How Long Do Transgender People Have to Wait For Equality?

When I have conversations with people who don’t particularly care about politics, I often hear them say something along the lines of, “Transgender people need to be more patient.” As in, trans people need to not fight so hard for equal rights, and we just need to wait. There are more important, more pressing issues.

But, if we are supposed to “be patient” and “wait” to bring up equal rights, how long must we wait? Transgender equality is a serious human rights issue. Our rights are not just “identity politics” to be dismissed or swept aside. How long do we have to wait?

If politicians need to downplay the importance of trans rights, or simply ignore them altogether, then how long do we have to wait? Conservative politicians are already proposing bathroom bills and passing laws allowing for our discrimination, Democrats cannot shy away from the issue of trans equality for fear of losing elections.

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Spring Break is not a Sin: BeachReach Missions

Spring Break is coming up here at East Tennessee State and at many other universities, but be warned, if you party over Spring Break, it means your soul is “lost” (damned to Hell) and you’re hurting and searching for meaning. But don’t worry, hope is not lost, because the ETSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry is going to come preach at you to save your sinful, wretched soul through pancake breakfasts and forced evangelism.

Or, as they call it, “BeachReach”.

“BeachReach is a mission trip experience where servant evangelism takes the form of free van rides and pancakes. Thousands visit Panama City during spring break and many are hurting and searching for meaning. College students provide simple acts of service that open the door to life-changing conversations about the hope and love of Jesus Christ.” -(beachreachlive.com – Lifeway)

If you didn’t catch what this “mission trip” was about (because it’s loaded with Christianese and coded language) they’re sending students to give rides to drunk college students on Spring Break in Panama City so they can try and evangelize them. In their eyes, partying over Spring Break means these people are “lost” and “hurting and searching for meaning”

Here’s a picture posted on the ETSUBCM Instagram page that actually mentions praying “for the Holy Spirit to already be working in the lost.” Maybe it’s just me, but I reject the idea that having some innocent fun over Spring Break in your 20s makes you “lost”. The use of the word “lost” even bothers me. It’s a Christianese word that they use to make their message sound a little be nicer. I would invite them to say what they really mean: damned. To be “lost” is to be damned to Hell. Another reason why I don’t use that word. Furthermore, I’m not the judge of who is damned to Hell, and a bunch of holier-than-thou kids from Johnson City who aren’t even old enough to drink are certainly not the judges either.

Speaking of judging, the Beachreachlive.com website features a tab called “Prayer & Vans” that lists prayer requests from the evangelists who are already in Panama City. I use the term “prayer requests” loosely, because these requests sound more like gossip than prayers. The majority of them are extremely judgmental, presumptuous, arrogant, and just downright insulting. If the people they are trying to evangelize were to know how they’re being spoken about online for everyone to read, I seriously doubt they would be very happy about it.

From what it sounds like, all they’re doing is telling people their views are wrong, their faith is wrong, they’re wrong about what they think they believe, wrong, wrong, wrong. Each “prayer” for some reason needs to mention whether or not the person is intoxicated or not, like they’re being shamed for having fun on spring break. Though, my favorite ones are the ones about Catholics. Seriously, I encourage you to take a look for yourself.

If anything, I feel as though this “mission trip” is taking advantage of vulnerable people, people who are drunk and without a ride back to somewhere safe and might not have a choice but to take a “free” van ride from evangelists. I say “free” because the BCM is getting something in return for these rides: evangelism. It’s not something they’re doing out of Christlikeness or kindness, it’s taking advantage of people who need assistance and using them as more notches in their belts of people they’ve “saved”.

And if I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a thousand times, just go on vacation in Florida for Spring Break, don’t call it a “mission trip”. It’s fine to just take vacations, they don’t all have to be “mission trips”. Just let people live. Let people have fun. Life is a beautiful gift from God, and it’s not a sin to appreciate it.

Prayer request highlights:

Queer Portraits of Faith: Morgan Holland

Queer Portraits of Faith is a series of interviews displaying the beauty of being LGBTQ+ and faithful. It is often assumed that religion and queer identities don’t mix, and that the two need to be reconciled in some way. I’d like to challenge that belief by getting to know several religious LGBTQ+ people in my own community.

Morgan Holland is a sophomore at East Tennessee State University, and is a media and communication major. She has a passion for writing, LGBTQ+ activism, helping others, and for knitting hats for people with illnesses that cause hair loss, such as cancer. She’s also the Vice President of Ukirk, the Presbyterian student ministry at ETSU.

What is your religion, or how would you describe your faith/spirituality?

I’m a Christian.

-What connects you to your faith the most? How do you incorporate this into your life and your faith?

Writing and my family connects me to my faith. I write everyday. And the way I combine it with my faith is by writing to God, about my beliefs/feelings, I feel closer to God this way.

-Was there ever a time when you needed your faith most? Did you embrace it or withdraw from it?

There’s been many times when I’ve needed my faith more than anything. Sometimes, I would fall into it with an open heart and allow God to guide me. But most of the time I seclude myself from God, and my faith, and try to deal with my problems on my own. I’ve been in the process of learning how to not do that, and to accept God’s help in my life.

-Was there a time when you weren’t faithful? If so, how did you overcome that?

There’s many times when I’m not faithful, even now. The most prominent time I can recall is when my granny passed away. She was the beginning and the end of my faith for a long time. I can’t say I’ll ever ‘overcome’ my doubts, fears, or hesitancies about my faith. But I can say I will work on it for the rest of my life.

-What role does faith play in your day to day life? More than that, how does it play into the bigger life decisions?

Faith plays into my day to day life when I have minor anxieties. I’ll always pray for God to calm my mind and allow me to focus. I’m still working on how to involve God in my bigger life decisions. It’s hard to just turn my problems over to God, most of the time. Also something I’m working on.

-How does being LGBTQ factor into your faith?

Being LGBTQ and a Christian seemed like an impossible idea to me growing up. I thought I had to be one or the other.

-How did your sexuality/gender identity affect your faith (or vice versa) growing up?

My faith has actually allowed me to accept my sexuality. The more love I experience from God, the more I realize that the love I want is so, so beautiful.

-Would you say that being faithful allowed you to be more or less accepting of your sexuality/gender identity?

It fluctuated for many years, honestly. But now I’m becoming more accepting of who I am.