Views from the Bridge

Colin, Terri (mom) 

Alright. So. Ritual. What is ritual? When you hear that word what does it make you think of?

For me, it has many meanings, definitions, and memories – good and bad – behind it. One of the better:

Peace,

Love,

Joy.

For as long as I can remember, whenever I left for anywhere, a friend’s house, school, camp, anywhere, my mom and I would do say, peace, love, joy. Hand motions and all. (Hey mom? Can we put in a picture here?)

Why yes, we can!

Joy is not as simple as peace & love because it is a motion.  You can find a video of the motion here.

It’s a goodbye ritual, wishing you a good day, or week, or time away from home.

Ritual for me specifically, apart from my family, also goes alone with my life. I’m Wiccan, and I do rituals for esbats and sabats. Also done if I have a friend in need – never cast a spell on somebody without their permission, by the way – or for a various amount of reasons. Ritual in Wicca, is a spiritual thing, and when done with another person – I have two people I do rituals with occasionally – shows great trust and/or care for them.

Mom? Any rituals specific for you not involving me/the family?

Well, Christianity is full of rituals!  Communion, baptism, even just the events of an every day Sunday.  The ritual of coming together and praying.  My favorite ritual?  The passing of the peace and the genuine loving kindness of the hugs.

Communities always have ritual.  It helps them define themselves.  If we didn’t have ritual, we’d probably be inventing every day newly.  There is some merit in approaching each day in a new way, but how many different ways can you wake up?  The best ritual is my first cup of coffee in the morning!  The loving kindness of your dad bringing me that first cup for several reasons.  He is doing it out of love, I love the smell of coffee and the feel of a warm cup in my hands, and I need to take my medicine ASAP!  So it is reaching emotional, spiritual, and physical health!

But not all experiences of ritual is good.  Do you want to share a problematic experience?

So I used to be a part of an organization called the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. If it’s not obvious by that name, I was not out as trans yet. So, I’m not exactly feminine. I don’t like dresses or skirts, or skinny jeans, or bows, or bluh, stereotypical female clothing. In Rainbow Girls (the abbreviation, because, g’d, who wants to say International Order of the Rainbow for Girls every time) when we did rituals from our book titled “Ritual” we had to wear floor length white dresses. Hm. So. We’re memorizing page long texts – if not longer – in old English, in several hour long  rituals, while I’m in a dress. There’s also people that I wasn’t entirely fond of, or weren’t fond of me, the hierarchy of Rainbow Girls, the late hours, and weird rules that have never made sense to me. Suffice to say, Rainbow Girls was not a good experience of ritual for me. I will also say, there are most definitely people who loved Rainbows Girls and it was an amazing experience for them. For me, not so much.

I think our greatest ritual right now is crossing the bridge together.  Don’t you? 

Your face is a good ritual. 😛 Yah, yah, fine, whatever. It’s a good ritual. I guess, technically this thing a thing is a good ritual too.

The weather on the bridge today was cloudy.  And some of our memories were too.

 POKE YOUR FACE!!!!!! 😀

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Terri & Colin

So, there was this brain study about men and women.  It is reported on CNN.  It says men’s brains and women’s brains are different.  And that men obsess over women’s breasts, etc., etc.  Every stereotypical thing we’ve heard over the years was repeated.  A few points:

  • Male and female brains mostly alike, but some profound differences exist
  • Men’s sexual pursuit area 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain, she writes
  • She says testosterone drives the “Man Trance”– or a glazed-eye stare at breasts
  • A wife’s pheromones cause “Daddy Brain.” Later, “Lovable Grandpa” or “Grumpy Old Man”?

So, Colin, since you just started ‘T’*, do you find yourself falling into glazed-eye stares?  *’T’ is Testosterone.  This is what Colin calls it.

I think this study is ridiculous.  What kind of controls did they have around gender?  Did they only have heteronormative, gorilla men and heteronormative women?  Seriously.  Is a gay man’s eyes going to go into a glazed-eye stare over breasts?  Ha ha ha!!  And you, dear Colin, don’t glaze over at anything!  There are three things at play, right?  You can explain better than I.  Sexuality, Gender Identity, and Romantic Attraction.  Will you explain what these three things are and where you fall on the spectrum?  And do you think it will change while you transition with Testosterone treatments?

I’d actually say there are four subjects at play. The three aforementioned, and a fourth, being Expression. Sexuality is how you identify whom you’re sexually attracted to. A man might want to have sex with a woman, a woman might want to have sex with another woman, a genderqueer person might only want to have sex with other genderqueer people. It can be anything. Hell, sapiosexual even means you’re only sexually attracted to people who are really smart. Gender Identity is how you identify your gender. Commonly looked at on a spectrum as “this end is girly girl” and “this end is manly man.” You can fall anywhere on that small itsy bitsy spectrum. Uh… no. I like to look at the spectrum as more of a circle floating in space. So you can be female or male, androgynous, both genders, neither genders, all genders, a seperate gender. You can be floating-out-in-the-middle-of-space gendered. Anything you can use to describe your own gender is your Gender Identity. Romantic Attraction is whom you are romantically attracted to. Somebody you’d want to date, but don’t necessarily want to have sex with. And Expression. Often confused with Gender Identity. Your Expression could be femme, butch, masculine, I personally have a friend who says they express as happy. Somebody could be female gendered, and identify as butch, that doesn’t make them male if they don’t identify that way just as a male can be femme and would not be female unless they identified as such.

I, putting all the terms I identify under together, am asexual (very very VERY asexual), male with androgynous roots (I’ll explain that in a minute), panromantic, and butch.

I am asexual. Very asexual. Asexual to the point that sex to me is like, O.o-what-is-that-weird-thing-um-you-go-do-that-in-a-corner-while-I-eat-my-pizza. I am so asexual, that I… ah, just no. I’m pretty sure I get more “turned on” by the idea of eating pizza.

So basically, male, with the pronouns that come with it being he, him, and his. When I say androgynous roots, it’s because in my childhood, I honestly didn’t know what gender was. I grew up just being a kid. I didn’t have a gender, and I didn’t gender other people. That’s totally affected my gender today, and as such I include it with my gender identity. I use the gender pronouns, he, him, and zy.

My romantic attraction is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I say I’m panromantic because I see beauty in everyone and get along with everyone. And sure, I’ve dated people, but my relationships seem to be more just a heightened friendship. Like a bestfriend. The close of my last relationship ended with her pretty much saying I’m one of her best friends. And she is one of mine. One of my best friends was talking to me today and said that me and my now exgirlfriend even in our relationship just seemed like really close friends. And I agree. I don’t know. This is honestly the hardest of these for me to answer.

Expression is fairly simple, but seems to be mis-seen a lot. I identify as butch because I feel more masculine than not in a not related to gender way. I like being the knight in shining armor. I like wearing basketball shorts and T-shirts and blue jeans. I’m not really fond of makeup, I’ll wear occasionally, and when I do, it’s theatrical craziness. Something I can goof off and have fun with. I like to hike and climb trees and be dirty. I love flannel. So much. And this is why I identify as butch. These, I suppose could be the same reason somebody identifies as femme. It all depends on the specific individual.

That is a lot of information!  Thank you for sharing so much and being so honest.

The weather on the bridge today was nice and sunny.  And our conversation was too!

Colin, Socrates, Terri

But… I want to go that way!!! No!!!

Now Socrates, we’re taking 520. We have to, otherwise –

NO!!! We must take the other bridge! I don’t want to die in our plummet to the water by trying to drive on a nonexistent bridge!

Wow, you are such a stupid GPS. I mean, g’d! The freaking bridge exists! And it takes anywhere from ten minutes to thirty minutes less. Why don’t you just believe us, it is real. You won’t die!

But… but… I like the other bridge. It’s more stable.

Shoosh your face, Socrates. This bridge is better.

It’s a toll bridge!

And that matters?

Well… well of course! How could it not matter?

‘Cause our family /pays/ for the toll.

Take the exit right.

No. We’re taking the 520 bridge.

No. Take the exit right.

No.

Yes.

No.

Yes

Yes.

No. Wait, darn it!.

Now shoosh your face, Socrates, we’re taking the 520 bridge. We have to, otherwise this blog wouldn’t exist.

And so it goes, our daily adventure with Socrates, the GPS. Convincing him that the 520 bridge is not under construction any longer and that if we cross the bridge, it will be okay.

The weather is still sunny, and we are, perhaps, a little silly.

Terri & Colin 

Well, on the way across the bridge today, we had a collective epiphany.  If marriage is to be defined in states like NC as “one man and one woman,” then to have a consistent ethic of marriage, there should be no 2nd, 3rd, or 4th marriages.  Right?

But it really isn’t about marriage or about the Bible for those opposed to marriage equality.  If it was, then divorce would be treated equally with homosexuality.  Right Colin?

Agreed.

Weather on the bridge today?  Hot and sunny.  And our tempers matched.  Well, at least mine did.

Colin & Terri

This is not okay.

This is the same as that movie.

What movie are we talking about? (The Lorax referenced below).

And this. Is. War.

But I’m pretty sure that the United Methodist Church doesn’t look at it like that. And just saying?

Homosexuality is not the equivalent of war. War is an oppressive act of violence stated to gain something for the victor in most – not all – cases. The other primary option of war is to fix an oppressive situation. War revolves around oppression, whether it be solving or creating. As far as I am aware, homosexuality is not oppressive, however many people whom are homosexual are oppressed or become oppressive  to avoid getting hurt. But if that is the case, then shouldn’t war be equivalent – if it must be to something – to those who oppress?

Asking people to own their oppression is difficult to do. We all have some stake in this. We’ve talked about the transition for you to “white male.” And you have said, without my prompting, I might add, that the only thing that bothers you is that you are part of the structure that has traditionally oppressed. We all have two-ness as oppressor and oppressed. The beauty of what you did…by identifying the oppressive element, you can then guard against it and purposely lay it down. It is hard to give up power. Especially hard to give up power when it is wrapped up in ecclessial and/or biblical belief.  And even more difficult for people to believe that their understanding may be wrong.  To be wrong then means to confront all the pain that you have dealt to other people in your righteousness.  Sigh.

My identity is what keeps me going when I am down, and keeps me strong when I feel weak. It is how I view myself when I look in a mirror and how I explain myself to those who care to listen and not judge. My identity is not an oppressor, but somebody who has been oppressed. And yes, I am not a homosexual, in fact I am asexual, but I am a boy who likes boys, a boy who likes girls, a boy who likes it’s, them’s, zie’s, zhers, and zy’s. Lesson on gender language here. I am a boy who has a beautiful body given to me that I cannot love for myself, Do you mean that you cannot love the current femaleness of your body? though I do love, and will never be able to identify with. I am a boy with a girlfriend though I am okay with having more than one partner and probably will have more than one in my future. I am a 16 year old that identifies as five, and who knows when that will change. I am also a boy with a voice that speaks out against things I cannot identify with because they oppress me.

Info on sexual fluidity here. I remember when I was in college the first time around, we did a ‘quiz’ on gender to determine how we identify as male or as female. It was all about typical traits associated with one gender or the other. I came out smack in the middle. A little to obnoxious to be “feminine,” a little to nice to be “masculine.”  Stereotypes.

War is not the same as homosexuality.

Darn tootin’!

In the United Methodist Church there are two things that are not compatible with Christian living. Number one, war. And number two, homosexuality. Basically anything on that list is held at the same standard, and is equally bad. But homosexuality is not, nor as bad as war.

Homosexuality is not even bad. Seriously. What are we telling our people? Nobody. Nobody. Nobody. is getting bent out of shape in our churches over war. War kills. 

Here’s what the book says:

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.

No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 103). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy.

No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 128). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Homosexuality is an identity.

War is what is happening between Israel and Palestine. And by the oppression of Palestine, the church profits.

The UMC pension plan for pastors has investments in companies that work for Israel such as Caterpillar. Caterpillar bulldozers are used to bulldoze Palestinian settlements. When voting to divest, the argument went something like this. “We know it is wrong to do, but some people in our church might have their investment impacted if we vote for divestment.” So they voted to keep putting money into a company that is essentially a weapon of war. Sigh. So much for John Wesley’s, “Do no harm.”  On the other hand, they did vote to divest themselves from privately run prisons.  Hallelujah and Amen. 

Now, have you ever seen the movie the Lorax? It’s this amazing movie – based off a book – that I loved. It tells of healing, and I was glad to go and see it. When talking with one of my friends at school about the movie, he said that he would not go see it because it had bad morals and stood for wrong causes.

I was blown away!

This movie – this BEAUTIFUL movie was corrupt? Not possible! It stood for healing, and taking care of the earth and –

“But have you seen those commercials for McDonald’s and other multibillion dollar companies that involves the Lorax? Every time you go and see the Lorax, you’re supporting those companies with the money you use to pay for tickets.”

And that money is used in ways that are destructive and often goes towards countries that use it to destroy others in war.  Or that money is used in more subtle destructive ways. Movies and advertising that demeans women’s bodies, encouraging earth-destructive growing practices, disgusting practices around beef, etc.

Huh.

Basically, the church is doing the same thing with Israel and Palestine.

So the church is even further demeaning homosexuality by offhandedly supporting war. So, what message is that giving to the world?

‘Cause according to that logic, homosexuality is not even the equivalent of war. It’s worse than war.

I am so sorry. I hold your pain.

Weather on the bridge today? Hot and sunny. But really, it felt cloudy in our hearts.

Shalom.

Well, this is our first post.  Let us be introduced.

I’m Terri and I’m the 40-something mom of Colin.  I’m a chaplain in a detention center and an Associate Pastor in Seattle.  I am also a Spiritual Companion for those who need it.

Colin…introduce yourself!
Welp. Here I am, in the flesh. Or more accurately, in the font as it ‘t’wer. My name is Colin d. (if you couldn’t figure that out from my mother two sentences previous), I’m sixteen, in my Junior year of highschool, and basically all types of queer. I want to go into acting in my future.

We drive together often from our home to high school in Seattle.  We drive across the 520 bridge.  And our conversations bridge culture, age, and gender.  The drive gives us a lot of time to chat.  The wheels of the car turning seems to get our brains and mouths going also!  Since Colin declared his TG-ness last year, it has been a year of discovery and conversations.  Each day new things come up, it seems.

TG-ness? Really? TG-ness? I mean, I’m not offended at all, just AMUSED. I have honestly never hear anybody refer to it as that. But okay, if somebody doesn’t get it, I’m transgender, and identify as male.

Recently, I ordered binders for Colin via ebay.  I wasn’t sure what we’d end up with, but was interested in the financial savings!  When we got the binders, they came with two little rubber rainbow bracelets with the phrase “I’m Lesbian” on them.  That is what this conversation was about.

I’m (Terri) going to give you a synopsis of the conversation and Colin will add his comments.

In the morning on the way to school…

Colin said something like, “I can’t believe they just sent ‘I’m Lesbian’ bracelets.” 

Frankly, I was on the same page.  First, it never occurred to me that Lesbians would wear binders.  That is what I had to wrap my head around.  Colin then informed me that yes, lesbians where binders.  That many more “butch” women wore them to diminish their feminine curves. 

Huh.  I never considered that.  I just assumed that women were the way they were.  Although why I would assume that in the age where so many people alter their bodies by adding boob-age is beyond me.  If folks want to add boob-age, then there must be folks who want to diminish boob-age.

Colin then told me what he was going to do with the bracelets.  He was taking them to school to his gender seminar class and would see if anybody wanted them.

In the afternoon on the way home…

Colin told me what happened.  He offered them to the class and told them the story.  He then got 15 hugs of affirmation and apology on behalf of the stupid manufacturer that assumed he was a lesbian.  Of course, Colin really wasn’t that bothered with it, I think.

I guess I was yes, offended and bothered by it, but it’s not something that I’m hurt by. The fact is, it is actually an assumption that people make, and assumptions are a big chunk of what are world revolves on so, oh well. No harm, no foul. I will also say though. By g’d! Stop the freaking stereotypes!

Who took the bracelets?  One teen girl whose boyfriend often passes as a girl.  She would wear the “I’m Lesbian” bracelet when they were on dates.  Ha ha ha!!  And the other one went to a girl who self-defines as queer and nothing beyond that. 

So, the bracelets were distributed.  We learned a couple new things about binders and who wore them and what assumptions manufacturers make.  And we got a great laugh.  And it was sunny crossing the bridge.

All in all, a great day crossing the bridge.

And I would say, I agree. 😀