An Uncomfortable Conversation

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Recently while I was driving, my eight-year old daughter started a conversation asking how people had babies. After a moment of almost going off the road I realized that she wasn’t asking how they are made but how they were born. She already knows they grow in women’s tummies. I’ve had three C-sections, so I started there, but eventually had to get into vaginal birth and it was still very basic, no problem.

Then the tougher questions came.

Do I need to have a boyfriend to have a baby?

Okay, good moment to express my equality stance by saying, no, you don’t need a boyfriend. You don’t need to be married. You can have a girlfriend. You can be married if you want. (There was a tangent taken that you do need a boy and a girl to make a baby, but you’re too young so we’re not going to talk about that, but no, you can be single and have a baby.)

So far, so good. Or really just satisfactory because this is the most uncomfortable, but necessary conversation to have with your child.

Then it got tougher still.

What if I don’t want to have a baby?

You don’t have to have one.

What if someone wants to make me?” (No idea where this came from, but she was concerned about it.)

I won’t let them.

What if you’re not there?” (Thanks for reminding me of the fragility of life and my impending mortality.)

If you don’t want to have a baby, there will be people who care about you who will make sure that you don’t have to have one. Or a boyfriend if you don’t want one. But don’t worry about that now, okay? You have a long way to get there.

Okay.

I could feel us both near tears by the end of this conversation, and I guess I put it out of my mind.

She was satisfied with the answers; I was satisfied-ish with my answers and all was well until the next time this subject (or another one like it) comes up.

This was weeks ago, and this morning at about 3am, I suddenly woke up and realized that with the way things are going in this country, my daughter may be more prescient than I thought. The irony that this came to me unbidden on the eve of the birth of Jesus is not lost on me. Perhaps he is the child of the most famous, single teenage mother to date. Not only a single mother, but a person of color living in her parents’ house, struggling with some tough decisions that a teenage girl should not have to make. Obviously, we know how her story ends; the Archangel Gabriel asked her and her faith led her to her decision, her assent to becoming the Mother of G-d.

I tried to ignore the replay of that conversation with my daughter in my head. It would not go away. I spent two hours tossing and turning and not sleeping when I realized sadly how relevant that exchange was.

What I thought of as a little girl’s worries about things she doesn’t understand are more relevant to today’s women than I realized.

There are women today who are forced to give birth against their will because someone else decided that they can’t have an abortion.

They became pregnant in the first place because someone else decided that they can’t learn how to prevent pregnancy.

Someone else decided that they can’t choose their own birth control and family planning; that their reproductive rights are nothing more than an antiquated notion as they are patted on the head and sent on their way.

These same people, who find the names of their football teams sacred, who can’t say the word vagina even when legislating against taking care of it, who choose to have vasectomies and abandon their own children are deciding that my child can’t make her own choices.

I realized that this world is not as far off as I thought it was.

In stating that I wouldn’t let anyone do that to her, it was the knee-jerk reaction of a mother protecting her child, but I won’t be there forever. Who will protect her rights when I’m gone?

We need to fix this now.

Right now.

No more Rick Brattins, representative of Missouri who wants a woman to have the permission of the father to get an abortion.

No more Bob McDonnells, former governor of Virginia, who wants to force women to undergo an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure before having an abortion (which has thankfully been ruled unconstitutional recently in federal court.)

No more Joe Walshs, Republican representative who said that there should be no exceptions to anti-abortion legislation including if the life of the mother was at stake.

No more Sam Brownbacks and Scott Walkers, governors of Kansas and Wisconsin respectively who followed Bob McDonnell’s trans-vaginal ultrasound stance.

No more Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks.

This needs to stop.

Abortion needs to remain safe and legal for ALL women regardless of circumstances and socio-economic disparity.

We need to teach girls and boys alike that abortion is a last resort, but it is always an option. If we weren’t so afraid of premarital sex being the official bogeyman of a teenager’s life, we could talk about real reasons why teens should wait for sex. We could teach comprehensive sex education including PREVENTING pregnancy, which in itself would prevent abortions.

We wouldn’t be demonizing contraceptive drugs in their non-birth control use and glorifying and making easily available men’s erectile dysfunction drugs which are held up in every advertisement as take this, have sex.

I won’t be around to protect my daughter and make sure that her wishes for or against pregnancy are followed.

I need the rest of this country to look out for HER INTERESTS instead of their own.

At eight years old, my daughter should not be worrying about people making her have a baby or forcing her to have a boyfriend or be married if she wants a baby.

At eight years old, she may not fully understand it, but she knows it’s wrong and it worries her.

It worries me too.

Birthday Rituals

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Since I graduated high school I have not attended classes or worked on my birthday. I went on a job interview once; almost got into a car accident and after getting the job it was the first one I was fired from. No more.

I’ve learned my lesson.

I even prefer when my birthday falls on a weekday. My husband works; my kids are in school. I do my thing and we meet at home after school and work let out.

I wander, usually. I go to the mall or if it’s a nice day out, a rare treat even in early December, I go to an outdoor mall. We have a fancy one nearby with boutiques (I can afford to window shop anyway) and a café with benches and statues throughout the open space. It makes me feel as though I’m traveling some place new. I get to pretend I’m a tourist or researching my non-existent novel or a wayward traveler and I take pictures of the most mundane things and enjoy my quiet time with myself.

In the years before she died, my mother began to send me money for my gift. There’d be enough to buy myself something I needed, something I didn’t need and have lunch. I started taking myself out to lunch and beginning to be comfortable in my own skin and on my own, something I dread, but am more and more coming to appreciate and treasure.

The year after she died, my husband gave me his work incentive gift card, which happened to come the same week as my birthday– $50 from American Express and I have the same birthday ritual that I had with my mother’s gift.  He knew how much it would mean to me, and it really did. It was one of the nicest things.

I almost always go to Starbucks, breakfast or lunch, have a drink, or two, relax. Write. By my birthday, the cranberry bliss bars are available.

One year we had a major snowstorm on my birthday – schools were closed and everything; no going out for me. I planned ahead to cook Shepherd’s pie and Yorkshire pudding from scratch. I’m not sure why I wanted it so badly. I might have been reading a Welsh history book or historical novel at that time, and that was all I wanted for my birthday dinner. It tasted amazing! It was also one of the only snowstorms where I wasn’t anxious or panicky.

When I was a kid we always got a birthday cake. It was always a surprise, even when it wasn’t. Whoever’s birthday it was would get called away or asked to do a chore and when we came back, the lights were out and there was cake, lit candles and everyone singing happy birthday.

Every year as we got older, we continued this, every year, and every year we would all be surprised when it was our turn. It was sweet. And we all played along even if we did roll our eyes when we were asked to do the “chore.”

We were always taken aback, surprised, thrilled everyone remembered, and if we weren’t, we played along. This was one of those family traditions that my parents loved.

In our family now, we usually pick a restaurant to go out to dinner and come home to cake. I love birthday cake – anytime of the year. It is never the wrong time to have birthday cake. My favorite kind is vanilla with buttercream frosting and some kind of flower or something made out of frosting. This year we had a vanilla raspberry that I want more of. It was the perfect blend of cake and fruit, whipped cream and fondant. Yummm.

I began my most recent birthday by attending Mass. This really is one of the most enjoyable things I do in a week. The way the light bounces off the pews and the altar; the way the words wash over me; the way the host tastes when it’s mixed with the wine in my mouth. So many senses filled in such short moments.

This year, I actually went home and shared breakfast with my husband and drank Doctor Who tea (the ninth doctor to be precise) before going out again.

Believe it or not, I spent the next hour in Payless Shoes trying on boots. I might have mentioned in earlier writings, but I was so excited to find these boots and that they fit pretty perfectly that I even walked out of the store wearing them. I can’t remember the last time I wore shoes out of a shoe store and still kept my “old” shoes which hadn’t worn out to the point of falling off my feet. I now own three pairs of shoes. Woo-hoo! The last time I bought shoes on my birthday were winter boots several years ago from my mom.

Lunch at Starbucks and cake at home. Since my son was working we had my birthday dinner two days later.

It’s funny how every birthday is the same and yet different. I pack up my Kindle, my notebook or journal and my camera. I wear my favorite clothes – this year my favorite long sweater, my new black boots and my cute black knit hat. I become me for a day and try to figure out how to stay the me I am on my birthday all the rest of the year.

The ritual stays the same year after year; it almost takes no thought or planning at all, but the happenings change just enough and each  year I’m in a new place mentally, emotionally so that year’s wandering brings on new thoughts, new reflections, new grace to find.

The sun is in a different place, the clouds have different formations, the blue in the sky is a different shade. The people I run into in the shops or the café are all different and each brings a special presence to my day that I welcome and can add to my growing inventory of people and places and things and they all form the index for my reflecting and writing, always striving to find my way through the shadows.

Food Pantry

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Just a quick word of advice and one that I don’t always think of.

I spent this morning helping to fill Christmas food baskets with my church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society. I am one of the people who benefits directly from this group, and I wanted to give back something.

I was in charge of cake mixes and corn bread.

I almost never check expiration dates. Not at the grocery store, not in my own pantry. I assume it’s good, and if it’s slightly outdated it’s still not bad. I mean, I tell my husband all the time that you could use the cans fro WWII. He does not agree. However, if something expired nine months ago, it’s fine.

It really is.

However….

when you’re donating food to a food pantry or church, clearing out your unwanteds is a win-win for everyone, but please, please check the expiration dates.

A group like this can’t give out expired food.

For one thing, many people receiving the basket from the food pantry probably won’t check the dates. (I wouldn’t.)

I threw out about ten or so boxes of food because of the dates. Most had expired in 2012/2013, but I had two older than that – one from 2008 and one from 2004.

There are many ways to donate. One is buy a couple of extra boxes/cans on sale when you’re doing your regular grocery shopping. Another is donating money. Most of us can’t afford to give away a lot, but every dollar adds up, and if you put it in an envelope and mark it for the food pantry, it really is appreciated. (In our case, families with children get three $15 gift cards to the local supermarket chain. Some families this year received a coupon for a free 14 pound turkey from another chain.

Our group had 125 families from three churches receiving food and Christmas gifts. They made three extra food baskets for surprise walk-ins. Any leftover food goes down to the city’s food pantry. Then they start collecting again.

More and more this is a need that people request all throughout the year, not just at the holidays, so it’s never too early or too late to donate as long as the expiration dates are far enough in the future.

Before we started, we are reminded of why we’re there: as Christians, we are called to act as Christ would, and helping the poor is at the top of that list. We then start our morning off with the Lord’s Prayer

Transgender Bathroom Policy

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A Comment on a Local Issue

Recently, a local school district modified its bathroom policy, for the first time taking into account transgender students. In seeing some parental reactions at the Board of Education meeting and reading the comments on the local news’ Facebook, I think it’s important to explain and clarify for many good people who simply don’t understand the whole issue of transgender youth, the basics of gender identity, how physical configuration plays its part, and the importance of being able to use the bathroom safely and comfortably.

Let’s be clear: this is the high school policy at the moment, affecting grades 9 through 12 with the approximate ages 14/15 to 17/18, depending on where the birthdays fall.

In viewing the reactions, this also seems to be more of an issue for the parents and non-parent community members and not the actual students (or former students) of the school.

Transgender issues as well as orientation, which is a completely separate discussion should already be covered in health class. If it’s not, it might be time to include some modifications to that curriculum to make it more comprehensive to today’s issues so that misinformation doesn’t continue into adulthood like it obviously has as I witnessed by many of the adult community members, parents and non-parents alike.

One of the comments said to “hold it”. I don’t know if this was said facetiously, and it was directed at both trans and non-trans students, but this is not only a childish response, it is also bad health and ridiculous that an adult would even suggest it for a child, let alone his own.

They described transgender children as being part of a liberal agenda, as being gay, that their gender expression and life choices shouldn’t be used to make school wide policy. All of these statements and assumptions are made based on outdated misinformation and bigoted notions that really need to be addressed and to educate these parents.

Although I would disagree with those against this policy, there is a difference between being against a school policy and stating your reasons and knee-jerking your reaction based on prejudices.

With gender, identity =/= expression, although there is some overlap. Trans people can be straight, gay, bisexual or other orientation. One example of gender expression might be a boy wearing a dress or skirt or high heeled shoes. That is a style choice. I would note that when girls dress as boys it is often easily accepted.

I’ve seen boys wear skirts to protest a dress code aimed solely at girls and no one would accuse them of being girls. They would not use the girls’ bathroom and no one would suggest it.

A trans girl is not playing dress up or making a fashion statement. Their identity is more complicated than what they choose to wear, and if they are asking to dress and use the bathroom facilities for the gender in which they identify, they have come to that decision through a series of discussions with themselves, their parents, and more than likely professional health care providers and mental health associates.

For many, the feeling that they were put in the wrong body is a painful realization and not one that is made lightly, either in private or in public and fear of peer reaction and bullying is tantamount to staying closeted. The fact that this school district is making an effort should be applauded.

Trans girls are girls; they will grow up to be women. They are female. They might have a penis, but that doesn’t change their gender identity of female and as with many young females, they are more comfortable using the bathroom facilities and dressing as their same gender peers.

It is the same for trans boys, men, males. They might have a vagina; some might have breasts developing, but if their gender is male, they are male. They use the boys’ bathroom and locker room.

It really is that simple.

There was one comment that there aren’t gender neutral bathrooms in the “real world.” Not always, no, but in the “real world” trans women use women’s rooms; not men’s. In addition to that, in the real world, when I’m using an adjacent stall or washing my hands, there is no reason whatsoever that I should be observing the genitals of the stranger using the toilet next to me. It’s not as though you do this to non-transgender individuals, assuming you could pick them out from cisgender people.

Another misconception is that if trans youth use their preferred bathroom, they are only doing that to get into the opposite gender’s bathroom to prey on them. This is generally assumed to be trans girls. For one thing, this discounts gay and lesbian students from using their assigned at birth gender bathroom with other students that they may feel attracted to. We don’t separate LGB youth from their preferred bathroom (nor should we), but this stereotype needs to die.

Gay =/= predator

LGB people, youth or otherwise are not attracted to every person they come in contact with. They are also no more likely to prey on someone sexually than anyone else in the school.

Trans =/= gay

Trans =/= predator

Trans =/= rapist

Transgender =/= transvestite or cross dresser.

From what some of the parents were saying about students [boys mainly, another stereotype] pretending to be transgender to get into the girls’ bathroom and rape them because now they have access don’t understand that rape is primarily an act of violence and power; it is not about sex or attraction.

Rape is not a well thought out exercise in “getting some.”

Boys [and girls] are not thinking, ‘man if only I could get into the opposite gender’s bathroom, I could have all the sex I want and no one could stop me.’

Yeah, it does sound stupid when you put it like that.

This would suggest that gay youth are already doing this, and we know that they are not.

This also seems to imply a very low opinion of their own children [boys mainly] and the bigoted, out of date notion that boys can’t control themselves when around someone they’re attracted to.

Transgender isn’t topical or cool. Transgender isn’t a label that you can put on and take off like a hat. Transgender kids have gone through a lot emotionally and psychologically to be able to come out to their parents, their teachers, their peers, and for the students who haven’t come out, but are living their gender identity shouldn’t need to announce what’s in their pants to use their preferred bathroom.

They shouldn’t be accused of being a predator for using the bathroom.

Being a teenager is hard enough without arguing over the merits of something transgender kids have no control over, any more than you have control over the color of your eyes. And if you think that a teenager would claim to be transgender when they aren’t, you need more than this little blurb for your education. No one would subject themselves to that kind of scrutiny and bullying and harassment if they weren’t transgender.

Of the LGBT+ community, transgender youth are at higher risk for homelessness, for being victims to sexual predators, for being assaulted, and horribly murdered. This morning, another woman was murdered while pounding on a door screaming for help.

We should be making middle school and high school better for everyone, not make an already disparaged group feel even more ostracized by repeating hurtful, wrong, and bigoted things we heard when we were kids. We should be willing to educate ourselves for all of our kids’ sakes so that at the end of the day, they can come to us with anything, without having to worry about our response.

This Board is moving in the right direction, and it is the direction that all schools will eventually follow, so read up from reliable sources and then speak out with your concerns if you still have any.

Bullying and Transphobia – More than One Day a Year

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At the beginning of this week, I reposted something I wrote a few months ago about bullying – what it is by definition, my middle school experience and a more recent one. When I wrote that many months ago, I was angry at the thing that was going on; at the bullying being done against me. The bullying – without remorse, without shame, in fact quite the opposite with almost a smirking, cheerful triumph. I would have thought it was sad if I wasn’t so upset about it.

It was written in haste and fury and the tone probably got away from me. It was also written in the middle of the stress that triggered me all the way back to middle school.

That’s one of the ways triggers work. They lie hidden beneath the surface, in the unconscious until one day something happens that reminds the deep down and it affects you in a strong way with feelings rising that are at once familiar and unfamiliar and they are uncontrollable. Not uncontrollable in your reaction, although sometimes, but you can’t control being affected by it in whatever way you are.

On a conscious level, I didn’t go strawberry picking until my first son was old enough. I didn’t have any other opportunities really, growing up in suburbia, no strawberry patches where we lived, but if I thought about being on a school bus alone I was brought back to that day. When I thought about strawberry picking, even the day I went with my son, it came back to me. I wouldn’t call these triggers as much as memories associated with those very specific instances but it’s very similar to triggers that many (including me) feel much more strongly.

The bullying I experienced a few months ago was different. For one thing, I’m in my forties and my bully is well into his adulthood. For another thing, I forgot that not everyone works in the logical and open-minded section of the world. I was silly enough to think that if I spoke to this person rationally, he would realize how abusive and (verbally) violent he was being. I was wrong about that. For the third thing, this is the internet and people take their anonymity to cause more harm than good very seriously. Up until this point, I had been lucky enough to have experienced the latter folks – the compassionate, the kind, the helpful. This change was a surprise and fairly or not, I was still taken aback by the cruelty of it.

I’m sure this sounds naïve, especially for a forty-something mother of three, but I’ve always believed the best in people and this behavior was beyond my comprehension.

Having said that, I still believe that, but my eyes are opened a little wider and I parse my words a little more. I worry about offending people even though I can’t control how people will react to my words or my actions. I try not to let bullies affect me, but it’s hard not to. When it happens, I’m twelve again. I’m hurt, but I don’t want to rock the boat; I don’t want to make things worse for myself.

It’s fear, plain and simple.

And it’s wrong for other people to make us feel that way; to the point that we change who we are to avoid them.

I chose this week to talk about my bullying occurrences for a reason.  This has been Transgender Visibility/Awareness Week, culminating yesterday with the fifteenth Transgender Day of Remembrance, memorializing those transgender people who die violently each year.

If all we think of is the bullying, that’s bad enough, but coupled with the transphobia and violence especially against trans women of color, although trans men are not immune, it’s nearly epidemic.

It’s not a simple case of being bullied for who you are, for how you present yourself, but to fear for your life in a very literal way, knowing that if you meet a violent death it will probably be horrible. The bullying that comes for others after one of these murders must be terror inducing. I mean I get panic attacks thinking about my experiences and even with those, I’m not afraid of dying violently. There must be something alarming about hearing that someone like you deserved to die because of how they present themselves, how they identify.

For simply being themselves and living authentically like the rest of us try to do, they are given a death sentence, and for many this comes after a series of torture and abuse apart from the everyday kinds of side-eyes and bullying trans people face.

That’s why for me, it’s important to draw attention to every death, every torture that’s publicized in the news, every misgendering, every transphobic word that those of us not in the community don’t see as hurtful because we simply can’t understand how hurtful it is.

For every one that’s publicized there are inestimable numbers that are not reported to the authorities or the media.

Whether you know someone personally who’s been bullied for their gender identity or not, this is the responsibility for all of us to make everyone feel safe in their space, and in their skin on their own terms.

Be supportive, but be careful not to bully them into conforming to what you feel are your rights to information and take care not to put three dimensional people into a one dimensional box. Take care not to label those who choose not to use labels, and don’t assume you know better than the individual person. That probably should go for everyone you meet, not only trans people.

For those of us not in the trans community, it’s brought to us once a year as a day of remembrance, after the murders have already happened. For the trans community this is every day, and they can’t click the next link to avoid it.

Trans people are not a cause. Stopping the transphobic bullying and epidemic levels of murder in their community is a cause, and one that we need to focus on until there is no need for more days of remembrance.

REPOST: What is Bullying?

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What is bullying?

According to the Webster’s Online Dictionary, bullying is “the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something.” It is also defined as “tending to browbeat others,” and its synonyms include intimidation (noun), domineering, and blustery (adjectives).

In modern vernacular it happens much more than in the schoolyard for some kid’s lunch money or baseball cards. For starters, and not entirely relevant, do people still collect baseball cards?

In addition to school bullying by peers, we have adults and teachers who don’t know the appropriate responses to bullying. Often we blame the person being bullied, trying to get them to change how they do things to avoid the bully and/or the bullying behavior.

We also have the internet which is both the best thing for modern technology and information dissemination, but it is also the best place that feeds the trolls and encourages some aspects of bullying because of its anonymous nature.

Using a made up name with no affiliation to a legal name or location seems to free people’s subconscious to the point that they think their abuse of others is normal and/or okay.

We all know that many bullies have their own problems, whether it is mental illness, chronic abuse by others, or any other reason that they feel validates their abuse and bullying of others.

When I was in middle school, I was told by a girl, same age, same class, her name was Donna and she told me that I couldn’t go on the field trip strawberry picking. I really, really wanted to go strawberry picking. I grew up in the city and the suburbs, which was more city-like than rural, and I had never gone strawberry picking. We barely had a backyard. I really wanted to go.

I think she said they would beat me up.

I went home and cried. I cried a lot.

I also think this is the reason I’ve always wanted a big brother, someone to beat this girl up so I could go on my field trip. This just illustrates the mentality of dealing with a bully; more violence. We know now that this is not the way.

Thinking back on it, she also had two friends with her: it was like Crabbe and Goyle with Malfoy from Harry Potter. She looked like Meg 1.0 from Supernatural, probably one of the reasons I prefer Meg 2.0 to the blond version. The first one always made me uncomfortable and it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized why.

Anyway, I knew I couldn’t go on the trip. That was obvious; no argument there. I was upset and I’d cry, but no way could I go on the trip.

I also knew I couldn’t make a fuss.

I said I was sick. Very technically, I was sick; sick to my stomach about so many things that I couldn’t understand at eleven or twelve years old. All I knew is that it sucked, and I wasn’t precisely lying; I was truly sick.

I stayed home, and I never forgot it.

Thirty years later, I went to my son’s middle school back to school night. I came home having a panic attack and after spending about two hours talking and crying on the phone, the panic was barely soothed. I was upset for days after, on the verge of other panic attacks.

Bullying never goes away, and so when a fellow Tumblr user began bullying me last week, I became that twelve-year old again.

I tried to talk to the person, to express that I didn’t want to be harassed.

They bullied further.

I shouldn’t admit it for the satisfaction they might get (or others), but I’m in my forties and if it could happen to me, it could happen to the teenagers here who might be less equipped to handle the pressure. I cried. Every time I turned on Tumblr, my tears welled up. It was in the back of my mind at every moment. I stayed after mass and prayed on it.

Tumblr is not supposed to be stressful like this. Tumblr is not supposed to be upsetting. Nothing we do for fun is supposed to be stressful and upsetting.

I’ve taken legal steps to stop this bully from harassing me, but it’s not simple on a public site.

It also shouldn’t be my responsibility to stop this person. They shouldn’t be encouraged by others.

You can’t stop someone from hurting you by hurting someone else.

Sure, I could leave. But why should *I* have to leave? I like it here, and I’ve done nothing wrong. Tumblr is a place of diverse ideas, diverse opinions and people say stuff all of the time that I don’t agree with and don’t like. I don’t jump down all (or even some) of their throats, bully, threaten and harass them because I don’t like what they’re posting.

That is what’s called being an adult.

But it’s more than that.

It’s called respecting that not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will share the same experience with you. Not everyone will want to follow your tactic. And you feeling that you’re right does not give you the right to bash someone who also thinks that they are right.

I don’t care what their problem is. I don’t care if it’s mental, physical, they’re a victim of abuse, what their political affiliation is, what their gender or orientation is, married with kids or single. I honestly don’t give a fuck.

My empathic nature does have its limits. I try to live my life through Christ, but human nature is at once beautiful and compassionate and it is also selfish and egocentric. Once you crossed the line to threaten me (and this person did), you lost my empathy. I have no need to have direct contact with anyone unless they come to me first; unless they talk about me with the name calling and verbal abuse.

When my first son was born, I remembered the strawberry picking field trip. It is never far from my mind when harassment begins, but when my first son was born, I swore that no one would bully him. I would not leave him to fend for himself.

And a few years ago, I swore again. I promised myself that *I* would not be bullied ever again.

I would not live in fear of some ignorant, arrogant, holier than thou, knows better than me about me person, whether in physical person or online.

So this is me standing up.

I know I’m not the only one this person is harassing. I know I’m not the only one that this person has attacked.

And I won’t be silenced.