Let’s talk about Pray Away…

“I was asked ‘What do you think about the blood on your hands?’ Right now all I know is I’m afraid to look down at my hands.” Randy Thomas, former executive vice president of Exodus International.

I heard a story on the Today show on Sunday that caught my ear. It was part of their “Life Well Lived” series and it was about an extraordinary athlete named Joan Joyce. You can watch the story here. Some of the highlights of her career are that she started as a fast pitch softball player when she was just a teenager. During some exhibition games during her 19 year career in softball, she struck out greats like Ted Williams and Hank Aaron. She was also an amazing volleyball player, basketball player, and even a good bowler. She tried her hand at golf and discovered that she was really good at that as well and set records in the LPGA tour. She is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Simply amazing. Most athletes excel in one area, but she seemed to be good at whatever she tried.

Some people are just born with natural talent. That’s not to say that they don’t have to work at it, but they can make it look effortless. My daughter is a natural born artist. She has been creating since she was able to hold a crayon in her hand. And she doesn’t just draw…she can paint, sculpt with clay, make jewelry, photography, etc. When she was in kindergarten, they were allowed to play with soft moldable clay called model magic. Sort of like playdough, but doesn’t get crumbly when it dries out. Everyone else had to put their creations back in the container when they were done, but her teacher always let her take her creations home because she didn’t have the heart to destroy them (smile).

Where my son excels without seemingly any effort is music. He took piano lessons when he was very young for a short time. He took lessons again as a teenager…again for a short time and he far exceeded me when I took lessons for years. I have to really work at learning the songs. He can hear a song and pick it up very easily. Don’t get me wrong…he has to practice, but it just seems to come naturally to him.

Well I can say with confidence that I am neither an artist, a musician, nor an athlete (smile). If you have been following me, you have read the stories of my athletic ability…or lack of it. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I would practice catch with my dad, shoot hoops with friends after school, play kickball with neighborhood friends…as hard as I tried…I just wasn’t any good. I absolutely hated gym class in middle school…especially when we had to play baseball or kickball. There were many times that it was just absolutely humiliating.

As humiliating as it may have been, you know what I didn’t have to worry about? I didn’t have to worry that I would be called evil or disgusting for not being a good athlete. I didn’t have to worry about being called an abomination. I didn’t have to worry about my parents disowning me because I wasn’t a good athlete. I didn’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe learning how to be a better athlete to be accepted.

Last summer Netflix premiered the documentary Pray Away. This is the description: Five evangelicals in the 1970s break away and form Exodus International, a group that claims that gay people can become straight through prayer and conversion therapy. It is still available on Netflix if you didn’t get a chance to see it.

If you have been a follower of my blog, you might remember that when my son came out we were referred to Exodus International. My husband talked with someone from the organization for several hours on the phone. I hate to fly, but I was willing to do anything and go anywhere to help my son. I’ve said it before and I will shout it from the mountain tops THANK GOODNESS we didn’t follow that path. Something in our spirits stopped us.

I am so glad that we didn’t put our son through that. I do wish, however, that at the time I would have had the Christian resources that are available today. The only thing that I could find was information from places like Exodus which means that the only thing I was exposed to was along the lines of conversion therapy. Pray enough, be disciplined enough, deny yourself enough and you won’t be gay any longer. So although we didn’t put our son through it physically I was sharing what I was finding because it seemed hopeful. I mean…they were saying that they changed. I wanted my son to have a life where he didn’t have to worry about being discriminated against…or worse.

Watching the Pray Away documentary was harder than I thought it would be. I had watched the movie Boy Erased and although that was hard to watch, it didn’t bring stuff up for me like this documentary. I thought I had dealt with all of that, but this proved to me that I had not. I had a lot of processing to do afterwards. In fact…I watched it 3 times and it took weeks for me to work through my feelings. I am in no way comparing my journey to the journey of a LGBTQ+ person who has been through conversion therapy. There is no comparison. None. I’m sharing because I have been asked what I thought of the documentary. I’m not going to go into great detail because honestly I would like you to watch it for yourselves (only if you personally have not been through conversion therapy).

What does a parent do when they find out their child is gay? Well 14 years ago, if you were a Christian, the first thing was to not dare tell a soul. Then you google how to help your kid because you feel like you can’t go anywhere else. And this is what the internet tells you (when you only seek out Christian advice – I will say that 14 years later there is much more helpful Christian information out there which you can find on my resource page): Being gay is caused by trauma as a child whether that be child abuse (physical or sexual) or inadequate or toxic parenting. If you can resolve those issues, you won’t be gay.

Well I knew my son was not abused. So…that meant that our parenting was inadequate or toxic. There are many posts on my blog that talk about the torture I put myself through trying to figure out what I or his dad did wrong. In the documentary, they show a room full of men in a classroom with the person upfront drawing a diagram of how this plays out. There are people who have gone through this type of therapy that hate their parents because they were told that their parents made them that way. These leaders had no qualifications by the way. I remember holding books in my hands with these same diagrams.

During the documentary, they showed clips of leaders from Exodus over the years on different talk shows telling how they overcame being gay. I remember back then trying to get my hands on any story of a person claiming to have changed. Stories that ended up being lies. And I shared them with my son…giving him hope that one day he wouldn’t have to hate himself (because at the time he did because of what was said about gay people). Only to later find out that these people didn’t really change. I beat myself up for a long time for doing that to my kid. Giving him hope that was false. Busse (one of the founders of Exodus) left in 1979 because he could no longer pretend that he was changing or that the people he was helping were changing. Exodus unfortunately continued to grow. The organization had weekend conferences where you could go and “learn how not be gay.” They showed a clip of one of those conferences that took place in 2009 the very year that we would have been there with our son had we gone.

What happens to people when they do everything they are told to do and they don’t change? What happens when trusted people have told you that they have changed and you can too? What happens when someone prays to exhaustion and they are the same that they were when they started? They wonder what’s wrong with them. They wonder why they aren’t changing. They have panic attacks. They attempt suicide. They feel guilt and shame because they couldn’t change.

I found Julie Rodgers story to be very compelling in the documentary. I don’t want to give it away here, but it is powerful. I had always known her to be a gay Christian that held the ‘Side B’ position. That you can be gay, but you can’t act on it. And she tried very hard to live that life. When it got to the point where she was burning her body, she knew she needed to do something different.

I personally know people that have been through these types of programs in their churches (not Exodus related). They have married people of the opposite sex because they are told to “fake it to they make it.” They are told that God will bless their decision to deny themselves and He will make them straight. It doesn’t work. They can only do it for so long and they end up hurting people that they love…they just don’t love them “that way.” I always think of Mel White who was married to his wife for about 20 years. He is the author of the book Stranger at the Gate. He was highly regarded in the Christian community. A little bit about him…

Until Christmas Eve 1991, Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Oliver North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson’s private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham. What these men didn’t know was that Mel White—evangelical minister, committed Christian, family man—was gay.

When he could no longer live the lie of being a straight man to the point of almost committing suicide, he came out…and the leaders that thought so highly of him before they found out dropped him like a hot potato. My point being that a person can pretend for a long time…but eventually it catches up with them. One person in the documentary described it as losing their soul trying to do the right thing.

Exodus closed in 2013, but the practice of conversion therapy is alive and well. It is banned in many states, but many churches are still getting away with it. It comes in many forms. Approximately 700,000 (a number from 2018) people have gone through a form of conversion therapy in the US alone. A national survey found that LGBTQ youth that experience conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.

I’m not saying that trying not to be gay is the same as trying to be a good athlete, artist, or musician. It’s not the same. I am saying that maybe you know what it’s like to want something so bad and no matter how hard you try you can’t achieve it…whatever that might be. Chances are though that it isn’t life or death for you. Why is it life or death for a gay person? Because they aren’t accepted for who they are and to feel loved we need to be fully known. If they have to hide a part of themselves…if they have to check a part of themselves at the door before they enter…if they are welcome to a family gathering, but their partner isn’t…they will never feel fully loved no matter how many times you say it.

A lot of people I know said that they weren’t going to watch the documentary. Some stated that they already knew that conversion therapy was wrong so what was the point. Some said it made them too mad to watch it. I go back to the statement from Randy Thomas that I started with…he is a gay man who hurt his own people…and because of that some of those people are no longer on this earth. I watched it for those precious souls who are no longer here and the ones who are still suffering from the abuse…to bear witness to the people who were part of the movement say they were wrong and they were sorry. I know it’s not for everyone and especially if you went through conversion therapy yourself. But if you haven’t…watch it to educate yourself because it’s still happening out there.

There’s been a lot going on so I’m late getting this out there. It was a long one so if you made it this far thanks for hanging in there with me.

Let’s let the LGBTQ+ community know that they are fully known and loved…because love matters.

A part of us…

Oh my goodness! I recently sent some VCR tapes to a company that can transfer them to something from this decade (smile). I haven’t had a VCR in years so it’s been quite some time since I’ve watched these gems. So. Many. Emotions. I’ve been watching the first one over the last couple of days (it’s four hours long). It starts with the first months of my son Kyle including his first Christmas and birthday and ends with his second Christmas at 18 months old. By that time, I had a big ole pregnant belly with my daughter. She was born in January.

It’s really cool to see who he is now in his little face as a baby and toddler. He made so many noises…and still does today actually. It’s funny to see how that hasn’t changed. And smart! That little stinker was too smart for his own good. You couldn’t get anything by him. He knew the entire alphabet by sight before his sister was born at which time he was 19 months old. It’s neat to see that on video.

Seeing my mom in some of the video was wonderful and hard all at the same time. The big grin that is on her face while she interacts with Kyle is what I envision when I think of her. Her expression is one of absolute, pure joy and it was a constant for as long as Kyle and then his sister were around. Boy do I miss her.

An emotion I hadn’t expected as I watched the video was one of great sadness. A memory came crashing back as my son’s face crossed my computer screen. I was transported to a time 13 years ago. A time when I popped this same video (and many others) into my VCR to scour the contents to see where I had screwed up. Where had I gone wrong? It brought me back to a time when I tortured my mind looking for a sign of what I had done wrong so that I could somehow fix it. I did this because I was told that it was my fault…or my husbands…that my son turned out to be gay. Christian resource after resource…story after story…made it seem that this could be fixed or changed…and somehow we had caused it. And since I was taught that it was wrong I desperately wanted to help my child. Especially because he wanted to die as a result of what he was feeling. He just wanted to feel “normal”…he wanted to be like us.

We just started a new message series at my church called “This Is Us.” If you go to our church website, underneath of our name is the question, “How will God be known In us, Among us, and Through us?” It’s what we base everything we do. In the intro for the series, our pastor talked briefly about the television show with the same title. He showed a clip from the series showing the “Big 3” which are the siblings in the family. There was some commentary from all of the different actors that play the characters at the various ages. The clip showed how they always have each others backs through all of the tough stuff. The “Big 3” are an “us”. Our pastor talked about how important it is to be a part of an “us.” In fact, we were created by an Us to be an us. We aren’t made to go through this life alone.

I’ve been watching church online and as I sat in my family room listening, the faces of the people I met the day before at a Pride event in Westminster for Free Mom Hugs came to my mind. As the event approached, I sat at my kitchen table a couple of nights and made some giveaways for my table. One of the things I made where these little clothes pin bugs that I called “love bugs.”

Love Bugs

Each color combination represents one of the Pride flags. This is just a sampling. I had some rocks with some of the other flags painted on them. On the back of each “bug”, was a message of encouragement…hence the “love” part (smile). Throughout the day, people came up to the table and they were so excited to pick one. Several times there were tears of gratitude as someone would pick up a bug that represented them. They would hold it to their chest and tell me how happy they were to see one that was made for them. When they saw the message on the back…that was just the icing on the cake.

It was plain to see how important it was to them to be seen. It was easy to see that they felt like they had a place where they belonged. They were part of an “us.” And this is what struck me as I was listening to the message at church…how many times has the LGBTQ+ tried to be an “us,” but were told they are a “them” (and I’m not referring to pronouns here).

I have friends that reach out to me when someone they know comes out to them. It could be a friend or a family member. They ask me questions like how they should talk to that person. While I genuinely appreciate that they want to do and say the right thing, I often wonder why they think it has to be any different. This is the same person that they knew before they came out. I’m not talking about questions regarding pronouns or terms…they ask me questions about everyday things that have no bearing on the person being LGBTQ+. Suddenly now that they know this information a shift happens. It becomes an “us” (straight cisgender people) vs. “them” (lgbtq+ people). I don’t even think they realize they are doing it.

Another thing people ask me is “Why are there so many letters in the acronym? Why do people feel the need to have a label?” This is really an individual thing. Some people don’t like labels and consider themselves to be queer, while others prefer to have a label. I have met some people throughout the years that explain it like this…they knew they were different, but they didn’t know what it was about them that was different. When they hear the explanation of one of the letters or labels, it finally clicks and they exclaim, “That’s me!” It’s a way for them to be seen, but I think more importantly it’s a way for them to belong to a group. They are part of an “us.”

Many of the kids and people that stopped by my table that day have been told things like:
This is just a phase.
Are you sure?
I don’t agree with your lifestyle.
You’re an abomination.

Having a place to go like Pride is a place where they can be who they are and more importantly be believed and accepted for who they are. They are part of an “us.” And I was so happy to be a part of letting them know that they were seen and loved. My hope is that there will be a time in our society where things like Pride won’t be needed. Coming out won’t be needed. There won’t be an “us” vs. “them” mentality and people will simply just be people.

In the meantime, I will keep hugging and more importantly loving…because it matters.

Love you this much…

It’s funny the quirky things that are passed down through generations of families. My grandmother sang songs to us that my mom then sang to my kids. Things like that. When we were toddlers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, would ask, “How big is Lesa (or whomever they were talking to)?” We would lift our arms way up over our heads and they would say, “Sooooo big!” Or someone would ask, “How much do you love me?” And we would stretch our little arms as wide as they could go as we said, “Thissss much!” I remember grunting trying to get my arms as far apart as I could to show how much I meant it. I think I’ve asked every toddler I’ve encountered ever since how big they are (smile), and I sang my kids the songs my grandmother and mother sang to me.

When I was in the sixth grade, our teacher had us do a special project for our parents as a gift for Christmas. She gave us each a special sheet of paper and told us to draw a picture or write something special for our parents. She explained that she would then send them to a company that would put our art onto a cup. It was a tumbler with a plastic surround that could hold the paper water tight. I carefully thought about what I would do for each of my parents and was excited that we got to make one for each of them. For my mom’s cup, I drew a colorful butterfly, and for my dad’s I drew a tiger. I then very carefully wrote on each paper, “I love you this much!” and drew little hands stretched way out. I couldn’t wait to see the finished project! I remember being so excited when our teacher told us they were ready. She handed us each our treasured gifts and we opened them with great anticipation. My excitement was soon dissipated. As I looked at each cup, the hands that I had drawn were right next to each other making it look like the tiniest space possible. I didn’t take into consideration that the paper would wrap around the cup so my outstretched hands ended up pretty much next to each other. Luckily the cup had a vertical line going down the back of it and each hand was on either side of the line. When I gave it to my mom and dad, I explained that they had to spin the cup around to see that the hands in fact were far apart.

My mom’s birthday was this week. She would have been 76 years old. When I’m having a bad day, a difficult time, or on a special occasion like my mom’s birthday, I get out a letter that she wrote to me when I was a senior in high school. I went to an all-girl Catholic high school and our senior year we went on a retreat. The moms were contacted without us knowing and asked to write us a support letter that would then be distributed to us during the retreat. I am so glad that I held onto this letter. It has given me strength over these last 35 years. These are some of the highlights…

It hasn’t been hard supporting you because you have always had a level head and after discussions you have been able to make your decisions intelligently and you’ve stuck by them come hell or high water.

You have always been so willing to do the right things.

You have always been asked to step aside (due to a family matter – my words) and you never showed any resentment. You are always eager to help in whatever way you can and you should be proud of that. It is hard enough to ask an adult to do some of the things you have been asked to do let alone a teenager.

She signed it like this (smile)…

Besides it just being my mom’s birthday, I think this has been on my mind because I’m getting Free Mom Hugs Maryland ready for Pride season. Most of the events will be happening this fall and I’m getting sign-ups and such ready for those events. As I’ve mentioned before, many of the people I meet don’t have the support of their families. There is no way, of course, that as we give out hugs at these events that we take the place of anyone’s mom. That is a hole too deep to fill. As hard as it was for me to lose my mom 26 years ago, it was death that took her away…not her disappointment, or disowning me. I can’t begin to imagine that pain and lack of support. Even though I haven’t had my mom with me for many years this letter has meant so much to me and has been her voice as I’ve faced really hard things. It breaks my heart that there are children out there that don’t have that support. So I, and the many moms who join me for these events, do our best to shower our love to the hurting. In many cases, they approach with arms stretched out wide and I engulf them in a hug that I hope not only envelopes their body, but somehow their heart as well. And over and over again each time…I imagine my hug whispering…I love you thissss much.

Because love matters…

Taking for granted…

I’m at the beach this week and oh what a difference a year makes. This time last year we were still in the beginning stages of the pandemic. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would take so long for life to start to get back to normal. We still aren’t there yet, but we are slowly getting there.

So far we have not been able to get take out at any of the restaurants here. Last year that was a breeze. In fact, some restaurants that normally don’t offer take out did last year due to restaurants not being able to be at full capacity. We like to take a break from cooking while on vacation, but this year we aren’t getting that luxury.

Reminds me of some other things that we took for granted over the last 15 months…

Like having an adequate amount of toilet paper.

Being able to buy chicken, beef, or pork at the grocery store.

Finding hand sanitizer or any kind of cleaning products.

Being able to spend time with friends and family.

Traveling.

The list goes on and on…

But there are other things that we as cisgender straight people take for granted every day even when there isn’t a pandemic.

I’ve mentioned these before…things like…

Getting served at a restaurant.

Having a bakery bake a wedding cake for your wedding.

Medical care.

Walking hand in hand with the person you love.

Maintaining your job.

This list, unfortunately, also goes on and on.

Did you know that 2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation? So far 17 anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law. More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year. Let that sink in for a minute. Imagine 250 bills being introduced to try to discriminate against you for just simply being you. Imagine the stress and anxiety that would produce and how hard it would be to live knowing that day in and day out.

This is why the Equality Act is so important. The Equality Act would provide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people with things like employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and service, federally funded programs and jury service. There is a TON of misinformation out there in order to scare people to fight against it.

When having discussions with people about this, they say to me that doctors will have to perform surgeries that they don’t agree with on transgender people and that isn’t fair. And I ask them if they would go to an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in knees to have their brain tumor removed. They of course say, “NO WAY!” Well it is the same for transgender people. They search out doctors that are well versed in hormone therapy, surgeries, etc. so there is no need to worry about doctors.

Then they will go on to say that pastors will be forced to perform weddings for same sex couples. I ask them about their wedding. Did they want everything to be perfect (well at least as perfect as possible)? I ask them if they invited people that were supportive and excited about their wedding. They of course say, “Yes!” Well the same goes for a same sex couple. If they contact a pastor, and they are against same sex weddings, they don’t say to themselves, “This is the pastor for us! We are so excited to get married by someone who thinks we are an abomination in God’s eyes!” No…instead they search out someone that is going to be supportive of their love and be willing to celebrate that with them.

It is easy to gloss by these things when they don’t involve you. People’s lives are impacted in serious ways if bills like these 250 are passed.

When I’m at the beach, I always search for heart shells (the picture is what I’ve collected so far this year). I’m just drawn to them. I guess because hearts remind me of love…and well…love matters. As you can see, each of these hearts is different with none of them being completely perfect. Kind of like our human hearts. They get battered and bruised by living life. Loving and losing people that are important to us. Hurt feelings. Mistreatment. And just every day life of living with imperfect people. We should remember that each person has been through tough things. We should strive to be a person that doesn’t further mar the hearts of those we come into contact.

A very tangible way to do that would be to help fight for the Equality Act. Let’s show the LGBTQ community that they are worthy of our time. Let’s not take for granted the liberties that we enjoy and make sure that they are available for ALL. Let’s show the LGBTQ community that they are loved.

Because love matters….

What if…

It was 3 days after my 15th birthday. My friends and I were walking around the neighborhood like we did every day after dinner. It was a hot July evening, and as usual we ended up at the little park in our neighborhood. It had a baseball field, basketball courts, and a large swing set. Getting onto those swings was a good way to cool off.

Well on this particular night we decided to play a little game. The swing set was made of metal and had a short “fence” made of the same metal material bordering three of the sides. We wanted to see who could walk on the metal bar from one side all the way to the other. It went around the swing set like a horseshoe. Several of us were on the bar at a time and one by one we tried to make our way around. As people lost their balance, they would either jump off or just let each foot land on either side of the bar. That worked just fine for everyone…well anyone that was taller than 5 foot. As I was making my way around, a guy behind me got impatient and gave me a shove. It took me completely off guard and I fell…on the bar…between my legs. My legs were too short to have each foot land on each side of the pole.

I swung my leg over the bar and limped over to one of the swings and sat down. My best friend came over and told me that she had fallen on her bike bar before and that yeah it hurts, but it eventually the pain goes away. Well I too had fallen on my bike before and this was NOTHING like what that felt like. I sat there for a few minutes and realized that I needed to go home.

Since I had walked to the park, I had to walk home. My friend joined me to make sure I made it home ok. I had to walk a couple of blocks and by the time I got to my house I was walking as if I had been riding a horse for about a week. My parents were sitting on the front porch as I approached and my poor mother was so scared she barely let me get out what had actually happened. She thought something horrific had happened…well more horrific then what actually happened. We went in the house and I described the incident. She knew I was a bit embarrassed, but she told me she had to take a look to see what was going on. She took one look and said we needed to go to the ER.

We drove to Saint Agnes Hospital and by this time I was not feeling so well. The nurse at the entrance put me in a wheelchair. She then proceeded to wheel me down a cobblestone hallway while eating a tuna sandwich (not my favorite smell at that moment). The wheelchair wobbled and shook as I tried not to scream from the pain it was inflicting. I was also trying not to toss my cookies from the sandwich she kept waving in my face as she maneuvered me down the hallway.

They got me into a room and I explained what happened. The doctor took a peek and didn’t know what to do so they called the GYN that was on duty at the time. They had mentioned doing an internal exam which at the time I had no idea what that was…thank goodness because there was NO WAY they would have been able to do that. My poor mom did not like hospitals and she was getting woozy so they had to get her smelling salts and a chair. As we were waiting for the GYN, my mom would take a smell of the salts to get her grounding and then explain what we were going to do.

“Lesa” sniff…”If I tell you to get dressed and that we are leaving, just do it even if the doctor doesn’t want you to”…sniff…”I’m not sure what they are going to want to do, but they aren’t doing an internal exam”…sniff. She was trying real hard not to pass out.

The GYN came in and examined me and agreed that an internal could not be done. By this time, my private part was swollen halfway to my knees. She told my mom to take me home and make an appointment with my mom’s GYN in a week. I was given a list of things to do like soak in a tub with Epsom salt, and the doctor specifically told me not to look at my injury. And I didn’t. I know what it felt like…I didn’t want to see what it looked like.

So I spent a week in bed waiting for my appointment. The time came and I got dressed as best I could. I couldn’t pull my shorts up to my waist because of the swelling so they just kind of hung there. I still couldn’t walk right either. They called my name and I went back while my mom waited for me. I had never been to see a GYN before so I had no idea what to expect. The nurse told me what to do and I laid on the table with a sheet covering my lower half. The doctor came in and introduced himself. He asked me what had happened and lifted the sheet to examine me. He looked, put the sheet down, and told me I was going to the hospital to have an operation. I got dressed as he went out to talk to my mom. When I got out to the waiting area, my mom was crying. I told her it was fine and that I would be ok. The doctor put me in HIS car and DROVE me to the hospital HIMSELF. My mom followed us and before I knew it I was prepped for surgery.

The GYN who had seen me the night of the accident was there and she told me not to worry. She held my hand and said she wouldn’t let them do anything to me that she wouldn’t let them do to her. Unbeknownst to me and the reason my mom was crying was because the doctor told her that I may be deformed for the rest of my life. He didn’t know what he was going to find when operating. He said they should have never sent me home that night.

Well I had surgery and it was successful. I had basically developed a large blood clot, but no internal damage had been done. They put a drain in me that stayed in for two weeks and then I was good to go. I was very popular at the hospital. I had to spend the night and had all kinds of doctors coming in to see me as they had never seen anything like my kind of injury before. What a way to end summer vacation!

I share this story with you to ask you this question…

What if…

What if they weren’t able to fix me? What if everything wasn’t ok and I did end up deformed or without my female parts?

Would I still be a girl?

I can hear you saying, “Well of course you would still be a girl!” But is that what society would consider me to be? It seems that society focuses on what private parts we have to determine whether or not we are male or female. I of course would have still been a girl because my brain is what determines that I am a girl.

There are many complexities that go into what determines our sexuality and our gender. And sometimes our brains and our bodies don’t match up. There is tons of research about this and lots of resources out there to explain how this can happen. It saddens me that people are discriminated against simply because of how they were born. Not by something they caused or choose. I have transgender friends who have been disowned by their families, and in some cases they are just tolerated. My situation was of course completely different because it was an injury. I am in no way comparing what I went through to what my friends go through. Some transgender people find it necessary for their well-being to have surgery so that their bodies match their brains while others are ok with their bodies. Each individual is different and quite frankly…it is none of our business!

I share this story with you just as food for thought. I hope that before anyone would judge someone they would take some time to research and learn. And more importantly I hope that when someone shares with you who they are….

You believe them and show them love.

Because love matters…