Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ignorance Is a Choice

Not too long ago, I received an interesting comment that came to me as an email by Shelagh Watkins. She wrote, "About bathroom spaces and who should use them. We are berated constantly about transgender people's rights to have their feelings respected. However, little is said about the rights of the remaining 99.9% of the population to have their feelings respected. Many females have phobias about using public bathrooms. All kinds of phobias, from fear of attack to the fear of urinating in public. These irrational fears and phobias are very real. Just knowing that men dressed in women's clothes, of any sexual orientation, could be present in a female bathroom or changing area, is deeply distressing to some females. I'm using the word 'female' because the word 'woman' has been usurped by the trans community and has lost its original meaning, which is sad. We lost the word 'gay' and now we are about to lose the words 'man' and 'woman'. As an author, I lament the loss of any words in the English language, much as I would lament the loss of my birthright, which gives me the right to be treated as a female. A right that a small minority of the population is willing to give up in order to be happy. Something that a man without child bearing capabilities tries to claim as his right because he 'thinks' like a woman (but not like a female)."

North Carolina has now passed a law that states that the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, in schools and government buildings, people must use the bathroom that corresponds with their “biological sex,” defined as the one “stated on a person’s birth certificate”. Do we all have to carry birth certificates with us everywhere we go now? Will they spot check us? Grope us? Our ill-informed society makes it very challenging when accepting something that seems so incredibly new, when it has actually been here for many, many years, even before Jesus' time. First, let me address the phobia of sharing a restroom with someone who is transgender. With lack of exposure comes ignorance. It's very understandably so that a cisgender woman may feel uncomfortable if she recognizes a woman to be sharing the same restroom who is transgender. My own mother who happens to be very open-minded even stated that she would probably wait until the transgender woman left the restroom. She has a phobia of using a public restroom where they have numerous stalls -- so probably a bad example. But remember the woman who complained about a transgender woman using the restroom at Planet Fitness? She got banned for her complaint because they are protected under a "no discrimination law". I do however, understand the concerns of cisgender women. If a man wanted to just play 'dress up' and invade their restroom, they can and that's the fear that haunts them. But I mean -- what are the odds? Transgender women need a restroom. So what's best -- going inside the men's room and possibly getting a beat down by some infuriated cisgender man? Or going into the ladies' room and truly not being noticed? And if they are noticed -- most cisgender women wouldn't feel threatened anyway. But there is still a valid concern. Transgender people are not just going to "go away" because of a restroom issue. They need a place to go.

I don't think people are overly concerned about losing the word "gay" -- from merry and jolly to homosexuality and same sex relationships. I've never heard anyone use "gay" in terms of happiness to tell you the truth. Your concern about losing the words, "man" and "woman" isn't the issue. I kind of think you're upset that maybe, these "men" are going the 'easy route' to become a "woman", without the pain and agony of menstraul cycles and childbirth.  I personally, would rather go through 20 childbirths and a lifetime of dysmenorrhea than to have lived a lifetime of emotional torture of not being able to be who I was meant to be -- of not being who I truly am.  They say that emotional pain is far worse than physical pain. I have to agree with that myself through experience. Transgender women aren't just playing "dress up" or trying to "find themselves" -- they have been and always will be women, regardless if they decide to undergo reassignment surgery. You said you were concerned that cisgender females lack respect of their own concerns, but they also lack a huge amount of education and exposure to what is and what always has been. They lack the willingness to learn about something that has always been around. With that, comes ignorance and intolerance, which can quickly escalate into hatred.  I want to even venture to say that you probably don't have any transgender men or women who are personal friends of yours. I'm only saying that because if you knew the struggles that transgender people go through on a daily basis and knew the history of their agony of being in the wrong body, you would understand a little more about what it's like to "pick" a restroom out of fear.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Christians Who Primarily Focus on Homosexuality Based on Fear

You wouldn't normally think that a Christian conservative's mind would keep stumbling upon the same thought time after time: sex, sex, sex and more sex. I do believe that there are Christians out there that are very concerned about sexual relations (of any kind really), but more so in hopes to keep their own repressions in check. And hoping that I don't sound too redundant and cliche -- why do you think so many priests fail to fall into the "purity" category or perhaps slip into a slimy world of pedophilia? Their prey are usually weak and vulnerable. They need weak individuals to target, otherwise their mission would only be that much harder. I mean -- what adult in their right mind would have an affair with a priest without the notion of going to hell right before leaving his bedroom...or confession booth? Sexual repression for some people can be dangerous because it's like a dam. One simple crack can bust through the vulnerable areas if it's not controlled.

Control. Interesting word. We're taught at a very young age to control our feelings. "Don't go by your feelings -- go by the Spirit."  And while I do believe that in certain circumstances, we're also made to believe that loving someone could possibly be wrong and "not of the Spirit", we're also teaching our youth to be dishonest with their own feelings due to "moral obligation" or thought-to-be and perhaps misinterpreted biblical moral standards. We're made to believe that our love for somebody else is "of the flesh". With any new relationship, it goes into the first stages of courtship. Let's be honest here -- there is probably 2% of people who go into a celibate courtship. If the two people held up to their "moral obligation" and refrained from sex altogether until after marriage, then that's great. It's also a personal choice. Is it realistic? No. But it is a beautiful thing to wait until after marriage to have sexual intimacy. The problem is, "moral society" -- "Christian society" demoralized same-sex marriage. It was never legal until 2008 or so, and that's in a few select states. There were couples who had marital ceremonies and those who chose to live a domestic partnership without anyone consenting to their union. So the whole concept of "sex after marriage" became a twisted interpretation of "immoral sex".

I have legit and valid concerns regarding Christian conservative parents teaching their kids that homosexuality is "wrong" or "evil". You can say it's none of my business, but just think: what if a parent taught their child to believe black people or Jewish people were all bad? Their kids would most likely end up bullying those children. The same with gay or lesbian kids. Intolerance and hate are first taught at home. They pick up on what their parents detest and use it as ammunition once they get into a tickle with someone in the schoolyard. Teaching your children that homosexuality is wrong is very destructive and I even want to say, cruel. I wonder if some of these parents even think about the consequences of bullying, like self-harm and suicide statistics. They don't care. They only care about their own children being straight, regardless if a kid hangs himself due to their teachings. Heterosexuality hold both moral and immoral standards. We all fall short of whatever our sexual identity holds for us. It's sexual immorality you want to teach them about -- not just the sexual immorality of homosexual kids. It goes both ways.

In short (because I have written this a million times), here are the facts:

Leviticus: Old Testament. Our sins were abolished once Jesus died on the cross. Christians no longer go by Leviticus as the Jews still do.

New Testament: Speaks about the promiscuity of all homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. They have taken the meaning of reckless sex and threw it upon all gay people.

The origins of the word "homosexuality" doesn't necessarily mean same gender sex. The passage in the ancient Hebrew is clearly talking about male-male sex acts, specifically anal sex. The issue was penetrating an anus with a penis, this making the penis literally “unclean” to the point of forbidding entry into a vagina.

Sodom and Gomorrah was about rape and humiliation -- not sex between two people who love one another. But Christians will cherry pick this and twist the story around to condemn those who are homosexual.

(If you need further scriptures to reference to everything I am writing about, please feel free to contact me on the side bar.)

So with our handful of homosexual references in the Bible (some not even referring to homosexuals themselves but the act of reckless sex), they never seem to focus on the 100 plus verses on slavery and find it to be "okay" to accept those who are adulterers -- which can be someone divorced while her ex is still alive. In the Bible it talks about divorce being even more sinful than homosexuality, especially if her ex spouse is still alive. The Bible is convoluted with ancient stories that we no longer abide by i.e.: slavery (thank God), and if we were to go by all the rules of the Bible, then what kind of world would we live in? It would be a man-driven society to control the masses -- to control the immorality of people -- even if they're behind closed doors.

And it's all out of fear.


There is a gentleman named, Tom Gilson who wrote a book called, "Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens".

The description reads: "Christian parents need to be prepared to answer the myriad challenges teens might hear in today’s increasingly pro homosexual culture. 'Why shouldn’t gays get married?' 'Who says gay sex is wrong?' 'Does the Bible actually say there’s anything wrong with homosexuality?' 'Don’t you care that kids are being bullied just for being themselves?'

To start the discussion, Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short timespan, leaving Christians scrambling for answers. This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue Christians face in today’s culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared. The good news is that parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations with their teens and preteens on this difficult topic. Learning together―parents struggling through these issues alongside their kids and leading them to biblical answers― has relational benefits. Answers are important, though, so manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue are provided, as well as a guide to further resources."

Be careful what you teach your children.
Mr. Gilson wrote a whole book based upon his fear of his children being gay, and your children being gay and perhaps his own fear that he's gay himself. I can make all types of assumptions based on their "homophobia" (which by the way, many Christians hate that term). Christians feel that most liberals (which I don't label myself as) use the word "homophobia" in an incorrect way. But it's not being used incorrectly. Homophobia is the fear of anything that has to do with being gay. It's the fear of your children being gay and an overall fear of anyone imposing their homosexual lifestyle on themselves and their immediate family. Homosexuality isn't contagious. It's genetic with the choice to either repress your true feelings or to live your life genuinely.

Mr. Gilson used a term that I sort of chuckled at while being interviewed the other night. He said that gays and lesbians base their relationships on "excessive lust". He primarily focused on the sexual aspects of gay and lesbian relationships. I've always wondered why antigay Christians would totally go right into the sexual aspects of homosexuality.  They base some of their premise on the fact that God made men and women to procreate. And yes, while that is true, the Bible never speaks upon same-sex "relationships" -- just the promiscuity of all heterosexual and homosexual people. What if a married heterosexual couple were not able to procreate due to health reasons? Should they divorce since they cannot procreate?

Antigay Christian conservatives mostly focus on tearing apart the LGBT community due to fear alone. In my opinion, this has a great deal to do with their own sexual repression. Most homophobic Christians are homosexuals. They've done hundreds of studies regarding this all proving it to be true. Look at this video below. This was done back in the 90's I believe, but more studies have proven that those who focus on bashing gays or who are just against homosexuality are indeed gay themselves. If you can't view the video, please click here.



When you encourage homophobia, especially teaching people that homosexuality is wrong or "sinful" -- then you're displaying a level fear that goes beyond "protecting" your own children. You're displaying your own fear of homosexuality, your own fear of being gay yourself. How many antigay Christian politicians were caught on Grindr and gay porn sites and even have had gay affairs? You can just Google that info and it's up for grabs. There is no such thing as an "ex-gay" or someone who states that they've had homosexual feelings at one time and one day they magically disappeared. When being asked if it was a choice to be gay, I always ask them, "Was it a choice for you to be straight?" They usually answer, "Of course not!" It works both ways.

The Most Important Commandment: "One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?' Jesus replied, 'The most important commandment is this: Here, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.'" ~Matthew 22:34-40

The most important commandment is love one another. God doesn’t hate, no matter how many times some “Christian” will sit there and condemn you for being gay. If you're a Christian with a large platform to minister to others, then why would you minister on just one sin? Why would you intensely focus on something that has nothing or zero to do with you? How are homosexuals ruining your life? Why not focus on the real sins of life, like murder, rape, pedophilia, ISIS, Trump. (Had to add that one in.)

My point is: so many knowledgeable Christians are wasting their teaching platforms to instill their own fear upon society. Fear is not of God. The only thing to conquer your fear is through love. Why aren't we showing more of that?


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Hypochondria: The Girl Who Cried Wolf

This year I have taken two large breaks from writing. Back in November I had my hysterectomy that left me foggy for a few months and this past week, I came down with a terrible flu which I'm still recovering from. I'm better, but because of my underlining asthma, the after effects of the bronchitis leaves me hacking up a lung still. Thank God for the prescription cough meds at night or I wouldn't sleep at all. I can see how people get addicted to this crap. I never had such great sleep in my life. Little by little, I've been trying to do more, or at least slowly slide back into my routine again. As soon as I think I'm ok -- I get knocked out by exhaustion and curl up into the fetal position with a mountain of tissues & a few puffs of my inhaler. It definitely hasn't been fun at all. With two trips to the ER to receive breathing treatments and a ton of albuterol and steroids 'to go' -- I should have more energy than my chihuahua.

There's no doubt that I'm definitely a hypochondriac. There's also no doubt that I truly do have ailments, such as asthma to complicate flus and colds as well as stomach issues that require gastroenterologist visits and a ton of antacids to make it through the day. But there is an element of hypochondria that seems to disrupt my life. For instance, ever since I was 16 years old, I've been having "heart attack scares". I mean, come on -- what 16 year old has a heart attack unless they have an underlining condition? But maybe I had that "underlining condition"? I thought that maybe I was one of the rare ones with these heart issues. My panic attacks started at the age 16 which mimics a heart attack. So for as long as I can remember, any time my heart would race, palpitate or skip a beat, it meant a hospital visit just to make sure things were kosher. And then of course, a simple chest pain from muscle strain or discomfort from my asthma would send me into a frenzy thinking it was my heart once again. Thank God we didn't have the internet back then or I would've been on WebMD a long time ago.

I'm not sure if it got better or worse as I grew older, or if it just remained the same. At the age of 25, I remember listening to my gynecologist tell me that I should take birth control pills to control my menstraul cramps. On the label (because hypochondriacs read labels like a lawyer reading a contract) -- it said, "Risk of stroke or heart attack 35 years or older." So the age "35" meant that I was at risk all. the. time. -- regardless if I was taking them or not. I never did take the pills in fear of that risk. I still have moments when I see a red mark on my leg or if one leg appears to be swollen, I want to rule out a blood clot. The thought of a blood clot scares the shit out of me. Just the idea of a blood clot breaking off and traveling up into the lungs to kill you is something so unforeseen and never really thought about until you're gasping for air dialing 911.

Which then begs to ask the big question: why am I so afraid to die?

Nobody makes it out of here alive anyway. Why should I keep on trying to "save myself" just to make it last 20 years longer? I believe in God and I do believe there is an afterlife, but the "what ifs" still make me wonder as a human being. And as contradictory as this may seem, as much as I beg to live by being such a hypochondriac, I sometimes think about ending my own life due to the torture of being so neurotic. No worries -- I'm too much of a coward to do such a thing anyway. They say it's braver to stay here and live, but when you put a gun to someone's head, what do they do? They beg to live. My basic survival instincts are all screwed up. A heart attack or blood clot doesn't know any age or weight. "Oh lose weight so you don't get heart disease or a blood clot." My uncle was a runner at the age of 30. He ate right, never smoked and bam -- a heart attack hit him out of nowhere. I hear about more thin people having blood clots (DVTs or PEs) than I do with overweight folks. Interesting, right? I've also heard, "You'll never see an old fat person." That's because when you get older, you naturally eat less and your body shrinks. My dad used to be close to 400 lbs. He died at more than half of his body weight due to an illness that had nothing to do with being overweight. Smoking killed him. He was 75. Cancer is a nondiscriminatory illness.

I'm sharing this with you so that maybe you'll understand your friend, your sister, your brother or child a bit more when they freak out about a lump on their neck (possibly from a swollen lymph node) or when they say they have chest pain (after they ate two huge bowls of pasta fasule). And yes, it's "all in our head" -- but we feel the symptoms, the pain, the agony of disrupting our day (as well as yours) to go to the doctor and get it checked out. Sometimes that means waking up in the middle of the night so the hypochondriac can have peace of mind. Although it's very real to us, it can also be very frustrating and agonizing for loved ones. I'm not saying to enable the madness of the neurosis, but to refrain from making them feel bad or "crazy' -- to minimize their fears and concerns over their wellbeing and overall health.

My entire point of this post is about compassion. Years ago when I was in my late teens, I developed what's called agoraphobia. It's basically a fear of walking into marketplaces or large venues with crowds. But the definition has changed just a little. It now means a fear of just going outside of your home. I still get it from time to time, but it's much more managed. But going back to my late teens, I remember a few of my friends made fun of me for having this disorder. It made me feel really bad. And although I do joke around about my hypochondria -- for someone to make fun of me or minimize my concerns -- that still hurts me. Any type of mental illness should be handled like any other type of illness. It's very real and it can debilitate your life to the point of living like a physically ill person when the person can be completely healthy. The only thing that can really help is therapy, and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), where the patient can learn techniques with coping and rationalizing.

The other day, my friend posted this quote, "My invisible disease is more real than your imaginary medical expertise."

Don't give medical advice. Give your thoughts or concerns and maybe even tell them what helped you if you suffer from something similar. The worse thing you can do is say, "Oh come on, get over it," or worse off, minimize a real sickness when they do come down with it thinking, "It's just their mania again." For instance, I had a hysterectomy. I had my uterus, fallopian tubes as well as my cervix taken out. It was a five hour operation with a three hour recovery time. I had complications and was sent back to the hospital due to a surgical infection. I had a very hard time with it and it was not "all in my head". Someone said to me, "I had the same thing done -- I had a fibroid removed. It's no big deal." (I'll let that sink in for you.) To compare the removal of a fibroid tumor to major organs being taken out is just downright inconsiderate --or perhaps just uneducated? I don't mean that in a bad way, but maybe this person doesn't know what's involved with a hysterectomy. Yes, it is a very common operation, but nonetheless, major. To minimize such a procedure, especially considering it was also emotionally taxing, is very hurtful. And remember, real things happen to even the worst types of hypochondriacs. Sometimes the wolf is all too real.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!