Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


May I See Your ID, Please?

One of the headlines on my local morning news this morning addressed a bill that is before the Florida State Senate. It limits the use of public restrooms by transgender persons.  One legislator says that the bill is to prevent rapes, molestations, voyeurism, and other bathroom crimes.   From the Associated Press:


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Transgender women would have to use women’s public bathrooms and transgender men would have to use men’s rooms unless they have a license or passport that proves they’ve completed their transition to their new sex under a bill that passed its first committee.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved the bill Wednesday after listening to more than an hour of emotional testimony from transgender residents who oppose it and supporters who said people shouldn’t be using bathrooms designated for the opposite sex.

Republican Rep. Frank Artiles of Miami said the bill was needed to prevent rapes, molestations, voyeurism and other crimes in bathrooms.

But opponents said the bill was simply a way to discriminate against transgender people.


At the end of the news show there was a poll asking what the viewers thought of this legislation.  I took the poll just so I could see the results.  Here they are, folks:


I must say I was a little astonished at the numbers.  I expected it to be the other way around and here’s why:

Are transgendered people more likely to commit any of these crimes than cisgendered people?  How exactly is this going to curtail crime in bathroom facilities?  If a person is a pervert they will still be a pervert after their transition, won’t they?  I would venture to guess that there are more pervy cisgendered people than there are transgendered people. According to transgenderlaw.org :

An estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender (i.e., experience some degree of genderdysphoria). The number of people who identify as transsexual and undergo sex-resassignment is smaller. Recent statistics from the Netherlands indicate that about 1 in 12,000 natal males undergo sex-reassignment and about 1 in 34,000 natal females. Over time, the gap between the reportednumbers of MTF and FTM transsexuals is closing.

How will this law be enforced?  Who will police public restrooms and ask for identification?  Isn’t that a violation of privacy?  If a person is dressed as a male how would anyone know that they aren’t one?  Is everyone going to have to produce an ID to go to a public restroom in the state of Florida?  Or will you only be asked for ID if it’s suspected you might not be the gender on the door?  What happens when a effeminate man is asked for his ID upon entering the men’s room?  What happens when a masculine woman is asked for hers when she tries to go into the women’s bathroom?

I’m scratching my head and wondering what on earth people are thinking. Fear is a powerful motivator.  We are afraid of what we don’t understand.  And if you are different we are very afraid of you.  We even imagine sick and twisted things that you will do if you aren’t monitored closely.

Yes, Americans, this is the kind of asinine legislation our lawmakers are spending our tax money on.  I feel safer.  Don’t you?

I’m intrigued, though, so I’m going to have the same poll here.  I’d like to see what you all think.  Is this a stupid as I think it is, or am I being obtuse?


Here’s a link to the news story.  I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to embed the video.  http://up.anv.bz/latest/anvload.html?key=eyJtIjoiZ3JheSIsInAiOiJkZWZhdWx0IiwidiI6IjMwNzY0NjkiLCJwbHVnaW5zIjp7ImRmcCI6eyJhZFRhZ1VybCI6Imh0dHA6Ly9wdWJhZHMuZy5kb3VibGVjbGljay5uZXQvZ2FtcGFkL2Fkcz9zej02NDB4NDgwJml1PS8zMDE3MjE3MTUvV0NUViZjaXVfc3pzJmltcGw9cyZnZGZwX3JlcT0xJmFkX3J1bGU9MSZ2cG9zPXByZXJvbGwmZW52PXZwJm91dHB1dD14bWxfdmFzdDImdW52aWV3ZWRfcG9zaXRpb25fc3RhcnQ9MSZjb3JyZWxhdG9yPVt0aW1lc3RhbXBdJmNtc2lkPTc1NSZ2aWQ9QU5WX0dSVFZfMzA3NjkzOSJ9LCJhbmFseXRpY3MiOnsicGRiIjo0NDQyNDE3OX19fQ







Fear or Freedom

fear“I’ll have to call you back later.”

That’s what Tessa said last Sunday.  She never called me back, though she’s texted me a couple of times since then.

My voice shook as I responded to her question.  She’d been ranting for probably forty-five minutes.  Her foster child had come home with some “magic” cards.  So that’s how the conversation started out.  Those magic cards, it turns out, are game pieces as best I can tell for a game called Magic:  The Gathering.  Perhaps it’s similar to Dungeons and Dragons.  I’m not really sure.

But Tessa had taken the cards from her foster daughter and informed her she couldn’t participate in that.  She’s fourteen and I’m not entirely sure it’s appropriate for that age, myself.  At any rate she continued on that this child’s father, with whom she’d been having weekend visitation, had introduced her to what my friend is calling “Black Magic”.  I don’t think the two things are related at all but I could be wrong.

Then she told her fourteen-year-old foster child that she might be the only Christian that her father knows; that it was her obligation to abstain from playing that game and “witness” to her father; that if he died without knowing Jesus his blood would be on her hands.

She didn’t take a breath.  I hadn’t interrupted nor interjected.  Continuing on she relayed a story about our former pastor.  She’d approached him in the church parking lot because she was upset about the school mandated reading list for her 6th grade child.  So that would put her child around twelve years old.  The concern was over the Harry Potter books.  He told her that he’d read them, his children had read them, and that they all loved the films.  “What would be your issue with them,” he inquired.

“Well, I’m pretty sure that your Bible reads the same as my Bible and I’m also pretty sure it says that dabbling in witchcraft and sorcery is a sin.”  That was her response.  Why did she ask his opinion?  I’m not sure.  Clearly she didn’t need it, she’d already made up her mind about it.  This is the same friend who threw out Disney’s Fantasia and forbade her children to watch it because Mickey was a sorcerer’s apprentice.  It featured a magician.

“Can you believe that? The pastor endorsing Harry Potter?” Then she took a breath.  Oh, crap.  This isn’t a rhetorical question.  She’s expecting an answer.

“Well, you’re probably not going to like what I have to say about that but here goes:  I think that Harry Potter is complete fiction.  J.K. Rowling hasn’t purported it to be anything other than complete fiction and since there’s no such thing as magic and I don’t believe witchcraft to have any actual power I don’t see a problem with it.  I think you have to be the one to teach your kids the difference between fiction and reality. I know there are people who engage in witchcraft but I don’t think it has any actual power.  I don’t believe that spells work.  I know that those who engage in it do, but that doesn’t make it true.”

She cut me off, telling me that her sister had once said she wasn’t ready to give her life to God because she knew she was rebellious.  “Get your Bible out and read it.  Rebellion is a form of witchcraft, I told her.  She got over that real quick and got right with God.  There are demons and the devil is roaming around to see who he can destroy. I firmly believe that anybody who isn’t covered in the blood of Christ is leaving themselves WIDE OPEN to possession.  My friend, Deliverance*, got invited by a new friend she’d made to a dinner party to meet some other new people.  The minute she walked in she sensed it.  They were witches and they just wanted to attack her.  If she hadn’t known what it was she might have been susceptible, but since she knew what to look for she was keenly aware.  And all this stuff that’s happening in the Middle East with ISIS.  They’re cutting little kids’ heads off and putting them up on a stick and making a mockery of Christianity.  They’re taking the girls and raping them and selling them off as sex-slaves.  It’s nothing less than demon possession.  I love you and I want you to get your Bible out and read what it says about witchcraft and demon possession because I don’t want you to be caught off guard.”

Now it was my turn to cut her off.  My voice shook, “Tessa, I know you love me and I love you, and you know that I know what the Bible says about this. I just don’t believe in demon possession.  I don’t think we’re doing the mentally ill a service when we write them off as demon-possessed.  They’re sick, for sure, but they aren’t possessed.  They need proper medical treatment, not exorcism.  Exorcism doesn’t work.  Why do you think the Catholic Church doesn’t perform them as a general rule anymore?  And all this stuff in the Middle East?  Religious extremism is definitely at the core of it, but it’s more about power.  They aren’t representing any God.  They want power and control and the are using religion to get it.  Christians are no better. They’ve had their share of dark history.”  And this is where she cut me short.

My voice shook, not in anger, but in fear.  This is the first time I’ve been this vocal about my disbelief in certain things.  I just couldn’t listen to this any longer and not say something.  I only wish I had gotten the chance to say more.

I find it unconscionable that she laid such a guilt-trip on a fourteen year old child, making her feel responsible for his eternity – as if there is such a thing.  That’s too much responsibility for a child who clearly already has more problems than a math book.  She’s in foster care, she has two sisters, and none of them have the same daddy.  She’s been told nobody wants her.  Not her mother, not her father, not her grandparents.

Things only have the power over us that we give them.  Will we choose fear because we’re uneducated or will we choose the freedom that knowledge provides?

Edited to add:

*Deliverance is a mutual friend who has been a missionary to Israel. She was trained and engages in deliverance.



ImageI do prefer playing in the dirt to just about any girly kind of thing.  Spending two hours in a chair getting my hair did and paying upwards of a hundred dollars to do it seems like a total waste to me – of time and money.  I can find a lot of more fun and productive ways to spend those resources.  But I do like to get a pedicure.  I’m not worried about a manicure.  It never lasts very long, I can’t stand chipped nail polish, and I use my fingernails like tools.  But a pedicure; that’s a different story.  It’s not even about the toenail polish.  Keep it.  Just let me soak my tired old dogs in that hot water and give me that massage and wrap my legs in those moist, steamy, towels.  That’s what I’m paying for. It’s so relaxing.  I don’t let my stress out of my body.  I hold it all in so I’ll take a massage any day of the week.

I only do this every once in a while as a treat and I usually do this with a friend because we can engage in some girl talk while we drink our wine and get our tootsies all pampered up.  It’s a whole thing – the experience.  So a few weeks ago when my friend called me up and asked me to go I said, “What time?”  It had been a while since I’d indulged myself in this kind of luxury so I was all in.

We’d gotten our pedicures and sat in the drying chairs and because we hadn’t gotten together in quite a long time we got lost in conversation.  We talked about everything from the kids she’s fostering to our jobs to our husbands to our daydreams of giving up the ball and chain of the timeclock in favor of some ridiculous form of self-employment that allows us to simultaneously earn loads of money while laying on a beach sipping Mai Tais brought to us on silver platters.

My phone rang and as I looked down at the number I could feel the panic rising. My heart was pounding and I could feel the perspiration creeping up my back.  My mind raced.  Trying to maintain my composure and hide my panic from my friend, I answer the phone.  “Hey, whatcha doin’? Are you on your way home?”, came the voice of Lanky Brit on the other end.  “No, we got caught up talkin’.  I’ll be home in about thirty minutes, though.”  In his usually pleasant cheery voice he says, “No worries, just don’t forget about the cat food.  See ya soon.”

My friend and I wrap up our conversation and I head into the grocery store next door.  Still panicked I practically run through the grocery store to grab what I need. Scanning all the checkouts I pick the shortest line.  Yes!  It only has one person in it.  Price check!  I stand there as patiently impatient as possible, now sweating.  What kind of greeting will I get when I get home?  Will I get a greeting at all?  Am I going to get yelled at for being an hour later than I said I might be?  Will I get the silent treatment for three days? Will I say the wrong thing?  Will I look the wrong way?  Will this get ugly?

Finally the person in front of me is finished and I step up to the cashier.  She’s pleasant and friendly.  Too friendly for a bag of cat food.  I’m pleasant in return but in my head I’m thinking, “yeah, yeah, just ring up the damn food, I  don’t have time for conversation”.  I’m acting like a crazy person. If he’s pissed he’s already pissed and making myself crazy isn’t going to change that. Still, I rush to my car and speed away.

I head down the highway speeding home to try to minimize the lateness as if that will make any difference whatsoever.  I go over what I’m going to say when I get home. “I’m sorry I’m late, I know I told you I’d be home around seven.  We haven’t seen each other for a while so we had a lot of catching up to do.  We didn’t realize it was already seven-thirty when the phone rang.”  My mind is going ninety-to-nothing.

I arrive home, take a few deep breaths, try to calm myself, and hurry in the door.  He meets me at the door, wraps his arms around me, and says, “Hey, I missed you today.  Let me see your toes. Ooh, red.  Those look great.  Tea’s ready, let’s eat.  I’m glad you’re home.”

Tears fill my eyes, I am undone, and he has absolutely no idea why.

Sometimes it’s hard to leave the past where it belongs.  When I don’t he reminds me why my present is so much better.