My Trans Teen and the Sting of Being Active LDS

TW: Policy exclusion of transgender individuals

BRANDY: Several weeks before Christmas, I stood in my kitchen wrapping pralines. It’s tedious, monotonous, work, and the worst part of making the damn things. My mind was racing, stressing, about all the things I still had to do before bed, before tomorrow, before I left town for a few days, before Christmas. My husband walked into the kitchen and something in his expression made me ask what was going on. He said, “You have four sons.” And I felt the floor fall out from under my feet. Continue reading “My Trans Teen and the Sting of Being Active LDS”

What About the Women (Again)?

DEBORAH:  If you’re an LDS woman and you watched the January 2018 press conference that followed the formation of the new First Presidency, you likely have a particular moment carved into your brain—that prolonged moment when Pres. Russell M. Nelson responded to a question posed by Peggy Fletcher Stack (Salt Lake Tribune) regarding forthcoming advances in gender equity and diversity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First he gave a tribute to her family, followed by a salute to the diversity of men who lead the Church in 188 nations, which included a reminder that “somebody’s going to be left out, but it doesn’t matter because the Lord’s in charge.”

Once he finished responding, Stack, from her seat and without benefit of a mic, can barely be heard to nudge, “What about the women?”  President Nelson’s response? “I love them.” (See 18:43 to 22:40 of previous link.)

A few days ago, By Common Consent published guest blogger Kenneth Merrill’s “What I Wish My Prophet Would Say,”  which is his six-point wish list for change announcements to be made in the upcoming April 2020 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To recap, he asks the First Presidency to put its weight into commanding members not to kick one another out of the Church or their homes, to be inclusive, to be environmentally aware, and to admit the church has done some abusive things, including protecting sex offenders.  By the close of it, Stack’s faint voice was ringing in my mind: “What about the women?” Continue reading “What About the Women (Again)?”

Love and Respect My Trans Child as if Your Own

TW: transphobia, brief mention of self harm

READER POST: I file into the restaurant with my beautiful (and often difficult) children. I gave birth to several boys—all gangly limbs, misplaced aggression, anxieties, and intense grudges. But they’re mine, and I love them, though maybe I regret this particular dinner decision. As we wait beside the Christmas tree, I notice the host is staring at my oldest with a puzzled look, one that feels judgmental and borders on disgust. For my oldest child holds a deep secret that only we know: a hard, life-changing, devastating, and beautiful secret. With this look my firstborn is receiving from a stranger, I realize his secret is becoming less so. For my oldest “son” is a girl. Continue reading “Love and Respect My Trans Child as if Your Own”

A Story of Christmas Charity and the Gift of Humiliation

READER SUBMISSION: My young family lived in poverty for years, but we attended church in a very wealthy area in Arizona. Our church arranges for everyone in the congregation to receive member ministers whose purpose is to make monthly in-home visits. These visits are both a well-being check and an opportunity to share a spiritual message. One day close to Christmas, my visiting minister (who lived much more comfortably than we did) called and asked if she could stop by. On her visit earlier in the month, she’d noticed our “Christmas tree” had been cut out of cardboard I found in a dumpster and taped to the wall, its ornaments drawn on with crayons. Our stockings were made out of old shirts, sewed together with yarn.

She brought her three grandchildren with her on this extra monthly visit—and a truck full of gifts for my toddlers. One of the grandchildren looked around our apartment in awe and asked, “Is this a hotel room?” We lived in a small, two bedroom apartment, but it was a normal apartment and didn’t look like a hotel. He certainly wasn’t to blame for his naive comment, but it was obvious he had never been inside an apartment before. Continue reading “A Story of Christmas Charity and the Gift of Humiliation”

Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent

TW: Mild themes of child sexual abuse and sexuality

MIRIAM: Just a few minutes after leaving the neighborhood pool, the summer sun had already dried my bare shoulders, but I still smelled the chlorine from the pool water on my skin and in my hair.  I trailed home with other children ahead and behind me as we passed the local gas station. The moment that I neared the station’s payphone, it rang. At seven-years old, I loved to answer phones, so I hopped to it and answered the ring.

The caller on the line did not ask for someone else, he just started talking to me. He asked me to say something. The words he asked me to say were strange, but I said them. He asked me to say them again. I did. After a few times, I decided the man sounded unpleasant, and I hung up the phone. Continue reading “Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent”

Not Thin Enough for the Celestial Kingdom

TW: Anorexia, eating disorders, domestic bullying

ATHENA: One Thanksgiving when I was about fourteen-years-old, beloved relatives came to share the day with my family and brought treats I’d never seen before. I took small helpings of each. When I reached for a second helping, my older brother said, “Don’t eat that; you’ll end up looking like <insert name of non-svelte teenage girl in our ward> and no one will want to date you.” Continue reading “Not Thin Enough for the Celestial Kingdom”

Female Body Weight and the LDS Culture

TW: discussion of body shaming, polygamy

DEBORAH: Immediately after being called as a Young Women’s president, a mother expressed she was pleased by my call, saying, “They usually don’t let bigger women be YW presidents. The girls need to learn their value isn’t tied to their weight.” Needless to say, I was taken aback.  I still am, though more than twenty years have passed.
Continue reading “Female Body Weight and the LDS Culture”

Unpeeling the Trauma of Disordered Eating

TW: Eating Disorders, weight/numbers

JUNE: Since I was 16, I have purged every single Thanksgiving dinner I’ve consumed. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Pumpkin pie. Flushed away before it has the chance to leave its mark on my body. I am now 37.

Smaller, smaller. Become less visible. Take up less space. All around me, the notion was reinforced. Just my mere existence was burdensome because it felt so unworthy. Less than. Shameful. Continue reading “Unpeeling the Trauma of Disordered Eating”

LDS Policy and My Political Journey

TABITHA:“As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future. We urge Latter-day Saints to be active citizens by registering, exercising their right to vote, and engaging in civic affairs.

We also urge you to spend the time needed to become informed about the issues and candidates you will be considering.” (First Presidency 2016 Letter)

In the United States, some version of this announcement is often read over the pulpit in LDS congregations shortly before Election Day. Since it’s election season (including the run up for presidential caucuses and primaries), I want to share a few of my experiences about how “becoming informed about issues and candidates” has lead me to positions that frequently put me in the minority of my family and church friends.

Immigration/Refugee Acceptance Continue reading “LDS Policy and My Political Journey”

We Need the Church to be Good: a Top 15 List for the 15 Top Brethren

SQ: After General Conference, the staff here at SQ realized we don’t need the Church to be true, but we do need it to be good. And consistently honorable.  To this end, we’ve compiled a list of the top fifteen things we want the Brethren to know. Here is our list, in no particular order: Continue reading “We Need the Church to be Good: a Top 15 List for the 15 Top Brethren”