Christian Humanism

Christian Humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, rational inquiry and a commitment to the values taught by Jesus as a guide to the ethical life are not only compatible with Christianity, they are fundamental to a proper understanding and interpretation of Christian belief. Being a Christian means at the least feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, supporting the poor, comforting the lonely, seeking peace and standing with the powerless against the mighty.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Children Be Damned

Why did you send your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,  
Your wretched refuse, your homeless, from your shore 
Crossing our border from far across the sea? 
  
We do not want them here. 
Go away, 
We have shut the door. 
If you sneak in 
We will take your children away from you, 
We will cage them in conditions that  
even murderers do not endure. 
We will not keep track of where we send them. 
We will not facilitate your contact with them. 
We do not care if they are scared and lonely. 
We do not care if parents are worried. 
We do not care if the children are lost in the ICE bureaucracy. 
We are the US government. 
We are turning off the lamp. 
  
 [with deference to Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” 1883] 

Actual Dr. Seuss cartoon from 1941.  Used under "fair use" provision of copyright law.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

When Jesus said, as quoted in the Gospel of Mark in the translation known as the King James Version, “suffer the little children to come ...”* it seems obvious that he did not mean “make the children who come suffer.” Unfortunately Attorney General Sessions, in obedience to the wishes of his boss, seems to have misread his bible in such a way that he believes that it is his duty, in the name of all Americans, to inflict the maximum amount of suffering on the innocent children who cross the border illegally in the company of their parents, by ripping them from the arms of their parents and sending them to holding pens or detention facilities or to the control of contractors thousands of miles from their parents who have no idea where they are. 

Their tragic stories fill our newspapers, news sites and nightly television broadcasts, so there is no need to repeat them here. We hear our Attorney General and our President say callously that this cruel policy of separation of children from their parents when they cross the border illegally, and the detention of both parents and children under conditions that would be illegal if applied to criminals in our prisons, is intended as a warning to potential immigrants not to cross our borders or that will happen to them also.  
  
The United States throughout its history has welcomed immigrants. No more. 
  
There is no question that the immigration problem worldwide is out of control. Many countries in the world have become inhospitable places for their citizens and residents—due to war, terrorism, crime, drought and famine, civil disorder, inequalities and disparities in wealth, poverty and unemployment—consequently there has been a massive migration of people to western countries that typically have been sympathetic to immigrants.  

The receiving countries do not have the will or the resources to continue to absorb the hordes of those who are flooding over their often unprotected borders. The resulting backlash has set neighbor against neighbor in many countries around the world and in our own country it has led to the rise of Donald Trump, who campaigned on closing our country to new immigrants and expelling those who have come here illegally.  
  
As much as I dislike Donald Trump and his policies, which I strongly believe are destroying the traditional values that have made America great, are dividing Americans and are undermining our democracy, his policies have brought immigration policy to the attention of our political leaders. Our nation needs a sensible, realistic and enforceable immigration policy that limits immigration to numbers that can be accommodated and prioritizes entry on some rational basis and then administers its policies in a humane and respectful way. 
  
That said, the current Trump policy is cruel, inhuman, un-American, un-Christian and deplorable. It was devised to be cruel. It violates our sense of decency and our American values of compassion and rendering assistance to those in need. It is unnecessarily hurtful. It violates (for those of us who are Christians) our sense of Christian duty. I am not implying that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but I find it ironic that the Republican Party, that has always insisted that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that they were the party of family values should act in a way diametrically opposite to principles they say they espouse. Those who support, engage in, justify or assist this cruel and inhumane policy toward children and families are indeed deplorable.  
------------  
*suffer in this context means permit or allow.  A more accurate wording of the relevant quote is: “People were bringing their children to Jesus so that he could bless them, but his disciples were annoyed and stopped them. Jesus said to his disciples, “don’t interfere with them, let them come up to me….and he took the children in his arms and blessed them.” [Mark 10] 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Trump Is A Traitor


There is considerable reluctance both by the press and by our political leaders to state what has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention--that Trump and his supporters have colluded with an enemy of the United States to undermine US interests, our elections and our democratic processes not only to win an election but to weaken the role of the US in international relations.  There are implications of colluding with an enemy that our political leaders seem reluctant to state--Trump is a traitor.

Trump is an inveterate and constant liar who has said one thing and done another (for instance, saying he would drain the swamp but instead appointing denizens of the swamp to major roles in his administration).  His swamp dwelling cabinet officials are systematically weakening the US by rolling back regulations that protect our air, our water, our environment, our housing, our medical care, our social safety net--and systematically dismantling important government agencies from housing to education, the FDA to the Justice Department. He is actively undermining our quality of life, our educational system, our cultural values and our democratic institutions.

More important he is a traitor in the traditional sense of subverting U.S. national interests in the service of a foreign enemy of the US.  Despite his assertions that his collusion with Russia is "fake news" there is sufficient evidence publicly available to substantiate the claim that Trump and his co-conspirators had Russian help to win the election.  Trump’s interest was to win at any cost and the Russian interest was to subvert the U.S. democratic processes, weaken the NATO alliance and sow discord among the European democracies and within the US—all of which is very clearly substantiated by US and European intelligence agencies. 

The latest instance of Trump acting in the service of a foreign power and against the interests of our own nation is his unilateral termination this week of the US commitment to the agreement with Iran that limits its ability to develop a nuclear weapon and provides for monitoring of its nuclear sites to assure compliance.  It is in our interest to keep that agreement in place because it reduced the potential threat to Middle East stability.  Arguably it is in the interest of other powers in the region, including Israel, because it reduces tension and could lead to a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Unfortunately the right-wing government of PM Netanyahu does not want peace yet because it has not yet achieved its ultimate goal, which is control of all of the land area of biblical Israel and the displacement or subjugation of the Palestinians from their land.

Why does withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran serve Israeli interests? For two apparent reasons.  1.  It angers Iran, which will then find reasons to increase tensions that could result in a larger conflict, possibly even war between Iran and Israel.  Israel expects any such war would involve the US.  Israel hopes that will result in the defeat of Iran,  to prevent a future Nuclear-armed Iran, and to reduce the power of Iran as a force that could threaten Israel's future.  2.  By increasing regional conflict and tensions it provides an opportunity for Israel to increase the amount of land it is steadily incorporating into Israel while justifying the land grab as necessary for regional peace.

Why is Trump betraying US national interests in the service of Israeli policy? The U.S. has been sympathetic to Israel since its creation ex nihilo out of Arab owned land in Palestine.  We get it.  There was sympathy for the Jews as a result of the Holocaust.  We have not forgotten.  But that was more than 70 years ago and the history of Israel in recent years has been less than admirable.  Israel has refused to acknowledge any injury to the Arab occupants that they displaced to create Israel, refused the right of Arabs to return to their homeland even as immigrants, and under recent right-wing Israeli governments especially that of Netanyahu have created new settlements and refused the right of Palestinians to their own state.  Those Israeli policies have been opposed by every other nation in the world as unreasonable, unlawful and unacceptable, and the US has been caught between its desire to support Israel while telling Israel that its policies were troublesome. 

Unfortunately US policy has been undermined by two different groups in the US who have supported Israel’s troublesome attitude:  (a) American Zionist Jews, and their supporters in Congress and (b) Christian Zionists, each with its own agenda and rationale, but cooperating in the demand that the US support Israel’s expansionist land policies and its historic right to biblical lands, and continuing to support Israeli foreign policy no matter that it is not in the best interests of the US.

Israel defines its national interest as (a) expansion of Israel into Arab lands and creating one state in the territory that was formerly Palestine; (b) claiming Jerusalem as capital of that expanded Jewish State with no recognition of the rights of Christians (since medieval times) or of Palestinians (since the Muslim era, if not to biblical times) to share in that symbolic capital of three major religions and peoples; and (c) no regional power strong enough to counter Israeli military power. 

The Middle East has been a trouble spot in the world for generations and seems always a tinderbox ready to erupt in flames.  In the nuclear age that has become a danger that needs to be managed.  Israel reportedly has nuclear weapons.  Iran seems to have emerged as a force to be reckoned with, causing Israel to fear Iran getting a nuclear weapon, which would make the outcome of any war between Iran and Israel uncertain but possibly leading to the destruction of Israel.  The US, together with the western nations of the NATO alliance, fear Iran getting a nuclear weapon because it could lead to unforeseen but troublesome problems in that entire region, given the Islamic potential for suicidal actions. 

Whose interests are served if the US pulls out of the nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran? Certainly not US interests.  The US gains nothing by a war with Iran. The rest of the world?  Surely the rest of the world’s nations see nothing to gain by war.  Israel’s interests?  Of course. 
Israel is the elephant in the room.  By supporting the interests of Israel against the interests of his own nation Trump is committing treason.

I am prepared for criticism from the right that this article is anti-semitic but my bona fides on this issue are pretty clear and longstanding.  I was a supporter of Israel in its early days when it faced annhilation at the hands of various mid-Eastern powers, and I continued to support it throughout its early development until it began its current expansionism with a claim to all of the biblical lands of 3000 years ago under the preposterous theory that these were lands granted to Abraham by God and thus to Israel and that any legal claims had to give way to theological justification.

The current US interest in the Middle East is to contain Iran and divert its energies into peaceful projects and away from terrorism, trouble-making and political isolation.  Together with our allies the US entered into the agreement with Iran to curtail its nuclear weapons program.

Israel has different national interests than the US--in the service of which Israel has been successful in convincing Trump to pull out of the nuclear agreement and is pushing Trump to take military action against Iran.  The US withdrawal from the agreement is likely to push Iran to do something troublesome, which will give the US pretense for a military strike against Iran, which is what Israel wants. 

Our principles as Christians and as Humanists compel us to oppose vociferously any US involvement in a war against Iran whose objective is to assist Israel in its unjust and illegal seizure of Palestinian lands (including the city of Jerusalem).



Monday, April 30, 2018

Some Thoughts on Trump and Christianity

Democracy is often messy and noisy, no more so than now.  Democracy implies a battle of ideas, a struggle with competing political and social values, but the customary historical norms have dictated that we are at least civil with each other.  No longer do we discuss the great ideas with calmness and rationality, attempting to persuade by arguments supported by facts. I am afraid that civil discourse may be a relic of the past, no longer observed by the shrill purveyors of half truths, distortions and outright lies that emanate from the Trump camp and its supporters on right-wing media.

I’m old.  I admit it.  I look back nostalgically to a time in which the concept of truth was respected, when no matter what your political position was, we understood what truth was, we talked about facts, and we understood that facts were representations of a reality of sorts.  We could agree what facts were because we were grounded in the same reality.

We understand what it means to be a Christian.  While we may disagree about whether a Christian had to believe certain things, there is no disagreement about what it means to be a Christian, what values a Christian exemplifies in his life and behavior and attitude. Jesus is our model of what it means to be a Christian--it  means at the least feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, supporting the poor, comforting the lonely, seeking peace and standing with the powerless against the mighty.

Those are not the values of the leadership of our nation.  The policies our nation espouses now are inconsistent with the traditional values of our nation; to the contrary, our national values, at least as represented by our President and the Republicans who hold the power, not only are not Christian, they are actively and virulently anti-Christian.

This article in the Boston Globe entitled Are Trump Christians Really Christian?” makes a strong case backed by leaders of Catholic, traditional Protestants and even some Evangelicals, that you cannot follow the teachings of Trump and the opposing teachings of Jesus, at the same time.  The people and the churches that are serious about being Christians are faced with a choice as to which master they will serve.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

From The War Against Poverty To The War Against The Poor

How times have changed in our nation's halls of power.  There was a time that some of us fondly remember when we as a nation fought a war against poverty.  With the arrival of the Trump Administration, our nation's lawmakers have decided that our national resources should be expended on a war against the poor.

We could cite numerous examples, but an opinion piece by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post about Paul Ryan's firing of the House of Representative's chaplain for his prayers for the poor and the defenseless nicely summarizes why current administration supporters want Reverend Patrick Conroy silenced.  What the Senate Chaplain said in his prayers got the right wing angry becaused it showed their hypocrisy.

Here are some excerpts (elipsis omitted) from the commentary:

We know this much: Ryan’s office complained to Conroy about a prayer he offered on the House floor during the tax overhaul debate that those who “continue to struggle” in the United States would not be made “losers under new tax laws.” Ryan admonished the priest after the Nov. 6 prayer, saying, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics,” Conroy told the New York Times. 
He was warned. Nevertheless, he persisted.  Over the five months since Ryan’s warning, Conroy dared to continue to preach the teachings of Jesus on the House floor: 
He prayed to God that lawmakers would help “the least among us.” 
He prayed for them to follow the example of St. Nicholas, “who fed the hungry, brought hope to the imprisoned, gave comfort to the lost.” 
He admonished lawmakers “to serve other people in their need” and “to pray for the unemployed and those who work but still struggle to make ends meet.” 
After an immigration deal collapsed, he urged “those who possess power here in Washington be mindful of those whom they represent who possess little or no power.” 
Only in this perverted time could a priest lose his job after committing the sin of crying out for justice for the poor. But then, look around: Everywhere are the signs of a rising kleptocracy. The $1.5 trillion tax cut did make winners of corporations and the wealthy. 
And actions since then show that the Trump administration is making losers of the poor. 
Conroy, of course, didn’t preach about such truly political things; he prayed, generically, for compassion. In the prayer that earned him Ryan’s reprimand, he merely reminded lawmakers that “the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to ­struggle.” 
He prayed that lawmakers “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.” 
Such heresies continued. He prayed for “peace and reconciliation where those virtues are so sorely needed.” He prayed for them to rise above “self- ­interest” and “immediate political wins.” He prayed for them to promote “justice, equity and truth.” He admonished them to “show respect for those with whom they disagree.”

Speaking truth to power has always been dangerous, but it is more so when it confronts the most powerful political forces in our nation on a daily basis in the corridors of power.  This is what Jesus did and look what happened to him, so should we be surprised at what happened to Father Conroy?  Should Christians acquiesce when power exerts itself against compassion and justice?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

When Will They Ever Learn

The Trump policy to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was designed to play to a tranch of his constituency, both the Jewish hardliners and Christian fundamentalists, that supports the objectives of Zionism for a single Jewish state in the Middle East.  Unfortunately as David Halbfinger in The New York Times reports, the Emboldened Israeli Right Presses Moves to Doom 2-State Solution.

That makes negotiating any reasonable solution to this complex problem even more difficult.  A possible way forward was proposed by Ross Salinger (Carlsbad, California) in a comment that is worth serious consideration.  With no way to obtain permission to quote him here, I will quote him any way.

A two state solution seems to have been dead for a long time. That's entirely due to the simple fact that a state founded as a homeland for a religious group is fundamentally theocratic in nature. The wars fought in 1948,1967 and 1973 not to mention all the "incursions" since then have created facts on the ground that cannot be ignored. At this point the best policy that the west can have is to abandon the two state dream in favor of one state with a secular constitution. That's the only way to get the Palestinians out of the twin traps of poverty and racism. We should change out policy and provide aid to Israel ONLY to aid in the integration of the Palestinian people. It's the least worse solution.

As a Christian and a Humanist, I strenuously object to the Trump position and I believe that it represents neither the will nor the interests of the American people, and it certainly does not represent a Christian or a humanist perspective on the current situation.

The present situation will result in more bloodshed.  Is this worth consideration?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Making Schools Unsafe for Transgender Students

Four years ago this week I published an article entitled under the same title the gist of which was that the same Neanderthals who brought us the Scopes anti-evolution trial in Tennessee in our grandparents’ generation are at it again.  A cabal of right wing politicians and fundamentalist Christian terrorists are attempting to make schools less safe for gay and transgender kids in Tennessee by means of legislation that uses bad religion and irresponsible Christian ethics to prohibit teachers from talking to students about gay and transgender issues and requires teachers, administrators and counselors who learn that a student is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) to report that information to his/her parents.

That peculiar legislation, done in the name of keeping schools safe for Christians to intimidate and harass students without fear of discipline, was just one of many legislative attempts religious conservatives across the nation to restrict the rights of lesbians, gays and transgender students.

Schools should be safe places for children that teach tolerance and understanding of differences without fear that teachers and administrators will “out” them to their parents and fellow students.  So when President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity it seemed the perfect time to write about the problems faced by transgender kids in schools.  Just as I was in the middle of writing that essay I had a fortuitous contact with Ash, a transgender boy in the Midwest, who provided me with an essay he had written describing his traumatic experiences as a transgender boy.

Some adults are confused by the concept of transgender and assume it is a “phase” arising from sexual identity confusion that teens will outgrow as they mature, but that is an incorrect understanding of a genuine human condition, a distinct gender identity that is most easily understood when you have met teens who are transgender and have faced the tragic consequences of people misunderstanding who they are and refusing to accept them.  Because I am a youth counselor I have met a number of teens who have had to face the implications of who they are.  Perhaps the best way to begin to understand these issues and concerns is to let Ash tell you his story in his words as provided to me except for minimal editing to make it shorter and an occasional grammatical, spelling, word or punctuation change as necessary for clarity or readability.

Here is Ash’s story:

My story begins a long time ago, even times I can't remember.  First off I am female to male transgender. When I was young, we were poor, in baby/toddler pictures you can see me and my sister in boys’ clothing handed down from my older brother.  When we started to get on our feet I preferred the handing downs instead of my new girly clothing. I remember in pre-school kids would ask me if I was a boy or a girl.  Even though I said girl something inside me made me extremely happy.
When I was 5 we went to see my family in Tennessee. (I do not remember this but my mom and my grandma’s sister told me this.)  I guess I thought since I didn't know them, they didn't know me. And I said it over and over again, I am a boy.  I refused to wear the dress for the family picture and I only did because my mom told me I could take it off right after the picture and the last time I wore a dress was to my dad’s funeral.
My mom really didn't care what I wore from the ages 3-8, I mean I still wore girl clothes willingly, but I had a lot of guy clothing too.  Especially when it came to summer time, my mom didn't care as much what I wore.
I remember being 8 years old, always being shirtless and I wore boxers.  I remember one day seeing teenagers with their pants sagging showing their boxers and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I started doing it all the time.
When I got a Nnintendo DS light I loved writing in the name section the boy names I wished I had. My favorites were Jangoe and Owen.
But when 3rd grade came my mom decided my extreme tom-boy "phase" needed to be over.  When school came she only let me wear girl clothes, I got to keep my boy clothes but at a time when I grew out of them.  From 3rd-5th grade my mom only let me wear girl clothes. But after shopping she would let me buy one guy shirt. When it came to the girl clothes I just got whatever my mom wanted me to get. I didn't fight what she got me but I also didn't ask her to buy me more. When it came to buying that 1 guy shirt I looked down every row looking for the previous one and I always wore those shirts at least once a week.
The years went by and 6th grade was here, my mom decided to let me pick the clothes I wanted and without thinking about it I got all guy clothes. I remember the day they came, I couldn't choose which one to wear. I changed a few times that day.
I started getting bullied and people would call me gay girl and dyke. And I would cry to myself because I didn't understand I was a girl, always acting like a boy.  At this time I couldn't force myself to wear girl clothes, but my mom made me once going to Thanksgiving at my now stepdad's old house.  It was the first time meeting my step sister who was in college and I hated that was my first impression.
6th grade ended and it was summer time. I was about to go to a new school, 7th-12th grade, the school I still go to, and I really wanted to make a good impression.  I wanted friends and to at least be cool to them.  I was excited, I was planning for this great year and then my life changed forever.  It was late June, early July in 2012. I was 12 at the time and I was alone at my grandparents’ house watching YouTube.  While I was watching, in the sidebar a video called FTM timeline came up.  No clue what it meant I decided to watch it, and it explained things.  Talk about how they knew and the struggles they went through and by the time the video ended, I knew I was transgender.
It felt like a weight off my chest for but that weight came crashing down on top of me. When I started to think about my religion, family, kids at school, I wanted to erase my memory.  I prayed to God, crying and begging him to fix me for 2 weeks straight, but got no answer.  After that I just kind of accepted that God hated me (It even says it in the Bible, God hates many people!).
School started and I did make friends.  It was great, I even got invited to y first sleepover and my new friends started asking me who I like and after they went through every single guy and in our grade and I said no to everyone, they said I had to like someone. And I did, a girl and I thought my new friends would at least accept me for liking girls so I told them the name of the girl.  C told me she wasn't gay and had a boyfriend, I told her I understood and please please not tell K that I liked her and they both promised.  The next day S told e C told K and all their friends plus the volleyball team that I liked girls. And I started getting bullied bad, very bad.  People pushed me, called me names.  No one even wanted to do class projects with me, I sat alone at lunch every day. (Side note, the harassment only came from middle schoolers, high schoolers couldn't talk to us.)
I went down to the principal many times, sometimes he gave a warning and even one time he yelled at me in front of the bullies and said maybe he should just call my mom because I seemed to be the problem.  Then I went to the counselor and she made excuses for the bullies.  “Well, gay means happy, how do you know they didn't mean that?”  And of course the kids will say that is what they meant.  She said it RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM.
I got so depressed, my grades were horrible, I didn't eat because I was sleeping all the time and after another day of hell I wrote a Facebook status stating I got bullied every day at school and I couldn't seem to find a teacher who cared.  A lot of high schoolers were on my side and some messaged me asking who the bullies were, and I told a few, and some kids started threatening the bullies.  Next day at school I get called down to the office and the school called the cops on me.  They said everything I wrote on Facebook was lies.  People were screaming at me and getting in my face and when my mom and the cops got there they asked me why I was getting bullied, and I said I wanted my mom to leave the room first, and then my principal said I had 10 seconds to tell my mom why I was being bullied or he will tell her.  Yeah he forced me to out myself!
Then my life just crashed, my stepdad took away the wi-fi for 4 months, and my depression just got worse. I just stayed in my bedroom all the time because it felt like my parents hated me. The neighbor’s wi-fi worked in my room and I got a boyfriend who was in 6th grade, and even though I still only wore guy clothes I got ungrounded because I was dating a boy. But after dating him for 5 months I told him I wanted to be a guy and he broke up with me. During that summer I cut my long hair to my shoulders.
October 31, 2014 is the day I told my mom I was transgender, I thought my stepdad was the only problem, I thought she would accept me, I was SO wrong. She screamed at me, told me she would never accept me, looked me in the eyes and said I will NEVER be her son and then told my stepdad. They didn't take away the wifi, but I wished they did. I was no longer allowed to go to friends’ houses or even have a friend in my room with the door closed. They made me get this super girly haircut and made me grow my hair out months at a time.
In the summer of 2014 when they went on vacation I cut my hair short.  It was my first boy haircut. High school had started and I decided to come out as trans. And even though most people didn't care or accepted me, it felt good not to hide anymore.  In 9th grade I fell in love for the first time with a girl. She was a senior while I was a freshman. We were both in band and she lived close to me, my parents didn't take me to the games so she did. And I would say the games were earlier so I could spend time with her. We never did it, but we made and showed our love in different ways. After about 4 months I ended it because I knew in the end she would pick her boyfriend over me.
In April of 2014, I made a transgender page on Facebook and to this day it has 53K likes and I post every day and it is just not helping educate others, it has helped me.  It opened my mind that there are more than two genders. Most of all it made me know that I am not alone….
Every day I go to school I'm forced to use the girls bathroom were people look at me like I don't belong but the school would never let me use the boys.
Sometimes I sit and think it would have been truly better if i never came out, more friends, more freedom, less hate from family and strangers. Teachers don't even try to use male pronouns on me because it causes problems in class. Why are you calling HER a him? Don't you know SHE is a GIRL?  I've been publicly humiliated in class twice for being transgender, once in 9th grade my boxers were showing and one kid was loudly talking about how gross I was and it started a verbal war --"Wait are you a boy or a girl? Yeah that is weird/gross/ disgusting. So does that mean you have a weiner?" That's when I walked out of class.
Then in 10th grade my class was talking about how wrong and gross it was to be transgender and when the teacher asked what everyone was talking about, someone pretended to throw up in his mouth.  I sat at my desk trying not to cry.
People don't bully me any more. I'm just labeled as the freak now a days, and I'm okay with that. Sure, no one talks to me at school except for my best friend, but at least I don't get bullied anymore.  Now I'm a Junior in high school, everyone still calls me female pronouns, but I'm used to it.
In 8 months I will be moving out because I will be 18 and free. I can move out of this house, live with my supportive grandparents and start male hormones. Spending my senior year hopefully getting breast surgery, male hormones, name change and gender change. So when I go to college no one will know I am a girl, no one will call me she, they will just know me as Ash, not what's in my pants, or that I lived the first 12 years of my life as a girl. Just a normal person—what I've always wanted.  
Transgender kids deserve what every kid deserves--to be treated with respect.  Being safe in their own schools seems like a good place to start.