Dear Self-Righteous Bigots defending bathrooms, the sanctity of marriage, and the right to your discriminatory opinions,
I have spent most of my life feeling alone and misunderstood. As a child, I was forced into an abusive religion most akin to a cult, where nothing that was authentically me could or would be considered acceptable. I was bullied, mistreated, and cast out at every turn. On a daily basis, I was instructed to shut my mouth. I was always too loud, too opinionated, and never good at following directions. For most of my childhood, I blamed myself for these experiences. Shamed into a corner, I accepted the criticisms thrust upon me. This has gone on for far too long and I am sick of trying to appease all of the self-righteous bigots that wouldn’t throw me a life vest if I was drowning.
You see, I was molested as a child and it forever changed me. My story is none too different from countless others, but I rarely speak of it. This is not because I have moved on or because it no longer affects me. It has always been an inconvenient truth for those around me. Perhaps this is why it has never been properly addressed, but I deal with it daily. I think about the abuse and its lifelong effect every day of my life. To clarify, I am a survivor of incest. Molested as a child by a family member, this information has never been deemed pertinent to those who should care.
I spent a childhood being too loud, but never sharing my truth. Raised within a fundamental world of religion, where many types of abuse flourished, my molestation was just one aspect to my many horrors. Taught to suppress my pain, I kept silent.
By the age of fourteen, I had attempted to take my own life twice. Unsuccessful in my trials, my pain went unnoticed. The only thing my family seemed to observe was when I didn’t attend synagogue. Life as it was set before me had conditions. Any form of dissention from the guidelines set before me would immediately destroy any love that was there. I was far too afraid to discover whether or not this was true.
During my high school years, I had brief glimpses of what it might be like to live a normal life, free from religion. This was not however, freedom. On the rare occasion that I defied religion, I was shown the door. Locked out of the house for weekends at a time with no devices of security, this was explained as a plausible consequence to my actions. I was thrown out without money, food, or reliable options for shelter. This was treated as normal.
It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I shared my admission. As a result of an accidental confession over the phone, I was immediately confronted and accused of lying. Lacking the care of an experienced professional, I didn’t know how to speak about my experience. For a scared and emotionally fragile child, I can’t imagine a better way to further humiliate them.
Vague and unclear with my account, I was never asked again. Nobody followed up, checked in with me, or attempted to make sure I was okay.
It wasn’t until I agreed to reconnect with the predatory family member that any mention was brought. Prepped for the phone call, I was instructed to be soft and compassionate with him. “He’s had a hard life, Raanan. And you can be so harsh and abrasive.” These were guiding lines for how I should speak to the person that robbed me of my innocence.
Needless to say, the conversation did not go well. Once again, I was accused of lying. It became clear to me that my family did not believe me and it was better to maintain my silence. My family does not like to speak about things. Some topics are “too hard” for them to discuss and instead they are pacified with non-existent Band-Aids.
This brings me to the self-righteous bigots defending bathrooms, the sanctity of marriage, and the right to your discriminatory opinions.
While I was raised on fundamental religion, I was also brought up with the hate-filled speeches of Rush Limbaugh and the biased views of “fiscally conservative” politics. During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings, I remember listening to conservative talk radio with my father. This was a typical car ride with him. A modern witch hunt intended to force an elected official out of office, while slut-shaming a young woman was all par for the course.
Prior to leaving my childhood home, I held little interest in politics. It wasn’t until then that I would expand my global views. Gay marriage and human rights will always be an important issue for me, until the day that it is no longer a political talking point.
Eight years ago, I sat around a family dinner (one of many) arguing for my rights and in favor of a brilliant senator from Illinois. An ignorant collection of men – including my childhood predator – argued senselessly against this man, claiming he would never make for a capable president. This was also a home that championed George W. Bush, a confirmed evangelical with nothing kind to say about the LGBT community. What my family didn’t realize and cease to understand today is the dissension they have created. I am not treated like an equal and I never have been.
Arguably the best POTUS to ever hold office, this senator from Illinois was the first sitting president to stand up for my rights as an equal part of society. “LGBT Rights are Human Rights.” This came from the leader of the free world, while I’ve never once been told this by my family.
Those who are vocally political (the men in my family) have argued against the “forceful gay agenda”. Offering compromise, my childhood predator once proposed that gay marriage could find its place in big cities, already cultured with cosmopolitan ideals and a plethora of LGBT people, but that we should save the small towns and communities that hold their traditional values to heart. This was an undisputed public argument made over the Passover dinner table, with the women of the family mostly staying silent. “My life is too chaotic to worry about politics” is a common statement from my female bloodline.
Paying tuition and enforcing my attendance to an abusive religious institution that projected many political statements and forcing me into Rush Limbaugh-laced car rides was okay, but having an opinion about gay rights was just too wild, I guess. Unfortunate for me, I see this selective view of politics and how it can be based around convenience.
I came across a family member’s Facebook post this morning sharing the ‘Reddit’ letter composed by Kasey Rose-Hodge, entitled ‘Dear Creepy Heterosexual Me Guarding Our Bathrooms’. This was not my first time encountering Kasey’s eloquent letter to some of the opposing bigots protesting gender-neutral bathrooms. This was, however, the first time I had come across any link to my childhood predator in quite some time. His wife had commented some horrifically ignorant statements that were both ill-informed and trans-phobic. She wrote about her extensive fears for predators potentially targeting her child and others.
The sad truth is that I stay up at night, often worried that her husband may abuse their daughter. I hope for that child’s sake that this has not and will never happen, but I will most probably never know. My life’s mission is not to ensure his rights are taken from him, however he should be a registered sex offender. I am not the only person who was abused by him and I know this for fact.
I deal with the consequences of his abuse every day of my life and sometimes I wonder if he ever will. Unfortunately, I may never know, but that is a choice I made when I severed that relationship. But the ignorance that he exhibits and I now see from his wife saddens me for the state of the world. Focus on your own bathroom before you start casting your votes for who can attend and who cannot. Predators all need to be relieved from public bathrooms, but I don’t hold a crystal ball. And I don’t have the ability to bring all perverse individuals to justice. I will, however, refuse to publicly shame an entire group and deny them equal rights out of a possible fear of predators that exist within our own homes.
Whenever I discuss transgendered rights with those less educated on LGBT rights, I am presented with the same argument. It always relates to the physicality’s of transgendered people and their genitalia. Firstly, this is not my business, nor is it yours. If and when someone chooses to share what’s within their pants, that’s their right to do so. Transgendered people, however, are in no way, shape, or form attempting to expose their organs to the world. Said exposure is completely unrelated to trans rights and human rights in general. Parallel to gay marriage, I am not trying to invite the world into my marital bed. But as long as you shove your “straight lifestyle” down my throat, I should have the right to at least love whom I want freely.
Furthering the transgendered conversation, this is what I explain to those curious and less informed individuals: I do not nor have I ever understood what it means to be transgender, because I am not trans. Most transgendered people that I know always had a sense of being born into the wrong body. This is something I cannot relate to. While I can understand and empathize with the pain of feeling different, I have never felt trapped within the wrong body or confused with my birth gender. With all my issues and baggage, I can’t even begin to imagine what a trans person must go through. But just because I don’t understand their specific struggle, does not make it any less valid or true.
Comparably, I do not understand straight people. Just because I may not have come out of the closet or understood myself as gay until the age of seventeen, does not mean I have ever been anything but that. I am gay and have never been straight, nor have I ever been transgendered, so it is not my place to cast judgment on either. Such is not my place.
For all of the ill-informed, ignorant, and prejudicial opinions, I mourn for your humanity. We are all welcome to our opinions, but you are sadly on the wrong side of history. You can wave your confederate flag and claim the Civil War was about something other than slavery and racial inequality, but that only proves you’re a racist. You can fight against gay marriage or you can focus on your own. And you can fight against allowing people to use a bathroom free of persecution, but that’s not going to stop predators and perverts from roaming the streets.
The sad part of reality is that not everyone is good and life is not easy for everyone. My life has been a steady series of survival exercises. I have survived some of the ugliest forms of abuse, but I’m still standing. Forever changed by unique experiences of my childhood, I never had a say in the matter. This is, however, a major problem with abuse. It is the victims that suffer alone, unless the predators take responsibility for their actions. Anyone who believes they are more entitled than their neighbor is a bigot in some way, shape, or form.
Finally, to the woman who inspired this letter by commenting on gender neutral bathrooms being an excuse for perverts to target our children: I only hope you are never faced with the evils you project on the world. And as you stated in your comments, I hope you do “a light google search” on tolerance and acceptance, raising your daughter in a better world than the example you’re setting with the predator whom you share a bed.