered it through Audible and love that it’s in your voice. I have to tell you, though, I cried through the first 5 chapters. Your wedding and marriage really touched me. Such innocent times when you and Cathy got married. Such a pure love that you and she shared. You know that I’m now not ever going to hear that Carpenters song again without thinking of you two. Anyway…don’t know if you have a place where you discuss your book and welcome others to do so but I just wanted to let you know I’m really enjoying it. I’m on chapter 19. ♥
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Thank you so much! I shared your words with Cathy.
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