A Trans Teen, a Church, and the Absence of Pastoral Care

DEBORAH: She’d invited me to meet her at a favorite restaurant, one of our usual dives, even though its undergoing renovation. Sometimes we talked about our kids and school, or our husbands and the quirks of marriage, and occasionally about our own ambitions. Always, somehow, our lives as Latter-day Saints colored our conversations. To be honest, being a Latter-day Saint has become increasingly challenging for us both, largely for the disharmony between what the Church offers straight and queer populations. Yet neither of us imagined we’d be having this conversation—the one in which she agonizes over the just-made revelation that her son is her daughter, that he says he always has been and that he’s so, so sorry, can she forgive him? Sometimes hearts break over queso. Continue reading “A Trans Teen, a Church, and the Absence of Pastoral Care”

Climbing Higher Mountains

READER POST: Mormons sometimes behave as if the only music God listens to is theirs. But those dirge-like hymns that say “reverence’” to some say “pack up the Cheerios and iPads because we’ve successfully survived one hour” to others. At times, some of us just don’t feel the Holy Spirit testifying. As a missionary, our area was chastised by a visiting general authority for marching while we sang “Called to Serve,” and you don’t even want to know what he said about the lyrical drum roll we added to the bridge. Bless Emma, but if she had to do it all over again, and if she had access to the array of spiritual music we have today, would she do it differently? I have a couple of suggestions, in case she’s listening.

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Generations Bound by Love and Sugar

READER POST: Across the grassy park, I see a cousin I haven’t seen for six years. I shout her name and run toward her. She looks up, shakes off a child who’s clinging to her hand, and we meet in a fierce embrace, laughing and crying. I feel safe–here–in the middle of my chaotic family reunion, where I am linked to everyone, including those I barely remember or have never met, linked just as surely as I hold onto this beloved cousin I’ve known since birth. Continue reading “Generations Bound by Love and Sugar”

Sitting with My Anger: a Queer Response to the Policy of Exclusion Reversal

LAURA: For three and a half years, queer Mormons in same-sex relationships have been classed as apostates “for purpose of church discipline” and their children excluded from full activity in the church. Yesterday, that policy was reversed during the General Conference Leadership Session.

As a queer woman, I’ve watched the reactions from across the spectrum of Mormondom and I’ve very slowly and carefully made space for my own feelings. What I’ve seen is that most straight Mormons, whether they’re more nuanced and on the fringes or they’re more traditionally believing, are happy. They are celebrating even. Meanwhile most queer Mormons are hesitant, hurting again, fearful of what comes next, and mourning the minimization of three and a half years of brutal pain. Continue reading “Sitting with My Anger: a Queer Response to the Policy of Exclusion Reversal”

On Eternal Families, Sad Heaven, and My Beloved Son

DEBORAH: A few years back, one of my adult children had had enough of Mormonism. He’d always participated at church, attending with us each Sunday, going to Mutual and stake dances, attaining his Eagle award, even choosing to attend a church university. He’d not given us much grief in terms of rebellion, but inside—and without me realizing it—he was struggling because, try as he might, he couldn’t receive the testimony I’d promised him would come. After a great deal of angst and a fall into depression, he finally told me he would leave the church. He asked me how to go about it. Explaining the process was probably the most difficult thing I’ve been asked to do by a child. But, because I love him and because I could see his mental health was dwindling, I did. Continue reading “On Eternal Families, Sad Heaven, and My Beloved Son”

A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me

JUNE: “Bishop, I’m scared…in my own home.” He sat silently. “My kids shouldn’t hear me called a ‘F***ing bitch’ by their father. I am being…coerced sexually. He kicks me out of the car and leaves me on the side of the road if I upset him. I…I don’t understand what’s going on. We need help…please.”

My plea hung in the air while his eyes raked me over. In ironic foreshadowing, I found myself foolishly and hopelessly wishing my husband, my abuser, was there to protect me. He sat in the foyer. He’d had an hour-long chat with the bishop ahead of me. When he exited the office, I was invited in. I begged for help. Continue reading “A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me”

Pre-General Conference List of Cheery Things for Relief Society Sisters

DEBORAH: Look out. April General Conference is nearly here, so out they come—the prognosticators and their prognostications. And why not? President Nelson has told us “the Restoration continues,” teasing us into setting up this figurative roulette wheel. Even the most ardent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t afraid to give it a spin, but the sisters of Relief Society are particularly invested, realizing they may be earmarked for changes. Of course, there’s a chasm in the women’s organization, particularly at the local level, with some standing on the vocal The-Way-It-Is-Is-the-Way-of-the-Lord side and others on the hushed Ask-and-Ye-Shall-Receive-Because-(some of)-this Stinks side. The one thing I’m confident in predicting is that, if any changes come that increase the visibility and influence of women, both sides of the chasm will join in a rousing cheer. Continue reading “Pre-General Conference List of Cheery Things for Relief Society Sisters”

My Impostor Syndrome As a Mormon Woman

MIRIAM: They say the beginning of wisdom is knowing what we don’t know, and I agree, but what happens when what we “know” doesn’t come from us? What happens when we completely depend on others to introduce us to knowledge, to confirm and validate it? And what if that inability to be our own anchor means we’re never enough, making us vulnerable and continually on the precipice of exposure as inadequate? This is the Impostor Syndrome, Mormon woman version, a syndrome that is ratcheted up by the fact I didn’t grow up like my priesthood-bearing counterparts who were raised to understand they had divine authority. Continue reading “My Impostor Syndrome As a Mormon Woman”

Sex Offenders in Church Leadership is Not News

READER POST: To gain perspective on the church’s problem with sex offenders in leadership, it’s good to take a look at religious news. The Southern Baptist conference is finding itself in deep yogurt on this topic, with journalists and Monday Morning Quarterbacks alike taking great delight in pointing out the issues that led to repeated and sustained cover-ups of pastoral abuse.

Continue reading “Sex Offenders in Church Leadership is Not News”

SQ Young Writer Series Kick-off: “In Every Woman”

SISTERS QUORUM is pleased to announce its Young Writer Series, which will strive to empower Mormon youth (aged 13-18) by providing them space to express their ideas, concerns, and interests as each relates to gender issues associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The YW Series welcomes youth writers, regardless of gender, and, if publication is offered, will provide anonymity when requested. If you know young people interested in submitting their ideas, narratives, or short creative work (properly identified as such), please advise them of our YWS submission protocol.

We joyfully kick off the Young Writers Series with this powerful poem, written by a 16-year-old Mormon girl. Continue reading “SQ Young Writer Series Kick-off: “In Every Woman””