For LGBTQ People Christian Schools Can Be Traumatizing — My Latest for Rewire

When Morgan Stringer first started attending French Camp Academy, a Christian boarding school in French Camp, Mississippi, during her sophomore year of high school, she instantly found a group of friends. That summer, however, two of her friends were expelled for “homosexual activity.”

“A bunch of girls were kicked out for ‘lesbian activity’ my junior year as well,” she tells Religion Dispatches. “May have been senior year.”

It didn’t help that Stringer started realizing she was bisexual around the same time, although she told herself at the time she merely “admired” women’s appearances. “I think it was a coping mechanism for me to view myself as that,” she tells RD, “because if I was out or ‘acted’ on it, then I could be sent to a place much worse, [like] conversion therapy or an even stricter school.”

Read the rest here.

My Life as a Failed Jedi — Latest for Splice Today

While other kids played basketball after school, I was saving the galaxy from the Dark Side. Every day, I counted the hours until school let out so I could rush home, pop in a worn-out Star Wars tape, and explore space with my friends Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. By day I learned about history and math, but Yoda taught me the mysteries of the Force at night. My classmates wanted to be policemen, doctors, and basketball players when they grew up. I wanted to be a Jedi Knight.

My mom signed me up for countless clubs and activities throughout elementary school: 4-H, Junior Rangers, and an annual “summer enrichment program” that was basically summer school with field trips. None of this could make me forget my true calling as a Jedi Knight. How could mom not know about the eminent threat of Darth Vader? Plus in space no one calls you homophobic slurs.

Read the rest here.

With Friends of Bill — My Latest for Splice Today

I went to AA back in October because an addiction specialist doctor, whom I’ll call Dr. James, told me to. Previously I vowed to avoid AA and only do SMART Recovery because 1) SMART Recovery is science-based and 2) there’s no need for a supernatural higher power in SMART. Back in September, however, I had another binge drinking relapse, and my therapist said Dr. James would help me get stronger. In some ways he has; he put me on some new meds that work a lot better than previous ones. However, Dr. James insists that the Twelve Step approach is the most effective way to maintain sobriety, even though I told him I was in SMART Recovery. Finally worn down, I starting attending the first daily AA group I could find that met at a reasonable time.

I got more out of being among fellow recovering alcoholics than from the steps. The first step itself is easy enough; no problem admitting that I can’t stop drinking once I start. From there, though, the Steps get dodgy: turn everything over to God, write down all your moral flaws, confess your sins, and ask God to make you a better person. As an ex-Christian, the Twelve Steps sounds like a watered-down Gospel of Jesus.

Read the rest here.

I’m Sick Of Debating My Humanity As A Trans Person — My latest on Medium

I wrote this a couple of months ago so some things are a little out-of-date. The overall message, however, remains the same.

When I came out as a non-binary trans person in 2014, I knew I had a lot of explaining to do. I didn’t mind, though; in fact, I immediately started speaking out about the subject as soon as I finally embraced my gender identity. Since then I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to explain what it means to be non-binary and trans in such outlets as Everyday FeminismSplice TodayRewire.News, and the 2017 American Humanist Association conference. Other than the occasional troll sliding into my Twitter mentions just to say, “You’re a dude in a dress,” I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from both cis people who have since come to understand more about trans and non-binary issues, and fellow trans and non-binary people who appreciate me saying the things they’re too afraid to say.

Lately, however, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s all worth it. No matter how many articles I write or talks that I do or podcasts I’ve been on, transphobia is still the best seller in the marketplace of ideas. On the right are traditional conservatives like Ben Shapiro who argue that trans women are still men because of chromosomes. On the left are radical feminists (or radfems for short) like Meghan Murphy who not only echo Shapiro’s talking point, but also think trans women are men trying to infiltrate women-only spaces in order to assault women. In the center are members of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web — the Popular Kids’ Lunch Table of public intellectuals — who are more concerned about Murphy’s recent Twitter ban than her hateful rhetoric, who think trans activism is inherently homophobic (which doesn’t make any sense), and who spread lies and misinformation about gender-affirming therapy. If there’s one thing that unites people from all four corners of the political compass, it’s hatred of trans people.

Read the rest here.

We Can’t Separate Identity From Politics — My Latest on Medium

Countless moderate liberals have called upon the Democratic party to ditch “identity politics” in the wake of Trump. “We need a post-identity liberalism,” Columbia University professor Mark Lilla wrote back in 2016. “Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them.” According to Lilla, Audre Lorde’s message of recognizing and celebrating our differences is detrimental to American politics, so instead of focusing on issues that uniquely affect different groups of people, liberals need to unite on issues that affect all Americans.

Unfortunately, to quote Lorde again, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” In other words, there is no way to separate identity from politics. Every political issue affects different groups in different ways, so in a way all politics are identity politics.

Read the rest here.

The Red and the Black — My Latest for Splice Today

It was only a matter of time before cops would kill an unarmed black person here in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. On September 15, 2018, a Greensboro, MD police officer killed 19-year-old Anton Black after chasing the young man for allegedly trying to abduct a 12-year-old boy (even though Black and the 12-year-old were related and there was no abduction attempt). The officer tazed Black, pinned him to the ground, and Black became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at Easton Memorial Hospital moments later.

Since then, Black’s friends and family have demanded answers from the Greensboro Police Department. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun have written about it. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spoke last week to demand answers. A video of the incident between Black and the police officer was recently released, and Black’s family currently wants the Department of Justice to conduct a civil rights investigation.

Meanwhile it’s quiet on the Eastern Shore. The local newspaper has covered the story numerous times, but flip open to the editorial page and not a peep. No Eastern Shore citizens demanding answers, other than the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black. No editorials from the Star Democrat staff. Once again, Eastern Shore residents cover their eyes.

Read the rest here.