Today I took my sister shopping for a professional suit for her first interview after graduating college a couple of weeks ago. In the process, I met two Christians. But only one of them showed me Jesus.
Shopping for clothes is never easy, but for someone who doesn’t fit in a male or female box like my sister, it’s exponentially harder in ways that cisgender people like me haven’t imagined. There are very few gender-neutral clothes, and even fewer gender-neutral professional clothes. Belk even has entirely separate stores in our local mall for men and women. My sister, who is nonbinary, and I had already had a difficult conversation about how to balance her gender identity and her marketability in an interview, something most people never have to think about. Should she err on the side of being herself and potentially alienate an employer? Should she err on the side of getting a job and then worry about how to be herself later? There were no easy answers. We decided to go to the women’s store and look for a neutral, professional suit.
This is far from the first struggle my sister has had in the past few years as she has fought to graduate cum laude with two degrees, one in math and one in physics, from North Carolina State University. She has overcome significant obstacles that most people never have to face: some related to her gender identity, but many that simply run in our family. We are a lot alike in our mental health struggles, and I was thankful to be in Raleigh to support her over the past year. Shopping for her first job interview should have felt like a celebration after all she’s been through. It crossed my mind that we’d have to use a dressing room at some point and (in case you hadn’t heard) North Carolina just made it very controversial for us to do so. But I naively assumed that the stuff in the news about people being confronted in bathrooms only happened to other people and wasn’t an every day occurrence. Of course it wouldn’t happen to us. I see now that these feelings were rooted in my privilege — I had never been confronted, called out, embarrassed, or harmed because of my gender, so even though I intellectually knew that it happened to others, I didn’t yet really believe in it, if that makes sense.
So, without much thought, my sister and I filled our arms with suit pants and blazers and headed into a mostly empty dressing room. She entered the first available room and began trying on outfits. Our only conversation was about pant sizes, so anyone overhearing us would have had no question about why we were there. This is where the first of the two Christians I met today entered the picture.
This first Christian was the person who, despite hearing only our innocuous conversation about pants and despite the full wall between each dressing room, ducked out to tell the cashier there was a “man” in the dressing room and she felt uncomfortable. This Christian left hastily without speaking to me or my sister, leaving the cashier to inform us of her complaint. This Christian didn’t see the fallout: my sister breaking into an anxious sweat, my tears as I debated what to say to the manager when she arrived, my worries about whether we could continue trying on clothes and whether, even if it were “allowed,” we could calm down enough to make thoughtful decisions about this important outfit.
She missed how, as the fitting room filled up, I took incredible care to keep my sister’s door closed when I went to grab a different size. She missed how we stopped talking except in anxious whispers, even though our conversation was about blazers. She missed how I glanced in utter terror at the men who now waited outside the dressing room for their wives — suddenly, I realized any one of them might be the person behind the thousands of Facebook comments I’ve seen threatening to harm any transgender people they found in “the wrong bathroom.” Was my sister safe? I’m pretty small and still recovering from hip surgery. How could I protect her? Would our experience today haunt her during her interview, her suit a tangible reminder of this moment? Would she relapse into past mental health struggles if someone tried to humiliate or harm her here in this public space? How close was help? Would we end up in the police station? The hospital? My anxiety rose to panic as I grabbed blindly at blazers to finish our task, all the while despairing that what should be a mundane errand could actually be emotionally and physically dangerous for my sister. Is this what Jesus wanted? Would He nod in approval as He looked at us, just a couple of tables overturned by the righteous?
Listen. This Christian felt completely valid feelings. It’s okay if she was uncomfortable. As a person with an anxiety disorder, I’m uncomfortable in lots of situations. Everyone’s personal comfort level is valid. But this Christian decided that instead of sitting with those feelings or heading to a space that was more comfortable for her if she desired, that she should act on them in a way that hurt my sister to her core. This Christian then pretended not to recognize me when, 30 minutes later — after comforting my sister and depositing her outside on a bench to catch her breath while I grabbed a few more essentials — I encountered her again in the store and asked her timidly, “May I please tell you about my sister?”
Y’all, I didn’t want to make a scene. I hate confrontation and even though she had just hurt my sister, I didn’t feel any desire to hurt her. Not because I’m super noble, but more because I just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide. But I’m not going to leave my sister, for whom it costs a lot, to fight this battle or feel she had surrendered without doing so. It doesn’t cost me as much, so I needed to do this for her. The woman turned to listen, and so I began to tell her about my sister.
I told her that my sister had just completed one of the hardest journeys of her life.
I told her that Alex has courageously balanced demanding coursework, intensive individual and group therapy, and her personal transition over the past year.
I told her that plenty of times, I wasn’t sure if Alex was going to be able to keep going.
I told her how proud we were watching Alex graduate a couple of weeks ago.
I told her we were praying about this job interview, because she really needed the job in order to keep her apartment.
I told her how we struggled to find appropriate clothes.
I told her that Alex was so sensitive, so self-conscious right now that trying on clothes was an internal nightmare even before we stepped foot in the dressing room.
I told her: “I understand your feelings and I don’t blame you for however you feel, but what you just did hurt my sister. She is outside trying to pull herself together right now so that we can hopefully keep going.”
I told her: “I just wanted you to know her as a person. To me, she is family. She is loved. I hope next time you will remember that and maybe things will be different.”
This Christian wasn’t hurt by us discussing pant sizes in the dressing room next to her. But my sister was hurt by her. This Christian represented a taste of what she had feared from North Carolina, from the South, from the new Donald-Trump-brand of outspoken opposition to difference, from the current climate where hate is packaged as “concern for safety.”
The woman was quiet throughout, and I’m grateful for that. She didn’t have to listen, after all. She ended the conversation with, “Well. I’ll pray for her.” I’m a Christian too; I know we can wield that phrase in different ways. She wielded it to end an uncomfortable conversation that she did not want to be a part of. I thought later that I should’ve shared James 2, and asked where the works were that her faith, her prayers were supposed to produce toward my sister. Why pray for her while endangering her job interview without a thought? Why pray for her while seeking her removal from a department store? Why pray for her but seek your own comfort instead? Please do pray for her! And please let your faith and love lead you to act. But I didn’t say any of this. I was a sobbing mess and I was just glad she hadn’t been unkind.
And I knew I’d been in shoes just like hers before, announcing my freedom in Christ while privately caught in a web of rules that I swore weren’t rules, policing people in my heart even as I told myself I just loved them, was just concerned for them. Hating the sin and not the sinner, ignoring how the sinner seemed, curiously, to suffer from my hatred just the same. I didn’t say much more at all. I thanked her and walked away.
The other Christian I met today was Pam. She didn’t tell me she would pray for me or mention Jesus, but I saw Jesus in her actions. When I noticed the small cross around her neck as we were leaving the store, I was not surprised.
Pam was the cashier at Belk who first came to tell us of this customer’s complaint. Stunned and at a loss for words, I choked out a request to speak with a manager, hoping that we could just finish our business and be on our way. As she walked away to get a manager, Pam stopped. I could tell she was wrestling with something she needed to say. She looked back and said, “I’m just telling you what that woman said; it’s not coming from me. I don’t have a problem with you being here.” In my moment of panic, fear, and pain, when I was swimming (and drowning) in competing priorities — to stand up for my sister’s right to have the same shopping experience as others, to protect her safety, to comfort her, to deal with my own anxiety and pain, to communicate clearly to the manager despite my emotional state, to hold Belk accountable for however they chose to face this important issue, to GET MY SISTER AN OUTFIT FOR HER INTERVIEW — Pam’s words were a life preserver. I was not alone, standing between my sister and the dangerous world. Pam was there too.
She checked in a couple of times after that to let me know the manager was on the way and to nod reassurance as we frantically kept trying on clothes, hoping that we could get finished before potentially getting kicked out. The manager came and was polite, allowing us to continue but noting that perhaps we should have gone into the farthest dressing room (I’m not mad at her; I don’t think she had the time to think this suggestion through to realize how it sounded. I could have tried to explain, but at that point I was exhausted and choosing battles very selectively). We chose a suit that I prayed was okay, since we didn’t have our wits about us enough to really think it through. I took Alex out to recover in the parking lot for a bit while I went up to pay.
At the counter, standing across from Pam, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I said, “I just want to thank you so much for your kindness. It can be so hard, as I’m sure you can imagine.” She nodded her understanding as she shuffled through papers to find discount coupons, just another tiny gesture to support us. She shared, “I work in the public school system, so I know.” A wave of gratitude washed over me. How lucky her students are to have her.
I still have no idea how Pam feels about transgender people, North Carolina’s House Bill 2, or the presidential election. I could tell she hadn’t been in this situation before and wasn’t too sure about how to proceed. I could tell she hesitated before each step. I could tell she was an imperfect human being, just like me, just like the first Christian. She didn’t know all the right answers. But whatever internal struggle might have gone on — to believe one thing or another, to act on a personal conviction or to let love change her course, or maybe even just to offer kindness or keep to herself, who knows? — Pam chose love. She let love determine her actions. And wow, I saw Jesus Christ in that.
One year ago: Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars: The ULTIMATE Lemon Lover’s Dessert!
Two years ago: Chocolate Doughnut Cake
Three years ago: Biscoff Spread Gooey Butter Cake
Four years ago: Gooey Butter Strawberry Shortcake
Five years ago: Strawberry Cream Pie
Six years ago: Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake
- 2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus extra for topping
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- scant 1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
- 1/4 cup cold butter diced into 1/2-inch cubes, plus extra for topping
- 7/8 cup (which is 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold buttermilk, plus extra for topping
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together until they are extremely well combined. Add the butter to the large bowl of dry ingredients and cut it in with a pastry cutter or two knives. Be patient and thorough. The mixture should look like crumbly, damp sand when you’re finished. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and egg. If the dough is too dry, you can add water just a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. If it is too wet and sticky, you can add flour a tablespoon at a time until it doesn’t stick to your fingers when pressed, but sticks a little when pinched. It’s important at this point to fuss with the dough as little as possible. Mix the dough until it is just barely combined.
- Pat the dough out onto a well-floured counter to about 1-inch thick. Cut with a floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on your prepared baking sheet touching each other to help them "climb." Brush the tops with extra buttermilk and place a pat of butter on top of each biscuit. Sprinkle all the biscuits with a little salt and a little sugar. Bake 7 minutes before turning the oven off. Leave them in the oven for 5-10 minutes longer, or until they’re golden brown. Remove them to cool to just warm. Serve with butter and jam or honey.
roJune 4, 2016 at 4:35 pm (7 years ago)
My heart goes out to your sister (and you). What an awful experience, being invalidated just for existing.
I don’t know if I agree that Pam exercised the best judgment, though…why was it necessary to pass on this other woman’s hateful words? Had I been in Pam’s position, and received a complaint from a customer who was already on their way out (fine by me, spend your bigoted dollars elsewhere), I don’t know that passing on the message would have done anything except upset someone.
I hope your sister rocks her interview. And she may consider checking out the clothing at http://saintharridan.com/. They have beautiful things for NB folks.
Much love to you both. <3
Julie RubleJune 4, 2016 at 4:45 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks so much, friend <3 I will pass the link along! I know just what you mean about Pam, and with time to think perhaps she would have done just that. But you know, I love that she is a real person. She didn't handle everything perfectly. She perhaps felt it was her job to check things out and attend to the customer's issues, and maybe she even wondered if something was amiss — but upon realizing what was happening, she let love guide her. I appreciate that so much, especially now that — having been in the situation myself — I realize how utterly terrifying it is to do all the things you PROMISED yourself you would do when confronted with injustice.
You know, I think before this happened, I’d have told you I wouldn’t let the manager’s clueless words slide. I wouldn’t have been ready to spend my money at a store where my sister was hurt until I heard from someone official that they didn’t condone it. I wouldn’t have . . . I would have . . . but the truth is, in the moment, I was just a person. I tried my best but I can think of so many ways what I did wasn’t just right. I’m thankful Pam let love lead 🙂
This story was written starting on the day of the incident, but I’ve been revising it for over a week, so my sister’s interview has passed now — and it went very well, hooray!! We are waiting now to see if she gets the job! Thank you again!
roJune 4, 2016 at 6:24 pm (7 years ago)
You’re exactly right, of course. It’s easy to look at what others (in this case, Pam) do and find what’s lacking. What’s important here is that she did extend the hand of kindness to you both. I forget that sometimes–that we’re all human, and it’s important to honor people’s attempts to do the right thing even if they are in some ways, imperfect. Thanks for reminding me. =)
I’m very glad to hear your sister’s interview went well, and I hope you are able to update us with good news soon! In the meantime, please pass on my good thoughts and love to your sister–she is a human being, worthy of love, respect, and dignity, no matter her gender expression. I am and always will be an ally, and I’m grateful that she has support from people like you in her life.
Julie RubleJune 4, 2016 at 9:51 pm (7 years ago)
Well, you’re right too. 🙂 It’s one of those things I guess that I hold in tension. I did this therapy once that had as its basis, “I’m doing the best I can AND I can learn to do better.” It seems true for all of us. And it costs me nothing to forgive Pam’s imperfections, but of course it costs my sister something. So it’s easy for me to say, I guess. But yes, in this case we really saw through everything else to her concern for us, and that was so uplifting!
I hope so too, re: good news. Thank you for your sweet words! I will pass them along <3
AntonJune 4, 2016 at 9:33 pm (7 years ago)
My heart goes out to you both. As a trans person living in the South, I can relate. I live in terror of public bathrooms and any situation where my gender might be questioned. I’m rooting for your sister and the job interview to go well. A good friend of mine is non-binary and was just complaining about how hard it is to find good professional clothes.
Julie RubleJune 4, 2016 at 9:53 pm (7 years ago)
Thank you, Anton. I’m so sorry that you can empathize with this. You don’t deserve to be afraid just being yourself. I’ll pass along your well wishes to my sister!
Sherrie NicholsonJune 5, 2016 at 8:21 am (7 years ago)
Thank you so much for sharing. I always love your recipes and writing. This was an even more important message to share and I thank you for sharing it. I hope that your sister find employment that brings her joy!
Julie RubleJune 5, 2016 at 10:46 pm (7 years ago)
Thank you Sherrie!!
Jane SJune 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm (7 years ago)
Julie, I can’t imagine how painful this experience must have been for you and your sister. It is always so difficult to understand how people can be so hurtful to others and then hide behind their “faith” as a rationale for treating others without regard for feelings or consequences. Of course, for some, this is a difficult issue that will take time to adjust, but that does not excuse the hurtful behavior that many exhibit without thinking. I guess I feel as with most issues, if people mind their own business instead of minding someones elses business, we would all be better off. So sorry you both had to deal with that type of person.
So happy to hear that your sister’s interview went well! Wishing her the best of luck!
Julie RubleJune 5, 2016 at 10:53 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks Jane! It was so notable to me because I know that woman wasn’t malicious and probably didn’t think of what she was doing as hurting anyone, even. It reminds me to go a few extra steps down the road of considering before I act, because what if I affect someone this way because I didn’t think it through?
JulieJCJune 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm (7 years ago)
Hope you don’t mind, but I linked to your article on my blog. I was both happy and sad to read your post. Happy to read the “other side of the story” of what is happening in the bible belt, and especially the state that has set the stage for legal harassment of particular American citizens. But sad because your sister should NEVER had to suffer such ignorance and meanness. Not just sad, but also angry.
I’m in Alabama, but from New England and New York. It’s like two different worlds. I am so tired of keeping my opinions to myself out of respect for others’ different from mine. But I wish they would extend me the same courtesy and keep their mouths shut. Especially since they are such “good Christians.” Jesus would disown every single one of them.
As a Buddhist (Christians will read: pagan, another group vilified, although tolerated), I will pray for the end of suffering caused by the ignorance of these foolish people calling themselves disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. I hope your sister got the job and finds great joy and love in whatever paths she follows.
PS I prefer cracked pepper and cheese in my biscuits!
Jim GordonJune 5, 2016 at 10:33 pm (7 years ago)
It is sad to say, but you are right Julie. Try to keep in mind all of us Christians are not the same and some of us really do believe Jesus when he says to love one another.
JulieJCJune 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm (7 years ago)
Oh, yes, Jim, and I have met many like you. In fact my partner is such a man, a former deacon of his church until he got tired of the politic-ism of church. In our house we recognize the “Sunday Christian,” all others are simply good-hearted people we are lucky to know. Unfortunately, the Sunday Christians give Jesus a bad name and are just as dangerous as ISIL.
Julie RubleJune 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm (7 years ago)
It’s funny, I see it differently. Some of the most legit good-hearted people I’ve met — who are devoted Christians as much as I could possibly know and emotionally devoted to serving the world — are the people who are doggedly anti-LGBT. These people aren’t the Sunday Christians — they’re in it.
To be honest, I think the Church in America (generally) has been infiltrated and emotionally manipulated by a powerful group of conservatives who recognized that fear and faith are two of the most powerful motivators: if you’re scared for your family and your world and you think your faith tells you you are a soldier on the front lines of a culture war and Satan is trying to trick you into offending your God but luring you with love and emotions, it’s powerful. It’s political capital to the extreme. What happened in NC is a prime example of how throwing out a ridiculous bill that costs thousands (maybe millions) of dollars to the state and hurts almost everyone can make you a party hero.
I just can’t believe there are people with little enough conscience to have taken advantage of that, to have steered us this way. We have to stand against it. I want my religion back.
Robin CamuJune 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm (7 years ago)
Julie, I don’t think ‘ the Church in America (generally) has been infiltrated and emotionally manipulated by a powerful group of conservatives who recognized that fear and faith are two of the most powerful motivators”. I think that most of civilization has used fear as a motivator because it works. And religion has always reflected the civilizations they grew from. We are in a transition time where we are moving from fear to love. And the part of the church that is still in the fear form has become more obvious. But that is a far cry from ‘infiltrating and manipulating’.
Julie RubleJune 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks for your thoughts, Robin. I hail from an evangelical megachurch in the Southern Baptist denomination, and so it’s hard to really make general statements that are widely applicable. However, I am convinced that in that sphere, the evolution over the past couple of decades or so has been deliberately steered. It’s a campaign from the ground up: radio programs, books, and shifting the tone and leadership of church congregations ostensibly to protect “family values.” Pledges church leaders sign to show adherence to ostensibly Christian values that happen to have political implications. Organizations created by church leaders to lobby. Movements toward homeschooling or religious schooling, construction of universities to pull kids out of mainstream education. At my last church, we were told, “You’re not on a cruise ship here. It’s a battleship.” It’s strategic. The groups who have driven this movement are groups like the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition of America, Family Research Council, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
I believe that most people — even leaders of churches, etc. — involved are good and well-intentioned and loving and operating based on some fear and some love. But I also do believe that a small group of folks steering the “battleship” understand the power of fear and faith to move people for political ends, and are using that in a way that (even if their goals are good) is not intellectually and emotionally honest, that is exploitative. I think it’s important to call this out because I know that when I was a part of it, I wasn’t aware. I was involved in a constant “moral” struggle that I now feel was manufactured/inflated to gain my political support. I wish someone would have shown me these organizations and the history of my denomination, that I could’ve gotten “outside” of it to see that it hadn’t always been this way, didn’t have to be this way. That’s why I share.
Word choice definitely matters, and I want to try to ascribe good motives to people in general. I appreciate your reminder of that.
Julie RubleJune 5, 2016 at 10:51 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks for sharing, Julie! I agree — cracked pepper and cheese sounds awesome 🙂
Jim GordonJune 5, 2016 at 8:58 pm (7 years ago)
Let me say that as a straight christian man, I believe in treating people with love, respect and acceptance. This is the way Jesus treated people and we should do the same. I am sorry for the way your sister was treated and truly believe showing love to all no matter what label we put on each other is the way of Christ. Gay, straight, transgender, asexual, atheist, christian etc., accept and respect one another in love. We do not all have to agree but we can accept one another even in our differences.
Julie RubleJune 5, 2016 at 10:50 pm (7 years ago)
ReaganJune 5, 2016 at 11:34 pm (7 years ago)
So….let me get this straight.
1.You are calling 2 people Christians, whom you have no idea if they understand Christ’s sacrifice for them or if they have a relationship with Him.Then,judging Christians bard on your assumption…..
2.Someone told an employee they were uncomfortable with a man in the dressing room,without making a scene, being unkind, etc..and she must not have love?
It seems to me that you guys are the ones without love. That woman had every right to feel uncomfortable and she tried to express it in a polite way. Why doesn’t she have the right to feel uncomfortable? Your sibling felt uncomfortable, but cannot understand other people’s uncomfortability?
I do not agree with anyone being unkind or hateful to another, but I also don’t believe it’s okay to condemn others feelings and act as if they are the loving ones(e.g. you guys toward the woman in the dressing room).
This story isn’t fair, factual or anything but a sob story, intended to make someone look bad. Why should you be more upset than she? After all, you guys knew the situation – she did not. She was surprised to think a man was where she was undressing and didn’t have time to process the best way to respond, and yet it sounds like she tried to be polite and non-confrontational.
Maybe that woman had a bad experience with a man in a dressing room before. Did you considershe may have good reason to feel uncomfortable? I had a very bad experience with a man in a bathroom, so I am not comfortable with men or transgenders in the bathroom with me, if I’m alone. Not because I think they all are apt to hurt me, but what if one of them did? Plus,the anxiety that cross in because of the trauma before is hard.
You never know what may be behind others’reactions.
Be fair. Be loving. Be what you expect from everyone else.
Julie RubleJune 5, 2016 at 11:59 pm (7 years ago)
Hey Reagan, thanks for reading. In answer to your concerns:
1. “You are calling 2 people Christians, whom you have no idea if they understand Christ’s sacrifice for them or if they have a relationship with Him.Then,judging Christians bard on your assumption”
Actually, calling them both Christians was a deliberate choice not to judge them. They both identified themselves as believers with outward words or symbols (offers of prayer and the cross) — and I just take them at their word! I don’t claim to know anyone’s heart (I agree that that would be judging.)
Now that you mention it, though, the cross necklace may symbolize Christianity, but prayers don’t necessarily. You’re right that the first woman may have been of another faith that prays. Thanks for pointing that out.
2. “That woman had every right to feel uncomfortable and she tried to express it in a polite way. Why doesn’t she have the right to feel uncomfortable?”
I think you missed some parts of the post! For instance, I said: “Listen. This Christian felt completely valid feelings. It’s okay if she was uncomfortable. As a person with an anxiety disorder, I’m uncomfortable in lots of situations. Everyone’s personal comfort level is valid. But this Christian decided that instead of sitting with those feelings or heading to a space that was more comfortable for her if she desired, that she should act on them in a way that hurt my sister to her core.”
Please know that I try to never tell people to stop feeling feelings. It’s how we act on them that matters. My sister did not interfere with the woman’s right to shop peacefully. The woman did try to interfere with my sister’s right to do the same, however. Thankfully, the store manager supported our right to be there. It could have easily gone a different way.
3. “She was surprised to think a man was where she was undressing and didn’t have time to process the best way to respond”
So true! I thought about this too. That’s why I was polite and non-confrontational to her. I can think of plenty of times when I haven’t had the time to process and have acted in a way I wasn’t proud of later. Who knows, this might’ve been one of those times for her! That’s why I felt it was important to share my sister’s story with her.
4. “I had a very bad experience with a man in a bathroom, so I am not comfortable with men or transgenders in the bathroom with me, if I’m alone. Not because I think they all are apt to hurt me, but what if one of them did?”
I’m sorry. Trauma is real. It affects people in far-reaching ways: making them afraid to leave their homes, afraid to sleep at night, afraid to be alone. I hate that you had a bad experience and feel anxiety as a result. I hope you are getting support. I say this as someone who has dealt with the effects of trauma myself: personally, it was important to learn that my feelings were valid (always always always) but the ways I was acting on them were ineffective and harmful. I now try to identify my feelings and use them as merely tools to help me decide what to do, instead of letting my feelings immediately drive my actions. This is what I was mentioning above, regarding the first woman’s discomfort: her feelings were valid, but I hope she will think about the effects of the actions she takes as a result. That being said, I can’t give you any advice because I don’t know you or your personal journey.
5. “Be fair. Be loving. Be what you expect from everyone else.”
Exactly what I’m trying to do! I hope you can reread and see this in my words. But if not, I thank you for reading the first time at least.
JulieJCJune 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm (7 years ago)
Julie, you are a courageous, strong, and wise woman (who shares great recipes that I love!) We are all lucky you are in the world in these times.
P.S. I actually use the black pepper and parmesan cheese in biscuits I make with cream cheese and use them to make a kind of chicken pot pie. Go nice with a soup and salad, too!
JenniferJune 19, 2016 at 1:13 am (7 years ago)
“But this Christian decided that instead of sitting with those feelings or heading to a space that was more comfortable for her if she desired, that she should act on them in a way that hurt my sister to her core.”
Please know that I try to never tell people to stop feeling feelings. It’s how we act on them that matters. My sister did not interfere with the woman’s right to shop peacefully. The woman did try to interfere with my sister’s right to do the same, however. Thankfully, the store manager supported our right to be there. It could have easily gone a different way.”
I wish communication could happen face to face rather than online but since this is where we are, I will try to communicate. I have a problem with some of your expectations of what others should do if they are uncomfortable. You say above that the lady (Christian) in question should have left to a more comfortable place for her so that your sister could peacefully shop. Um, why does one party have to accept something outside the norm (man in woman’s designated area) or leave? Why would you assume your sister didn’t “interfere with the Christian’s right to shop peacefully” when obviously that did occur since the lady was uncomfortable with a man in the woman’s area?
Whether or not the lady was a Christian is not in question. It doesn’t make her less of a Christian because she voiced her feelings than it makes you more of a Christian for supporting your sister. Both of you could be the best Christians around. Who knows your hearts? I don’t think questioning someone’s Christianity is a very loving thing to do. It’s something that seems very vogue; cut someone down by saying “Jesus wouldn’t show love that way.” Well, Jesus cast out demons, he cured illnesses. He showed love by curing people. I’m not saying that your sister needs curing but I am saying that Jesus “fixed” people who were not 100%. He didn’t walk around telling others to love those who were in need of cures, telling them they were evil for not loving those inflicted and that everyone should be accepted. He acted. We are called to act. In our actions, we show our love. Perverting what Jesus said, “love one another” into “accept one another even if you’re uncomfortable” means your sister should quickly have left to make the lady feel loved. That didn’t happen so is your sister less of a Christian? We could go crazy here trying to figure out what exactly was more Christian. Since only Jesus knows what He would have done, perhaps we should show each other love by simply going into the rooms where our anatomy dictates, not where we “identify.” It might make someone like your sister uncomfortable for those minutes of trying on pants but what about all those others that day that were uncomfortable? The “Christian,” the husbands who felt they had to come stand guard for their wives, you, the manager. It may not be “fair” to your sister but is it “fair” to demand that those listed have to make your sister comfortable over their own comfort?
I have a dear friend who was viciously raped at 16. She is now 20 and still shakes uncontrollably around men who are strangers. I can tell you that she would be absolutely terrified if she was in the woman’s fitting area and heard a man’s voice. Said man could be absolutely lovely and meaning NO harm whatsoever but my friend would be terrified. Who has more rights? My friend should “leave to a more comfortable place” which would be where? If we say that all fitting rooms and restrooms should allow how one identifies to define where one may go, my friend will never be able to use a fitting or rest room again. Doesn’t seem loving to me.
As for your thought that churches steer people out of fear to an end goal, that is true not only of churches but of most who are in power. President Obama even admitted that using a tragedy (say a mass shooting) and the fear that results is a great way to steer the conversation about gun control. It’s not just “Christians” and churches.
Sorry this is so long. I appreciate you. I enjoy your writing and your honesty! God bless you and your sister! This is all so very difficult.
Julie RubleJune 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and being brave enough to engage in dialogue! That’s how things change, I think. I will answer in an enumerated way because that’s the easiest way to keep my thoughts straight, but I don’t want you to feel like I’m reducing your feelings down to a bullet point list.
1. “Um, why does one party have to accept something outside the norm (man in woman’s designated area) or leave? Why would you assume your sister didn’t “interfere with the Christian’s right to shop peacefully” when obviously that did occur since the lady was uncomfortable with a man in the woman’s area? […] It may not be ‘fair’ to your sister but is it ‘fair’ to demand that those listed have to make your sister comfortable over their own comfort?”
I’m glad you raised this point because I’m sure it’s something a lot of people wonder at first brush. Both parties have the right to their valid feelings, as I mentioned. Both my sister and this woman have the right to feel uncomfortable. However, yes, it is unfair to ask that rules be made to restrict others’ rights for your own comfort, and no, it is not unfair to ask that you be able to continue exercising your own rights for others’ comfort.
Consider this example of racism to make this a little more obvious: if a White woman were uncomfortable with a Black woman in the fitting room, your argument suggesting that it’s equally fair for the Black woman to ask for the right to continue using the fitting room as it is for the White woman to ask that the Black woman be removed, because either way, someone is uncomfortable. We know this is absurd — and it’s the same situation. Hopefully that clarifies.
2. “Both of you could be the best Christians around. Who knows your hearts? I don’t think questioning someone’s Christianity is a very loving thing to do.”
I completely agree! That’s why nowhere in this post did I question this woman’s Christianity, nor would I ever do so. Can you help me understand why you think I did?
3. “Well, Jesus cast out demons, he cured illnesses. He showed love by curing people. I’m not saying that your sister needs curing but I am saying that Jesus “fixed” people who were not 100%. He didn’t walk around telling others to love those who were in need of cures, telling them they were evil for not loving those inflicted and that everyone should be accepted. He acted. We are called to act. In our actions, we show our love.”
Bingo! That’s my point in this post 🙂
4. “Perverting what Jesus said, ‘love one another’ into ‘accept one another even if you’re uncomfortable’ means your sister should quickly have left to make the lady feel loved. That didn’t happen so is your sister less of a Christian?”
My sister is not a Christian, actually.
5. “Perhaps we should show each other love by simply going into the rooms where our anatomy dictates, not where we ‘identify.’ It might make someone like your sister uncomfortable for those minutes of trying on pants but what about all those others that day that were uncomfortable? The ‘Christian,’ the husbands who felt they had to come stand guard for their wives, you, the manager.”
This represents a misunderstanding many people have about the role of anatomy to a transgender person. Many people think transgender people are all “before surgery” or “after surgery” and that they all seek an anatomy change to their genitalia. This is extremely reductive and arbitrary. Many transgender people do not wish to alter their current genitalia (because it’s not what determines gender anyway), can’t afford to do so, or wouldn’t have the option of doing so in a way that was satisfying (for instance, what genitalia would you propose for a non-binary person?) This conversation is a little invasive and embarrassing anyway — one’s private parts are not anyone’s business. That’s part of why even in a restroom and fitting room, there are stalls to ensure privacy.
This means that dividing people into rooms based on a body part you won’t see is about as arbitrary as saying, “If you have type O blood, you have to change in here. Type A, change in here.”
This is why many people seek a gender-neutral option.
Besides all that, Belk did not have another option for Alex. Even if she had wanted to go in the men’s fitting room, there was not one in the Belk where we were buying clothes (they have separate stores for women and men, as I mentioned in the post.)
Besides that too, Jesus stood for the sinners, the brokenhearted, the orphans, the widows. So I find it very, very hard to understand what logic you use to support this assertion. Trans people are one of the most ostracized, oppressed, misunderstood, endangered groups in our society. Did you know that 42% — almost half! — of trans people will attempt suicide? Did you know 1 in 2 transgender people will be sexually assaulted?
The husbands, women, and manager that day were not in danger. They were not being targeted for their identity and they did not have to fear humiliation, stress, and violence. Saying that my sister should take herself out to make them feel better is shocking to me.
Again, I feel like race examples are sometimes more accessible to us: this would like saying a Christian Black person wouldn’t sit at Woolworth’s lunch counter if the people around were uncomfortable, but would remove him- or herself to show love. Yet the brave people who stood their ground in love and nonviolence (civil disobedience) were actually the ones who changed things, showing love to the people who were actually in danger, who were being oppressed.
We weren’t going for civil disobedience here — we were trying on pants. But I find it galling that someone would suggest that my sister, who has been assaulted, harassed, humiliated, and targeted, should leave to make the safe and comfortable shoppers feel better.
6. “I have a dear friend who was viciously raped at 16. She is now 20 and still shakes uncontrollably around men who are strangers. I can tell you that she would be absolutely terrified if she was in the woman’s fitting area and heard a man’s voice. Said man could be absolutely lovely and meaning NO harm whatsoever but my friend would be terrified. Who has more rights? My friend should ‘leave to a more comfortable place’ which would be where? If we say that all fitting rooms and restrooms should allow how one identifies to define where one may go, my friend will never be able to use a fitting or rest room again. Doesn’t seem loving to me.”
I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m not on an opposing side to your friend. I’m actually pissed off that politicians are using her fear to hurt my sister and the transgender population, who have literally nothing to do with the assault she experienced. There is no weight whatsoever to the idea that allowing people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with causes danger. The “safety” argument is a manipulative one. Here’s an article that speaks to this: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article74033802.html
Your friend’s predator was (from what I gather here) a cisgender man. Why would we punish and endanger (remember those stats about how much more likely trans people are to experience violence) the entire trans population because CISGENDER MEN commit violent crimes like this? Shouldn’t we be addressing that? Politicians are fine with distracting you with lies about protecting your safety from sexual assault even while Brock Turner gets 3 months in jail for rape, people vocally invalidate the accusations of domestic abuse and rape survivors, and rape kit backlogs reach epic proportions in states including North Carolina! If they cared about safety, sexual assault, and women, they’d be doing something about this.
But they’re not. And it’s because they don’t care. They care about HB2 because it earns them political points with their party in an increasingly extreme GOP.
I care about your friend, too. I hope she has support and a care network to help her with the trauma she experienced. I also hope politicians stop playing on her (and all of our) fears to hurt innocent people like my sister. Thanks again for your thoughts, which I can plainly see are rooted in love.
JenniferJune 23, 2016 at 8:59 am (7 years ago)
Julie, I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier; I didn’t receive notification that you had posted and I was too dense to check!
I think we have to agree to disagree and go away in love because you see things from the point of view from your sister’s side, one that I do not live or experience. I don’t live in a world where I go around using the words “cisgender” or other terms you use frequently. It’s not, from my point of view, hateful, bigoted or ignorant to want to live in a world where my young daughter (who doesn’t understand or care about how one identifies) can start gaining her independence by going into a fitting room without her mom without experiencing a situation which leads to questions she isn’t mature enough to understand. Hearing a man’s voice next to her in the woman’s fitting room would shock and potentially scare her. This is a valid concern and to reduce it to the debate of “there are 42% of transgender people who attempt suicide” which is just as emotional as any politician’s argument (which you voice you do not like) is to say that the little girls out there should grow up in a world where they accept the changes you propose without my right as a mom to say otherwise.
You also completely disregard my argument about my friend’s terror around men by countering with the argument that transgender people are victims rather than addressing her fear. Again, it’s the point of view. You want an outcome that is pleasing to your sister (nothing wrong with that) at any cost even if your sister was the lone transgender person in the store that day. So every other person who disagreed with her presence should have been forced by our government or an interpretation of what Christ would have done to change their minds rather than your sister? It’s an ugly situation, one that can not be compared to a black/white person example. There are millions and millions of blacks in America. Just a few years ago, the numbers said there was 1% of Americans who identify as transgender. It may (politically) be more now but do you think there is 50% of our population? Without such numbers, again, you obviously think it’s time that America adjust their way of thinking to accommodate that 1-4% population even if more than 50% doesn’t agree. It has nothing to do with “that evil GOP” which seems to reduce things to political again; it’s my rights over another person’s rights. My friend has the right to go to a mall (as does your sister) and feel safe while trying on a dress (or pants). Without jumping to the “my sister isn’t going to harm your friend” argument, can you recognize that your sister’s presence, her voice, HARMS my friend? Exactly like your sister was harmed by those that day who wanted her to leave.
The only way I see that both parties not be harmed is by the separation that God created. He created anatomy. He created man and woman. It’s been the accepted norm since the beginning of mankind. God doesn’t make mistakes; mankind does. I see this as a mistake. It’s not a matter of “hate the sin not the sinner.” It’s a perverted way of thinking that “I am bigger (than this God I do not recognize), I may identify however I think and the world must accept my decision/right.” I do not advocate hate nor do I wish any person harm. I do wish your sister (and I am really sorry but I am ignorant as to if your sister really was born your brother but now wants to be a woman without an operation to become one – I don’t know the situation and I don’t know all the terms that people use) peace and that she feels the grace of Christ.
Julie RubleJune 25, 2016 at 2:02 pm (7 years ago)
Again, I will number my response just for clarity.
1. “I think we have to agree to disagree and go away in love because you see things from the point of view from your sister’s side, one that I do not live or experience.”
I agree to disagree about things like curtains, sports teams, or how to best stimulate the economy. I don’t agree to disagree about human rights, and I encourage you not to, either.
2. “I don’t live in a world where I go around using the words ‘cisgender’ or other terms you use frequently.”
I didn’t live in this world either. But I was open to learning new vocabulary when I needed to, learning about people different from me. Everyone can.
3.“It’s not, from my point of view, hateful, bigoted or ignorant to want to live in a world where my young daughter (who doesn’t understand or care about how one identifies) can start gaining her independence by going into a fitting room without her mom without experiencing a situation which leads to questions she isn’t mature enough to understand. Hearing a man’s voice next to her in the woman’s fitting room would shock and potentially scare her. This is a valid concern and to reduce it to the debate of “there are 42% of transgender people who attempt suicide” which is just as emotional as any politician’s argument (which you voice you do not like) is to say that the little girls out there should grow up in a world where they accept the changes you propose without my right as a mom to say otherwise.”
In this paragraph, you said that not wanting your daughter ask you question (that you could answer simply, honestly, and in an age-appropriate way like any other difficult question that will come up) is more important than maintaining the safety, health, and wellbeing of a critically endangered population (42% makes me emotional too; it is also extremely relevant).
I would protest that my sister’s right to go about in society as everyone else can and her physical and mental health is infinitely more important that making sure your daughter doesn’t ask you a question. I’m shocked — literally utterly shocked — if you disagree.
Your daughter might also ask you about people with different abilities, about race, about religion, about sex, about self-expression she sees around her. I hope she will, and I hope you will answer. We can’t avoid hard questions by hiding real people away, nor should we.
4. “You also completely disregard my argument about my friend’s terror around men by countering with the argument that transgender people are victims rather than addressing her fear.”
That is not true. I will copy and paste where I validated your friend’s fear and discussed how people are using that very fear to hurt a population who is not responsible nor involved with her assault in any way. Meanwhile the population who is responsible and involved with most sexual assaults is not being addressed in any way. In other words, to *help your friend* we must not be distracted by this political game and must actually address the danger that she encountered. Here is what I said that in no way disregarded your friend:
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m not on an opposing side to your friend. I’m actually pissed off that politicians are using her fear to hurt my sister and the transgender population, who have literally nothing to do with the assault she experienced. There is no weight whatsoever to the idea that allowing people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with causes danger. The ‘safety’ argument is a manipulative one. Here’s an article that speaks to this: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article74033802.html
“Your friend’s predator was (from what I gather here) a cisgender man. Why would we punish and endanger (remember those stats about how much more likely trans people are to experience violence) the entire trans population because CISGENDER MEN commit violent crimes like this? Shouldn’t we be addressing that? Politicians are fine with distracting you with lies about protecting your safety from sexual assault even while Brock Turner gets 3 months in jail for rape, people vocally invalidate the accusations of domestic abuse and rape survivors, and rape kit backlogs reach epic proportions in states including North Carolina! If they cared about safety, sexual assault, and women, they’d be doing something about this.”
5. “You want an outcome that is pleasing to your sister (nothing wrong with that) at any cost even if your sister was the lone transgender person in the store that day. So every other person who disagreed with her presence should have been forced by our government or an interpretation of what Christ would have done to change their minds rather than your sister? It’s an ugly situation, one that can not be compared to a black/white person example. There are millions and millions of blacks in America. Just a few years ago, the numbers said there was 1% of Americans who identify as transgender. It may (politically) be more now but do you think there is 50% of our population?”
Again, I will ask you to consider an example with race to see how your logic is working. I will use your words:
“You want an outcome that is pleasing to your sister (nothing wrong with that) at any cost even if your sister was the lone [BLACK] person in the store that day. So every other person who disagreed with her presence should have been forced by our government or an interpretation of what Christ would have done to change their minds rather than your sister?”
So I’m sure you see that the answer is, absolutely, yes. Even if the majority of folks didn’t want a person of color in the store, that person’s rights should be protected. In fact, much of our nation’s laws are designed to protect minorities — when the nation began, the founding members were comprised in part of religious minorities. This means the fact that 12.2% of the United States is Black while roughly 0.3% of Americans are transgender simply doesn’t matter. We don’t take away your rights because there aren’t many of you. That is explicitly un-American. Nobody has to agree with who you are (just think of how horrible it must feel, by the way, for someone to disagree with WHO YOU ARE) for you to have the same rights as everyone else. No one has the right to demand that your rights be taken away because they’re uncomfortable.
6. “It’s my rights over another person’s rights. My friend has the right to go to a mall (as does your sister) and feel safe while trying on a dress (or pants).”
The rights being infringed by prohibiting my sister from using businesses and facilities or not maintaining her safety while doing so are not equal to someone’s right to be comfortable. Comfort is not protected by our nation’s laws. You will not always be comfortable. Someone with tattoos might make you uncomfortable, but they are not infringing upon your rights. You are comparing apples to oranges. I talk about my sister’s comfort here to humanize her pain, not to imply that’s how her rights would’ve been infringed had she been asked to leave the store.
7. “Without jumping to the ‘my sister isn’t going to harm your friend’ argument, can you recognize that your sister’s presence, her voice, HARMS my friend? Exactly like your sister was harmed by those that day who wanted her to leave.”
ABSOLUTELY NOT. This is abhorrent to me. You are saying that my sister, by being PRESENT and by EXISTING, by simply SPEAKING about pant sizes, has enacted harm against someone else. Please hear yourself. That implication absolutely disgusts me. Again, imagine if someone said this exact thing about a Black person or a person with tattoos. This is how you agree to disagree in love? By telling me my family member harms people by existing, speaking?
Our emotions are OUR responsibility. I care about your friend AND her emotions and trauma are her responsibility. I say this with love as someone who holds trauma of her own. Other people are not responsible for managing my feelings. Not only that, but while they may CHOOSE to assist me, it is certainly unreasonable to FORCE them to assist me with my trauma (e.g. by ordering them to leave a store).
8. “The only way I see that both parties not be harmed is by the separation that God created. He created anatomy.”
I point back to race. What if someone said, “The only way I see that both parties not be harmed is by the separation that God created. He created skin color. He created Black and White. It’s been the accepted norm since the beginning of mankind.” We know now that this “separation” is arbitrary and mostly created/used by people to reinforce the idea of a “wholesome White default” and oppress Black people. The same thing is happening here. Don’t be a part of it. No one sees or interacts with your anatomy in the restroom or dressing room just like your race doesn’t affect anyone in the bathroom or at the water fountain.
9. “God doesn’t make mistakes; mankind does.”
So should we avoid coloring our hair? Treating illnesses and diseases? Trying to find clothes that fit our personality better, or wearing clothes at all? We make choices every day about how to be more “ourselves” and “God doesn’t make mistakes” is kind of the WHOLE point: God didn’t make a mistake when He made people who didn’t fit the gender they were assigned at birth. And as they navigate how to be most authentically themselves like we ALL do in a million different ways every day, they are not telling Him that He made a mistake. They are telling US that WE did.
And when someone tells you that you’re thinking of them the wrong way, you listen. Because they ARE themselves. They get to decide.
10. “’I am bigger (than this God I do not recognize), I may identify however I think and the world must accept my decision/right.’”
Or, “God made me this way. I wish people could see that”? Because for many people, that’s exactly what it is.
11. “(and I am really sorry but I am ignorant as to if your sister really was born your brother but now wants to be a woman without an operation to become one – I don’t know the situation and I don’t know all the terms that people use) peace and that she feels the grace of Christ.”
How can you, after saying that she harms people BY EXISTING? My sister in Christ, your words feel as hollow as a Pharisee’s public prayer to me right now.
I encourage you to not be content to stay ignorant about transgender people’s stories. People tend to focus on anatomy, operations, etc., when that can actually be a very small issue in a trans person’s experience and how they express their gender identity. It’s completely fine to start off ignorant (I did too), but if we want to love people, we listen to and seek to understand them instead of being content to remain that way. The internet is obviously a wealth of information to understand gender (and how even cisgender folks are subjected to gender pressure by society in ways we don’t even realize), and I’ve also heard good things about the memoir, She’s Not There. Other choices: https://www.buzzfeed.com/meredithtalusan/6-trans-womens-memoirs-you-need-to-read?utm_term=.jkvQNwk09#.pnP9lRJAD
Kristen ChidseyJune 6, 2016 at 8:19 am (7 years ago)
Julie, thank you for this! Jesus did not come to condemn, he came to LOVE and redeem. I am sick when “Christians” judge. That is not Jesus. I hope if I ever ran into your sister, she would immediately feel love and be able to see Jesus, I hope that is true with everyone I meet!
Julie RubleJune 7, 2016 at 10:14 am (7 years ago)
Thank you, Kristen <3
Cynthia | What A Girl EatsJune 6, 2016 at 10:05 am (7 years ago)
Wow Julie, what a powerful read! Thank you for putting a very personal face on the struggles of transgenders. How lucky she is to have such a strong sister. Let’s hope North Carolina gets this ridiculous issue sorted out.
Julie RubleJune 7, 2016 at 10:12 am (7 years ago)
Thank you, Cynthia <3
RebeccaJune 6, 2016 at 10:47 pm (7 years ago)
I cried as I read this. So sad that we “good” people hurt each other so easily. Truly, thank you for sharing something so close to your heart. Both of you are in my prayers for the courage to keep being true to who you are and “whose” you are. I wish you both calm in the midst of the storm.
Julie RubleJune 7, 2016 at 10:11 am (7 years ago)
Thank you, Rebecca <3
DustyJune 8, 2016 at 11:33 am (7 years ago)
I am proud of you and of Alex for how you handled this difficult situation with grace, in the full sense of the word. And, as well, how you continue to demonstrate that grace within this blog about it.
Julie RubleJune 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm (7 years ago)
Thank you, Dusty!
KatJune 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm (7 years ago)
Hi. I love your recipes but I’ve never commented before.
I just wanted to say, I love so much how you stood up for your sister and I appreciate the kindness you have in your heart, even for those who mistreat your loved one with ignorance. You’re an inspiration!
Julie RubleJune 8, 2016 at 3:49 pm (7 years ago)
Thank you so much, Kat!
Becky BJune 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm (7 years ago)
I’m so sorry this happened to you and your sister. HB2 sickens me every day, especially since I live and work in the Charlotte area. Seeing this bill come to life around me has not improved my life in any way, shape, or form. I don’t feel protected any more than I did before! I’m glad you and your sister finished your task (I know that must have been difficult) and believe that you handled the situation with grace 🙂 Keep fighting the good fight!
Julie RubleJune 8, 2016 at 5:20 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks so much, Becky!
beejayJune 1, 2018 at 4:29 pm (5 years ago)
Bless your heart, and I mean that in a good way. It’s not just people not wanting to get involved or just being jerks because someone isn’t white. You mentioned a motorist having trouble. I was on my way to work on a freeway that was 5 lines in each direction, when a car came sailing off the side of an overpass and crashed to the ground 30 or 40 feet below. I was in the left lane, but I had my cell, so I called 911. When I had told the operator what happened, she asked me where I was, and I told her which freeway and which overpass the car had fallen from. She said, “Oh, that’s not our jurisdiction. You need to call the right jurisdiction.” And she hung up! I was furious.
But, just before the crash was out of sight I saw a man jump out of his car and run toward the car carrying a doctor’s bag. And other folks who were in the right lane had also pulled over. I have to say that I cried most of the way to work Thank God not everyone is as stupidly uncaring as that operator. People are either raised to care about others, or they’re not. And if they weren’t, then they need to teach themselves. That could have been her child driving that car. What was she thinking?
I was raised by parents who practiced what they preached so to speak. I largely grew up in San Francisco but when I was little we lived in Sonoma and Napa California. My first time in summer camp, a Church sponsored “Bible Camp,” when I was maybe six or seven years old, there were two little black girls there, two among the 50 kids. At that time, I had never actually met a black person face-to-face, so I was curious. I went over to talk to them. They were all smiles and friendly. A little white girl came over and said, in front of them, “if you play with these kids, no one else will want to play with you.”
Being a born pragmatist, I looked at the fascinating little black girls and the crowd of kids who looked just like me standing watching. Clearly, I was going with interesting. I could meet white kids any day. When I came home, people congratulated my parents on raising such a wonderful child. And my parents outlooks did reinforce my natural inclination to go with the new and fascinating, but I wasn’t being a good Christian. I was just making new friends. and, maybe, learning new things.
By the time I was in Junior High, we were back in SF. It really was a different world then and there. People just didn’t attack others for being different, for the color of their skin, their religion, their gender identity. It’s not that they didn’t notice or necessarily liked what they saw, but they just mostly minded their own business if a person wasn’t hurting anyone. When there were race riots one long summer in almost every large city in the country, San Francisco went unscathed. I guess it’s because SF has a history of embracing the unusual and unique and generations just grew up with that sense of acceptance. I miss that.
Hope your sister got a great job and is having a little happiness and peace of mind.