Thought Catalog

Parker Marie Molloy

(archive - 2013-2014)


What It’s Like To Come Out As Transgender At Work

Parker Marie Molloy

I started at my current job in March of 2012, but it wasn’t until a year later that my coworkers were introduced to me. A year is a long time to wait to say “hello,” but my particular situation was a bit unique: I’m transgender.

Taking things a step back, I should note that at 26 years old, I felt that I was doing okay, professionally. I had been consistently working a full time job since I was a junior in college. I made enough money to pay my bills. I was working within my field of study. I enjoyed the work I did. I should have been loving my work, loving my life. Life was seemingly okay, but something was wrong.

On and off, throughout my life, I had very conflicting feelings about my identity and existence. Growing up, something just felt, well, something felt “off.” I never fit in as a boy, and I certainly was not feeling okay in my role as a man. My skin crawled, I felt irritated, and I was an emotional wreck throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Chemically, my body felt as though it was running on diesel when it needed unleaded. By 23, I was beginning to break down.

Being transgender was not something I was prepared to accept about myself until I was on the verge of collapse. Everything the media had shown me regarding transgender individuals pushed the same narratives, over and over: “I’m trapped in the wrong body!” and “I knew since I was 3 years old!”

That wasn’t me. I didn’t feel “trapped,” I just felt wrong. Nor was I sure self-aware of my true gender identity as a toddler. As my own narrative didn’t match the traditional trans narrative, I was quick to ignore my own gender dissonance, brushing it off as being ridiculous. As Zinnia Jones outlined in her article, “The Trouble With Depicting Trans People,” these “wrong body” and “I knew from an early age” stories did nothing but make me feel more isolated and alone, putting off transition and trying to ignore these feelings.

In 2010, I found myself with a stomach ulcer that prevented me from working more than a few hours at a time, sending me to the emergency room on 5 separate occasions. The solution, as diagnosed and prescribed by a psychiatrist, was to try to realign who I was through antidepressants and anticonvulsants, as I had developed a hand tremor. Unfortunately, this was just a patch on a much larger problem, as the medication eventually lost effectiveness over the course of the next few years.

At 26 years old, I finally came to terms with who I was and what I needed to do to correct the unbearable state of my mind. My tremors and depression had returned full force, and all the Xanax in the world wouldn’t have helped. I knew what I needed to do, but at the time, I had just started a new job. The last thing I could afford was to lose it by transitioning.

The idea of transition scared me more than anything I had ever considered in my life. I could lose my job, my relationship, everyone and everything in my life.

Realizing that my options in life were limited to transitioning or pain and death, I came out to my partner as trans, beginning therapy sessions and hormone replacement therapy treatments shortly thereafter.

During my annual performance review in January 2013, I came out to my two direct supervisors, explaining that I was transgender and had been on HRT for 3 months. I elaborated where necessary, and gave them them the green light to ask whatever sort of questions they may have, whether reasonable or absurd.

In the months that followed, I worked with management and human resources to develop a path forward. Various things had to be coordinated, including how my co-workers and client contacts would be told about my trans status, what restrooms I would have permission to use, how and when to update name and contact information on e-mail and company files, and how instances of harassment would be handled.

The morning of March 4, 2013, 12 months after I had started this job, I went into work for the first time as Parker Marie Molloy.

Even with careful planning, there have been bumps in the road. I’ve overhead bathroom gossip between two women lamenting the fact that they had to share it with someone like me. I’ve experienced issues with embarrassing name mismatches on company documents. I’ve been on the receiving end of stares and mumbles in the hallway. Complete strangers have yelled and called me names on my way to and from work.

I spent more time in an empty office or a bathroom stall crying than I’d like to admit, but I knew that each passing day would get a little easier, a little brighter. That was enough to keep me going. That said, I am so much happier these days than I’ve ever felt before. I am me. I’m not hiding anymore. TC mark


It Doesn’t Get Better

Parker Marie Molloy

As a transgender woman, I have to deal with glaring instances of transphobia on a near daily basis. “Oh, what’s that? A joke on a popular network TV show where they laugh about a ‘dude in a dress’ or react in absolute disgust thinking about ‘accidentally’ being attracted to a “tranny” (see: How I Met Your Mother, South Park, the Daily Show With Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, Community, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development, Bob’s Burgers, Go On, and The Simpsons…just to name a few)? Great! After a long day, I love to come home and listen to jokes that attack my very existence!”

Should I go online and read about one of the all-too-common stories outlining the murder of a trans woman, I’ll find instances where the victim is blamed for their own demise. Similarly, authors of these stories seem to revel in the ability to play gender police,reverting to the birth names and pronouns of the recently assaulted or deceased. Even outlets that are “on our side” aren’t an exception. For instance, just this past June, HuffPost Gay Voices ran a story about a “transgender man” (by which they meant a transgender woman). After corresponding with an editor for nearly an hour, informing them that they were violating the AP Stylebook and the GLAAD guidelines for reporting on transgender individuals, he relented and “compromised” by changing the headline to read “transgender person” (while still leaving the victim’s birth name in the article).

How freaking gracious of him. I certainly hope that if something horrifically violent like that happened to me, the world wouldn’t be told about a “man” named “[birth name].”

No matter the individual, no matter the group, no matter how liberal or accepting you think someone is – they’re bound to let you down when it comes to steering clear of transphobia. For instance, take Patton Oswalt, one of my favorite comedians. He’s extremely liberal, injecting his own political views into his set. He’d never do or say something transphobic, right?

There HAS to be a transsexual whose e-mail address is “shemale@gmail.com”.

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 5, 2013

How often does someone try to make a joke at your expense? Occasionally? How often does someone try to invalidate your existence? Never? Sadly, this doesn’t even take into consideration things that actually happen to me “in real life.”

At the doctor’s office yesterday, I filled out my intake form, and sat down, waiting with the rest of the patients. On the form, I wrote my legal name (Parker Marie [last name]) and gender (Female, as listed on my driver’s license). After a few moments, the woman behind the desk loudly asks, in front of everyone else in the waiting room, if I had changed my name from [birth name] to my legal name, essentially outing me as trans to everyone within earshot. I nodded.

After finally receiving treatment, they handed me a form with a general summary of my visit. In the upper right hand corner, I noticed this:

DESCRIPTION: 27 year old male

Really, doctor? Really? Not only did you out me to the waiting room, but you felt the need to ignore what was on the intake form and legal document I gave you?

I’m lucky to be in a position where I have a job. I’m lucky to be in a position where, by sheer genetic luck, my body has responded to hormones in a way that doesn’t immediately scream “this woman is trans!,” and thereby, I don’t get too many strange glances or harassment when I try to use a public restroom.

Still, generally, being trans sucks in the sense that there are so many people who think so little of the existence of people like you that they feel entitled to make jokes at your expense, use incorrect names and pronouns in news pieces about you, or stare you down or confront you over harmless things like the bathroom.

The individual examples listed above could easily be seen as harmless. It’s easy to go, “Oh, but it’s just a joke.” That’s simple to say when it’s just one joke. Unfortunately, though, it isn’t one joke. It’s dozens, playing on endless loops in media and real life.

We’re under the impression that so much has improved for trans individuals over the years, but is that really the case? Looking at Google search trends, you wouldn’t think so.

Over the past 5 years, terms “transgender” and “trans woman” have remained relatively consistent volume-wise, while two negative slurs (“shemale” and “tranny”) have continued increasing, both finding themselves at their highest points in internet search activity.

If “it gets better” for LGB folks, transgender individuals are finding their lives getting worse. Public perception needs to drastically shift. As long as significantly more people are searching slurs than are searching preferred terms, we’ll remain relegated to the sidelines, the easy punchline to any joke.

This is where our cis allies have to come in. I simply don’t have the time or emotional energy to devote to calling out every transphobic joke on every transphobic sitcom. Like many trans people, I’m just trying to survive from day to day, keeping my head above water. It’s hard to defend yourself when you’re already being piled on. That’s why cis allies need to stand up and call out transphobic media portrayals of trans people, contact newspapers when they publish sensationalistic headlines about trans people with incorrect names and pronouns, and generally, defend us.

Samantha Allen recently wrote a great piece called “5 Tips for Calling Out Transphobia.” I consider this recommended reading for any ally looking to make a difference in the battle of public perception. TC mark


An Open Letter To Don Ennis

Parker Marie Molloy

 

Dear Don,

Earlier today, I read an article on New York Magazine’s website titled, “Transgender Newsman Don Ennis Has Second Thoughts After ‘Amnesia.’”

In May, you came out publicly as transgender, writing, “This is not a game of dress-up, or make-believe…It is my affirmation of who I now am and what I must do to be happy, in response to a soul-crushing secret that my wife and I have been dealing with for more than seven years, mostly in secret.” You resolved to continue your life as Dawn, as you. It was so nice to see how much public support you received. Reading about your co-workers greeting the arrival of Dawn with flowers on your desk was the perfect touch.

If someone were to ask me why I’m trans, I’d answer, “I really do not know, this is just how I am.” Biologists have presented somecompelling medical theories about why someone may end up transgender, such as a hormone imbalance in utero or variations on chromosomal makeup where people may end up XXY or XYY rather than XY or XX (this is not necessarily trans, but rather, intersex).

Something didn’t add up. Your answer was much more definite, in spite of it being something outside of medical theory. Initial reports said that “Ennis said she suffers from an ‘unusual hormonal imbalance,’ and blames her mother, who fed her female hormones as a child to prolong a commercial acting career.”

This read like something more out of strange internet “forced fem” fiction than real life. I’m not doubting that your mother fed you “female hormones” as a child. What I am doubting is that even something like that, it wouldn’t make you transgender. Parents letting boys play with Barbie dolls? Doesn’t make them transgender. A mom who let’s her son wear bows in his hair? Doesn’t make them transgender.

Even so, I see the need to grasp onto something as “the reason” for being trans. It’s completely understandable. What is dangerous is that what you said injected anecdotal “evidence” for a cause of being trans into the mainstream. By suggesting there is a cause implies that there is a solution to being this way, that being transgender is an affliction that needs to be eradicated.

Still, I was happy for you. Good for you, being you. It’s really all anyone can do: be themselves.

This morning, when I read about your decision to de-transition and revert to using masculine pronouns and your birth name, again, I was happy for you. Sometimes life is trial and error, and that’s okay.

Unfortunately, much like your initial coming out, there was some harmful misinformation in the reports of you de-transitioning (which you’ve since told me you will work to correct).

The New York Post writes:

Ennis wrote in an e-mail to friends and colleagues Friday, explaining his shock after he woke up from what he called a “transient global amnesia” last month.

“It became obvious this was not the case once I took off the bra — and discovered two reasons I was wearing one,” he said, referring to his hormone-induced breasts.

Wait, what? “Transient global amnesia?”

According to the Mayo Clinic, transient global amnesia is “a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.”

They go on to note that “during an episode of transient global amnesia, your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can’t remember where you are or how you got there. You may also draw a blank when asked to remember things that happened a day, a month or even a year ago. With transient global amnesia, you do remember who you are, and recognize the people you know well, but that doesn’t make your memory loss less disturbing.” Luckily, “transient global amnesia is rare, seemingly harmless and unlikely to happen again. Episodes are usually short-lived, and afterward your memory is fine.”

This is what caused you to believe you were trans? I thought it was the hormones at a young age? I’m confused. None of this seems to make sense.

Further, in the New York Post article:

He explained he had gone to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., for testing last month to understand why his mind and body changed from male to female. He said he learned it was a hormone imbalance that could be fixed.

A week after he was discharged, his wife rushed him back to the hospital because he thought he was having a seizure and was experiencing a “drastic loss of memory.”

Don added that he now feels “fantastic” as a man again.

And he said he hopes that with the hormone treatment and surgery, things will only get better.

“For testing last month to understand why his mind and body changed from male to female. He said he learned it was a hormone imbalance that could be fixed.”

Don, this is where the information you’ve put out to the public is beginning to go beyond “problematic” and veer straight into “outright dangerous.” First, there is not a test to determine if someone is transgender. There just isn’t. As far as the hormone imbalance thing (again), let me state something very plainly, being transgender is not something that can be treated by doubling down on the hormones associated with the sex you were assigned at birth. There is not a “cure” or a “fix” to being transgender. Stating otherwise sounds very much like the oft-debunked reparative therapy model of treatment.

I am happy that you’ve come to a very personal realization about yourself. I’m glad that your marriage appears to have recovered as a result of this. I wish you nothing but happiness in life. Just, Don, please help us. It’s rare that transgender issues get highlighted in a somewhat positive light. Please don’t waste those opportunities by letting blatant misinformation run amok.

Best,

Parks TC mark


Why I Can’t Stop Reading Internet Comments

Parker Marie Molloy

Why do I bother reading the comments? Seriously. Why? Why can’t I read an article, absorb its contents, and exit the page without seeing what the rest of the world thinks?

This is an addiction I’m struggling to break. I’m not alone, either. A Google search for the phrase “don’t read the comments” brings back more than 1.5 million results, including a July 2013 article in Scientific American about how the desire to read and respond to comments relates to anthropology.

There are more than 4 billion internet users, worldwide. No matter the piece of content, you’re bound to bump into a wall of negativity and disagreement. I’m hard pressed to find anything that everyone can agree on. For instance, 7% of Americans believe the moon landing was a hoax, 14% believe in Bigfoot, 15% believe the government adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals, and 4% believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power (source).

Good luck trying to get them to agree with just about anything else.

As an occasional writer, I’m faced with a bit of a double edged sword: the fewer people read my article, the less likely I am to end up the subject of internet vitriol; the more readers, the higher the likelihood of ending up the subject of ad hominem attacks.

In the past month, one of my articles was published on two popular sites, Thought Catalog and xoJane. This was huge for me. Writing a piece about my experience as a transgender woman, and having it read by a mainstream audience was a delight. Eventually, though, as is the case with nearly all pieces of internet writing involving transgender people, the comments sections slowly peppered with accusations of being some sort of freak, not a “real” woman, and so on. None of which really had anything to do with the content within my article.

For instance, here’s a comment a user named “fckoff” left at the bottom of my article on xoJane (TW: transphobia):

fkff

On Thought Catalog, hidden in a pile of mostly-positive commentary was this:

tc

The thing is, most of the comments were so positive. Why is it that I can’t just brush off the negative ones? Knowing that some transphobia and gender policing will always find its way into the comments section, why can’t I stop myself before looking at the comments?

Anonymity gives people the courage to say things online that they ordinarily wouldn’t share. Anonymity makes it so easy to forget that comments like the two highlighted above are aimed at individuals of a group with a disproportionately high rate of suicide attempts.

Sometimes its good to stay cloaked in anonymity, but please never forget that when you say hateful things, there are real people on the other end. Step back and breathe. TC mark

image – Flickr/ShellyS

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.


Why Transgender People Need To Come Out

Parker Marie Molloy

On several occasions, I’ve been asked why I’m so open about the fact that I am a transgender woman. No, I’m not walking down the street with a sign on my back that tells people that I lived the first 26 years of my life publicly identifying as a male, but I am very open about who I am in conversation, on the internet and in my personal life. The question tends to be phrased in the following way:

“If things are so bad for trans people, if it’s still legal to be fired for being openly trans, if you know how society feels about trans people, why would you willingly let someone know that you’re trans?”

Exactly, things are bad for trans people. However, I’m fortunate and privileged in a lot of ways. I was fortunate enough to be born into a white, middle-class family who accept me for me. I live in a fairly liberal city in a fairly liberal state. I had the benefit of hormone replacement therapy being effective to the point of not immediately “outing” myself to complete strangers.

For those reasons, I feel a sense of responsibility to try to humanize the public’s perception of transgender individuals. As I’ve written about in the past, too often the only exposure to trans people the public comes across are wildly distorted caricatures found in movies and TV programs like Ace Ventura andNip/Tuck, among dozens of examples.

As a higher percentage of the general public became acquainted with a gay or lesbian friend or relative, support for LGB issues began to rise. A 2009 Gallup poll uncovered an important trend: knowing someone who identifies as gay or lesbian more than doubles the likelihood that an individual will support LGB initiatives (in the case of this poll, marriage equality).

I do this in hopes that trans people can benefit from a similar trend. Perhaps knowing a trans person will benefit us, leading to more support.

So, fellow user of the internet. I’m Parker, and now you know me. Seriously, write me an e-mail: WriteToParker@gmail.com. We can chat. I’m a pretty cool gal. Really, I am.

That aside, I am open about my trans status because I know that there are others out there who don’t have the ability to evangelize on our behalf. I am open about my trans status because a good portion of the world still fails to see us as legitimate members of society. I am open about my trans status because I believe the words Harvey Milk used regarding gay and lesbian individuals apply here:

“You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.”

So, for those with the ability, like Harvey Milk, I ask that you come out, come out, wherever you are. TC mark


I Can’t Write For The Same Website As Jim Goad

Parker Marie Molloy

Dear Thought Catalog,

We need to talk. Our relationship as author and website started out so well. I really liked the producer I worked with, I enjoyed the exposure my articles received, and the turnaround on publishing work was beyond quick. You respected my work, never pushing for content-based edits, never making my words anything but my own.

This was until I found out that you had been seeing a sexist, racist, transphobic writer on the side. I’m talking about Jim Goad, a man who brags about having assault records in three states and the author of The Redneck Manifesto. Don’t get me wrong, we never said we were exclusive, you never promised me a website that agrees with me 100% of the time (that’s no fun, anyway).

Jim Goad, though? You can do better, Thought Catalog. Free speech is a great thing. What Goad does, though? That’s hate speech. He has repeatedly degraded women, called transgender people “self-mutilating freaks,” and proven himself to be borderline white-supremacist.

Yes, he has a basic right to free speech. Yes, he can say all of this, however disgusting it may be, without fear of crackdown (odd that he’s in favor of the Russian law that polices speech/”propaganda”). What he doesn’t have is a right to have his views published.

You are under no obligation to publish his work, let alone tweet links to it to your 288,000+ Twitter followers. Oddly enough, I’ve noticed that whenever one of the transgender writers like Zinnia Jones, Kat Haché or Samantha Allen publish articles, you very rarely broadcast their work. Why is that?

I cannot continue to submit content to a website so willing to publish “counterpoints” where people like me are referred to as “self-mutilating freaks” and equates being transgender with being a mass murderer. I cannot continue to contribute to a website that publishes articles that state that women shouldn’t be allowed to join the military. I cannot continue to associate myself with a site that so closely aligns itself with Jim Goad.

I doubt you’ll publish this and should you, I doubt you’ll give me the same level of exposure Goad gets. This article won’t be tweeted, this article won’t be shared to your Facebook page. This article will be buried as the list-based clickbait gets your full attention.

So goodbye, Thought Catalog. Our relationship was brief, yet full of adventure. Anyone who cares to continue reading my writing can go to my personal blog at parkthatcar.net, or check out any of the other sites I do freelance work.

Finally, before I go, I’d like to share some of Jim Goad’s own words, a “greatest hits” of Goad’s posts on Thought Catalog from the last two months. If you can read through these excerpts, finding nothing wrong with his language, fair enough.

For me, though, I can’t. Be well, everyone.

1. Dangerously Sensitive

If I had my druthers, I’d bring all the boys—and they’d all be boys, meaning no girls and definitely no boys who suddenly decide that they’re girls—home to guard the true national-security threat, the one along the Mexican border. Before any of you perpetually sour-pussed pea-picking peckerwoods in the peanut gallery start grousing that I’m some sort of neocon, allow me to sternly instruct you that it’s possible to simultaneously disapprove of Islam and Zionism…

By the way, his name is Bradley Manning, and he’s a guy. To claim he’s suddenly a chick is to deny biological reality.

Before he started blowing whistles, Bradley Manning was obviously blowing other things. Despite the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was in effect at the time, Manning was apparently telling everyone who’d listen that he was gay. Perhaps even though Manning was eager to “tell,” no one wanted to risk the appearance of having asked. He reportedly told his roommate he was gay, at which point his roommate allegedly instructed Manning to stop talking to him. Manning divulged the ins and outs of a failed gay relationship on Facebook. He was even said to have kept a fairy wand at his desk. At a pre-trial hearing, Army officials claimed they were fully aware that Manning had also created a female alter ego he called “Breanna Manning.”

2. Fun Vagina Facts

Canyon cunt

The largest vagina ever recorded is thought to have belonged to seven-foot eight-inch Anna Swan (1846-1888), a long-legged Scottish temptress who once plopped out a 26-pound baby, the biggest bambino recorded in world history. Although I was unable to uncover any recorded evidence of her vagina’s exact dimensions, it’s safe to assume you could comfortably fit a flat-screen TV in there.

The smallest vaginas, though, are the ones that don’t even exist. Roughly one in 5,000 female babies are born sans vagina. How, then, do doctors know they’re female? I suppose because they complain a lot.

A germ-infested slime pit

The average human girl-gash is host to 15 different strains of bacteria, “good germs” designed to ward off the renegade “bad germs” which can invade a vagina and make life hell for everyone.

3. The Barren Wombs of Smart Women

Kanazawa is widely known as a “controversial” researcher, which is coded speech meaning that his results cause significant discomfort among those who swallow the reigning cultural dogma. In the past he has faced disapprobation, ridicule, and even job dismissal for publishing studies that claim black women are less attractive than women of other races due to their higher testosterone levels, sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty is caused by low IQ, intelligent men are less likely to cheat on their partners, and attractive people are more likely to produce female offspring. He also wrote that if Ann Coulter had been president in 2001, she would have dropped nuclear bombs on the Middle East and won the War on Terror “without a single American life lost.”

4. Understanding the Catholic Schoolgirl Fetish

I believe that if a woman insists on wearing clothes, at least let it be a Catholic schoolgirl uniform. I find them so hot, my testes swell like boiled eggs whenever I see one. My cock is drawn to a plaid skirt like a big pink moth to a flame. I can’t describe it because it is beyond words…it is spiritual. ’Tis something more mystical than the divine mysteries of the Eucharist. It is the power of the Holy Ghost moving between a girl’s thighs. Her plaid skirt is the matador’s red cape, and my cock is the bull. I see that red tartan pattern, and I need to get at the little furry monkey beneath it.

Raise that Cunt Kilt and fuck her. Pull her pigtails and fuck her HARD. Spread her legs like the Red Sea and savagely defile the wench…

How many thousands of times during her schooling has she been forced down onto her knees, eyes closed and mouth wide open, awaiting the bland Christ wafer? So the first time she takes it upon herself to get down on her knees, be sure she’ll put something more substantial in her mouth.

5. It’s Hard to Be a Homo in Russia

In the progressive narrative, homosexuals are being depicted as Russia’s New Jews, the demonized cultural “other” scapegoated for the ancient frosty nation’s myriad modern dysfunctions. The staged outrage has included the predictable kiss-ins and vodka-dumping parties and counterfactual petitions on change.org and a polemical, Godwin’s Law-addled screed in The New York Times from the Vaseline-smeared lips of homo gasbag Harvey Fierstein.

6. In Defense of Women with Bad Teeth

A dozen years ago I spent a long, torturous night with a redheaded heifer who had big taters and a tiny brain. This, mind you, was a REAL woman…

I’ve had other dental fetishes such as an affinity for bucktoothed women with that cute little bunny-rabbit overbite which pushes out their lips and makes it look as if they’ve been sucking cock all their lives.

7. Spaying the Queen’s English

Their handy how-to manual accepts the term “gendered” as a verb, as if sexual dimorphism is a diaphanous social construct and one actually has to inject gender into the language, yet it frowns upon “transgendered” in favor of “transgender,” as if to imply that these self-mutilating freaks were born that way. TC mark


My Suicide Attempt

Parker Marie Molloy

Meg WillsMeg Wills

Within the first three months at college, I found myself slipping into depression.

I made an appointment with the on campus therapist. With the exception of a one-time meeting with a therapist my dad got me in touch with during high school, I’d never sought out professional help. Maybe I can find the courage to tell them, I thought to myself. Maybe there’s something they could do. Maybe there’s a cure.

After waiting for nearly two hours, I was called to the back room, where I waited another 45 minutes for a therapist to greet me. Once inside, I noticed that this room much more resembled doctors’ offices I’d been in than what I imagined a therapist’s office would look like. I sat on the table, paper rolled across, trying to find the words to say. The therapist, a man in his mid-50s with short, salt-and-pepper hair seemed rushed.

I began telling him how I’d felt, and within 10 minutes, before I’d gotten around to telling him of any of my gender-related issues, he’d decided that I had social anxiety disorder. As soon as he’d come to his own diagnosis, I was sent down the hall where a medical doctor scribbled some words on his prescription pad.

I filled the prescription, but only took the pills sporadically. I missed my follow-up appointment, and I stopped going to class. My roommate was out of town for several days, and so I was completely cut off from the world. Somewhat amazed, I realized that no one had attempted to make any sort of contact with me during that span.

The feeling of complete self-induced isolation was somewhat surreal. My mind began to wander, imagining the end of my own existence. I began searching the internet to find out whether taking all my medication at once would result in my death. Could I do it? Could I save up enough pills to make that happen? I’d try.

Weeks went by, and I saved every last pill I had. I kept debating at what point to pop the pills. I didn’t want them to go to waste by living through my overdose. If that happened, I’d need to start from scratch, start collecting the pills one by one. I wasn’t afraid of dying, I was afraid of living through my attempt to reach death.

Choking on a 2-months’ supply of antidepressants, washing it down with vodka, I went to sleep that night hoping for an endless dream.

Obviously, I woke up, and I’m grateful for that.

I’m not alone in my brush with a suicide attempt. According to the American Association of Suicidology, one suicide occurs every 14.2 minutes in the United States, making it the 10th leading cause of death across the general population. In individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Nearly 1 million Americans attempt suicide each year, and an estimated 5 million living Americans have attempted to kill themselves during their lifetimes.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has some excellent resources for individuals who are contemplating or have attempted suicide and their loved ones. I wanted to share some general suicide prevention warning signs and suggested actions if you suspect someone you know is at risk.

Suicide Warning Signs

What should you do if you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide?

If you or anyone you know may be at risk of suicide, please utilize the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

We’re never alone. TC mark


Free Speech: You Don’t Actually Know What You Are Talking About

Parker Marie Molloy

 Anytime I hear someone get outraged over a perceived infringement on their “freedom of speech,” I can’t help but think of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride:

People think the concept of “free speech” protects them from any form of dissent or ridicule.

The first amendment of the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” Often, people reference this when discussing the concept of “free speech” or “freedom of religion.” But nothing is ever truly “free.” Free speech, as outlined in the Constitution, has its limits. For example, speech that incites lawless action, “fighting words,” credible threats, obscenity, child pornography, defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, commercial speech, government speech, public employee speech, student speech and speech related to national security are not protected under the US constitution.

For the speech that is protected, it’s important to remember that freedom of speech, as outlined in the Constitution (I apologize for my Americentricism), protects you from criminal penalties or government-induced sanctions. It does not protect you from ridicule, does not shield you from dissent, and most importantly, it does not grant you a platform or non-governmental position.

Over the past several years, a number of situations have come up that have led individuals and groups to claim that their free speech was somehow being infringed upon, when in reality, nothing of the sort happened.

In response to inflammatory anti-gay remarks by author and National Organization for Marriage board member, Orson Scott Card, several groups have called for a boycott of an upcoming movie based on his 1984 sci-fi novel Ender’s Game.

In 2012, after homophobic statements by Chick-fil-a CEO Dan Cathy and the revelation that millions of dollars have been donated to anti-LGBT groups through Chick-fil-a’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, some LGBT activists called for a boycott of Chick-fil-a restaurants.

In both of the above aforementioned examples, supporters of Card and Cathy claimed the free speech of their leader of choice had been infringed upon. The Los Angeles Times went as far as to give a platform to these anti-boycott protesters on “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day,” an event invented by former Arkansas governor (and author of a book about weight loss, ironically enough), Mike Huckabee.“Some said they were standing up for his right to express his opinions without facing boycotts by those who disagree with him,” the LA Times states, never once mentioning that no such right to a freedom from boycott exists.

Boycotts are free speech. If you, as a consumer, don’t want to spend money at a certain business or see the film adaptation of a book written by a homophobic author, you’re under no obligation to. No one has a right to be free from criticism, which would actually infringe upon the free speech rights of others. You can debate whether or not you believe a boycott or someone’s criticism is fair, but you can’t silence those who disagree.

A misunderstanding of free speech runs particularly rampant when it comes to employment or providing an audience to someone. No one has an intrinsic right to an audience, nor is a business compelled to employ someone who uses their right to speech to damage their company’s image.

A recent example is the firing of Business Insider’s Chief Technology Officer, Pax Dickinson. After being made aware of tweets containing sexist language and racial slurs, Dickinson was forced to resign from Business Insider, with Henry Blodget providing a statement to the press shortly thereafter.

In an attempt to get ahead of the predictable “Save Pax! His Twitter feed is free speech!” cries that are bound to happen, I just want to say this: No. Business Insider was no more required to employ Pax Dickinson than Food Network was to employ Paula Deen after revelations of past racist statements emerged. Just like Carrie Prejean, runner-up in the Miss USA 2009 pageant, who claimed that she didn’t win because of her answer to a question about same-sex marriage (this may be true), and therefore, that was a violation of her free speech (this is false), it seems that the country has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the first amendment actually says.

So no, don’t “Save Pax” under the guise that this is just about protecting his “free speech.” “Save Pax” if you agree with his sexist and racist comments. TC mark


Coming Out To My Parents As Trans: An Email Exchange

Parker Marie Molloy

In November of 2012, I came out to my parents as transgender. My dad’s response was everything I could have hoped for.

From: Parker

To: Dad

Sometimes I am absolutely terrible with articulating my words on important issues. And as I won’t see you for Thanksgiving ([my partner] and I are going to spend it with her family this year), I felt like this was the right time to send this. I ask that you reply to this e-mail to acknowledge its receipt and provide initial reactions, and then, after 48 hours to take it all in, we can chat on the phone to discuss this.

Dear Mom & Dad,

I know that the two of you have always told me that I could tell you anything and you’d still love me just the same, and so I feel like there’s something I need to tell you (if at any point during this e-mail, you get confused or frustrated, go back and read this sentence again):

As you know, most of my life, I’ve been riddled with intense bouts of anxiety, sadness, depression, social ineptitude, awkwardness, anger issues, etc. Really, it’s been every day of my life since I was 8 or 9, I think. I’ve tried working this out in a number of ways (way 1: bottle everything up and end up hospitalized with a stomach ulcer… not exactly the most pleasant route. way 2: therapy. way 3: medication), but it’s not something I can bottle up or dull with medication anymore.

I’ve been going to a therapist for the past 7 or 8 months on a weekly basis to try to root out this issue before it led to self-harm, and after that time, here’s what I’ve come to:

I’m transgender.

Yep. Transgender. Essentially, my brain is wired to be female, but I was born male. This is something that I’ve known (to varying extents) since I was 8 or 9, but had never truly accepted (leading to anger issues, frustration, awkwardness, depression, et al.). It was that point 7 or 8 months ago, where I hit a true breaking point in my existence. Not knowing what to make of this/what to do about this, I started going to see a therapist specializing in gender issues.

From there, the next part was extremely hard: telling [my partner]. I love [my partner] with all my heart, and this was something I thought would absolutely destroy her/ruin our relationship. Luckily, it wasn’t. While a bit of a shock, she still loves me as much as ever. If there was ever a sign that I have found “the one,” this was it. Through thick and thin, truly. (and yes, to answer a frequently asked question: I am still only attracted to women. Gender and sexuality are two completely different things)

[My brother] is one of the next people in my life I told about this, and he’s been amazing as well. He’s offered his support in every possible capacity, and has teared up over a beer, expressing how happy he is for me. He’s truly a wonderful man.

I’ve met some wonderful friends over these past few months, as well; many of whom are also transgender. Knowing these individuals has been a life saver, as I know that this is proof that life can be better.

Over the next several months & years, I’ll be working my way through “transition.” Essentially, that means that I do hope to eventually live full time as a woman (not a “dude in a dress” or any of the other stereotypes, but a human being, for the first time). There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I’m building myself up to be able to take them on. My work has a program specifically designed to accommodate transgender individuals as they transition, so it looks like I lucked out on ending up here.

I’ve started the process of going through hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is, essentially, replacing testosterone in my system with estrogen. This will have subtle effects on my mind & my body. [my partner] can vouch for me when I say that my mood and outlook has improved remarkably since I’ve started (roughly 1 month ago).

So, basically, that’s it. I’m still the same person, just, maybe more so. I will still have, essentially, the same personality. I will still enjoy sports & music. I will still be a grouch about politics.

I understand this may be hard for you two, as well, but this was something I needed to tell you as I love you both so very much. I guess, just rather than having 2 sons and a daughter, you can think of it as having 2 daughters and a son ([my brother] jokingly complains that it’s unfair that as the most masculine of the 3 of us, he’s the shortest).

Getting used to a new me may be a challenge, but I want to give you all the time in the world you need to come to terms with this. I don’t expect you to be perfect when it comes to getting my pronouns right (I prefer “she/her/hers,” etc.), but this is me. I don’t expect you to be able to use my chosen name right at first (“[birth name]” wouldn’t exactly work in the long-term – the name I prefer is “Parker” – with the full name being “Parker Marie Molloy,” middle name borrowed from mom).

I honestly, and truly hope that you two can still love me through this, as your love and support means so very, very much to me.

I love you. I do. I really, really do. Obviously, I don’t want you to hurt, but I hope that we can celebrate the fact that I won’t be so mentally anguished anymore.

Here are some resources on the subject, if you’re interested in learning more (which, I hope you are). You can also talk with [my brother] if you need another perspective, but I do ask that you hold off on calling me for 48 hours and instead just shoot me a short e-mail in the interim. This way, I know you’ve had time to digest everything here.


At this point, after clicking “send,” I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake. Should I have called them? What if they didn’t respond positively? I began frantically clicking the refresh button on my browser, waiting for what was sure to be bad news. No more than 30 minutes later, this popped into my inbox:


From: Dad

To: Parker

[birth name],

As I have said from day one, I love you with all of my heart and there has never been a day where I haven’t been proud of you. There have been so many times throughout my life that I’ve kicked myself and second guessed myself for having been too tough on you and made you too competitive and for that I truly ask your forgiveness.

Needless to say, I will sit down with mom tonight and I expect that she will feel the same as me when I say, we live to see you be happy, truly happy. Certainly we can talk whenever you wish to talk and I can tell you, from my end, I will be very supportive and I hope mom will as well.

I do ask that you become much closer with us moving forward. It has always been tough on mom to not have you stay in touch in a fairly regular basis so I hope this revelation will bring us all closer.

I do ask that you become happier and lose the edge you have always carried. Sometimes, I just didn’t understand the anger and hopefully this would explain it and relieve it forever.

Lastly, I am so happy [your partner] is there with you through this. She is a good person and she has been good for you [birth name]. In many instances I thought how she may have saved you from destruction.

Thank you for feeling strong enough to discuss it and I hope this will take a gigantic burden off of your shoulders.

I love you dearly and I am so happy that you are at peace with yourself maybe for the first time ever.

Dad TC mark


Marriage Equality Is A Transgender Issue

Parker Marie Molloy

 ShutterstockShutterstock

Outside the Supreme Court this past spring, a Human Rights Campaign employee allegedly told a transgender activist that marriage equality “isn’t a transgender issue.” Someone should tell that to Nikki Araguz, a trans widow in Texas who is currently slogging her way through lengthy legal proceedings after a court voided her legal marriage to the now-deceased Thomas Araguz.

The laws surrounding marriage vary from state to state, making it difficult to know just exactly which sex our potential spouse needs to be a member of in order for it to constitute a legal marriage. The case of Nikki Araguz is particularly confusing. Born in California, Nikki legally changed her legal documents to reflect her identity at the age of 18. At 31, she underwent sexual reassignment surgery. Her original birth certificate was updated to reflect her correct gender. Again, this was her original birth certificate, not an amended one, as California treats changes to the gender marker as it would a clerical error.

Nikki’s husband passed away in 2010. Since then, Thomas’ ex-wife Heather Delgado has been making efforts to claim the death benefit to be paid out to Thomas’ family, as he died on duty as a firefighter. Delgado’s actions led to Nikki and Thomas’ marriage being voided as the lower court ruled that this was a same-sex marriage, contrary to the state’s own rules surrounding marriage, which state that birth certificates simply need to reflect that the two individuals getting married are of opposite sex.

In the time since Thomas’ passing, Nikki has gotten engaged to a man, running into hurdles in an attempt to get a marriage license. This leads me to wonder: who exactly can trans people in Texas marry? I doubt if Nikki, a woman with an original birth certificate reading “female,” walked into a clerk’s office wanting to marry another woman, that she’d be issued a marriage license.

In Illinois, where I live, the regulations surrounding marriage are similar, with the birth certificate being the deciding factor. This leads some transgender individuals to carefully examine which documents to update, which ones to leave in their original form, in order to be able to marry someone they love. In my case, my drivers license and file with the Social Security Administration reflect that I am female, though, to this point, I’ve left my birth certificate as “male,” as this would leave the door open on marriage for me (I am solely attracted to women).

Someone shouldn’t need to be some sort of legal scholar to determine if they can marry the person they love, but unfortunately, as Nikki Araguz knows, it seems to be expected. In some states, you can only have a straight marriage, in others, you’re only allowed a gay marriage. In some, one’s diligence in staying on top of paperwork changes can make the difference, and in others, like Texas, it seems nearly impossible to get married – same sex or opposite sex – without a team of lawyers at your back.

So, yes, Human Rights Campaign, marriage equality certainly is a transgender issue. TC mark


How I Went From Rising Star To Workplace Tragedy (I Came Out At Work)

Parker Marie Molloy

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 10.07.58 PM

Sitting in the room, I shift in my seat, trying to find the chair’s sweet spot. I fidget with the side knobs, identical to the configuration on my own desk’s chair. Why did I get here so early?, I ask myself. Co-workers walk past the door, grabbing momentary glances at me, sitting here alone. Increasingly anxious, I began to sweat through my compression-sports bra and baggy men’s dress shirt.

I look down at my phone. “3:02.” The meeting was at 3, right? How sure am I? And this is the room, I think. Panicked, thinking that maybe I was the one late to this meeting as it went on without me in an adjacent conference room, I punched in my credentials on my phone, pulling up my calendar’s “Day at a Glance” function.

Looks like this is the time and place, I thought with a sigh of relief.

At that moment, Steve and Darcy, two of my supervisors, walked into the room, sitting across from me at the glossed maple conference table.

Steve hands me a paper. “This is your performance review through the end of 2012. As you can see here at the top, you’ve gotten a score of ‘excels’, making you one of the top performing individuals at the associate level.”

For the next few minutes, I skim the review, getting clarification from the managers on individual items as we went along.

“We really think highly of you here, and hopefully as we start to see some expected shifts in positions over the next 6 months, we’ll be able to find you a place as a supervisor,” Darcy said, smiling.

“I’m really proud of the work you put in this year, man,” Steve said with a hint of congratulations in his voice.

The two of them seemed to gather their things, ready to move on to their next review.

“Actually!,” I interrupted. “There was one more thing I wanted to talk about if you have a minute or two.”

The two of them stopped, a bit of concern across their faces.

I hadn’t prepared what I was about to say, but it was necessary. “I’m transgender.” I paused, looking back and forth between my two supervisors, waiting for some sort of reaction.

The two looked at me with blank faces. They’d been told something completely unexpected by one of their team’s top performers.

“And by ‘transgender,’ I mean that basically, I’m really a girl. I’m in the process of transitioning from male to female. Over the next few months, I’ll begin presenting as the ‘real me’ at work.”

“Congratulations,” squeaked Steve, clearly unsure of what the right response to having one of your subordinates divulge their trans status to you was.

I confirmed with them that none of this would interfere with the trajectory of my career, and that I could still count on significant advancement within the next six months or so. “Of course! Nothing will change,” Darcy assured me.

The meeting closed. I had finally told someone at work about the real me. I couldn’t help but wonder what truth there would be to the reassurance that I was on track for a performance in the following 6 months. I suppose this was just one of those things that I just needed to trust them on.

6 months later

Stumbling out of my department VP’s office, I rushed to my desk. Pressing myself into one of the more hidden corners of my cubicle, I began to cry. My mascara ran down my cheeks, my heart raged.

Things had changed since I transitioned at work.

Things got so much worse. It felt like a completely different place of employment than what I had once been a part of.

What little belief I had in the idea that I’d have an opportunity to advance in the company was dashed. Months of watching others around me climb the corporate ladder, I found myself back where I’d started, but worse: in the days to follow, I’d be given an official plan sanctioned by our Human Resources department.

Whatever hoops they have me jump through, which are to be determined by the same people who left me back as they promoted those around me, I fear these will be set so that I am unable to achieve them.

Once I fail, once this HR-approved plan of goals goes unreached, I’ll be let go.

These may be my final days hanging on to the dream of success within my field. The game was rigged, but it doesn’t matter. A loss is a loss, whether justified or not. TC mark


Can We Stop Pretending Pope Francis Is A Reformer?

Parker Marie Molloy

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Can we stop praising Pope Francis for being “progressive?”

When it comes to social issues, the Catholic Church still bars women from taking leadership roles within the church, still opposes marriage equality, and still opposes changes to employment discrimination laws worldwide.

In 2010, when his home country of Argentina was debating whether or not to pass legislation that would allow same sex marriage, then Cardinal, he condemned marriage equality as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”

In an attempt to prevent this law from going into effect, the future Pope penned this letter to Argentina’s cloistered nuns:

In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.

Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just it’s form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God… Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.

To be clear, what then Archbishop Bergoglio did was attempt to use his religious clout to turn the public against a law that had greater than 70% public approval at the time. This is a far cry from the “who am I to judge” attitude the Pope has shown as of late.

Also in 2010, Bergoglio spoke out against gay adoption, claiming that it was a “form of discrimination against children.” This statement earned the future Pope a rebuke from Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Even in Pope Francis’ fluffier of statements, he never walked back any of the anti-transgender statements made by the previous Pope (Benedict) in his Christmas 2012 speech. In that speech, Pope Benedict railed against anyone who would dare “manipulate nature” in a way that, in his eyes, leaves the very humanity of transgender people in dispute.

What has Pope Francis does on social issues that could be considered progressive? Aside from saying, “who am I to judge?” and saying that the church should stop talking about their oppressive views, he’s done absolutely nothing. He hasn’t advocated for changing these policies, he’s simply chosen to hide those policies under the rug, all while the church continues to fund anti-LGBT initiatives worldwide.

When I saw that the Human Rights Campaign, an LGB-rights organization increasingly out of touch with anyone but their white, middle-to-upper-class, cisgender base, praised Francis’ decision to do nothing in terms of reform, I couldn’t help but hang my head in shame as I read their joyous exclamation that the Pope has just “hit the reset button on LGBT issues!” He hasn’t, nor will he ever.

Want to actually hit that reset button, Francis? Start by condemning the words of your predecessor who told millions of people that transgender individuals are less than human. TC mark


My Letter To Cassidy Lynn Campbell, Transgender Homecoming Queen

Parker Marie Molloy

Dear Cassidy Lynn,

First off, congratulations on being crowned homecoming queen! That’s such an amazing accomplishment!

I just finished watching your heartbreaking YouTube video, “I Should Be So Happy…” and there aren’t words to describe how much it breaks my heart to see someone so young, someone so true to herself become the victim of such bullying.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the world, it’s that people will lash out at what they cannot (or choose not to) understand. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an online article written by or about a transgender person that wasn’t filled with at least a few vile, transphobic, hateful comments. This, in itself, is saddening. When it comes to a story like yours, though, it’s absolutely tragic.

You didn’t do anything to deserve the type of hate you’re experiencing now, and hopefully, someday, you won’t have to.

In your video, you ask yourself whether you should just go back to hating yourself, go back to trying to be a boy. This is a question so many of us have asked about ourselves as we come into our own. I can say with some certainty that no, you shouldn’t do that. Do you know why? Because you’re not a boy, you are a beautiful woman, strong and resilient.

It’s easy to say “don’t let the comments of complete strangers bring you down,” or “develop thicker skin,” but it’s a lot harder to actually do it.

To the people out there dead set on tearing Cassidy down, I have to ask, why? What direct or indirect impact does her identity have on your own life? To those of you quoting the Bible, I ask that you find me the passage where Jesus talked about how transgender people are icky, I ask that you point out the line that says, “love thy neighbor… unless they’re transgender.”

To those of you who dismiss the existence of people like Cassidy and me because you, as someone who has never dealt with gender dysphoria, I ask, do you bring this same level of scrutiny to other medical conditions you don’t understand? For the folks out there who say, “but she has a Y chromosome!,” I’d like to note that last week, the New York Times published an article, titled “DNA Double Take,” which contained this line:

In 2012, Canadian scientists performed autopsies on the brains of 59 women. They found neurons with Y chromosomes in 63 percent of them. The neurons likely developed from cells originating in their sons… When they looked for Y chromosomes in samples of breast tissue, they found it in 56 percent of the women they investigated.

Point being, the presence of a Y chromosome doesn’t make someone a man. Life is never that black and white.

I get it. I get that it’s easier to tear someone down than to show an ounce of empathy. I get that it’s easier to revel in ignorance than seek education. I get that it’s easy to hide behind the anonymity of the internet to bully an innocent teenager.

Just because it’s easy, that doesn’t make it right.

I’m used to the comments sections of articles associated with me being filled with a few nasty comments here and there. I’m used to people calling me names, making sexist comments about my appearance. This doesn’t mean that these comments don’t hurt.

But people, please stop harassing poor Cassidy Lynn. She didn’t do anything to you. If you insist on taking things out on someone just for being transgender, please spare her and just direct all that misplaced hate and ignorance at me. I can take it. Go ahead.

Keep being strong, keep being resilient, Cassidy. Keep being you. Is it fair that you’ve become the target of such hate and ignorance for nothing other than being yourself? Absolutely not. I know things can be hard, but anything worth fighting for usually is.

Keep being you.

With love,

Parker TC mark


The Sexist World Of Sports Marketing

Parker Marie Molloy

We have a problem when it comes to the relationship between women and sports marketing.

Yesterday, the Houston Astros, the worst team in Major League Baseball at 43 games out of first place, announced that September 27th would be “Astros Ladies’ Night” at the ballpark. Here’s how they promoted it (emphasis mine):

Presented by State Farm, is a women-only event that allows our female fans to get the inside scoop on the Astros, learn about the game of baseball, and meet some of the Astros staff and players. The event starts at 4:00 pm with a ‘Baseball 101‘ talk, followed by a happy hour event themed ‘Diamond, Bling and Glittery Things’ with music, specialty drinks, exclusive Ladies Night gift courtesy of State Farm, group photos with Astros players, and complimentary beauty treatments.

Now, I like a good complimentary beauty treatment as much as the next gal (and I’d love to meet professional athletes… unless they’re on the Astros, because, I mean, that barely counts), but framing this event as a “this is how to teach ladies about baseball” clinic follows an all-too-frequent trend of marketing down to women when it comes to sports. When the Astros held a “Guys Night Out,” they didn’t offer “Baseball 101″ talks.

This is a trend frequently employed for pieces of marketing designed to run along side events. Watching the coverage of the Indianapolis Colts vs. the San Francisco 49ers this past weekend, two things popped to mind: 1.) the ads that ran during the broadcast were some of the most low brow, sexist pieces of marketing creative in current rotation; 2.) I’m not sure the 49ers should have shipped Alex Smith away, this Kaepernick guy isn’t cutting it.

Why aim your marketing at the most dudebro of audiences? Conventional wisdom might lead you to believe that it’s only men who watch the NFL, but that’s not even true. 45% of NFL fans are women. Perhaps a more middle of the road approach to making your marketing hyper-specific to gender might be in order?

Commercials for DirecTV that play up the stereotype of a wife keeping her husband away from the TV when all he wants is to enjoy the glory that is an NFL Sunday, beer commercials that highlight average-looking dudes with only the token woman in the picture (see: conventional beauty, cleavage), and other gendered marketing efforts make me laugh from the standpoint of both a viewer as well as the marketer.

Marketing is equal parts an art and a science. Create an attention-grabbing piece of advertising, then measure the results, using those insights to help craft future placements.

Do the marketers behind some of these pieces honestly believe that it’s worth sidestepping 45% of the viewers who will be exposed to the spot? That’s just about one of the least efficient approaches they could take. Point being, even if you ignore the issues surrounding the kind of message this type of objectification sends to young women, it doesn’t even make sense from a business point of view.

Stop assuming that women don’t understand football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer. Instead of talking at us, start talking with us. Women like sports because of the sport, not because you’ll sell us goofy pink versions of jerseys (does anyone else see a bit of irony in the fact that the NFL sells a special pink/women‘s version of Ben Roethlisberger, a man who has repeatedly been accused of sexual assault?) or hold an NFL-themed fashion show. TC mark


4 Reasons The Filibusters Of Ted Cruz And Wendy Davis Aren’t The Same

Parker Marie Molloy

A number of conservative news outlets are fuming about their perceived difference between the mainstream media’s coverage of the filibusters of Wendy Davis and Ted Cruz.

As you may recall, Davis, a state senator from Texas, took to the floor of the Texas legislature in June of this year to speak out against Senate Bill 5, a bill designed to severely restrict access to reproductive care. Cruz, as United States senator,spoke out against a continuing resolution that had come across from the House of Representatives, that he eventually voted in favor of. Some conservatives seemed to believe that Davis received significantly more coverage than Cruz, though in actuality, both politicians’ spotlight moments were covered roughly the same amount.

Still, though, these two events aren’t the same, and shouldn’t necessarily be compared to one another. Here’s a quick breakdown on the top 4 reasons Wendy Davis’ filibuster wasn’t the same as Ted Cruz’.

1. What Ted Cruz did wasn’t actually filibuster

A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure where debate is extended, offering one or more members to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal. How was Cruz’ 21 hour speech not a filibuster? Well, most importantly, he didn’t actually delay any legislation. Senator Cruz and Majority Leader Harry Reid came to an agreement prior to the start of his ‘filibuster,’ agreeing that Cruz could speak up until 1pm on 9/25, the time at which the continuing resolution Cruz opposed would be voted on. Whether Cruz spoke for 21 hours straight or got a good night’s sleep, that vote was still going to happen at 1pm on 9/25. His speech didn’t delay anything. For good measure, after this 21 hour speech, Cruz voted for the resolution he just spoke out against. It passed the Senate 100-0.

2. Davis prevented a piece of legislation from passing, Cruz opposed a law already in place

The goal of Davis’ filibuster was to block passage of Senate Bill 5, a bill that would limit abortion access, in the Texas State Senate. In filibustering, she prevented the bill from passing, rendering it dead. The Cruz ‘filibuster’ was an attempt to shut down the entire federal government unless funding for the Affordable Care Act was removed. Barring complete repeal of the law, it’s not actually possible to completely defund the law. Cruz knows all this, as he’s a pretty smart guy (he graduated mangna cum laude from Harvard Law School). To the outside observer, it may seem that this was nothing but a chance for Cruz to boost his own profile prior to the 2016 presidential race.

3. The rules of the US Senate are vastly different from the rules of the Texas State Senate

It should be noted that the rules of the United States Senate and the Texas State Senate are entirely different. For instance, in the US Senate, there’s virtually no limit to what topic a senator needs to speak on in order to filibuster. Senators can also take brief breaks while their colleagues take over, giving them a rest. During Cruz’ ‘filibuster,’ During Cruz’ speech, Senators Inhofe, Paul, Rubio, and Lee took turns speaking, giving Sen. Cruz a much-needed rest.

Davis, on the other hand, was restricted as to what she could and could not speak about. The rules of the Texas State Senate require that all speech much be germane to the topic at hand. For Davis, this meant that she needed to remain on the topic of Senate Bill 5. Additionally, unlike Cruz, Davis was not allowed to drink water, nor was she allowed to lean on her podium.

4. Look at the content of the speeches

Cruz read passages from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs & Ham” and made references to old episodes of “Saturday Night Live”. He chatted about hats, birds and gooseberries with Senator Lee. He compared the federal government to the evil Galactic Empire from “Star Wars”. These are just a few examples of how all over the board he was in his speech.

Wendy Davis spoke, as she was bound by the rules, exclusively on the topic of Senate Bill 5. Now, speaking for 11 or 21 hours is an intense challenge in itself, but speaking on topic for that amount of time? That’s even more amazing. TC mark


Everyone Poops (Transgender People Included)

Parker Marie Molloy

Everyone Poops the 1977 children’s book by Taro Gomi is a story I remember being read to me growing up. Looking back on the text of the book, it’s actually kind of interesting. The whole point of the story is to de-stigmatize the idea of defecation in the minds of children who may not yet realize that this is a completely normal bodily function, experienced by all living things.

An elephant makes a big poop.

A mouse makes a tiny poop.

A one-hump camel makes a one-hump poop.

A two-hump camel makes a two-hump poop. Only kidding!

A number of incidents have come up over the past few months that makes me wonder: do the people who oppose letting transgender people use the correct bathroom understand the moral of Gomi’s story? From Fox News to Roseanne Barr to recognized hate groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, it seems as though these individuals have forgotten that, yes, transgender people poop, too.

They brand efforts to provide equal public accommodation rights to transgender people as “bathroom bills.” They support legislation that would bar us from the bathroom that best matches our gender, putting us at an elevated risk of rape, assault and murder. They push for a “separate but equal” approach of letting schools and businesses says, “sure, you can use the bathroom, but it’s going to be one further out of your way, across campus, or maybe even in an old storage closet.”

In March of this year, Arizona State Representative John Kavanagh introduced SB1432, a bill that stated: “a person commits disorderly conduct if the person intentionally enters a public restroom, shower, bath, dressing room or locker room and a sign indicates that the room is for the exclusive use of persons of one sex and the person is not legally classified on the person’s birth certificate as a member of that sex,” they are guilty of disorderly conduct, carrying with it a $2,500 fine and up to 6 months in jail.

Additionally, he presented the bill as “an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety.” A transgender-specific emergency? Really?

The common argument brought up by these individuals is an obscure hypothetical situation, usually along the lines of, “we’re not doing this to stop people who actually are transgender; we’re doing this to protect women and children from a man who might throw on a dress just to go in and assault them.” Where do I even start with that one?

  1. Even if restrooms were gender-neutral and there was nothing stopping men from entering, assault would still be illegal.
  2. Someone terrible enough to assault someone in a bathroom isn’t going to let a sign on a door stand in their way.
  3. In the 174 cities and counties where transgender people are explicitly protected in terms of public accommodations (like bathrooms), I cannot, for the life of me, find a single instance where a man has thrown on a dress and assaulted a woman or a child. This is a case of a solution in search of a problem.
  4. While their “man in a dress” argument isn’t based in reality, transgender women forced to use men’s restrooms do find themselves targets for that kind of abuse.

Is the well-being of transgender people really so inconsequential? Do you really not care whether or not we’re raped, assaulted or murdered? Do these same people who argue that it’d be pointless to have stricter gun laws because “criminals will break the law, anyway, because they’re criminals” realize the hypocrisy in taking the exact opposite side of that argument by suggesting that would-be attackers are deterred solely by a sign on a bathroom door?

Assuming I use a public restroom twice a day for the past year, if I were in a world where Kavanagh’s law was in place, I’d find myself in a position where I’d be liable to serve up to 365 years in prison and over $1.8 million in fines. Still, it’s better than fearing for my life, which is what would happen if I was forced to use a men’s restroom.

All living things eat, so

Everyone poops.

I am a human being, and I poop. TC mark


By Definition, House Republicans Are Terrorists

Parker Marie Molloy

I’m just going to come out and say it: the 232 Republican members of the United States House of Representatives are terrorists.

This may sound harsh, but let’s think about the definition of terrorism.

terrorism [ ter-uh-riz-uhm ]

noun

1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Did House Republicans threaten violence and intimidation to coerce for political purposes? Absolutely.

Just days before what are sure to be the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into place, House Republicans threatened to shut the government down unless the ACA was repealed or delayed. Mind you, this is a law that was passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the first president since Eisenhower to be twice elected with more than 51% of the popular vote. Additionally, the law survived a Supreme Court challenge.

The bill was debated on the floors of the House and the Senate. Republican ideas like the individual mandate and the statute allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26 were included. Democrats made concessions, abandoning hope for a single-payer system, and later even the much more milquetoast “public option” as an effort to win over republicans and “Blue Dog” democrats.

The United States Senate passed the bill on December 24, 2009, by a vote of 60-39; and the House followed suit on March 21, 2010, by a vote of 219-212. On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was signed into law by President Obama.

While Republicans found themselves in a position to take control of the House of Representatives in 2010, they were unable to take control of the Senate, as the Democrats still controlled the majority of the seats (51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 2 Indpendents who Caucused with the Democrats).

Even if the Republicans were able to convince 4 Democrats to join their efforts to repeal the law (and assuming the remaining Democratic senators wouldn’t have filibustered a vote), they still wouldn’t be able to repeal this law, as it surely would have been vetoed by President Obama. The efforts to override this veto would have failed in both chambers, as this would require a 2/3 majority.

In 2012, the Democrats increased their hold on the United States Senate, expanding their majority to 55 senators within the Democratic Caucus and 45 within the Republican Caucus. In the House, while the Republicans remained in power, they lost a net of 7 seats to the Democrats. Additionally, President Obama was reelected, winning both the popular vote and the electoral vote.

With this knowledge, you would think that the Republicans would come to the realization that the will of the people was to leave this law alone. After all, presidential candidate Mitt Romney had once said that “on day 1, I will repeal Obamacare!” and managed to lose in a very decisive way. (He must have forgotten that a president cannot simply repeal a law on his own accord, but that he would need a repeal that would pass through the House and Senate. Barring strong performance by Republicans in senate races, which didn’t materialize, even a President Romney wouldn’t have been able to repeal this law).

This is where a reasonable group of people might throw in the towel, realize that their dream of repealing this law was simply something that the majority of the country did not want. These are not reasonable people.

Knowing that a continuing resolution for the federal budget needed to be passed (as neither Democrats, nor Republicans agreed on a permanent budget) by the end of September 2013, Republicans began dreaming up ways they could force Democrats to repeal or defund their own law.

Speaker Boehner and his colleagues in the House passed continuing resolution, but added a section unrelated to any budget issue (remember, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office ruled that the Affordable Care Act actually reduces the long-term federal deficit) that would simultaneously repeal “Obamacare.” Repeatedly asked to pass a resolution that didn’t contain this odd clause, House Republicans refused, leaving the Senate Democrats and President Obama with a decision: repeal their own healthcare bill by passing and signing this resolution (later versions of the Republican-passed resolutions simply said to delay implementation by a year, something they called a compromise), or continue to wait for the House to send over a resolution without this absurd and unrelated language.

The House refused to pass a clean resolution and allowed the government to shut down.

It’s one thing to debate the merits of a law, hold votes, and so on. It’s another to essentially hold a gun to the head of the American people in a “give me what I want or the country gets it!” kind of way.

Intentionally forcing the government over a shutdown (which will result in the death of American lives) over the other side’s refusal to repeal a law that had been debated, signed, and the law of the land since 2010 is, by definition, terrorism, with the House Republicans as terrorists.

This particular brand of terrorism also comes with a body count. Cancer patients at the federally-funded National Cancer Institute were turned away as the shutdown began, ending the potentially life-saving treatment they had been receiving. Additionally, on average, 30 children living with cancer will be turned away from National Institute of Health trials, leaving them to slowly die from their illness. FDA safety inspections have been suspended, leaving the quality of the food we eat now in question. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not issue any car or truck recalls during the shut down, so I suppose we had better hope that none of the 2 ton-plus pound vehicles on the road have anything like a dangerous brake or accelerator issue.

This issue was never about “finding a compromise.” This was always 100% about Republicans forcing their will on the American people, acting outside of the democratic system of government they were elected to.

Mr. President, you cannot negotiate with terrorists, and that’s exactly what John Boehner and his colleagues are.

The War on Terror continues at home, and Speaker Boehner is public enemy #1. TC mark


Breast Cancer Awareness Month Is A Marketing Scam

Parker Marie Molloy

ShutterstockShutterstock

It’s October, which only means one thing: pink ribbons, yogurt labels, football jerseys and buckets of fried chicken will be popping up everywhere. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, and it’s with that news that I warn: it’s all a scam.

Susan G. Komen For the Cure

Since 1982, Susan G. Komen For the Cure has used the month of October to galvanize women to their cause, kicking things into fundraising mode. Nearly $400 million was raised by Komen in 2010 alone, working with corporations like Yoplait and Ford to strike up campaigns centered around charitable contributions to a foundation supposedly set up to fund research into the second leading cancer-caused of death in American women (behind lung cancer).

Komen raises money through cause marketing, often as part of a capped percentage of sales of special “Breast Cancer Awareness” editions of products. Additionally, Komen is famous for their “Run for the Cure” 3-day races.

What most people don’t understand is that these donations are really more of a base marketing cost towards a campaign to make headway into the demographic of women ages 18-54, with what little actually donated to the cause being spent lining the pockets of executives at Komen.

In early 2012, the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced that it would be rescinding funding to Planned Parenthood; funding that had been used to provide breast cancer screenings to women with low-incomes. The group’s claim that the decision to remove funding from Planned Parenthood was not based on the political views of Komen leadership was met with skepticism by many. Karen Handel, then senior vice president for public policy for Komen, ran on an anti-Planned Parenthood platform in her failed bid for governor of Georgia in 2010, adding fuel to the controversy.

Founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Nancy Brinker, received a 64% raise in 2012, bringing along with it a salary of $684,000 a year.

“This pay package is way outside the norm,” said Ken Berger, CEO of Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates charities. “It’s about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. … This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross.”

Cause Marketing

Cause marketing is when a for-profit organization teams with a non-profit charitable organization, often consisting of promotions that promise that a set percentage of proceeds on select items will go to the non-profit organization. Examples of this in the world of breast cancer include Yoplait’s “Save Lids to Save Lives” campaign (Komen), the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign (American Cancer Society), and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “Buckets for the Cure” campaign (Komen).

The goal of cause marketing is for a brand to benefit from positive public relations coverage as well as gaining the opportunity to win greater market share through cross-promotion and planting the idea in consumers’ minds that if they’re already planning on spending money in a vertical, it might as well be with the business tied to the noble charity.

Komen’s partnership with KFC reeked of cause dissonance. The supposed goal of this promotion was to “save lives,” but in reality, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in American women. One 8 piece bucket of KFC extra crispy chicken contains 2,380 calories and 160 grams of fat. Even if you split that bucket among 4 people, you’re still looking at 595 calories (60% calories from fat) and 40 grams of fat. Additionally, the launch of the “Buckets for the Cure” campaign coincided with the launch of KFC’s double-down sandwich, featuring pieces of fried chicken as the “bread” of the sandwich. You’re either trying to save our lives or you’re trying to kill us. Pick one, KFC.

Similarly, the NFL’s “Catch for a Cure” campaign would be classified as cause marketing. If you turned on any of the NFL games this past weekend, you probably noticed that the fields had basically turned into a sea of pink. Players wore pink gloves, refs through pink flags, fans wore pink jerseys, and players ran towards pink first down lines. In the name of raising awareness, the NFL is doing its best to capitalize on an underrepresented demographic: women. In 2012, the NFL’s contributions to the American Cancer Society as a result of the “Catch for a Cure” campaign, came in at $1.5 million. This represents 0.0188% of the NFL’s operating revenue.

The Sexualization of Breast Cancer

Why exactly does breast cancer, above other forms of cancer, find itself the centerpiece of the cancer research/marketing field? For lack of a better way to phrase this: breasts are sexy.

“Save the boobies!” “Save the ta-tas!” “Save Second Base!” “Feel Your Boobies!”

These are all examples of actual lines organizations have used to promote breast cancer awareness. The American Cancer Society takes the cake with its own tag line: “It’s Okay to Look at Our Chests!”

The sexualization of this all-too-real medical condition plays right into the classic marketing strategy of “sex sells.” Maybe so, but that doesn’t make it right; and it certainly doesn’t make it any less objectifying.

These slogans work to divide the woman, the human life at risk, from her breasts. When you say, “save second base,” you’re not only playing into the idea that the value of a woman lies solely in her looks, but you’re also suggesting that we should search for a cure for nothing else but to give men something to play with.

Breast cancer is serious, not sexy.

You don’t see this type of marketing approach for other types of cancer. You wouldn’t see a “save the nuts!” poster for testicular cancer awareness, would you? Why is it any more appropriate to say, “save the boobies?”

Conclusion

Do the ends justify the means? Is your hard earned money going towards the cause, or is it simply making its way to the pockets of NFL owners, yogurt conglomerates, auto dealerships and charity executives like Nancy Brinker’s paycheck?

Breast cancer is a very real medical condition that will lead to the deaths of nearly 40,000 people this year, alone. If you’re going to donate to this cause, I hope you do your research, find out how much of your money will be going towards research, screenings and treatment. TC mark


365 Days of Change: My Year On Hormone Replacement Therapy

Parker Marie Molloy

Thinking back on that day, it’s easy to dismiss its importance; easy to chalk it up as just being another “one foot in front of the other” type of fall morning. To me, though, it was a day that changed my life.

It was a Thursday morning. I’d been awake since 3:30am, unable to rest my head, unable to calm the nerves in my stomach, unable to get back to sleep. What if I’m not healthy enough? What if something was wrong with my blood work? My mind raced, playing out worst case scenarios. What if I fall back asleep, sleep through my alarm, miss my appointment and have to start the process over again!?

To put it lightly, I was excited.Screen shot 2013-10-10 at 2.56.11 PM

The morning would consist of two appointments, spaced an hour apart. In the first, a basic psychological profile would be performed. I nervously answered the questions, afraid that one wrong statement would get me denied the care I’d hoped to receive later that morning.

That appointment concluded after only 20 minutes. I found myself people-watching in the waiting room. Catching myself, I looked down at my phone, trying to type out a few quick Facebook posts prior to being called back for the appointment.

Called to the back, a member of the clinic staff took my vitals, noting that my blood pressure seemed a hair on the high side, but that could be the result of nerves or excitement.

“What brings you in here today?”, the man asked.

“I’m, um, uh, I’mhopingtostarthormonereplacementtherapytoday,” I rambled.

“Neat,” he said, leaving the room. “Jessica will be in with you in a minute.”

In walked Jessica, a woman around my age, with straight brown hair and a big smile.

“How excited are you!?” she asked, continuing to smile, putting me only slightly more at ease than I’d been all morning.

“Yes…. very… I’m so excited,” I managed to squeak out.

“Your blood work came back completely normal. Your evaluation looks fine. If you want, we can get you started on hormones today. Do you have any preference to method?”

I hadn’t given much thought to the particular method I wanted to take my hormones. As long as the results were going to be the same, I’d take whatever she prescribed. After a brief discussion, she and I landed on the idea of injectable estradiol and oral spironolactone. The once a week injection would work to increase my body’s estrogen levels while the twice daily spironolactone worked to reduce my body’s testosterone.

Jessica ran through a list of “what to expect” items the clinic required her to cover: breast growth, softer skin, rounding of the face, the stoppage/slight reversal of any male pattern baldness, changes in mood, changes in appetite, a reduction in body hair. The “what not to expect” list was flat-out hilarious: no, I will never be able to become pregnant, my hips wouldn’t flare out, my shoulders would never narrow, my facial hair wouldn’t go away on its own (that would need to be done through electrolysis or laser hair removal). None of this was news to me. Going into the appointment, I’d already researched the effects of hormone replacement therapy more thoroughly than I’d ever researched another topic in my life.

After being led to a different room, a male nurse entered. Using a small, flesh-tone prosthetic, he walked me through the steps I’d need to follow on a weekly basis. Did I have it in me to jab myself in the thigh, through the skin, into a muscle? Needles and blood always freaked me out.

Moments later, wincing, I pushed down on the plunger, stuck in my left thigh, as I watched 0.25 mL of estradiol-rich fluid evacuate the syringe, finding a new home in my body.

I felt excited. I felt reborn. Finally, my body was armed with the chemicals it needed to fight back against the further masculinization of my physical form. Finally, my body would begin to chemically mimic that of a girl entering puberty. This is how it should have been all along, and finally it was going to happen.

A year later, reflecting on that day, I’m absolutely astonished by the changes that have occurred, physically, mentally, and socially. While I certainly do appreciate the physical changes like the growth of my breasts and the change in the shape of my face, it was really the emotional/mental changes that had the biggest impact on my own life. No longer did I feel as though my brain was steeped in a fog of dissonance. Whereas I used to drown my problems in alcohol, I found myself feeling less of a compulsion to drink. Thoughts of suicide and futility faded out, as feelings of hope and ambition took their place.

This isn’t to say the past year of my life has been a walk in the park (it hasn’t), but rather, the rewards were worth the challenges I had to overcome to get here. TC mark


19 Things Bad ‘Allies’ Say

Parker Marie Molloy

 In honor of the Ally-ification of National Coming Out Day, I’ve put together a quick list of the top 19 things bad allies say and do, courtesy of the hilarious-in-an-omg-that-is-so-sad-and-accurate-kind-of-way Tumblr, littlestraightallythings. Enjoy.

1. “I can’t be homophobic! I have a gay friend/brother/uncle!”

Remember, Rick Santorum’s press secretary in the early-2000s was gay. Would you say this makes him “not a homophobe” as well?

2. “I don’t really identify with the word ‘cisgender.'”

But, um, you are. I might not go around announcing myself as “Parker Molloy, transgender woman, homosapien, American, resident of Earth,” but those are all true statements. If someone said, “raise your hand if you live on Earth,” I’d raise said hand.

3. Comparing “oppression” they’ve faced by identifying as an ally to the life experiences of someone who is gay or trans.

Please don’t do this. We all have different privileges. Acknowledge them. That one time some guy called you a name for saying you supported LGBT folks doesn’t compare to the actual oppression that LGBT individuals face (increased levels of unemployment, poverty, murder, assault, housing and employment discrimination).

4. “Gay privilege” and/or “trans privilege”

I’m not sure what society you’ve been living in, but these aren’t things. There has never been a time in my life where being trans vs. being cis has led to an improved outcome.

5. “I wish I could fight for equality with them, instead of next to them. I wish there was an ‘S’ for ‘Straight’ in the acronym.” (Yes, people say this.)

Rather than “fighting with us,” how about you just try to help out as needed? This means not drowning out LGBT voices. You don’t have to be “part of the fight” to make a difference.

6. Misgendering people they dislike.

I know that Ann Coulter is a no-good, very-bad, terrible, awful person. Still, calling her a “man” or a “tr*nny” is transmisogynistic. (P.S. this applies to LGB folks who do this as well, like Dan Savage, who called Rob McKenna, a cis man, trans.)

7. “Discrimination doesn’t happen that much when you’re looking for jobs, if it did, everyone would be getting sued!”

Care to back that one up with some facts? No? Well, I’ve got some. Enjoy.

8. “Yeah? Well, I identify as a toaster, but that doesn’t actually make me one!”

Get out before I plug you into the wall, toaster boy.

9. “But I didn’t misgender you, because you are still biologically a boy.”

*shakes with rage*

10. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Aw, that’s cute. What a nice little way of both condemning my life. You might as well say, “I’ll be nice to you here, but after all, we both know you’re going to burn in hell for all eternity, right?”

11. [Invasive questions about my genitals.]

This happens way too often. Think about how often you ask your cisgender friends about their genitals. Think about how often they ask about yours. That would be pretty inappropriate of them, right? What makes you think I’m the exception to that rule?

12. Using terms: “f*g hag,” “lesbro,” “beard,” “purse.”

If you don’t see what’s wrong with these terms, there is seriously a problem.

13. “Lesbians are hot because they’re forever virgins.”

I’m sure all the lesbians I know would disagree with you on that one.

14. “You should jump at the chance to educate people!”

I’m not a walking encyclopedia of queerness. There’s this awesome website called Google. Get to know it.

15. Use of the phrases “Heterophobia” and “Cisphobia”

There is no institutionalized oppression against hetero- or cis- people, thus, there is no such thing as “heterophobia” or “cisphobia.”

16. Unsolicited opinions on how well I pass/”You don’t look trans!”

Ah, I see what you did there. You gave me a compliment (thank you) while still letting me know that you have a very specific idea of what a trans person looks like. Also, saying that I’m “passing” as a woman is suggesting that I’m tricking people. Nope. I am a woman.

17. “But (Arrested Development/How I Met Your Mother/South Park/Family Guy/It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia/SNL) makes fun of everyone! You can’t be so sensitive.”

There’s a difference between making a joke about a government, a company, a large organization, a religion; and making fun of people for being gay or trans. What’s the difference? You can move, you can work for a different company, you can change religions. I can’t just not be trans.

18. Brushing off my discomfort with gendered terms like “bro,” “guys” and “dudes” as being hypersensitive.

To my guy friends: if you do this, I will start referring to you as “sweetie” and “princess.” You’ll notice that it gets pretty annoying after a bit.

19. “I long for a day where feminine boys don’t feel like they have to transition in order to feel accepted.”

Ah yes, the ally’s way of saying, “trans women are really just hyper-feminine men” (and vice versa). I’m not a “hyper-feminine man,” and even in a world where the most feminine of boys was accepted with open arms, that still wouldn’t be a role I could play. TC mark


Former GOP Executive Director Says Transgender People Belong “In A Camp”

Parker Marie Molloy

Earlier this year, Jessica Blankenship, one of my favorite Thought Catalog writers, wrote an article called, “Need Someone To Hate Today? Meet Todd Kincannon”.

In the article, Blankenship cites a number of incendiary tweets and statements by Kincannon, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party. Earlier this year, Kincannon wrote that “Trayvon Martin was a dangerous thug who needed to be put down like a rabid dog,” that the Super Bowl “sucks more dick than adult Trayvon Martin would have for drug money.” He then followed this up by claiming that he’s “not really a racist.” Sure thing, buddy. Whatever you say.

He’s also sounded off on Hurricane Katrina victims and once told a veteran of the Iraq War that he wishes the soldier would have “come home in a body bag.” (Support the troops, amirite!?)

Last night, he decided to tear into transgender people, going so far as to say that they should be put into concentration camps. He referred to fellow Thought Catalog contributor Kat Haché as a “goddamn he-she.”

TwitterTwitter

After demanding to see Haché’s genitals in a since-deleted tweet (for someone who has gotten himself caught up in a few sexting scandals over the years, you’d think he’d avoid language like that), Haché called him a “rapey creep.” His response? Call her a “cunt.”

TwitterTwitter TwitterTwitter

It would be one thing for a random nobody (like me) to troll a group of people like that, but this is a man who is the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party. This is the state that brought us Jim DeMint, Joe “You Lie!” Wilson, and Mark “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford. This is a man that once led the same party that has instilled the following language in his state’s own platform:

“We affirm the wonderful differences with which each gender is created and oppose efforts to blur or disregard the uniqueness of male and female genders. Furthermore, we affirm that one’s gender is fixed at birth and that no citizen should be entitled to special treatment or accorded any special benefits not afforded to others of the same birth gender regardless of how they have altered their anatomy or appearance. We oppose federal, state, county, or municipal laws, regulations or ordinances that require a person to be granted special rights or protections based on his or her “perceived” gender identity.”

To be clear, this means that they oppose including transgender protections in hate crime legislation; they oppose protections that would limit employment, housing, and medical discrimination against transgender individuals. Todd Kincannon isn’t some sort of aberration of GOP, but rather, he’s the embodiment of their attitudes towards race and gender. TC mark


4 Things That Have A Bigger Impact Than Wearing Purple On Spirit Day

Parker Marie Molloy

So much activism... ShutterstockBasking in my activism… Shutterstock

It’s “Spirit Day.” Apparently, that means I’m supposed to be wrapped in purple doing my best impression of Grimace from McDonalds in order to save LGBT kids from being bullied. I’m not wearing purple, nor did I change my Facebook avatar to a red Human Rights Campaign logo back in June.

Why? Because this alone is slacktivism, plain and simple. This is an opportunity for people to say, “Welp, I did my part. Good job, me,” and go about their day. “Did you hear about that girl who committed suicide after being bullied by her classmates for being gay? I don’t know how that happened. I mean, I wore purple on “Spirit Day,” what more do they want from me?”

If you actually want to have an impact on the lives of LGBT children, you need to do more than wear a certain color or post something on Facebook.

Earlier this week, Fox News ran a debunked (and retracted by the original source) article on their website accusing a trans student in Colorado of harassing girls in the bathroom. Since other news outlets weren’t willing to do the necessary vetting of this story, Cristan Williams took it upon herself to get in touch with the school’s superintendent, who went on to say:

Nothing has actually been verified with us. This is one parent basically bringing their viewpoint about this situation to the media because they weren’t getting the responses that they hoped they would get from the district, from parents of students at the high school, or from the board and myself. So I think it’s just an attempt to elevate the situation to a point where maybe some more attention can be drawn to that in the hope of having a different outcome.

In other words, this story is a fake, a fraud. Still, as of this writing, the article “Girls ‘Harassed’ In School Bathroom By Transgender Student Told His Rights Trump Their Privacy” remains live on FoxNews.com without so much as an editor’s note or a retraction. Earlier this week, I wrote about a former GOP official who believes transgender individuals belong in concentration camps. Both the Fox News story and Kincannon’s comments are bullying.

Want to do something that has a little more impact than changing your Facebook avatar or wearing a purple shirt? Try the following:

1. Stop shopping at businesses that use their profits to fund anti-LGBT causes. I know Chik-fil-a is pretty decent (as far as fast food is concerned), but their political arm (the WinShape Foundation) donates to some virulently anti-LGBT groups who work to deny equal rights to all citizens. Here’s a list of additional organizations that have been tied to anti-gay donations.

2. Stop electing officials who believe LGBT kids (and adults) shouldn’t have the same rights as the rest of the population. Call your Congressman. Do they support the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act? Do they support laws banning harmful “Gay Conversion Therapy?” Do they stand by the rights of gay and trans kids in terms of anti-bullying laws and equal access provisions? If not, that’s your cue to not only vote for someone else, but evangelize.

3. Look into your local school district’s policy on bullying. Does your local K-12 school have a comprehensive anti-bullying policy in place to protect LGBT students? Whether or not you have a child in the school, feel free to pop into their next board meeting. They’re generally posted on the school’s website, and usually open to the public. If there’s not a policy in place, work with them to pass one.

4. Report false information to outlets like GLAAD and the FCC.See something blatantly false on the airwaves? That’s in violation of FCC rules. Go ahead, file a complaint against Fox News the next time they plug incorrect information. See someone promote homophobic or transphobic language in print/TV/online media?Report that to GLAAD.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing purple or changing your Facebook avatar, but understand that doing so is a start, not a finish. If you want to make a positive impact, you’ll need to take additional action. TC mark


15 Crazy Examples Of Insanely Ableist Language

Parker Marie Molloy

 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

The older I get, the more I realize how wrong that childhood axiom really is. Words have power. Throughout history, the right words, spoken by the right person, have been used for good and for evil. They’ve given hope to the hopeless, and they’ve been used to convince entire nations to do unspeakably nefarious things. Words convey our most powerful emotions: love, hate, anger, joy.

We need to talk about words, specifically, ableist words. One all-too-common practice of headline writing and casual speaking is flippantly using ableist vocabulary, which may cause some people real emotional harm. I’d like to see a shift away from this type of language, which I’ll get to in a moment. Obviously, you’re the only one who can determine what words you want to use in conversation or in writing, so I’ll preemptively say, no, I am not advocating censorship (beat you to it, comments section), but rather, just some thought into future word choice.

Ableist language is any word or phrase that intentionally or inadvertently targets an individual with a disability.For the most part, these words are filler, nothing more. Examples of ableist language include “crazy,” “insane,” “lame,” “dumb,” “retarded,” “blind,” “deaf,” “idiot,” “imbecile,” “invalid (noun),” “maniac,” “nuts,” “psycho,” “spaz.”

Each of these words, when used flippantly, can be extremely insulting to individuals who find themselves with physical (“lame,” “invalid,” “dumb”) or mental (“crazy,” “retarded,” “psycho”) disabilities. A full explanation of why these words are so problematic, along with alternatives that can be used can be found over at Autistic Hoya.

I was reading through the latest issue of Cosmopolitan (don’t judge me). On the cover in big, bold letters were the words “Crazy Hot Sex: Be the Best He’s Ever Had” (Can’t say that particular story would be of much use to me, anyway, but I digress). A friend of mine pointed out that use of the term “crazy,” was ableist. She was absolutely right. We’ve become so desensitized to this type of language that we don’t even notice it when it’s right in front of us.

Just looking through recent posts here on Thought Catalog, you can see just how pervasive this language really is. Below are 15 examples of articles (by some amazing authors) that use ableist language in the headline. I understand why these terms are used: they draw in readers through mild hyperbole.

Lame:

How To Tell You’re Becoming The Lame Friend

Quit Your Lame Job And Get A Life

Employer Responds To Woman Quitting Her Job Through Video With A Lame Ass Parody Of The Original

Stop Sending Me Lame Texts

60 People On ‘The Best Lame Joke They Know’

Insane:

The 9 Most Insane Moments Of The Golden Globes

He Drank His Own Pee And 34 Other Insane JD Salinger Facts

11 Totally Insane Scientific Theories People Used To Believe Were True

Crazy:

8 Crazy Things Every 20-Something Is Guilty Of

Here’s 10 Videos Of The Crazy Things That Happen On The New York City Subway

11 Crazy Things You Won’t Believe Used To Be Legal

25 Crazy News Headlines That Will Make You Laugh Yourself Silly

Dumb:

Stop Sleeping With Dumb Dudes — Here’s How To Stop Them

The 25 Dumbest Clients Ever, In The History Of The World

Teens Aren’t Over-Sexed and Over-Digitized, They’re Young And Dumb

Maybe you’ll call me overly PC, and that’s fine. When it comes down to it, though, if there’s a less harmful way of saying something, I try to err on that side of things. If you disagree with someone, rather than calling them “crazy,” try one of the following: illogical, irrational misleading, lying, not thinking, incapable of critical thinking, an asshat, a dipshit, irrelevant, rationalizing.

Not only will your writing be more descriptive (unless you chose “asshat” or “dipshit” from the above list, in which case, maybe it’s not all that much more descriptive), but you’ll avoid the collateral damage of offending innocent people. All this, though, is entirely up to you. I am not out to language police anyone, nor do I believe any of these words should be censored. Every once in a while, though, it’s good to take a look at one’s actions and choices. TC mark


“I’m Totally In Favor Of Gay Rights, But This Transgender Stuff Is Weird.”

Parker Marie Molloy

 Yashna MYashna M

Earlier today, I was reading about the re-introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill in Congress that would effectively outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (with exemptions for religious institutions and businesses with fewer than 15 employees). In all honesty, the bill has a snowball’s chance in hell of being signed into law as long as the House of Representatives remains in the control of Republicans.

Still, if there’s one thing we can use this as an opportunity for, it’s to make our elected officials go on record as discriminatory bigots. Occasionally, right-wing politicians will come out against ENDA by using things like “employer freedom to only employ the kind of people he wants,” but sometimes they’re much more overt.

For example, Arizona senator Jeff Flake, who voted ‘Yes’ on ENDA in 2007, has said that this time around, you can count him out unless the bill matches the 2007 version he voted ‘yes’ on. Why, exactly? What’s changed about ENDA in that time? One major thing has: transgender people (like me! *raises hand*) would now be covered under this law. Essentially, what Senator Flake is saying, is that he understands that we need to provide LGB people with protection, but screw those gross tr*nnies. Ewwwwwwww.

Thanks, Jeff. I really appreciate it.

Failed 2012 VP candidate Paul Ryan is also among those who have gone on record with a position in favor of protections on the basis of sexual orientation, but denying the same protections to transgender people. In 2010, he was quoted as saying that the addition of transgender protections in ENDA “makes it something you can’t vote for,” and that he “[thinks] ENDA is the right thing to do, but transgender language ‘changes the equation.'”

It’s not just politicians I hear this from. Often, even in the comments section of my essays, I’ll see someone say, “I’m totally in favor of gay rights, but this transgender stuff is weird.” That’s nice. Even so, whether or not one’s opinion on my existence is that I’m “weird” or a “freak” or “sinful” shouldn’t factor into the question of whether or not I deserve the same protections everyone else has. A cisgender man can’t be fired just for presenting as a man at work. A cisgender woman can’t be fired for presenting as a woman. Why is it fair that a transgender woman should be able to be fired for presenting herself as a woman at work?

This isn’t a “special right,” it’s a quest for the same rights cisgender people already enjoy. Are you really saying I’m so sub-human that I’m not worthy of that? TC mark


Why I Don’t Dress Up For Halloween

Parker Marie Molloy

“What are you going to be for Halloween?”

This is a question I never really knew how to answer. I’ve never particularly liked Halloween. Actually, let me clarify that: I’ve never particularly liked the costume portion of Halloween. From my early teens onward, there was nothing that appealed to me about throwing on a costume, hiding behind a mask, and heading out to a party. Whenever I’ve been forced to, I’d usually put together a half-assed costume that looked as much like my normal wardrobe as possible.

Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 2.25.44 PM

In general, though, I liked to stay in. I always liked getting cozy, sipping a drink, and watching a movie on the couch. As you can see by looking at the picture associated with this essay, the pre-transition days of 2006 weren’t exactly party city for me. When you don’t feel right in your own skin, every day feels like you’re wearing a costume. Given this, I never took much joy in Halloween before I came out as transgender.

I think I might be alone in this, as I know a lot of people, both cis and trans, who absolutely love Halloween. Good for them. In fact, I know a lot of trans people who used Halloween as a chance to test the waters presenting as their target gender prior to coming out. If that helps someone sort out their feelings, more power to them. For me, though, that wouldn’t have been enough. I would have felt like a girl wearing a boy costume wearing a girl costume. Layers within layers, like little Russian dolls.

Don’t get me wrong: Halloween is an awesome holiday. Scary movies on TV? Check. Candy? Check. Haunted houses, corn mazes, pumpkin patches? Check. It’s just the costume aspect of it that’s always brought me down.

In all likelihood, this stems from my feeling that what we wear on Halloween is fake. You can be anything you want, but it’s fake. Vampire for a night? Do it up. A walking pun of a costume? You do you. For me, though, I didn’t want to be fake anymore. I was fake enough. My presentation to the world was fake. If the world was going to see me for who I am, a woman, I wanted it to be genuine, and not as part of a costume.

Actually, I suppose that’s another way of looking at being transgender. Imagine that you had to wear your Halloween costume every day for your entire life. Not only that, but imagine the world addressing you as only your costume, not yourself. “Want to see a movie, Werewolf?” For a day or two, sure, it might be fun, but eventually you’d tire of this, feeling as though you didn’t really exist anymore, only the costume shelled version of you.

Tonight, Halloween, I’ll likely end up doing the same exact thing I did 7 years ago. I’ll find a spot on my couch, pour myself a drink, and I’ll watch Nightmare Before Christmas. Exciting? No, but that’s quite alright by me. TC mark


What Panic Attacks Teach You About Life

Parker Marie Molloy

Vick the VikingVick the Viking

I could be in my living room. I could be on a bus. Sometimes I’m in my bedroom. Sometimes I’m at my desk. The location matters less than the event, itself. The event? A panic attack.

A panic attack is a period of fear or apprehension, brought on suddenly with or without apparent cause. While the phrase is sometimes used colloquially to refer to smaller worries (“you almost gave me a panic attack!”), an actual panic attack is something much more debilitating.

The other night, I had one of these panic attacks. Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way for me to overcome these is simply to let them play out. As I felt one coming on, I decided to start writing down my thoughts and feelings. Since I was headed into this, anyway, I figured that it might make some interesting post-attack reading. Without further ado, here’s my panic attack:

I’m in my bed. I feel cold, panicky. The thought of getting up to make dinner is too much to entertain at the moment. I feel like my lungs are shutting down, like my heart will fail. It feels like I’m going to die.

I don’t want to die, and I’m sure that eventually, no matter how bad this feeling is at the moment, I’ll snap out of it, alive and well. The damage, the pain in my chest, the aches. I need to acknowledge that this starts and ends with my mind. My mind is triggering these physiological symptoms, and if I can acknowledge that, maybe I can will them away.

I page through my phone’s contact list, look at active Facebook connections and Twitter followers. Through the list of names, I don’t know if there exists anyone I could call a friend, at least in the sense that I believe it’d be appropriate to ask for help in this shaken, fragile state. Then again, if I don’t have a connection with anyone strong enough to consider a friend that would help me through a panic attack, do I really have anyone I could consider a friend in any sense?

This thought adds fuel to the pain as I feel my lungs ceasing to function, as breathing gets harder. My heart stings as the actions it’s been asked to perform strain as the resources to complete these tasks isn’t there.

The symptoms subside after a few minutes and I catch my breath. I’m sweaty, tired and in my bed.

I fell asleep for a few minutes after that. Obviously, I didn’t die. Obviously, my heart didn’t explode, nor did my lungs cease to function. I know this now. This knowledge, this logic — none of it matters when you’re in the thick of an anxiety fit. Your mind will lie to you. Your body will play along.

A friend might ask why I had a panic attack. Sometimes I’ll have an answer, and sometimes I won’t. Maybe the thought of entertaining people at my apartment set it off. Maybe it was walking into a crowded store that triggered this. Maybe there’s no reason at all. There’s nothing logical about a panic attack.

That’s just it. Life isn’t logic. A panic attack exists even if you don’t comprehend what goes into it, even if you’ve never experienced it. It exists because those we know and love tell us of its existence.

I write this, not as an excuse or as a complaint, but rather, I write this in simple acknowledgement: I suffer from panic attacks. Maybe you do, too. Maybe you don’t. Maybe your experiences differ from mine, and from that we can learn from one another. Maybe, no matter how clearly we try to convey an experience like this, others won’t ever be able to fully understand what it’s like. It’s okay, though. Try. Describe how you feel, write down what you know, and share it with the world. Through that, we can witness how pleasant and tortuous, wonderfully weird human life can be. TC mark


The Real Leader Of The Trolling Revolution

Parker Marie Molloy

Salon recently devoted an article to saying Thought Catalog has started a “trolling revolution.” James B. Barnes has already writtena response piece to that (thanks for the shout out in there, James!), but I’d like to talk about a website that actually is trying to start this revolution: the people of returnofkings.com.

If you’re not familiar, returnofkings.com is run by a bunch of “Men’s Rights Activists” (i.e. white guys who think the world is somehow out to get them for being white guys… yeah, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds) who seem to strive for a world straight out of a Tucker Max book. Or maybe a Chuck Palahniuk novel? Oh! I know! The Matrix. MRAs absolutely love the Matrix. In other words, it very well may be the worst website to exist in the history of the internet.

Anyyyyyyway. Let’s take a look at their “About” page.

Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men.

Okay, well, every site has to have a demographic. Fair enough.

ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny.

Hrm…

Women and homosexuals are prohibited from commenting here.

Um… Well, let’s see what they list under “Community Beliefs.”

1. Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt.

I worry about where this is going..

2. Women are sluts if they sleep around, but men are not. This fact is due to the biological differences between men and women.

After the first sentence, I had hope that they were making a point of highlighting one of society’s greatest double-standards. As it turns out, they simply want to reinforce it.

Let’s skip down a bit.

6. A woman’s value is mainly determined by her fertility and beauty. A man’s value is mainly determined by his resources, intellect, and character.

Hear that, ladies? If you’re not fertile and beautiful, you have no worth. Guys, on the other hand, have free reign to be sterile and ugly, while not being judged on that basis.

7. Elimination of traditional gender roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation.

Oh, what the fuck? What decade are we in? Hell, what century are we in?

References to “Tyler Durden” and “taking the red pill” make up the basis of so many of the site’s posts. “Have you swallowed the red pill?” one article asks. It seems entirely lost on the site’s writers that the very imagery they’re referencing are the creations of people who wouldn’t even be allowed to comment, let alone post on their site (Chuck Palahniuk is gay; Lana Wachowski, one of the writers and directors on the Matrix — where the red pill/blue pill originated — is a transgender woman). There’s certainly some irony in the fact that their core philosophies are based on the writings of people they advocate against.

There’s also quite a bit of hypocrisy among the authors. In various pieces, they lash out against those who hide in anonymity on the internet. They accuse people of trying to manipulate and misrepresent who they are. All of this, of course, is said as they write behind ridiculous pen names like Law Dogger (whose most recent piece is titled “The Worst Bang of My Life”) and Nascimento (whose most recent article is titled “Why You Should Try Sober Game” and describes himself as a “young and aspiring Casanova”).

Somehow, this bastion of misogyny has generated more than 2,000 fans on Facebook (click here to see if anyone you know likes them), and more than 400,000 unique visitors have stopped by the site.

More than ⅓ of the site’s readers are under the age of 25, 40% of visitors don’t have a college degree, roughly 70% of readers are men, and nearly 80% of visitors to the site are white. More or less, it’s exactly who you’d expect to visit a site like this.

I read through their entire archive, and I’d like to highlight the 20 trolliest examples of trolling to have ever trolled. Most articles are NSFW for content purposes, and consider a trigger warning for misogyny, rape apologist language, transphobia, homophobia, and cissexism to be applied to all of the below.

  1. The Myth of Male Privilege
  2. Have You Swallowed the Red Pill? Take the Test
  3. Misandry is Real
  4. All Girls Like Rough Sex
  5. The 9 Ugliest American Feminists
  6. 3 Signs She’s Making a False Rape Accusation
  7. What I Learned from Banging 5 Girls in 7 Days
  8. The Myth of Date Rape Drink Spiking
  9. How to Turn a Feminist Into Your Sex Slave
  10. “Your Son is a Fucking Faggot”
  11. Why We Need to Fight For the Patriarchy
  12. How to Convince a Girl to Get an Abortion
  13. 24 Signs She’s a Slut
  14. How to Control Your Woman’s Diet
  15. 5 Reasons Fat People are Evil
  16. 5 Ways to Bully Fat Sluts on a Date
  17. Why You Should Beat Your Kids
  18. How Contraceptives Distort Gender Relations
  19. 8 Ways to Spot a Transsexual
  20. Stay at Home Moms Don’t Work that Hard

In order to keep my out faith in humanity alive, I really do have to believe this is just a collective of trolls. I shudder at the thought that there actually are people who believe the ridiculous, sexist, delusional things that get posted to that site. TC mark


No, Mom, There’s Not A ‘War On Christmas’

Parker Marie Molloy

Yumi AngYumi Ang

My mother wears a pin.

Every year, around November, she’ll affix 2 pins to her jacket: “KEEP THE ‘CHRIST’ IN ‘CHRISTMAS’” and “IT’S OKAY! YOU CAN SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!”

Seeing these, I cannot help but roll my eyes. Why must my mom, a generally apolitical person, find herself sucked into the absurdity that is the “War on Christmas?”

Every year, I ask, “What does the ‘KEEP THE ‘CHRIST’ IN ‘CHRISTMAS’” pin mean? Why do you wear it?”

“Because people are going around saying ‘Xmas,’ and that’s them trying to take Jesus out of the holiday,” she responded.

Stunned, I’ll stand there, considering whether or not to yet again engage in this debate. After all, I knew that “Xmas” wasn’t a plot to take “Christ out of Christmas,” but rather that it was first used in the 1500s. I knew that the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of the Greek word “Χριστός,” which translates to English as “Christ.” I could point this out, but I highly doubt that these words would make it past the armor she’s layered on for the so-called “War on Christmas.”

I’ll skip that line of conversation, instead asking about her “IT’S OKAY! YOU CAN SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!” pin.

“So, what’s the deal with that? Doesn’t that come off a little… passive-aggressive? Entitled?”

“It used to be, you walk into a store and they’re going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ when you go through the check-out line. Now, I’m lucky if I get a ‘Happy Holidays.’”

“Okay, but mom, how is saying ‘Happy Holidays,’ which does, in fact, include Christmas, at all taking away from your ability to enjoy Christmas? I mean, if anything, isn’t the fact that every year the ‘holiday season’ starts earlier and earlier a sign that Christmas is launching a ‘War on November’ or a ‘War on October?’ It’s a single-day holiday that takes up nearly 25% of the year. This isn’t just in my head, either, mom. ‘Christmas creep’ is a real thing.”

“Still, it used to be that wa-”

“Since when is ‘it used to be like this’ a good reason for anything? There are a lot of things that ‘used to be that way,’ that are no longer the norm for society. It ‘used to be’ that women couldn’t vote. It ‘used to be’ that you could smoke inside of buildings. It ‘used to be,’ well, you get the point.”

“Well, think about this: remember when the high school got in trouble because they said ‘Jesus’ in an event?”

“Mom. It’s a public school, and no, it wasn’t just that they said ‘Jesus.’ Students can say ‘Jesus’ all they want, and no one will stop them. Students can pray all they want. Students can carry around a Bible at all times if they feel like it. Now, the question is, should teachers at a public school be leading prayers or setting time aside for students to lead a large group of people in compulsory prayer? No. The Supreme Court has said as much, 50 years ago, no less.”

“But you used to be able to.”

“Again, this. Fine. Let’s think about it this way: what if you, as a Christian, sent me off to school, and I came back with news that I was told I needed to pray to Mecca at various points throughout the day? You’d be cool with that?”

“No, well, why should my taxpayer money go towardsindoctrinating you into Islam? We’re Catholic.”

“Well, why should Muslim families fund the school with their tax dollars only to be force-fed Christian rituals?”

“Because that’s how it’s alw-”

“Mom. Come on. When someone says that there’s a ‘War on Christmas,’ what they’re really whining about is the fact that not everyone in society is exactly like them, that their belief system and religion is superior to that of others, and should treated as such by governmental and private organizations, alike. No one has ever actually suggested anything along the lines of banning Christmas or barring people from being able to celebrate their own religious holidays. When entire radio stations start exclusively playing Christmas music in early November, when you can buy a Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks on November 1st, you’d have to be out of your mind to believe that there’s any sort of ‘war’ going on. When Santa is in virtually every piece of marketing, when nativity scenes exist on public land, you cannot say there’s a ‘war.’ When most shows on TV have a ‘Christmas episode,’ there is no ‘war.’”

“Hmm. Well, I like wearing my pin.”

“Then wear it.”

“I guess I just don’t like that we have to call things ‘Holiday’ instead of ‘Christmas.’”

“What do you mean? You can say ‘Christmas’ all you want.”

“In the grade school, instead of having a ‘Christmas pageant,’ they’re having a ‘holiday pageant.’”

“So?”

“And when I went to the store, the clerk said, ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’”

“I thought we’d already covered thi-”

“Just… It’s different.”

“It’s really not. Is Christmas not a holiday? How is wishing someone a happy holiday, whatever their personal holiday might be, at all taking away from your ability to enjoy Christmas? You sort of sound like those people who claim that same sex marriage some how degrades their own heterosexual marriage. It just… it doesn’t.”

“They don’t even call the Chicago Christmas tree a Christmas tree anymore.”

“Actually, they do! And anyway, our mayor is Jewish. Our Jewish mayor is lighting the city’s Christmas tree. What more do you want?”

“Hrm. It’s just… it’s tradition.”

“No one is making you change that tradition! And again, anyway, what difference does it make? Like I keep saying, no one is trying to abolish Christmas. In fact, when America was first settled, it was illegal to celebrate Christmas! And George Washington launched an attack against the British on Christmas Day! Now THAT is a true ‘War on Christmas,’ quite literally. And after the U.S. became its own country, Christmas wasn’t typically celebrated as it was seen as being ‘too British.’ It wasn’t until the late 1800s before anyone started caring much about Christmas, and it didn’t start becoming the behemoth it is until the 1900s, when some marketing folks were looking for a way to boost sales towards the end of the year in order to clear out inventory. If anything, we’re deviating from the true ‘tradition’ of not celebrating Christmas.”

“Well, I don’t know.”

More or less, this is the same conversation she and I have had half a dozen times. I suppose this is more of a composite of our chats than verbatim conversation. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s good to brush up on the conversation we’re bound to have. I consider this talk our annual family Christmas pageant. TC mark


A Lululemon Takedown Piece

Parker Marie Molloy

ShutterstockShutterstock

In the 1968 movie (and 2001 Broadway musical) The Producers, the main characters, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, mount an effort to create the biggest Broadway flop of all time. They seek out the worst scripts, they find the worst actors, and they take their show, “Springtime for Hitler: a Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva”, to the stage. Their goal is to collect as much funding as possible with the smallest amount of profits to be on the hook to repay investors.

I’m the end, the show doesn’t flop, as they had hoped, and instead becomes a roaring success. Hilarity ensues.

I can’t help but compare their story of business sabotage gone wrong to that of Chip Wilson and Lululemon. By all appearances, Wilson has done everything in his power to create a total failure of a company. What he ended up with, instead, was an unprecedented success.

A Name Straight Out of a Racist Joke

According to Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon, one of the reasons the company is called “Lululemon,” a made up word, is to seem exotic and intrinsically Western to Japanese consumers. Oh, that doesn’t make sense to you, either? Let’s dig deeper:

“A Japanese marketing firm would not try to create a North American sounding brand with the letter ‘L’ because the sound does not exist in Japanese phonetics,” Wilson wrote on the company’s blog. “By including an ‘L’ in the name, it was thought the Japanese consumer would find the name innately North American and authentic. In essence, the name ‘lululemon’ has no roots and means nothing other than it has 3 ‘L’s’ in it. Nothing more and nothing less.”

He later said, “it’s funny to watch [Japanese consumers] try and say it.”

Oh! So, he thinks Asian people don’t know how to pronounce “L.” That’s… that’s oddly racist.

Pro-Child Labor

According to a post at The Tyee, at the 2005 BALLE BC conference, Wilson “told delegates third world children should be allowed to work in factories because it provides them with much-needed wages. They also say he argued that even in Canada there is a place for 12- and 13-year old street youths to find work in local factories.”

Generally speaking, most companies won’t go on record to endorse child labor. Then again, Lululemon is not most companies.

Lulu Shrugged

When one thinks “yoga,” the name Ayn Rand probably doesn’t come to mind. Unless, that is, you’re Lululemon. In 2011, the brand began quoting Rand on their shopping bags. “Who is John Galt?” one bag reads. Galt, the protagonist of Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, wouldn’t likely find himself on a yoga mat. The search for permanent inner peace associated with yoga pretty severely clashes with the overarching themes of Objectivism Rand promoted in her writing.

Blame (Thank?) Smoking, Cancer, and Birth Control

Chip Wilson believes that the advent of birth control led to the “era of divorces,” as “men did not know how to relate to the new female” that came to exist in the post-pill world. He goes on to say that given that the “media convinced women that they could… be a man’s equal in the business world,” women found themselves less focused on staying in shape and more focused on finding success in business.

Wilson laments the existence of “Power Women,” who “dress[ed] like men in boardroom attire.” This lifestyle of working, smoking (“Power Women” smoked cigars because “this is what their ‘successful’ fathers did), and taking hormonal contraception led to a rise in breast cancer (according to Wilson, that is). The rise in breast cancer created a shift in priorities, with more attention being paid to exercise, paving the way for Lululemon to exist. Ta-da!

Ready to Pay Twice as Much for Comparable Quality?

Let’s say you can look past the various oddities and eccentricities Wilson and Co. have brought to Lululemon. After all, you’re buying a quality pair of yoga pants, not a company philosophy. Even if you can look past the aforementioned items, can you look past the cost ($88 to $128) Lululemon charges for a pair of yoga pants in comparison to that of Gap, one of their leading competitors in the world of sports apparel (cost for similar items: $34 to $65)?

We Can See Right Through You

Earlier this year, Lululemon recalled 17% of their yoga pants after it came to their attention that a number of their black Luon pants were unintentionally see-through. The company released a statement, “We want you to Down Dog and Crow with confidence and we felt these pants didn’t measure up.” Sure, this is certainly a tad bit unfortunate, but it seems like they handled the situation as best they could. That is, until Chip Wilson decided to come forward earlier this month with a statement of his own.

The Customer is Always Right

Chip Wilson appeared on Bloomberg TV on November 5th to discuss meditation. This should have been simple enough. Don’t say anything stupid. “What’s going on with the pants?” Trish Regan of Bloomberg TV asks. “There’s no doubt about it, we made a mistake.” There! Chip! Stop! He couldn’t resist, putting his foot in his mouth yet again. “Some women’s bodies just don’t work for it.” Chip! No!

Success Through Folly

I live paycheck-to-paycheck while Chip Wilson is a titan of industry, so obviously, he’s doing something (many things) right. My question, though, is, “how?” By all reasonable assessments, Wilson, like Bialystock and Bloom, has done everything in his power to sabotage this company. Openly supporting child labor, printing controversial phrases on bags, a racist origin to the company name, sexist viewpoints and philosophies, extreme markup on their product, defective inventory, and stating that some consumers simply shouldn’t be consumers. In spite all of this, the company generated $1 billion in fiscal year 2012. TC mark


No, Jezebel, Selfies Are Not A Cry For Help

Parker Marie Molloy

Oh, Jezebel, what have you done now?

I was away from my Twitter stream for most of the day. I returned home to find that one of your writers had decided to write a bit of a rebuttal to Rachel Simmons article proclaiming selfies as “little bursts of girl pride” (that’s possibly the most adorable way to describe anything in the world and I hate that I’m not the one who came up with it).

The response piece at Jezebel takes the opposite position, arguing that selfies are nothing more than a “cry for help.” This position has gotten the site in a bit of hot water, as it would seem to contradict some of their own professed positions as a feminist website, albeit a watered down and mainstream one.

Did it not occur to the writer of the Jezebel piece that for many women (myself included), selfies are some of the only opportunities we get to feel confident about themselves? I look like a whale in 99.9% of candid photographs of myself. If I can boost my self esteem back up by snapping a picture of myself, what’s the harm in that?

This piece accomplishes one thing and one thing only: it adds another activity to the list of things we’re “doing wrong” in life. Don’t girls and women get that enough? Now I have to worry about whether or not I’m propping up the patriarchy with every self shot I take? What happened to saying “this is me, this is who I am, this is my face and my body” for the sake of one’s self-esteem? Now, not only am I supposed to feel ashamed about my appearance, but I should be doubly ashamed because I dared to take a picture, to find a flattering angle I’m proud of? No. I’m not caving.

As a writer I know that a surefire way to rev up the number of clicks on your piece is to write something intentionally upsetting (see my article here at Thought Catalog where I call all Republican members of the House of Representatives terrorists… That was fun). I have to believe that’s what you’re doing here (to great success, I’m sure). Still, there must come a point where you all whether or not you’re harming the people you claim to support, all in the name of clicks. TC mark


The 31 Most Offensive Comments Left On My Articles

Parker Marie Molloy

Phil SangwellPhil Sangwell

Recently, I chatted with a handful of other Thought Catalog writers. We were discussing different ideas for a collaboration piece. During the discussion, the topic of comments came up. I had mentioned that my comments sections had a tendency to become a bit… how should I put this…rough. This isn’t a new topic, as Nico Lang wrote a great piece about why he was turning the comments off on his articles a little while back.

What I learned from the other writers was that their comments sections were generally a more peaceful place than what I’m used to. Actually, in my writing outside of Thought Catalog, my comments sections are usually pretty calm, too. No one has ever called me a “man” or a “freak” over at Rolling Stone or Huffington Post. No one has ever wished death on me over at Talking Points Memo. The fiery nature of comments on my writing seems exclusive to Thought Catalog.

I’m not complaining. I understand that many of the things I write are on controversial topics I’m somehow tied to. Whether it’s a transgender-specific essay, a piece on politics, or anything else, I understand that some people will find themselves a little riled up after making their way through the article.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to wish everyone who reads my writing, even those who only “hate read” it and leave nasty comments, a warm welcome to the wintry holiday season. Thank you for reading the words that fall out of my head and onto the keyboard.

For fun, I wanted to share some of the more outrageous and offensive comments I’ve received over the past 3 months or so. Consider some of these not for the faint of heart.

I Can’t Write for the Same Website as Jim Goad

People like you are emotional, dysfunctional trainwrecks masquerading as pompous intellectuals. mainly because you insist society join you in your pathetic delusions which you like to call reality. Sorry, but no matter how much you butcher yourself, play dress up, and throw temper tantrums insisting otherwise, you will always be a man. That’s science…like Y chromosomes and shit! Naturally this disconnect from reality infuriates you and makes you lash out with pathetic attempts at claiming holy victim status and demanding special treatment. Fuck that.

You and people like you, your fellow travelers as it were, are pathetic creatures worthy only of mockery. A bunch of whiney, wannabe petty tyrants with no power. You project your diseased and perverse values on to society at large as if we’re compelled to flatter your insanity and give you deference. For a group of mouthy yet cowardly deviants, and that’s what you are both statistically and otherwise, you sure do overestimate the influence afforded a minority which constitutes less than a fraction of a percent of society at large. Have any you even taken the time to consider what will happen when the pendulum swings back in the opposite direction? Surely not.

People as self absorbed as you twits probably don’t think about what will happen to you when push comes to shove. And it will. Every time you presume to dictate what normal people can and can’t say about your pathetic existence, lest they face the wrath of government, you strengthen their resolve to treat you as the enemies of decent moral society which you have revealed yourselves to be. So good luck pretending to be a frustrated woman your whole life Larry. You will always be Larry. Always.

PS. Bradley Manning looks like a fraggle. No wonder he was such emo mess and needed to lash out. What a fag lol


Dude, just stop being a huge sissy. If you’d like to be taken seriously, you should stand your ground rather than run away and cry like a little bitch with a skinned knee.


you see, but you are a dude. you will always be a biological ‘dude’. no amount of whining or hissy-fits or surgery will change that. you will always be a biological man. always. forever……and EVAR!!! so quit crying porkchop

It Doesn’t Get Better

You got offended because the doctor wrote down “27 year old male”? You do realise that is what you are, right? You are NOT a woman. You were not born with a vagina, a cervix, ovaries…just to name a few (note: woman who have to get some of these organs removed due to health reasons are no less female, but this is a completely different story). You were born a man, with a male anatomy. It is very important when getting medically examined that this is taken into account. You may dress as a lady, act like one, speak like one, even possibly look like one; but deep down you know that’s not something you’ll ever be.


When a man thinks he is Jesus or Napoleon, we try to heal him. When a man thinks he is a woman, we have to accept it. What the hell, man. I identify as a gun and it offends my transgun feelings if you don’t drop dead after I point my finger at you!

Why I Can’t Stop Reading The Comments

you may feel like woman, but its a matter of physical fact that you arent.

My Suicide Attempt

Lol, you can’t even kill yourself. Please write more, this shit is soooo funny!


All I got from this was “me me me.” And chubby chubby chubby chubby.


You still look like a dude. ((shrug))


Another pathetic cry for attention. I thought you were gone from this place? Is your self esteem low? Did you need attention and praise for being soooo “brave”? Give me a break. People who really truly want to die do it.


So why did you hoard pills? What stopped you from making a noose, slitting your wrists, or actually BUYING A BOTTLE OF PILLS? Were you in jail? This doesn’t make sense at all. Very generic and PSA-ish if you ask me.

How I Went From Rising Star To Workplace Tragedy (I Came Out At Work)

i work with a bunch of gay people, ive done trans peoples hair… and listen to them whine and bitch… and all i have to say is… you made your choice now deal with it.


you are pathetic, and id probably fire you for the sole fact.. that you think you can slack off on work because you came out to us at work.. seriously… NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT IF YOUR GAY, LESBIAN OR TRANSGENDER. NO ONE GIVES A FUCK IF YOUR SHOES ARE ON FIRE AS LONG AS THE JOB GETS DONE, AND ITS DONE RIGHT! Its like you’re having this pity party for yourself because you chose to go through this transformation.. of course people think its fucking weird.. because it is taboo… just like if you came out to them and said “hey i lick toes whenever people wear sandals around me” thats fucking weird too… you could say you like pickles being shoved up your ass while you eat a cherry topped sundae.. the fact is… these people are COWORKERS.. not your family, not your friends… personally that wasn’t even professional for you to just drop the bomb like that on your coworkers… either way… if you keep your job.. congrats.. if not there are other jobs out there.


U have a right to be transgender or whatever freaky nonsense u wanna be and WE HAVE A RIGHT TO BE REPULSED BY IT/YOU. This is america and Im tired of people feeling like respect only goes one way. U can be/say whatever u want and I have a right to disagree/hate u for it. Tolerance is for losers. Keep it real. Hate whoever u want for whatever reason. This is OUR RIGHT….. We are only equal under the law, employment and housing….


I literally wanted to punch this person in the face when i read this! and who the fuck comes out at work to their boss anyways?


the whole PROBLEM with these people (lgbt, WHATEVER) is they feel the need to inject their sexual preference into situations that have NO NEED to do so. WORKPLACE is not the area to discuss private matters. Stay in the closet or whatever u call it. Only certain people are tolerant of ‘alternate” LIFESTYLES. I am not one of them AND I DONT HAVE TO BE. Like I said before, u have the right to live/be whatever u like in America. AND PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO HATE U FOR IT. Deal with it


Please, a 4 normally, maybe a 6 after a few beers.

And that’s before pants are dropped and whoops, unexpected penis. The author is not physically attractive. Unless beer goggles.

Can We Stop Pretending Pope Francis Is A Reformer?

yeah writer you fucking suck, hes trying give the man a chance


I’m going to agree with what other people have said here. This author shows a kind of ignorance that pretty much dismisses her entire point.

The Sexist World Of Sports Marketing

First off, your entire argument is countered by the fact that you opened this article with the fact that the Astro’s are even offering a ladies night event. Obviously, they are trying to initiate female interest by promoting this event so they can further expand their demographic and compound their market targeting.

Secondly, what does 45% female viewership have anything to do with the Astro’s Ladies night? You just completely switched topics. You started out with a premise for your subject and tried to back it with data that does not apply. Trust me, marketers are well aware that female interest is growing in what is usually a male-based consumer market.

Stereotypes exist in the marketplace, that is why people target certain demographics. Why do you think ads and promotions are placed on specific networks during specific times. Profit maximization is not based on equality, it is based on specifics and data.

Of course sports marketing is sexist, all marketing is sexist and biased, stop whining.

By Definition, House Republicans Are Terrorists

by definition, you’re a man

19 Things Bad ‘Allies’ Say

No. No, you aren’t [a woman]. As a real woman, I will never consider gender-appropriating MALES one of us. It is just as fucking offensive as a white person wearing blackface.

“I’m Totally In Favor Of Gay Rights, But This Transgender Stuff Is Weird.”

It’s not that you’re weird, it’s that you’re delusional, and I think we’re doing you more harm than good when we feed into that delusion. Delusion = belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument; a belief which contradicts reality.


So you were born a man but you got a change to become a woman. So you like men right? Why not just be gay because I think most straight men wouldn’t want to date a transgender woman (man?)


If the point here is that you want to be accepted for what you are, please remember that it was your nonacceptance of who you are that led to this in the first place. You are free to live your life as you wish, but that doesn’t mean that the laws have to change for every whim of every unhappy person. Unless you find a way to change your DNA, you are whatever sex you were born as.

Why I Don’t Dress Up For Halloween

A man parading through life pretending to be a woman dislikes the “fakeness” of halloween…

The Real Leader Of The Trolling Revolution

So this slut is a Jew, why is that Most jews are either lesbians or Homosexual ?, sadly Adolf is not alive


As expected, another ugly feminist. Hope I’m not the only one who notices the trend


Meh, privileged chubby young Anglo chick compensating for her lack of attraction to the males she think she deserve.

No, Mom, There’s Not A ‘War On Christmas’

i beg 2 differ “parker” if that is your christian name, given to you at baptism, if you even had one. This country…. oh my god, OH, MY, GOD, this country. if OBAMA weren’t bad enough, we havin all these CORPORATIONS shittin all over our baby jesus’s birthday. it says it on my bumber sticker, in my bible and i’ll say it again:: KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS. had he been around for moses it would be a ten commandment. did you know there was this place in conneticut where these ATHEISTS say christmas tress offend them?! what should we just put up a pole or just forget about the holday season. ok? mo money, mo problems. one of those gangstar hip-hoppers said that, cuz i know for a FACT u didn’t listen when baby jesus said it. go back 2 europe. aint no room for seculariziaton in AMERICA. yeah, i’ve had my problems, with drugs and god knows alcohol. you know what got me through? baby jesus. and more specifically christmas. all those presents and eggnog (sans SC thank you very much), they ain’t NOTHIN withhout baby jesus and some of that virgin mary on her goats. and i will be taking that EGG NOG with a dash of some of that HOLY SPIRIT. U best put down the bottle, turn off that god-hating HBO and find yourself a good, CHRISTIAN man, a nice PROTESTANT church and the best BOOK EVER. no, its not about teenage vampires FORNICATING. its called the BIBLE. and u can find it at ur local PROTESTANT church. Check your privilege at the door. Karen Out!

A Lululemon Takedown Piece

you are an blindsided-feminist idiot. you make logical fallacy after logical fallacy. You are living paycheck to paycheck because you suck at life TC mark


6 Helpful Tips For Surviving Your Family During The Holidays

Parker Marie Molloy

D. Sharon PruittD. Sharon Pruitt

It’s the most wonderful ti-iiiiiime of the year. It’s annual obligatory spend time with the family season. If, like so many, your family holiday gatherings tend to cause a spike in anxiety and frequency of panic attacks, it’s good to go into these them with a plan of action.

Aunt that drinks 5 too many glasses of merlot? Uncle that wants to summarize the last 6 months of Rush Limbaugh’s show? Parents that ask ‘When are you going to settle down and get married?’” On their own, these are all very manageable stressors. Together, though, they create a perfect storm of family-based madness.

Without further ado, I present to you six steps to surviving your family holiday:

1. Have reasonable expectations

How often have you convinced yourself that things would either be way better or way worse than they actually ended up being? Stop it. No, dinner with your family is unlikely to be a magical Dickens-esque Christmas with the Cratchits, but it’s also unlikely to devolve into a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation-like scene of madness (complete with boxed cats, squirrels in trees, and a turkey that deflates with the first cut). If you keep your expectations reasonable, understanding that the day will neither be your worst or best case scenarios, you’ll find yourself prepared to face this encounter with your family.

2. Deal with one crisis at a time

If you’re at the table and your aunt is screaming about utensils, an uncle is trying to enlist you in the local chapter of the Tea Party, small cousins are running around screaming, and your dad is asleep on the couch, there’s nothing you can do here except minimize your focus so as to not become overwhelmed. Zone some of this out. In this case, it might be best to offer help with one of these crises, such as the aunt with the utensils. You’ll both be helping reduce another relative’s stress while simultaneously giving yourself an opportunity to get out of your seat to momentarily allow your politics-minded uncle to latch on to another relative (sorry, siblings).

3. Be a Zen-Master

Master the art of smiling and nodding. Polite agreement can go a long way in helping you escape rough situations. I know, I know, some of the things your relatives say to you may be absolutely ridiculous, and may even be offensive. No matter how much you want to defend your own views, trust me, it’s best to not engage. Let the words of others pass through you.

4. Avoid controversial topics

This goes along with #3. Politics, religion, relationships, current events — these are off limits. Under no circumstances should you bring these topics up unprompted. Actually, by starting a conversation of any sort, you’re opening the door to stress. “There was construction on the way over,” can turn into an uncomfortable talk about government spending. “It’s really cold out,” can transform into a strange talk about a relative’s disbelief in climate change. “I was sick last week,” can turn into a lengthy criticism of ‘Obamacare.’ There’s no way you can win in these situations. General talk about sports and compliments on the food are the only two truly safe topics to start a conversation on.

5. Your vice is nice

Tiny Tim’s crutch was an actual crutch, but mine is Xanax. If I’m entering a situation that I sense will be stressful, I may preemptively take a half tablet of my wonderful pill-shaped friend. Provided that you’re not the one doing the driving (and you’re of age), some people find that a drink helps calm their nerves. Be warned, though: I am suggesting a single drink. If you find yourself on your third, fourth, or fifth, your experience could quickly turn from that of a relaxed buzz to a stressful drunkenness.

6. Relax

It’s the holidays! Take a load off! You love your family, and they love you. This doesn’t have to be a stressful or traumatic experience. Enjoy the fact that you’re spending time surrounded by love, even if said love may sometimes drive you a little bonkers. If you do find yourself getting too stressed out, do the little things you do whenever you find yourself stressed any other day of the year. Step outside and gather your thoughts if that helps. Maybe excuse yourself and listen to one of your favorite songs. Just do whatever works for you.

Happy holidays! TC mark


What I Learned By Not Getting What I Wanted For Christmas

Parker Marie Molloy

December 1990, I sat on a burly man’s lap. He had a fake beard, and he wore a red suit. I was led to believe he was Santa. Giver of toys, hero to children everywhere, this was the guy. The whole year had built to this one moment, the moment where I’d tell Santa what I wanted. I knew I’d get it, too, because, you see, I was good, very good.

At that time, Santa was my moral compass. Whether it was deciding whether or not to eat an entire box of chocolate pudding cups, considering the idea of hitting my newborn brother with a golf club, or making the choice to cut off large chunks of my hair, and hide it all around the house, I fought my natural urge for mischief that year. And yes, at some point in my life, I did all three of those things. Santa kept me in line.

I sat on his lap, staring up into the man’s dark eyes.

“What do you want for Christmas?” He asked, his voice somewhat hoarse from hours of taking requests from the children of the mall.

“I want… I just…,” I stammered, trying to overcome my shyness. “I want a Nintendo with Mario Brothers 3.”

I’d done it. I asked the big guy for my gift. Now all I needed to do was sit back and wait for Christmas morning to arrive.

The previous summer, I’d spent a long weekend at my cousins’ house. During the 72 hours I was there, it would be safe to estimate that about 60 of them were spent glued to their television, pounding buttons on their Nintendo Entertainment System. The remainder of my time there was spent eating ice cream for breakfast (my cousins were only 7 — it’s not like they knew I shouldn’t be doing that) and yes, sleeping. I was hooked.

Days had never gone by so slowly. After the longest month of my short life, Christmas had finally arrived. I slid down the stairs that Christmas morning, already thinking about what game I’d play first. I turned the corner into the family room and… nothing.

Yes, there were presents. There were large presents, small presents, wonderful presents. There wasn’t the present, though. My not-quite-five-year-old self was devastated.

I felt as though the world hated me. I felt as though I was being held to an unfair standard of “niceness.” I felt as though I must have done something so terribly wrong that I upset Santa, who, in my mind, was some sort of demigod.

Obviously, those thoughts are over-dramatic and privileged, but hey, I wasn’t even five yet. Give childhood me a break.

As a child who didn’t even know that parents were responsible for the presents under the tree, I didn’t understand the complexities that went through their lives. To me, at that age, I didn’t realize that maybe spending hundreds of dollars on video games wasn’t in the budget of two people who had just purchased a new house and had their second child. I didn’t realize that maybe it wasn’t necessary for a four-year-old kid to spend hours in front of the television on the Nintendo.

Disappointment is a lesson we all need to learn. In my case, I learned this by not getting the present I wanted. In hindsight, this made for the perfect, low-stakes opportunity for me to learn the lessons that come with disappointment. Once you understand disappointment, you can begin developing a healthy sense of needs versus wants, and you can learn that even when you do everything perfectly, sometimes things don’t go your way.

I am extremely thankful that my parents didn’t get me a Nintendo that year. The following year, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Super Nintendo Entertainment System underneath the tree. I’ll always look back at 1990 as the year where I learned one of life’s most important lessons.

Merry Christmas. Even if you don’t get what you want, remember that there’s still a silver lining. TC mark


Resolution: Rebuild My Confidence

Parker Marie Molloy

ShutterstockShutterstock

Things were going okay. The anxiety I’d tied to my body image was at an all-time low. My goal of blending in, to just be a face in the crowd, seemed to have been met. My heart didn’t pound when I left the house, anymore, and my breathing didn’t quicken. My stomach no longer turned, and my tremors no longer controlled my hands.

All this, these victories, were won over the course of several long months. Each battle physically and emotionally wrecked me. Even so, I won, and that’s what mattered. I was no longer a prisoner of my own anxiety.

Unfortunately, the gains brought on by those months, those trying periods of my life, were short-lived and easily reversed. It only took one night.

I met a friend for dinner. We had a few drinks, and made our way to a dive bar in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. This bar came at my suggestion, a place I used to go for cheap beer with cheap friends. This was a place of casual hang, home to a typically pleasant atmosphere. Never too crowded, but never quite empty, this place was a gem.

The memories of this gem were quickly overridden seconds after walking through the door. “Hello, sir; ma’am. I can’t tell which is which, ” a man in his late forties slurred at the two women who had just entered.

“Hi,” I said, nodding at the man in hopes that he’d go away.

As we waited for the bartender to make her way over to us, the man continued staring at my friend and me. I could feel his eyes, burning holes through me, analyzing me, trying to figure out what exactly I was. Before he had a chance to follow up with another gender-insensitive comment, my friend and I made our way to a table across the bar.

We continued the night, sipping our respective drinks of choice. All was salvageable. So what if some guy couldn’t figure out whether I was a guy or a girl, at least he didn’t call me a name.

A drink or two later, another man approached our table. Scruffy hair, patchy stubble with unruly eyebrows, the man in his mid-20s asked to join us.

“I’m actually with a frie-” Before I could finish the sentence, he’d pulled up a chair. Moments later, my friend returned from the bar, where she was picking up a refill.

We did our best to ignore our new tablemate, hoping that if we went on with our night as if he wasn’t there, he’d get bored and leave us alone. No such luck. As I had in the evening’s beginning, I once again felt the stare of someone trying to read me. It burned, and it ate away at what was left of my confidence.

A moment later, the man interrupted our conversation.

“You two are transsexuals, right?” He asked, surprising me with his ability to ask inappropriately personal questions. My heart began beating out of control.

“Yeah. So?” My friend fielded the question with more grace than I would have been able to cobble together.

“I thought you were girls,” the man said, digging himself in deeper with every word.

“We are.”

The man, now with a puzzled look on his face, says, “But you’re really guys, right?”

“No. We’re women.”

“I get that you’re trying to look like women, but– you’re guys, right?”

“We’re not just trying to look like anything. We are women.”

“But what were you born as?”

At this point in the conversation, I began to mentally check out. I simply couldn’t process the string of invasive questions and rude assumptions. For the sake of self-preservation, I needed to shield myself.

I ordered another drink. Finishing it, my friend and I decided that it was a good time to make our exit.

The night ended, and my friend and I parted ways with the promise to see each other soon. I woke the next morning feeling ill, quite obviously the result of the previous night’s alcohol consumption. As time went on, as the physical effects of the alcohol wore off, I began to feel something else new and altogether disheartening: my confidence, built over so many months, had been utterly shattered.

My hands shook. My heart raced. I felt sick to my stomach. Panic attacks washed over me with greater frequency than ever before, and there was nothing I could do about it.

It wasn’t necessarily that the words of either man at the bar directly hurt me, it’s that they planted a seed of self-doubt in my mind, strong enough to tear me apart. How exactly does the world see me? Is everyone simply being polite?

Since that night, every time I’ve left the house, I’ve found myself experiencing a surge of anxiety. I panic when I think about my everyday life. From riding the train to using the restroom, I can’t help but wonder: what do these people see me as? Most aren’t as brazen as the barflies, and wouldn’t dare ask someone whether or not they’re a man or a woman. And so, I’m left wondering whether I’m seen as a woman, a man, a freak, or some combination thereof.

As 2013 comes to a close, I’m left with the hope that the new year brings renewed confidence, a settled stomach, and an end to my hand tremors. I’m resolving to become a more confident person, to rebuild my defenses. I’m resolving to live without fear. TC mark


I Came Out To My Girlfriend (She Moved Out On Valentine’s Day)

Parker Marie Molloy

 Look CatalogLook Catalog

I’m going to ruin the ending.

She moved out on Valentine’s Day.

It wasn’t out of malice, and there weren’t any slammed doors. She just moved out on Valentine’s Day. She was actually looking out for me, she didn’t want me to have to be present to watch her pack up and drive off, as would have been the case had she stuck with her original plan of moving out on the 15th. My love, caring until the very end.

I came home that Friday, and gone was the bed, the couch, both TVs, some shelves, and half of our mismatched dining set. My dog–our dog–Laika greeted me with such enthusiasm that I was almost able to hold myself together. Almost. I can’t imagine what he thought was happening around him, he was already nervous anytime someone so much as brought out a suitcase, now he was watching half of his family packing up and leaving. A shelter dog with a somewhat uncertain past, I don’t know if this is something he’d seen before. Regardless, he was more than happy to learn that he hadn’t been abandoned.

Six years is a long time to invest in a relationship, but I suppose it’s better than trying to stretch it out for seven. Had we done that, maybe the friendly report she and I share would have devolved into loathing and resentment for one another. Maybe this really was for the best.

She’s my best friend, and I imagine that I’m hers. I feel as though this is the type of relationship we can make work, one of friendship. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s all the past six months or so had been. Excellent roommates, great friends, but not a couple. Not anymore, at least.

When I came out to her as transgender that day in 2012, I went into it knowing that doing so might destroy this relationship. On the other hand, not coming out might have resulted in my own death, or, at the very least, I might have driven her away as I was. I knew I was taking a chance, but I had reached a point in my life where I felt it was my only option.

I told myself, I told her that I would understand if she didn’t want to be with me after coming out. What didn’t occur to me was that it wasn’t a question of “want,” but rather a question of whether or not it was even possible for us to make it work. Of course she wanted it to work, but it couldn’t. I wanted to believe it could work, but we were on a sinking ship.

This isn’t to say that all relationships in which someone transitions genders is doomed to fail. To the contrary, I personally know of a number of committed couples who managed to make things work. We just weren’t one of them.

I give her so much credit. After all, there she was, a straight-identified woman, forced to endure a type of death of her boyfriend, replaced by a woman, bit by bit. I was never really “a man,” but to her I was. I promised her that I’d always be there for her, and if I really think about it, I wasn’t. I wasn’t able to continue being the “me” that she knew. I wasn’t able to be there. Instead, here’s this other person, me, Parker. I was there for her, and I did my very best to take care of her, but it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t the man she thought I was. I wasn’t a man.

We both enjoyed each other’s company, but things faded, and we drifted. This happens, and it’s certainly not reserved for those transitioning genders. People grow apart, and relationships sometimes die a slow, painful death. It happened so gradually that I don’t think either of us realized what was happening.

I wish nothing but the best for her, the absolute best. She and I share parenting duties for our dog, so I imagine that we’ll be seeing a lot of each other as time goes on. Maybe she’ll find a man, the person I couldn’t be. Maybe they’ll get married, and he can be the husband I couldn’t be. Maybe they’ll have kids, the ones I couldn’t father. Maybe she’ll be happy. She deserves it. She’s smart, funny, beautiful, and kind. I don’t want to feel like I’m a hindrance on anyone’s life, and I don’t want to feel like I’m holding anyone emotionally hostage.

This is for the best. If not for me, at least for her.

I’ve spent the past week or so, holed up in the apartment we once shared, packing my own things for a move. There have been a lot of tears, and there have been a lot of panic attacks. This is life, and I’m going to suck it up. Life isn’t fair, and it’s not easy. Me coming out as trans wasn’t fair to her. Me being trans wasn’t fair to me. I still don’t understand why I’m like this, why I couldn’t have just been a cisgender boy or a cisgender girl. Really, just a cisgender anything. I didn’t choose to be this way, and it often eats away at me. If I could have kept living as a man, as someone I’m not, then I would have, but I hit a point where that life had no future.

I don’t see my current life as particularly bright, but at least I’m alive. TC mark

Get more of Parker’s story in her new Thought Catalog Book here.

Coverphoto

I Want A New Face

Parker Marie Molloy

 

In 2004, MTV premiered I Want a Famous Face. Capitalizing in the public’s obsession with movie stars, models, and TV actors–as well as the success of plastic surgery reality programs The Swanand Extreme Makeover — MTV released what is, in my opinion, the creepiest show of all time.

The show’s premise was simple: take “average-looking” people, and transform them into a celebrity look-a-like through the magic of cosmetic surgery. There were the two brothers who desperately wanted to look like Brad Pitt. There was the woman who wanted Carmen Electra’s body, the aspiring actress who wanted Jessica Simpson’s chest, and the transgender porn star who wanted to more closely resemble Pamela Anderson.

The knife is a powerful tool, but it can only go so far. These contestants–I don’t even know if that’s quite the right word–never quite looked like their target early-aught celeb of choice. At best, they maybe resembled an average-looking distant relative. Still, in post-op interviews, the vast majority of the show’s participants said they were happy with the procedures they had done (albeit, these were in interviews for mtv.com, so I’m taking everything with a grain of salt).

Like these people, I am also interested in cosmetic surgery. Unlike these people (I have to wonder how the two “Brad Pitts” look a decade later), I’m not interested in “a famous face,” but rather, my own.

As you may know, I’m transgender. From age 12 to 26, a testosterone-heavy mix of hormones coursed through my body. In 2012, I began hormone replacement therapy in an effort to reverse as much of the testosterone-induced damage as possible. Sadly, while hormone therapy can have some wonderful effects, it cannot undo my pubescent past.

Last week, I met with a surgeon to discuss a few procedures I’ve been considering for some time. He asked what I was looking for, and my response was simple: I want the face I should have had all along. I want the face I could have had if I hadn’t been transgender, or at very least, the face I could have had if I would have started hormone replacement therapy in my teens. I want to undo the damage testosterone has had, giving me the face I should have been looking back at my whole life.

I won’t bore anyone with the gory details of procedures that would reshape my jaw, chin, and hairline. From a pop culture point of view, think of the movie Face/Off.

Sadly, the cost is beyond anything I could hope to save in the next several years, and it’s extremely unlikely that my insurance will cover me. Still, this is something I know at my core that I need in order to feel happy with who I am. I just want to look like the person I should have been all along, and so I’ll scrimp, save, and fundraise in order to get it.

So here I am, trying to decide how exactly I’ll ever get the tens of thousands of dollars needed for a surgery many may view as elective and cosmetic, but for me, is a key component of being happy with myself.

I started a GoFundMe page to run alongside my own saving efforts, and while I hate to ask for money, I’m putting it out there in the event that there’s anyone interested in donating. So far, I’ve been thrilled with the response. So here I am, yet again laying bare my most personal, torturous, secrets. I’ve always been one to “put myself out there,” and this is no exception. I see my flaws, and I recognize what I need to do in order to correct them.

For anyone interested, my personal GoFundMe campaign can be found here. I don’t expect anyone to donate, as I know there are causes much more dire, much more important than this. I’m trying to raise the necessary funds over the coming months, and should there be any interest, I’ll be writing detailed pieces about the experience if and when I’m able to have these procedures completed. TC mark

How One Careless Tweet Turned My Life Into A Living Hell

Parker Marie Molloy

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I’ve a tendency to tweet in a very unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness way. Generally speaking, most of what I write is harmless, inane, and just really boring. Occasionally, though, I’ll tweet something that resonates with people, and that’s great. Other times, I end up pissing people off.

This is the story of how one careless tweet turned my life into a temporary living hell.

On March 17th, popular Logo TV show RuPaul’s Drag Racefeatured a mini-challenge titled “Female or She-Male.” Early the next morning, I began writing up a quick news post for The Advocate, centering on a.) the fact that GLAAD has long said that the word “she-male” “only [serves] to dehumanize transgender people, and should not be used in mainstream media, and b.) that the the game itself, along with the term — which is generally used to describe a genre of pornography featuring transgender women — is problematic in the sense that it reinforces the idea that “she-males” (transgender women) aren’t “really women,” and that trying to determine whether or not they are is some sort of game (which has actually been used as a murder defense). Overall, the segment was in bad taste, and I was just doing a quick write-up.

I wrapped up the piece, and filed it with my editor. As the morning went on, however, I saw an increasing number of people tweeting about this, and highlighting instances where the show’s host has been informed of these issues; essentially telling trans people to toughen up. Here’s where I made my mistake: I entered that conversation.

“So, he’s been told time and again how offensive this is, and yet he still does it,” I tweeted. “And he tries to say how much he loves and cares about trans people? Well, it seems more like he hates us. I fucking hate RuPaul. Like… there really are very few people I truly hate. He is one of them.”

Without even thinking about it, I’d provided commentary on something I’d earlier written about in a news context. Making things worse, my piece — turned in before I tweeted anything — went live after the tweets, making it seem as though I went on a rant and then decided, “Hey, I’ll report on this.”

It wasn’t until three weeks later that this careless tweet — which, to be fair, shouldn’t have said “hate;” “frustrates me” might have been a better choice of words — was turned into a hit piece against me.

“When not expressing hate for subjects of her reporting, Molloy is part of the eyeroll-inducing ‘hashtag activist’ movement currently infecting the internet,” wrote transgender activist Andrea James. “Rants and beta male humorlessness once limited to blogs and social media are now creeping into other outlets.”

Yeesh. For one, I don’t actually tend to use hashtags on Twitter. I can manage condensing my thoughts into 140 characters, but into 10 or 12? Nah. Additionally, referring to a woman as a “beta male” is, at best, insulting.

Later in the piece, she goes on to make wild accusations, adding absurd assumptions to the mix.

James goes on to compare me to the killer from Silence of the Lambs, calling me a “skin transvestite,” and making incorrect assumptions about my sexual orientation. In all, it was kind of a mess.

In the days to come, that piece was shared by thousands of people, including Amanda Palmer, who happens to have over a million followers. Some blogs blamed me for the show’s decision to remove future references to the term “she-male” from the show — that is, if you were happy that they removed it, I was given credit; if not, blame. One blogger coined the term “The Molloy Effect” to mean something along the lines of “militant word policing,” a former Drag Race contestant made a video in which they pretended to murder me, and another well-known trans person compared me to Hitler.

My inbox became flooded with messages, death threats, threats of assault, and other unpleasant and largely unwelcomed notes.

Rather than try to respond — and likely continue to fuel what seemed to have become a coordinated campaign — I tried to just lay low until things blew over. As time progressed, however, I began to see quotes falsely attributed to me, and I witnessed my character transform more and more into a caricature of who I really was.

It sucked.

I sidelined myself from contributing editorial pieces, and I experienced a drought in freelance work being offered to me.

All this over a tweet. A tweet that I’d walked back, deleted, and apologized for on numerous occasions.

Instead defining me by the advocacy I’ve done — like my New York Times editorial pushing for transgender-inclusive health care, my reporting on a trans student bill in California for The Advocate and Rolling Stone, or profiling relatively unknown trans people in an attempt to help bring their voice to the mainstream — I found myself labeled a “hashtag activist,” a “Tumblr-addict,” a “newly-minted queer,” and a “transbian” who “wants to ban words.” I wasn’t any of those things, but to the world, that’s what I’d become.

Three months later, and things have just started to return to normal. Three months of anxiety, panic attacks, and just feeling like crap.

I’m happy it happened, though. Life is one big learning experience, and I have learned something here. I learned that I can weather the storm, and I can come out stronger as a result. TC mark


On Being Too Old For Music Festivals

Parker Marie Molloy

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“I’m getting too old for this shit,” I caught myself saying out loud and to no one in particular — channeling my inner Roger Murtaugh.

I was in line at the beverage booth at this past weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival. In front of me were hoards of men in their early-20s. Like a well-oiled machine, each man bought the maximum two beers each, dishing out six dollars a piece. I don’t blame them, though, this line sucked. If I were drinking, I’d have definitely stocked up.

Me, though? “Can I get two bottles of water?” I asked the woman behind the counter, handing her four dollars worth of drink tickets.

I spent the next ten minutes or so looking for a place to sit down. Somewhere shaded, not muddy, but still close enough to hear the music.

The decision to go to Pitchfork was made on a bit of a whim late the night before, wondering if I could still keep up with the festival crowd. By night’s end, I’d have my answer.


In college, I majored in music business, and immediately after, I worked for local artist Andrew Bird and his manager for about a year, when he came out with Noble Beast in 2009. During school, I wrote press releases and website updates for a small record label, and during my junior year, I took on my first “writing/editing” gig when I completed a six month internship at Pitchfork — the music criticism website that hosts the annual festival.

From the time I was 18 until 23, concerts and music festivals were everything to me. Whether Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, the Hideout Block Party, local street festivals, or just regular shows at The Empty Bottle, Schuba’s, The Double Door, Subterranean, or The Metro; I was there. Not only was there, but I was usually drunk off my ass.

In 2006, as a 20-year-old, I went with friends to all three days of Lollapalooza, getting there each morning right as the gates opened, and not leaving until the last act has packed it up. Each day, my friends and I would debate which act was least important to us, making that the time where we’d scuttle back to my friend’s place to drink as much Jagermeister (when you’re 20 and can’t buy alcohol, you take what you can get) in as short a period as possible, before wobbling back to Grant Park.

“I think I’ll go hoooooooome and mull this ooooooooover before I cram it down my throaaaaaat,” I annoyingly loud and out of key sang as The Shins played “Kissing the Lipless.” Nevermind that the lyrics I had just sung came from a completely different song (“Caring is Creepy), I was having fun — while being an obnoxious, drunk asshole to everyone else around me.

We pushed our way to the front before the next band took the stage. I sat on the ground, dizzy, wasted, dehydrated, and on the verge of sunstroke. The man on my right tapped me on the shoulder.

“Hey,” he said. “You look like you’re going to heave. I’m letting you know right now that if you throw up on me, I will kick your teeth out.”

“Noted!” I responded, making a mental note: “Vomit to my left, save my teeth.”

I woke up an hour later, roughly 100 yards from where I’d been sitting. According to my friends, I passed out two songs in, and a couple of strangers lifted me up and moved me to a clear spot in the grass. Not exactly a banner day for me. Even so, that didn’t stop us from going back the next day.

Two years later, I managed to snag a VIP pass to Pitchfork. Aside from having significantly easier access to restrooms, VIP folks also got free burritos, free ice cream, and yes, free beer. It was everything that a 22-year-old borderline alcoholic could want.

That weekend netted me roughly 30 or so beers, half a dozen burritos, and who knows what kind of liver damage.


Only a few years later, I find myself lacking the motivation to leave the house for a concert, let alone any sort of desire to binge drink. Just last year, I went to Riot Fest. While there, it started to rain. Shivering cold in the rain, I couldn’t help but think about how nice and warm my bed would feel at that moment. Minutes later, I was in a cab, racing back to my apartment to curl up on the couch and nap.

Which brings me back to last weekend.

I didn’t show up until around 6:30, as there were only two acts I wanted to see. Even so, just three and a half hours of festival would prove to be too much for me.

Standing near one of the vacant stages, I watched as St. Vincent played through her set. Next to me — as though my own ghost coming to haunt me from the past — were two women in their early 20s singing along, loud and off-key. Behind me were two guys talking about how much they’d like to sleep with Annie Clark. In front of me were two people smoking a bowl, and another wildly waving his cigarette over his shoulder, coming dangerously close to burning the man to his side.

I was in festival purgatory, paying for the sins of my youth. Holy fuck.

Watching St. Vincent on one of the monitors, about 30 yards away from the vacant stage, I didn’t notice that a festival employee had gotten up on that stage and started to throw full water bottles into the crowd. As I wasn’t facing the stage, I didn’t see the water bottle flying at my face until it was too late.

*THWAP!*

The bottle hit me hard, breaking my sunglasses. My nose started to bleed.

“Oh God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you,” my mind started in on.

The loud drunk girls laughed, and as I reached down to pick up the loose lens from my glasses, a smoke from a man’s cigarette hit my face, stinging my freshly bleeding nose.

“And I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love,” my mind continued.

St. Vincent’s set ended, and the vacant stage I stood near was moments away from hosting Neutral Milk Hotel — a band I’d have guessed would have had a slightly older audience, and with any hope, would have fostered a somewhat relaxed atmosphere. I was wrong.

People pushed. Hard. I dropped a bracelet on the ground, lost to the stomp of the crowd. My body was repeatedly thrown left, and then right. This was far from the crowd I’d anticipated. A crowd-surfer kicked me in the head, and a man behind me put his hands around my waist, reaching back to grab my ass and then groping my right breast.

“I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin,” I finished, mentally. “Amen.”

At that moment, I pushed away from the man who had been grabbing me, and began fighting the current, trying to make my way out of the crowd, tripping over blankets and chairs and people and bottles along the way.

My act of contrition prayer — something I hadn’t even thought of since eighth grade — complete, I walked out the gates.

“No re-entry, you know that, right?” a security staffer asked me, to which I responded by nodding vigorously.

I walked North on Ashland Ave., trying to process the evening’s events, but mostly reflecting on how I used to be the cause of that sort of mess (minus the groping of strangers or discussion of whether or not I’d sleep with one of the musicians — I never did that). Only there for a couple hours and I was already tired, bloodied, and dreaming of my nice, comfortable bed.

The evening held a type of closure for me. “Well, I tried,” I could always say. “Festivals just aren’t my thing anymore.” By 28-years-old, I’ve gone from a rowdy, energetic, drunk off my ass, obnoxious kid to a boring, introverted hermit. It makes me happy to know that there are others who still have such energy and passion for music, but physically and mentally, I think I’ll just catch the livestream next year. TC mark