Dear Representative Ragan

,I am a tolerant person.  My Christian upbringing taught me to love my neighbor -- nothing in the Bible says he or she has to be like me in any way before I do.  I would like to ask you to seriuously consider an idea I have.Your response to Mitchell Gilbert's email to you prompted this email. 

First, there is NOTHING "loving" or Christian about bullying.  I am and always have been straight, but I was bullied in middle school and high school because I was tall, broad shouldered, chubby and a bookworm with excellent grades.  People whispered that I was a lesbian because I didn't spend all my waking hours flirting with the guys and gossiping with other girls about the guys and shopping and doing my hair and nails.   I didn't bat my eyelashes at them and tell them how big and strong and smart they were.  I knew I couldn't compete with the cheerleaders and drill squad, so I just didn't try.  I was also still mourning the loss of my father 5 years before, longing to have a "steady" and terrified of rejection.  Sports bored me, as did guys who talked about them all the time.   Fact was, the boys in my school were mostly not smart enough to interest me even if they had been looking at me. 

 I have never known any feelings of being attracted to a woman sexually.  I have female friends I love deeply, but there's nothing sexual about it.  

My sophomore year in HS, I met a guy a year ahead of me.  He was extremely popular, good looking, friendly, charming, intelligent, and he liked me.  I got my first kiss from him.  He told all the popular kids to invite me to their parties. (I was too young to date yet because I had skipped over 1st grade).  When I arrived, he'd rush over, hug me and introduce me to anyone I didn't know, telling them how smart I was and how witty.   [edited to remove some too personal data about someone else]  Always the gentleman.  No groping, no pressure for anything but to be there and have fun.  He came by my house almost every day to talk, do his homework while I did mine, sometimes eating dinner.  I loved him simply because he was loving to me.  That was 1967.   We had one date to a movie in August 1968.  In August of 1969, just before he left for college, he told me he was gay. 

What he did for me was build my self-confidence, make me feel beautiful and lovable.  That's the greatest gift any man can give a woman. 43 years later, we are still friends who can say anything to each other.  He has been with the same man longer than I have been married, which is going on 23 years.  However, in his professional life, he still has to pretend to be straight because he lives in the Deep South.  

For the first time this year, he began speaking out about bullying of gay kids.  What set him off was the suicide of Jeffrey Fehr.

Your response indicated that you know about trans-gendered people (you may call them hermaphrodites).  Do you know how they come to be the way they are in terms of genitalia?  It's not genes, Rep. Ragan, it's the flow of hormones through the placenta during gestation, during the development of the genitalia.  Think of it like mixing paint -- the right amount of blue and amount of white, and you get a soft baby blue.   The right amount of red and white, and you a soft baby pink.  All developing fetii require some testosterone and some estrogen.  What happens during the development to create someone with both genitalia is that the amounts  get out of proportion and maybe the timing is wrong too -- that is, from my understanding of these things in "normal" development, the estrogen and testosterone flow into the placenta at different times, not at the same time. I'm not a doctor or biologist however, so I may be misunderstanding what I read on that score or mis-remembering it.  At any rate, something goes wrong with the mix, and instead of blue or pink you get lavender (both kinds of genitalia).  I know someone born this way, and as an infant they made her into a "woman."  She is currently a lesbian. 

 I might point out, though, by your apparent definition of what makes a person like men or women is their genitalia.  Logically, that would make these people bisexual.  They have both gender's genitalia so they should be able to have sex with men or women.Or perhaps you would say that if they have breasts they should not have sex with women because that's homosexual?  If they also have a penis (and these are usually non-functional) they should not have sex with men, because that would be homosexual?  Celibacy doesn't work for most people.  We have seen that with priests.  Why would you say it should work for people who have one genitalia but find themselves attracted to people with the same genitalia? 

 Human beings crave emotional connections, except perhaps sociopaths.With that desire for emotional intimacy comes a desire for touch by the beloved.  

Before I make my final points, I'd like to address your comments about "feelings,"  what most of us would call attraction.  Surely you don't expect us to believe that "feelings" didn't play a part in the woman you chose to marry?  I can promise you that if I didn't have "feelings" both emotional and sexual toward my husband, I would not be married to HIM.  I'd lay dollars to doughnuts, you would say the same thing about your wife. 

 I have no idea why my friend from high school has an attraction to men, but I have a speculation, based on the science of how people with both kinds of genitalia come to be. Now I've read the research, and the jury's out on what makes someone gay or lesbian.  One thing they do seem to have established is that the structure  and chemical flows in the brains of gay men are more like those of women, and the structure & flows in the brain of lesbians are more like those of men.  My theory is that perhaps the hormonal flow through the placenta has an error in the mix, not as severe an error as to cause both kinds of genitalia to develop, but "off" enough that the development results in the body of one gender but the brain chemisty of the other gender.  To return to our paint analogy, perhaps you get mauve or periwinkle  -- a kind of "bluey pink" or "pinkish blue" pastel.  Something to think about.

Children are fragile emotionally.  Bullying is never OK.  Moreover, haranguing doesn't make people change:   it doesn't make them lose weight, or start exercising, or gain self-confidence, or become straight.  It CAN make them sink to such despair that they kill themselves.  Why would you think that it's OK to do it out of religious convictions?  It is abuse of another human being, and NOT what God commanded of us.  You took exception to Mitchell Gilbert's words to you.  He was angry and he harangued you.  

What I do know is this:  God made all of us, and He commanded us to love one another as ourselves.  I am angry too.  Over my lifetime, I have lost a couple of good friends, a boyfriend, a couple of co-workers and neighbors, and a precious student (I was a teacher) to suicide.  Know this.  If I had a gay or lesbian child, and we lived in Tennessee, and this bill passes, and my child killed himself or herself after being bullied by other kids under the protection of your bill, I would hold you morally responsible and seek a wrongful death conviction for you and the kids who did the bullying.  Haranguing, even on religious grounds, is emotional abuse of another human being and it is wrong.  It is wrong in the eyes of God as per the Second Commandment, and it is wrong from a human rights perspective.  It is wrong for the US and its reputation for protecting the rights of all Americans, the guarantee in our Declaration of the inalienable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 

 I will be praying that you reach a deep enough understanding of the Second Commandment to withdraw this bill and end bullying and emotional abuse of anyone.  God works in truly mysterious ways, Rep Ragan.  Consider that perhaps God created gay people to bring you to a deeper understanding of what loving others is and is not.  I don't know what your religious upbringing is, but I was taught in Sunday School that none of us can conceive of the mind of God, and that His mercy is available to anyone He chooses to bestow it upon.  From where I sit, you are presuming to know the mind of God.  Wouldn't it be ironic if He admits my beloved gay friend to heaven and you end up in hell for this bill?  It could happen. It's God's place to judge each and every one of us.  So I do not judge your righteousness.  I merely offer you a perspective to think about.  God be with you.

Anne Nelson


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