Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts

The Youth Fundraiser—Then and Now


It's that time of year when various congregations are doing their annual youth fundraisers to raise money for their youth camps this summer. The emails went out last week setting the date for our silent auction and asking other members of the ward to volunteer items and services for the youth auction. I've decided to make a crocheted blanket (maybe two) for it. We did a dessert auction in my last ward and people paid $200 for cake pops that the Young Women made, so I'm imagining some version of that will also happen here.

That was one of the last years girl's camp was a thing before they made a lot of changes to the youth program. From what I see now, the single fundraiser pays for a co-ed overnight trip that all the youth go on to the same place, and have the chance to do the same activities. It's wildly different from what my experience was as a youth, where the Young Women would raise most of the money and the lion's share of it would end up paying for the Young Men to go to Scout Camp because it was more expensive. I went to Church in Delaware when I was in Young Women and there was an enormous discrepancy between Camp Rodney (the expensive and very nice facilities owned by the Boy Scouts) and the cabins we went to, all of which were in poor conditions and didn't have a fraction of the amenities and offerings that Scouting did.

I hope those days are gone for good. I would not wish them back. And now that I know the stuff I donate isn't being allocated in ridiculously gendered ways, I'm happy to support in whatever way I can to give the youth a fun experience in the outdoors together. Especially if it means I don't have to come along because these Idaho people feel the need to climb up vertical surfaces to the tops of things, and I do not enjoy it. If I'm going to pop a lung, I can think of better places to do it than in the middle of nowhere down the dirt roads of Idaho.

All this to say: if you're so inclined, start thinking and planning the goodies you want to offer up for your youth fundraiser.

And if you were in Young Men as a youth, know that more likely than not, the other youth in Young Women you went to church with probably paid (at least in part) for you to go to Scout Camp. You can thank them by making sure the Young Men and their leaders in your congregations pull their own weight during these fundraisers instead of making the Young Women do all the work and raise all of the money.

Holy Week: Resurrection

Touch Me Not, Minerva K. Teichert

Mary Magdalene is among my favorite women in all of scripture. She is blessed with a personal interaction with the resurrected Christ that any disciple would love to have, as told in John 20:

 11 ¶ But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

The Greek in verse 17 properly translated from Greek doesn't mean to refrain from touching me yet. It is better rendered as "Hold me not," to refrain from holding me, which you are already doing. Mary Magdalene threw her arms around the Savior, greeted him enthusiastically and without restraint. She had received an undeniable witness of the Resurrection not just with her eyes, but with her own hands. She was the first person after the death of Christ to have such a witness.

She was not the only one to receive such a witness ahead of the apostles. There were multiple women who then saw Jesus after their interactions with the angels at the garden tomb. From Matthew 28:

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is arisen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

These women also received an undeniable witness by touching Christ. They could not know with a greater certainty that Jesus had risen from the dead.

When they did as they were instructed by the angels, to tell the Twelve what they had seen and experienced, the Twelve didn't believe them. They did not trust the women as reliable sources of truth.

From Mark:

 9 Now when Jesus was arisen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

From Luke:

10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

And because of that refusal to listen to the women in their lives, the women who were closest to Christ and who had received that witness before them, they had to wait until they got all the way to Galilee to see him. Which really is incomprehensible when you consider that he walked with them to on the road to Emmaus and none of them recognized him. He had to baby step them into being able to see him, then cajole them by eating something in front of them, and eventually break down what they were seeing for them in scriptural terms for them to finally receive the witness, the truth the women already had. (See Luke 24:12-48)

In almost two thousand years, this has not changed as much as it should have by now.

Believe women. Believe our words. Believe in the power of our faith. Believe in the gifts and talents God has given to us. Believe in our potential. Believe in our ministries. Believe our leadership. Believe in us the same way Christ believes in and trusts us.

What happens to church that dishonor and disgrace their women by withholding this love and trust from them?

They have the fullness of truth and power withheld from them, their access to Christ curtailed, the same way the Twelve did. And in the Book of Mormon, Ether 12 explains why:

12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

It's not just faith in God that matters. It's also the faith we have in ourselves and in each other. When that faith falters, no one can help us, not even the perfected and resurrected Christ. If we want to be in a condition where Jesus Christ CAN help us, it requires us to confront and dismantle our own unconscious biases, the disrespect and prejudice we hold for other people. There is no room for any of that in the kingdom of God, and that spiritual deprivation begins here and now, on Earth. It will last as long as it takes us to do the work to overcome that way of thinking.

Where is the power of Jesus Christ on this earth today? It's in many places. Wherever there is love, wherever there is compassion, wherever there is faith in the future, wherever there are sincere souls who see wrongs and are trying to make them right, there is Christ. And it stands to reason, and shouldn't go without saying, that the power of Jesus Christ is in the hands and hearts of women.

What does learning the lessons of the past, the lessons in the ministry of Jesus Christ this Easter?

Among many of the valuable lessons that others will teach today, let this one be included: Believe, and believe in, the women who serve him.

Holy Week: The Anointing

Mary of Bethany, who came to anoint Christ for his burial in Matthew 26, performed an act of faith and devotion that even his chosen Twelve were unable to perform for him.

She understood that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, the Son of God. She also knew, and had the courage to confront, that Jesus was going to die. She wasn't in denial of this fact. She didn't attempt to change this reality through violence or vengeance. She accepted it and came to perform the anointing for his body.

What she knew to be true, Jesus was still fighting with the Twelve to get them to understand and accept. They resisted the truth they didn't want to hear. As a result, they were unprepared to help him in the coming days the way he needed them to.

What we can gather about the struggle here is one we still see in the Church today: women will have access to divine truths that men will not have the faith to discern. And when the source of that truth is a woman, they will not believe it because women are not reliable sources of truth to them. Even when Jesus corrected them for criticizing her, saying the ointment she brought to him wasn't wasteful because it was for his burial, they were still in denial that he was actually going to die.

The Church has done a great deal of work to bring women, their voices and perspectives, into the administrative circles of the Church. There has been over a decade of training on the importance of councils with women on them, delegating assignments to women, making women and their contributions more visible. The mileage may vary, but a significant portion of church membership knows this is how things are supposed to work, even if they are poor at implementing it into practice.

What I still see, however, is that men in leadership still struggle to accept women as sources of truth they themselves do not possess. There is an attitude still that women are only trustworthy as long as they're repeating back to men the things they already believe. When it comes to the kind of revelation that serves God in innovative or difficult ways, in their minds, those answers shouldn't be coming to women first.

Jesus Christ trusted women. He found willing, capable disciples among them. They exceeded the faith of his chosen Twelve many times, and Jesus used their faith as examples to these men to challenge their entrenched gender bias. Jesus Christ didn't subscribe to the rigid gender binary that men subscribed to in that day, and it's a struggle he is still having with men to this day.

Jesus was the perfect teacher and advocate for women. He did not tolerate the disrespect that so often defined being a woman then. He doesn't tolerate it now. And as we contemplate the spirit of Easter, celebrating the liberation of the captive, this is the liberation I still find myself praying for.

The hope I have for the future of the Church is the one where we finally achieve the equality Jesus spent his entire life teaching about. Where the preferences and ignorance of men in leadership is no longer a stumbling block to me on my pathway home to my Heavenly Parents.

I've never prayed about this where the answer has ever changed.

"What are you going to do about it?"

Answer: Never stop telling the truth. Never stop reaching for what Jesus taught is my right to receive. Reach out and take what is mine, regardless of how men try to obstruct me. And most importantly, make sure I keep the way open for others who come after me. I'm not the only one hurt by the gender binary. I'm not free until we're all free. And like Jesus, I will stick with it for as long as it takes, even if it takes another two thousand years.


To focus on the positive aspects of something has no necessary relationship with denying or suppressing the negative. I love and honor my community in the Church who struggle with the gender dynamics of the Church. That pain is real. I’ve shared in it many times throughout the 17 years I’ve been here with y’all. I share in the frustration with how easy it is for local leadership to trample on and silence the voices of women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and the disabled instead of making the Church a safer place for them.

In the spirit of Relief, which was the major topic of the Relief Society devotional, I want to emphasize the elements that will be useful in advocating for ourselves and others in these kinds of moments. And because of the experiences I’ve had as a convert who has attended church in multiple countries and seen/heard so many failures on this front, I hope I can provide some perspective for how far we’ve come and the progress we’ve made.

One of the most significant moments in the devotional was when President Camille Johnson announced the standards for single women seeking their personal endowment. All sisters may be endowed who meet the following criteria:

  • They must be 18 years old.
  • They must have graduated from high school, secondary school, or the equivalents in the countries in which they live.
  • They must be 1 year out or more from their confirmation into the Church.
  • They must have a desire to receive their endowment.

I can’t fully express the relief it was for me to hear those words. I don’t know how to express to anyone who hasn’t experienced what it was like to be a convert into the Church and constantly held to a different, more difficult standard from those who are born into the Church. From the time I came into the Church, every single milestone has been made harder for me by the criteria manufactured by others at all levels of the Church. My baptism and confirmation (“we don’t have any missionaries to teach you,”) my patriarchal blessing (“you just got baptized, you don’t know enough yet,”) my personal endowment (“you have to be getting married or going on a mission for that,”) my temple sealing (“if you have a ring ceremony, you won’t be allowed to be sealed,”) and my service as a temple worker (“you have to stay home with your kids… what do you mean you don’t have kids?”) all involved being held up to the ideal standard (i.e. the lived experiences) of those who were born and raised in the Church and, when they observed mine were different, I had additional burdens I had to overcome to prove that I belonged in those spaces, having those experiences.

What God has taught me through all of those experiences is how to call down the powers of heaven to help me, with every spiritual gift and talent I possess, against those who stand in the way between me and Almighty God. I have learned the power I possess as a woman, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to bring positive change into the Church. Without ordination, I learned how to set my shoulder against any obstacle and move it, even if it means I do so alone. I’ve been doing it for 17 years now. There is no difficulty, no hardship or heartache, that men in the Church have handed to me that hasn’t been undone in the time I’ve been a member of the Church.

These changes to the requirements for the endowment, to make it easier for young women to have a spiritual development that isn’t dependent on men? My blood, sweat, and tears went on the altars of God to make that happen. My prayers, my voice, went up to God at the injustice I faced as a young person being shut out from the temple, first by policies, then by local leadership who wouldn’t let me have my endowment even once I had my mission call in my hand because I lived with my parents and they weren’t members.

Never again. It will never happen to my younger sisters and converts like me again. Because of what I suffered, and what I did with that suffering, no one has the right or authority to do this to anyone else. The standards that were just announced, which will be in writing, will make sure of that. Every adult in the Church who has been a member for a year and qualifies for a temple recommend will have open access to the endowment. That’s the policy I prayed for as a young person, that I wished would’ve existed for me. That’s the Church we have now, in part, because of me and my prayers. My part may be small, but it is no less powerful than any man’s. When we pray together for positive changes in our community, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

That’s the power all women in the Church possess. It’s the power God has given to us by covenant, that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper, and every tongue that reviles against us in judgment will be condemned by us. (See 3 Nephi 22:17)

There is much work for us to do to make the Church a safe place of belonging and dignity for all people. We are far from finished on so many fronts. We have also made so much progress, and there’s nothing that ordination would give us that we don’t already possess—the compassion and might of God on our behalf. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

In whatever way you seek to provide relief to suffering—your own or other people’s— you are doing the work of the Relief Society. You are serving God, and he will bless you with any power, influence, or opportunity you need to bring about the changes you seek for the problems you bring to him. It may not be in the way you imagine, in the timing you want, but those changes will come.

"You Can't Do That" and Other Stumbling Blocks

When I was investigating the Church, I told the people around me I wanted to get baptized after I'd only been to services a few times. I hadn't read much of The Book of Mormon. There were many things I didn't know or understand. But I had felt the Spirit of God and knew that this was the place where I would find God. I knew I was supposed to be baptized.

What was the response?

"You can't do that."

They didn't have missionaries. They didn't have anyone to teach me the discussions. I was coming to Church in a different place from where I lived because of where my friends, who were members and who had invited me, were living.

It got bad enough that I set a date for myself to get baptized and told them they had that long to figure it out and deal with their scruples. And they did.

Then I found out about patriarchal blessings in one of the lessons I had in Young Women. I wanted mine. I went to my branch president and told him that.

"You can't do that."

I hadn't been to church long enough. Could I wait a year? Six months?

But that's not what the lesson I was taught said. It said that if I felt like I was ready, then I could have one. So I showed up outside of my branch president's office every week for over a month to ask again. Finally, he talked to the stake president, who told him there was no rule or timeline mandated in the Handbook of Instruction that prevented me from receiving my patriarchal blessing. I finally received it 4 months after I was baptized.

Then I went to Brigham Young University. I was in one of my favorite wards I've ever attended. Everyone around me was so kind and supportive. They helped me deepen my knowledge of the restored gospel and the scriptures. And when all the young men in my classes started receiving mission calls, I wanted to as well. I felt "called to the work," and the Doctrine and Covenants said that was enough.

"You can't do that."

They didn't let women serve at 19 at the time. I had to wait. Why? Because I might get married instead. The hypothetical possibility of reserving me for a man was more important than the calling I had received from God.

I had the opportunity to serve in the temple regularly for the first time in my life. I was from an area where the temple was two hours away, which meant I got to go only a couple times a year, at most. As the only member in my family, I had many names to do. And as the endowments started piling up, I could feel the weight of my responsibility to get the names done weighing on me. I didn't have a ward full of endowed people to rely on in my student wards. It was just me. And the more I went to the temple, the more I craved that divine closeness, the spiritual support for how much harder it was for me to be a member of the Church than it was for everyone else. I was totally on my own, no support from large extended families like they had. I needed more support to come from somewhere. So I started asking to receive my endowment.

"You can't do that."

I needed to be getting married (preferably, in their minds) or serving a mission to get endowed. That was the rule at the time. It didn't matter that I already wanted to serve a mission. It would be so much more special if I could go with my husband! Didn't I see that? My life was just supposed to stay on hold for him, whoever he was. The idea that I would have a spiritual development and progression separate from his was a totally foreign idea at the time, and wasn't reason enough for me to receive my own endowment. Meanwhile, as the ordinances in my own family backed up higher and higher because I was in student wards with no access to the endowment or other endowed people, I was just stuck and alone.

Then the identity of the mysterious young man I would eventually marry was revealed to me. Hurray! And we both went on missions. We were planning our wedding. And after years of alienating my family with all the milestones of my adult life they didn't get to witness because I was in Utah thousands of miles away, I wanted to have a ring ceremony so they could at least watch me get married.

"You can't do that."

And every reason I was given, especially the one that it took away from the validity and the sacredness of my temple sealing, was later disavowed when they did away with this rule.

All of this to say, I've been in the Church for almost 18 years. I have seen so many changes come into the Church and its culture in that time. The things that were impediments to me as a young believer and convert are no longer there, in part because I left so many bloody knuckle prints on heaven's door, pleading for these things to change. Heaven bore witness to how many times I was told "You can't do that" by my own community—with shallow, indefensible reasons for why my journey needed to be so much harder and lonelier than it needed to be.

Changes like these do not come about simply by waiting. They come because the faithful, especially those who are most affected by the lack of change, keep praying and pleading with heaven for change. The hurt goes on the altar because it never should've been mine to carry. Let God witness it. Let him see, feel, and know the burdens I bore in his name, solely at the behest of my community whose reasoning for it was poor and indefensible because it all came down to a single failure: they couldn't begin to imagine the impact their choices were having on me. And until they could begin to understand it, they could never conceive of why their status quo needed to change. Their ignorance and desire to remain in what was familiar and comfortable was a form of bondage to me. That was true.

But what was equally true was that there was nothing wrong or evil in pushing back against all of that, with all the strength I possessed. I would live to see so many of these stumbling blocks I encountered change for those who came behind me. Young people in my church community today don't have to make many of the same choices I did anymore—and thank God for that! I called down the powers of heaven to me to witness these burdens so no one else would ever have to carry them again! I have been witness to the power that these prayers—my prayers—have had to build the kingdom of God on the earth by affecting these changes.

And we're not done. There are many more such changes that need to come to fruition , including (but not limited to) making the Church fully accessible to everyone in our community. Our LGBTQIA+ and disabled people, our women and single Saints, our marginalized, abused, and forgotten in communities of color all over this world.

The kingdom of Heaven is not built, our work is not finished, until ALL are safely gathered in. That is, until they all CAN be safely gathered in. Until all that resists unity, diversity, equity, and inclusion that will define Heaven are removed by the Saints, whose job it is to build that kingdom. To never say again to someone who is trying to come to Christ "you can't do that."

Because with enough time and effort from the Saints, you'll find they can, in fact, do that.

"He Lives to Hear My Soul's Complaint"


The idea that complaining is a moral failure is ridiculous. The fact that only women get this kind of criticism for it, even when they don’t deserve it, is sexist.

Why do I say that?

Because the two characters in the Bible who complain the most are David in the Psalms and Job, and never once have I ever heard anyone criticize them for complaining, even when they self-identify as complaining to God. But no one hesitates to say that about Job’s wife and Sariah.

Let’s be honest with ourselves about what the difference is.

Link this together with the importuning widow, the woman who begged crumbs from the master’s table, and Hannah who said “Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.”

God doesn’t care that we complain when we take our complaints to him. That’s where they belong. And the idea that trusting God and not complaining are mutually exclusive is a total misread of so many scriptural accounts.

To police the emotions of women when they complain, to label it as lacking faith, is abusive behavior that denies the faith out takes to formulate that dissatisfaction into words.

To say to God “I want—I deserve—better than this” is an act of faith.

Let women in Scripture teach you this lesson.

The F Word

I'm an elder millennial and I've been in LDS/Mormon online spaces since I was a teenager. Since 2007. Sixteen years. That's almost as long as some of you have been alive. And there's something I've never talked about before that I want to explain to those of you who need to hear it. And you need to stick around for THE WHOLE THING not to misunderstand what I'm going to say.

The vast majority of you end up okay. You'll make it. You'll figure out your happiness and embrace it fully, and it'll all work out. You'll be okay. I care about you all tremendously, but I've seen your stories play out enough times that I know how it ends. If we can keep you from yeeting off the mortal coil prematurely, you'll be just fine.

There is one group this isn't true for. They're the ones I worry about the most every time I see them: the trad wife cohort. The women who have already decided that their only plan for their future is to get married, have an undetermined number of children, and leave everything after that as a giant question mark, to be decided for them by other people's choices.

I'm the only LDS person in my family. I come from a family with three generations of divorced/separated women. To be financially independent enough to take care of myself was instilled in me from birth. Protect yourself and your financial freedom from abusive men, from men who do not have your best interest anywhere near their thoughts.

That's what I learned from watching my mother work herself to the bone to pay for my father's attorney from the constant legal trouble that alcoholism, drugs, and nonsense behavior from untreated mental illness brought upon us. There were times we didn't have food, but there was always a case of beer in the refrigerator. That's what I learned from my grandmother, who divorced her husband at a time when that was unheard of because he abused her. That was what I learned from not one, but two great-grandmothers who, as southern women with all of the cultural baggage it entailed, left their husbands and lived on their own rather than putting up with disrespectful behavior from the men they married. Women who believed that it is better to be alone than with any man who doesn't respect you.

This is my backstory, my lore, if you will. And I swore I would honor it by never putting myself anywhere near situations that looked like these. To be financially dependent on any man, no matter how kind and generous, was something I never wanted for myself. I wanted my own job, my own money, the ability to travel, to do as I pleased. I wanted financial freedom, the security of knowing I would always be able to take care of myself AND him AND our children if it ever came down to that.

That's not the life I have. In all but name only, I'm a trad wife. Chronic illness and disabilities have made it so I cannot work. I am fully financially dependent on my husband, and every effort I have made to change my situation has come at great financial expense, as well as compromising my physical and mental health. I've had to let go of the life I wanted for myself because I've never found any employer who was willing to give me the accommodations I need to accomplish even a fraction of my goals. And even if they did, it's impossible for me to work enough hours for me to ever achieve them.

I'm a trad wife, not by choice, but out of necessity. And it scares me every day.

If my husband dies in an accident, or a mass shooting? If he becomes disabled? If he ever becomes as sick as I am, or worse? What will we do? We have plans for this. We have multiple retirement accounts, including one in my own name, that he puts money into. He sees my situation, understands it, and prioritizes it in how he manages our finances. But if it were to happen today, tomorrow, any time before we both can retire, we're screwed. Shit Creek, no paddle.

If he leaves me? If I ever have to leave him? How will I support myself? Honestly, I don't know. I don't have an answer to that question. It scares me more than I can articulate. I hope I never have to find out because I'm too disabled to take care of myself. That's the only thing I know.

There are too many women who are far too eager to put themselves into this place of financial insecurity and precarity. They don't even realize how dangerous that path is, for them and for their children, to have nothing that truly belongs to you. Not really. Not if the money that paid for it wasn't yours. Not when everything you treasure and recognize as the life you want has his name on it.

Being a trad wife is built on an agreement of mutual exploitation. In exchange for providing unpaid, undocumented labor, your spouse has agreed to pay all of your expenses indefinitely into the future. If this were a job, you would never agree to those terms. Trad wives don't understand that when it comes to marriage, however, they're jumping into that exact situation head first.

All of this to say: I'm not morally or ideologically opposed to anyone being a house wife or SAHM. I understand EXACTLY what happens to women to make that a necessity. I don't judge anyone who ends up in that position, either by choice or by force. But I'm not going to let anyone go into or remain in that situation blindly, having never once thought about how to finance the life they're dreaming about. I'm not going to let anyone walk through life somehow thinking that everything is supposed to magically work out for them like some sort of fairy tale. That's not how the world works. That not how life works. And I hate the thought that the first time all of this occurs to someone is when their life comes crashing down around them.

If "feminism" is the dirtiest word you know, you're not in any kind of position to advocate for yourself. If you don't see yourself as your husband's equal (which is what feminism, by definition, HAS to mean), how could you even begin to negotiate for yourself in a divorce, a job interview after being out of the workplace for 10+ years, or to family who you'll be reliant upon to get you back on your feet? If you don't even have the courage to say you deserve to be treated like an equal in society when everything is going to plan, how would you do it from the floor with the wind knocked out of you?

I'm not here to argue about the superiority of trad wives OR working wives. I'm not here to fight for anything but Universal Basic Income so we can all exist in a more secure financial state, independent of individual circumstances. And I'm definitely not here to scare you.

I'm simply here as the person you will inevitably be turning to in that moment of crisis, where faith and devotion fall short of giving you everything you wanted in life. I'll be the one with the bottle of water and saying "You are brilliant and strong. You can figure this out." I'll also be the one nodding in agreement that your husband took for granted all the love and labor you gave to him, purely because he was socialized to think he has a right to do that to you. No, I don't think you're crazy. No, I don't think you're asking too much. YES, YOU NEED A LAWYER FOR YOUR CHILD SUPPORT CASE. I'll be there for all of it, to say all of the things to you that you can't imagine ever needing when you say "all I want is to be a trad wife."

How do I know? Because I've been doing it for sixteen years now with people who sounded just like you do now. In person and online. In public and in private. With friends and strangers. I've never had the luxury of being anything but a feminist, an advocate for women they don't even realize they need, that they don't (and won't!) have the vocabulary to ask for.

Not as long as "feminism" is the dirtiest word they know.

Mormon Feminism and Me

I'm finally getting around to reading Mormon Feminism and I've made an important discovery.

Claudia Bushman was the bishop's wife over what eventually became the units I attended in the stake where I was baptized. The Elkton Ward was in my hometown. Doug and Susan Taber were the very first people I met when I was in the Neward 2nd ward as a teenager.

This is the ground where my discipleship began.

Claudia Bushman assembled women in dignity, dedicated to making the Church a more equal place everywhere she went. That's where I was baptized. The ripples of her presence are still felt there.
The sexism and deprioritization of women and their contributions I have experienced in other corners of the Church never happened to me there. Claudia Bushman and so many of the women she knew were the reasons why. It was a garden they tended carefully where women could grow.
I just bought a copy of Susan Taber's book, Mormon Lives: a Year in the Elkton Ward. Flipping through the index, I see so many names I recognize. These are the people who gave me my foundations as a member of the Church. They were the people who taught me the gospel, baptized me, and gave me the foundations I needed to walk through the Church expecting to be treated like an equal.

I'm going to end up getting similarly derailed with a lot of the writers, works, and projects that get mentioned in passing in Mormon Feminism. It'll probably take me a long time to finish because of that. I don't mind though.
As it turns out, my reflexive reaction of "this would never happen to me back home" wasn't just wishful thinking. It wasn't an accident or a fluke. It's the legacy of Mormon women who came before me who did the work to make the Church a better place. And if there's anything to take away from a book called Mormon Feminism, surely that is it.

Why Supporting Gender Affirming Care in the Church is Important

A bot asked me on Twitter if I support gender affirming care for minorsno doubt to stir the pot with the people who were already in my comments. Thing is, I don't need help to stir the pot. So lets talk about it.

Under the umbrella of gender affirming care are all kinds of treatments for both queer folks and non-queer folks of every age. Let's talk about some of the ones I use and receive.

I have a chronic illness called PCOS that affects the natural balance of male/female hormones in my body. I am a cisgender woman with male hormones in my body that I don't want. I take medication to remove those excess androgens from my body. That is gender affirming care. I receive it to make the hormonal composition of my body match my gender. Without that medication, I would have male pattern baldness, I would grow a beard, and that testosterone would create chaos inside of my body.
My condition is genetic. My paternal grandmother and her mother both had some version of it. My great grandmother had a lot of the same unwanted hair growth. My grandmother struggled with her fertility ended up having a hysterectomy before she could finish having children.
I was born with this condition. I had it as a teenager. I didn't get any kind of healthcare for my condition as a teenager. I needed gender affirming care that I didn't get because my mother didn't think it was important. I live with the consequences of those decisions every day of my life.  
There is no cure for my condition. I will be managing this circus, which was allowed to progress unchecked for decades because of conservative attitudes towards women's healthcare, for the rest of my life. I am sick all the time and I'm never going to get better.
Between my Catholic mother, BYU, and my mission, I didn't get any real treatment for my condition (because the first step is usually using birth control as hormone therapy) until I was in my early twenties and already married. That allowed my disease to progress to a point where I will never have children without spending $20-30k on fertility treatments.
This is what denying me gender affirming care has done to my life. 

So do I support withholding gender affirming care from underage people? 
 No. Not at all. I had that decision made for me in the best interest of others and their agendas, not what was best for me, and I will be dealing with those consequences for the rest of my life. Children and young adults deserve to receive the healthcare they need, not the healthcare that strangers in churches think they should be receiving. Especially when folks in those churches don't know the first thing about the people they're restricting treatment from.
Russell M. Nelson is a doctor. Nevertheless, he is not MY doctor. He is a surgeon, not an endocrinologist. He doesn't know the first thing about my health, my needs, or the treatments for my conditions. No one in a medical setting would let him anywhere near my case because he's unqualified to practice this type of medicine. So why should I, or anyone else, be comfortable with him or anyone else in the Church, being allowed to interfere in these decisions for church members through policy changes and church discipline?
Nothing about an ecclesiastical office qualifies someone to make my medical decisions for me. Conservative folks with a Twitter account, a cable package that includes Fox News, and the email addresses of politicians aren't qualified to treat my medical issues. 
The same way that preventable suffering during miscarriages and pregnancy losses are the consequences we're now living with because of anti-abortion legislation, the same thing will happen with bans against gender affirming care. The collateral damage goes far beyond underage transgender people. Conservative folks are so determined to punish transgender kids and their parents for being different, they're willing to destroy the lives of anyone and everyone else as collateral damage along the way.
Why? Because punishing trans people never was ultimately what this was about.
Remember: all culture wars, moral panics, and identity politics are the cheap Party City disguises for class warfare. When rich people in power can keep our lives in shambles, we're easier to control. They want you to hate me so we won't ever organize against them.

When Abortion Bans Aren't Pro-Life

I recently encountered a pro-life person trying to justify abortion restrictions by saying that it's better for mothers with fatal fetal abnormalities to be able to hold their babies instead of them being "thrown away as medical waste."

They say it like that from ignorance and heartlessness. They need that malice from mothers and doctors to exist to justify doing this to women, to mothers who never wanted to be in this position with their babies. The trouble is, in an effort to punish hypothetical women who are allegedly 'just trying to throw their babies in the trash,' they harm women like this.


For Amanda Zurawski, it wasn't a choice between getting to hold her dead infant or not. She was dying of sepsis, which is what happens when women who genuinely need abortions don't get one. Her body was being ravaged by infection because the state of Texas had legislated that her life didn't matter and wasn't worth saving as long as her non-viable baby still had a heartbeat.

Pro-life folks almost killed her. She's lucky to be alive today. She's suing the state of Texas and I pray to God she wins. Because here's the thing: you can be a religious person and see that regardless of how you feel about abortion, THIS? This isn't any better.

This isn't the holy and humane treatment your pastors, priests, and prophets told you would happen by making abortion illegal. Supporting forced pregnancy doesn't save lives. It just switches out who is going to die. They reassure you that it's justified, that it's better this way, that these women deserve it because only "horrible" women would "throw away" their babies like that.

But who gave them the authority to decide that a woman they don't know is worthy of death? Who appointed them to decide that a failed pregnancy should be a death sentence to every woman who has one, just in case?

A kind, loving, merciful God who is no respecter of persons, who cannot show favor to one life over another without ceasing to God, does not do that. Those who represent him shouldn't be okay with standing in for him to make those decisions either.

Which then leaves me with the real question: if not God, then who? From whom does this suffering, this indifference, this death by tyranny come?

Making abortion illegal and punishing doctors doesn't save lives. Abortion bans fail to save the pregnancies that were going to fail anyway and makes women like Amanda less capable of surviving them. Abortion bans don't save babies. They kill women.

That is the objective truth.

And no matter how much you don't like it, no matter how much you try to spin it any other way to suit the narrative your church has given to you, it doesn't stop being true.

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