ATHENA: As General Conference weekend spins up, I find myself dreading the fallout even more than I usually do. This past year has been a rough one for people on the margins of Mormondom, and I am one of those people. I tried for a very long time to maintain a position in the center, to belong to the in-crowd, until I just couldn’t anymore. The LDS church was hurting me in very specific ways, and because of that, I grew to understand how much pain church membership was causing other people for whom I cared deeply. I guess you could say my empathy chip finally activated.Continue reading “Be Careful Who You Shun in the Name of the Lord”
READER POST: The first religious value I remember being taught was obedience. Obedience to authority, to the priesthood, to adults, to parents, and to God. I learned about a God who tested His children. A God who gave and took at His mysterious will, according to a metric that made no sense from my mortal perspective.
He gave Abraham and Sarah a son, and then asked them to give up their child’s life in sacrifice…a test that only ended when He was confident Abraham would obey. I learned about Mary consenting to be the handmaid of the Lord and that it was an honor to be chosen to do so. I learned about a God that gave multiple wives to powerful men, who in turn gave children to their husbands. I learned about a God who commanded Emma to support her husband as he took more wives, and that she would face condemnation if she didn’t comply. I learned that (for at least one woman) the promised blessing of giving herself to the Prophet in marriage was exaltation, but the punishment for her refusal, a fiery sword.Continue reading “To Bind Up The Broken Hearts: An Open Letter to the Brethren on Heavenly Mother”
SISTERS QUORUM: Every six months, as General Conference approaches, members of the LDS Church discuss their hopes about what will come from the pulpit. This go-round, however, LDS women are talking about their fears rather than their hopes. Leaks are coming from stake training meetings and other sources, suggesting this General Conference will be used to quash independent, spiritual pursuit of Heavenly Mother. When SQ asked LDS women to share their personal experiences with Heavenly Mother and their reactions to the possibility SLC will attempt to silence Her–and them–once again, twelve women gave us glimpses into their intimate, spiritual experiences. We were moved and think you will be, too.Continue reading “LDS Women Testify of Heavenly Mother”
READER POST: A couple days ago, as I was heading out the door, I received an email from the high school tennis coach requesting a meeting to discuss my trans son’s eligibility to play. I knew, I just knew, what was going to happen next. I drove to my medical appointment fighting back tears and mentally repeating, Put it in a box. Just for a minute. It’s got to go in a box right now. I live in Texas and, for those unaware, the state legislature signed HB25 into law last October after several failed attempts with other, similar legislation, and a commitment from Governor Abbott to continue calling special session after special session until one of the anti-trans measures passed.Continue reading “Can You Care about My Trans Son Now that He’s Denied His Spot on the Team that’s Been His Lifeline?”
BRANDY: When my child came out to my husband and I as trans just a hair over two years ago, we were offered counseling through LDS social services. We refused. Adamantly. While I am sure that there are compassionate, sensitive, professionals within their ranks, the fact of the matter is I didn’t trust their commitment to professional codes of ethics to be stronger than their adherence to the parameters set for them by their employer, the LDS Church. In that moment, we recognized that their professional credibility was affected by the policies and attitudes of men completely outside of their professional sphere, men who have no affiliation or association to any of the professional psychological organizations or bodies that issue evidence-based standards of care or codes of ethics.
I wasn’t willing to take that chance with my son’s mental health. Instead, we sought counseling that we could be confident would not struggle between evidence-based therapeutic treatment and religious dogma. Recently, BYU announced that its speech therapy department, which gives student therapists the experience of treating patients, would no longer offer services to trans individuals, proving that professional ethics falls second to an ever-changing LDS church policy handbook (see section 38.6.23). Once again, it’s policy over people.Continue reading “BYU Chooses Fealty Over Ethics by Denying Voice Therapy to Trans Community”
READER POST: I don’t really have any good memories of our relationship. I assume we had them, but I can’t remember any examples.
I was a high school freshman and wouldn’t turn 16 until after the end of the school year. He was a senior and just a few months shy of 18. We met in and LDS seminary class. I remember when “Have lunch with me?” turned into “Where were you?” and I abandoned my girlfriends to spend my lunch period watching him and his friends play basketball.
I remember the parking lot of the bowling alley and how I cried in the front passenger seat of his car, hurt and humiliated, while his friend sat in the back seat. When he ran into the bowling alley to see if there was a free lane, I remember the way his friend’s voice sounded when he asked me, “Are you okay?” But I lied and said yes. I remember the way something in my brain shifted when that friend said, “I think you could do better.”Continue reading “What Sexual Assault Looked Like in My LDS Youth”
TW: rape, disciplinary council
READER POST: She is 15. Braces in her mouth, knees bruised from play, barely a year past puberty. She still resembles a girl. He is 19. Jaded by struggle, lined by dysfunction. He resembles a man. He sweet talks in her ear, leaves flowers and secret poems; she sneaks out to see him. He drives down a dark road. She is not prepared. This isn’t what she’s seen in movies. No violence. No screams. “I want to go home,” she quietly repeats, staring out at the darkness. She is frozen, rooted as firmly as the trees outside the car window. In a moment, she is changed. Her innocence scarred by someone she put her trust in. But the details of the dark road are not this story. I know because her story is mine.
READER POST: In June of 1985, I had just graduated from nursing school and was working in a nursing home. I had become friendly with a coworker, a guy who flirted with all the girls, and I ended up at his apartment, alone, late one night. This is a difficult story to tell, and I’ll leave out many details, but the gist of it is, sex happened. In retrospect, I came to the realization, I’d been raped. I’d said, “No” and resisted. I didn’t want to have sex. I was 24 years old, a temple-endowed returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had planned on remaining a virgin until marriage. In my mind, I had to have been complicit, and I got what I deserved. Therefore, I reasoned a visit to the bishop of my single’s ward and a confession were in order.Continue reading “Sexual Assault, Discipline, and Overcoming Church Sexism”
READER POST: I once served as the Ward Executive Secretary in my small-town, Texas ward. During this time my bishop openly groomed me for future leadership roles. “Someday when you’re a bishop or stake president…” As such, I was invited to participate in almost everything the bishopric did. While this boosted my ego at first, the more I saw of the inner machinery of administering the gospel, the less I wanted to ever have any part in the realm of church leadership. I saw many things that turned my stomach but just happened to follow the Handbook perfectly. This story is about just such a time: the time I saw a disciplinary council.Continue reading “The Only Church Disciplinary Council I Ever Saw”
READER POST: Every year when she comes back from Arizona for the summer, my neighbor puts out an American flag. She grew up in Germany at the end of World War II, and her family had nothing when she was little.
“We tried to eat the grass, but Russian soldiers pointed their guns and told us to leave,” she said once, her blue eyes moving away from mine. I sat there, my neighbor’s hand in mine, while she cried. What does one say, when told that a little girl with one dress, a dead father, and no food, had guns pointed at her so she wouldn’t eat grass? I have a lot of words in my head, but I have no words for that. Still. I had a hand, and that hand held hers for as long as it was needed.Continue reading “A Psalm of Women in Times of Sorrow”