The goal of the Health for Every Veteran Study is to better understand the experiences of Veterans from all backgrounds and promote their health and well-being, including those with LGBT or related identities. We are especially interested in hearing the diverse voices within our communities.
The study is being conducted by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. It consists of completing a confidential, web-based questionnaire every 9 months for approximately 2 years (for a total of 4 questionnaires). All research activities are completed online, with no in-person visits required.  For more information, please go to https://healthforeveryvet.questionpro.com

 

McCrory and I agree on one thing: the women and children of North Carolina – and those in the rest of the country – desperately need protection. We disagree, though, on how prioritizing this discriminatory bill solves anything.

Let’s back up. On an average day in America, almost 2,000 adult women are raped. Child Protective Services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse every eight minutes.

If you are a woman, you love a woman, or you’re the parent of a young child, surely these statistics make your blood boil. Sadly, 98 of 100 sexual perpetrators never see the inside of a prison.

Every law enforcement officer will tell you that men wearing dresses in bathrooms account for 0 of the 2,000 rapes per day. The same is true for transgender women in women’s bathrooms.

The problem – as Donald Trump, Dennis Hastert and Brock Turner have so vividly portrayed – is men misbehaving as men!

So what does McCrory do? He diverts our attention with a law that takes away rights and is essentially unenforceable when it comes to the “protections” he claims it ensures. After all, nobody is standing in front of a bathroom door. More than 300 organizations that work to prevent sexual assault and violence against women have spoken out against HB2-style laws because they do nothing to protect women.

Meanwhile, McCrory has wasted precious resources and time instead of focusing on law enforcement, education and jobs. And he’s put at risk transgender people — a group of people who are arguably one of the tiniest, least violent, most at-risk groups in our country. It is despicable. It is pure cowardice.

It is worse. It does nothing to solve the true sources of risk and violence to North Carolina women. In fact, by diverting scarce resources and raising false anxieties, it may make the women and children of North Carolina less safe.

But then again, this isn’t anything new for the North Carolina Legislature. NC Women United scored the General Assembly as “Very Bad” on 22 of 35 goals to remedy challenges faced by women in the state — three of those goals focused on reducing violence against women. On its 2015 national report card, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research gave North Carolina a D+ for women’s health and wellbeing. A look at other states that have proposed similar bathroom bills reveals a disturbing pattern: they, too, scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to protecting women’s health and wellbeing.

I have a unique vantage point on this issue. I am a transgender woman. But I am a woman. It is the only way I know to experience the world. Like all of the women I live and work with, I live every day with the reality that I may be raped or assaulted. I am also the mother of five and the grandmother of five. I worry daily about my children and grandchildren. It is an ugly, violent world out there. I understand other women’s fear. It is my own.

Here is the truth that Governor McCrory doesn’t want any of us focusing on: it is men misbehaving as men who put us at risk – at home and in our neighborhood, in cars and parking lots, at parties and on college campuses. And, now, in Raleigh.

We women deserve something better. Something a lot better.

Tina White is a member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors. She is also the Director of Operations for Blue Ridge Pride and an author, speaker, and activist. She spent thirty years transforming Fortune 500 organizations before embarking on her most ambitious transformation project yet: herself. Her book, Between Shadow and Sun, describes her 50-year struggle to find her place in the world as a man, then her struggle to accept herself as a woman. She lives in Asheville with Mary, her wife of eighteen years.

I have just returned from a wonderfully exhausting day at the Mall in Washington DC. There, I marched with two other local Asheville activists and many friends from the Human Rights Campaign.

How amazing to be surrounded by 500,000 of my closest friends! All day long, our chants chorused across the Mall – from the Capitol, to the Washington Monument, to the White House. There were more pink-knit caps in the crowd than there are sheep in New Zealand. Really. It was HUGE!

I found several reasons to be especially hopeful for America after today:

First, there were all the young women who showed up on behalf of their generation. They were there in the tens of thousands. I marveled at their self-assurance. They clearly felt entitled to their power. They spoke, expecting to be heard. There was no request; no apology. It wasn’t something they felt they had to earn or ask for. To be honest, I felt a little jealous.
They were artful, too. One of their posters asked Donald, “If I incorporate my uterus, will you deregulate it?”

The young men were equally inspiring. One of the women in my group teared up when, all about us, thousands of young men and women joined voices in an impromptu duet of the sexes:
MEN: Your body! Your choice! Your body! Your choice!
WOMEN: Our body! Our choice! Our body! Our choice!
Over and over their voices rang out in call-and-response. To hear both sexes of our younger generation join voices with such spontaneity was beyond words. It was a love song for the ages.
Several of the men’s posters proclaimed their new masculinity: “Real men ask consent.”

Finally, there was an element that happened so naturally, it almost escaped my notice. The majority in the crowd were white. And yet “black lives matter” was everywhere. That I noticed. What nearly escaped me was the fact that it didn’t feel like an add-on issue. It didn’t come across to me as a black issue. Everyone there owned it. It was as though they considered it as natural and as necessary as breathing oxygen. Why would you treat any human being differently?
Black and white, everyone cheered one another on. For a day, I almost forgot about race as a dividing point. We were brothers and sisters. We had each other’s backs. We talked about race as an issue we owned collectively.
One middle-aged man bore my favorite poster in this category: “It’s not alt-right. It’s white supremacy.”

I had the same experience with LGBTQ equality. For once, I didn’t feel like a minority, trying to pacify a mass of discomforted strangers. I was among family, a VERY, big and inclusive family. (Dare I say, “HUGE?”)
They weren’t protecting me out of a vague sense of liberal obligation. They were protecting one of their own. They were fighting for humans. I was just part of the diverse world they had come to value.
I suspect that, in recent years, many of those assembled had come to realize that many of those dearest to them at home are different, too; and no less worthy of their love because of it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see the poster I wanted to see in this category: “WE are the people of family values.”
We don’t toss aside members of our family for being different. We love our family for who they are and help them to become all that they can be. WE don’t treat our own like garbage. WE hold family sacred

It was a truly spectacular day. Maybe we aren’t without hope after all.

To my generation, I say: these children and young adults are worth every ounce of fight we have left in us. From what I saw today, they are precious beyond words. I continue to draw hope and inspiration from them in ways that I never imagined. If you aren’t getting to know them, you are missing out.

To my town of Asheville, I say: this isn’t a fight between faceless metropolises and rural homesteads. This is our fight.
Throughout the day, I carried a sign, “North Carolina: Last in Democracy”. The sign brought fellow Tar Heels flocking to our trio to snap a picture. Many of them hailed from small-town North Carolina – from the Outer Banks, Murphy, Goldsboro – and Buncombe County. “We are so embarrassed”, one elderly gentleman blushed, “but your sign speaks the truth. We have to fix this.”
Our future lies as much with the Shires of America as with its cities and farms. Our townspeople are not daunted by Smaug’s golden breastplate. They know that Mordor can be felled by the least of us.
Let’s show them how it’s done, Asheville! I look forward to slaying dragons and toppling warlords with all of you.

Much love to you all,
Tina

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign likes to remind people that we who fight for human rights are on the right side of history. While I agree, I think that Mr. Griffin is guilty of burying the headline — at least here in the South. According to Jesus Christ, we who fight for human rights aren’t just on the right side of history, we are on the right side of eternity, too.

Christ could not have been clearer about how he would make America great again. In Matthew he tells us that one day, he will gather the nations of the earth before him.

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

He consigns the goats to everlasting punishment.

Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. … Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Religious believers would do well to consider carefully the leaders they follow into eternity. The stakes – their eternal soul – couldn’t be higher.  God may be perfect.  But history is polluted with churches and church leaders who shepherded their followers to the goat pen.

Minorities and progressives are not the enemy of true religious believers. Christ makes it clear that progressives are their allies; persecuted minorities are their gateway to heaven.

Don’t listen to the goat herders, my friends. America’s guns, riches, and birth certificate controls mean nothing to Christ. For him, our segregated society foreordains our destruction. What makes us great in his eyes is our ability to live and love as one people and to raise up the least among us.

In Washington DC, Donald Trump and Mike Pence seem hell-bent on legislating our identity. Yesterday, I awoke to a headline in the New York Times, “Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence”.
Meanwhile, in Raleigh, Tim Moore and Phil Berger seem equally determined to use identity cards to legislate away the rights of many to vote.  They are trying to pass an amendment that will effectively give their party the right to define voting identity requirements.  They don’t bother to tell voters what these requirements will be.  They want us to vote to allow them to decide how we can vote.

I am reminded of a passage in Revelations. The Apostle John describes the actions of the False Prophet working on behalf of the Anti-Christ:
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

In Washington and Raleigh, we are being led by goat herders — men intent on dividing rather than uniting us; men intent on stripping us of our humanity and placing us into boxes that give them comfort and control over us.
Up the hill from me, students at the University of North Carolina, Asheville recently revealed in a survey that over a third of them identify as something other than the binary gender box assigned to them at birth.  The goat herders in Washington and Raleigh would have you believe that this is a moral outrage. But is it?

Queer Christianity

The Reverend Elizabeth Edman, author of Queer Virtue, thinks otherwise. She argues that Christianity is not merely compatible with queer, but rather that “authentic Christianity is and must be queer”. She points to Paul’s insistence that Christ is neither male nor female.   She reminds us that Christ queered the boundaries between Jew and gentile, man and God, life and death. We find our humanity and our relationship with God when we let go of our labels and the things that divide us.  We are all one in Christ.

Maybe our kids are crazy. But maybe – just maybe – they see something that we are missing: the model of gender that our generation has offered them is woefully broken.
Two thousand women are sexually assaulted each day in America. The goat herders’ solution? Blame the women: they are liars; they asked for it; it is God’s punishment for giving Adam the apple. Blame men of color; blame transgender people; blame the immigrants. For God’s sake, blame anyone but white men in power. They should be free to grab pussy where they please. They should lead the government, the legislature, and our courts.  They should run our corporations and control our media.

In my state of North Carolina, the average Tarheel woman is denied $330,000 in lifetime income owing to the gender wage gap here. Threats to repeal pre-existing coverage protections under ACA could leave over 2 million women in North Carolina without coverage. Women here are over-represented in jobs that offer no sick leave, that demand unusual shift schedules. Many lack access to affordable child care.
Mark Harris, running in Mecklenburg County, has a solution for this. He advises women to stay at home, to bear children, and to obey their husbands. Candidate Harris seems to be ignorant of the fact that, in North Carolina, mothers are the sole, primary, or co-bread-winners in 63% of families. In Buncombe County, a third of households with children have but a single parent – generally the mother.   I wonder if candidate Harris considers this their fault.

This is the gender model our queer generation is rejecting. Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Mark Harris want to double-down on it. They want women to submit to men and for all of us to accept the identity that Mike Pence metes out to us.
Me? I side with the kids on this one. Don’t let our leaders rob our children of their tomorrow.