Where is our empathy?

Recently a school was closed for two days because of threats made against a transgender student…a child who is 12 years old. I could have understood if–maybe–if the threats had come from other students. That’s an age when being different seems to bring out the worst in us. But these threats came from parents…from those who are supposed to set the example.

As we learn more about how our brains work, about the connections between mind and body, about how our bodies are put together…there is increasing scientific knowledge available to help us understand issues of sexual and gender identities. We can help kids become who they really are–but only if we’re willing to listen and learn ourselves.

What if we actually listened? What if we set our fears aside for a little bit? What if we put our learned prejudices aside? our tendencies to try to apply information from 2000 years ago to today, ignoring all the information we’ve learned about our world, our bodies, ourselves?

I’m not suggesting that scripture isn’t relevant. It is. But the Bible isn’t a science textbook. It’s a record of communities doing their best to understand their world and the Divine. It’s a book that calls us to be open…to be willing to reach out to the marginalized, the hurting, the dispossessed.

That includes kids who are struggling with the differences they sense between who their brain tells them they are and what their body shows.

We may not understand it all, and that’s okay. There’s still a lot for us to learn.

But those of us who are adults have to set the example for our kids.

We can teach them empathy…compassion…willingness to try to understand another.

Or we can teach them fear and hate for “the other.”

I cannot imagine what life is like for that 12-year-old girl…or for the many other children (and adults) who struggle with gender dysphoria.

It’s not a disease. The disease is in us, when we see a 12-year-old child and call her a “half-formed maggot” or “it” or suggest attacking her with “a good sharp knife.”

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