Friday, November 20, 2020

“Give me the roses while I live”

There’s an old bluegrass song that comes to mind today.

Wonderful things of folks are said

When they have passed away

Roses adorn their narrow bed

Over the sleeping clay

Yes, we often say wonderful things about the dead.  But, the song continues:

Give me the roses while I live

Trying to cheer me on

Useless are flowers that you give

After the soul is gone

Let us not wait to do good deeds

Till they have passed away

Now is the time to sow good seeds

While here on earth we stay

At least 37 transgender persons that we know of, mostly women of color, have died in violence in the past 12 months in the United States, and hundreds more around the world.  

These persons were killed by friends, partners, lovers, and strangers.  They died from anti-transgender violence, or when their transgender status put them at risk, such as forcing them into unemployment, poverty, homelessness and/or survival sex work.

These victims, like all of us, are loving partners, parents, family members, friends and community members. They worked, went to school and attended houses of worship. They were real people; people who did not deserve to have their lives taken from them.

These deaths weigh on the trans community every day.  Once a year, we ask you to notice.  We ask for change.  We ask that all lift up Black Trans lives, which will in turn lift up all. And yet we are here again this year.  Say their names...

Dustin Parker

Neulisa Luciano Ruiz

Yampa Méndez Arocho

Scott/Scottlyn Devore

Monika Diamond


Johanna Metzger

Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos

Layla Pelaez Sánchez

Penélope Diaz Ramirez

Nina Pop

Helle Jae O’Regan

Tony McDade

Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells

Riah Milton

Jayne Thompson

Selena Reyes-Hernandez

Brian “Egypt” Powers

Brayla Stone

Merci Mack

Shaki Peters

Bree Black

Summer Taylor

Marilyn Cazares

Dior H Ova

Queasha D Hardy

Aja Raquel Rhone-Spears

Lea Rayshon Daye

Kee Sam

Aerrion Burnett

Mia Green

Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas

Felycya Harris

Brooklyn Deshuna

Angel Unique

Yunieski Carey Herrera

Give me the roses while I live

Trying to cheer me on

Useless are flowers that you give

After the soul is gone

Lyrics from “Give me the roses while I live” - The Carter Family

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Me and We; Call to Worship for National Coming Out Day

 Me and We; National Coming Out Day

Call to Worship for the October 11, 2020 service at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church

When we as individuals make choices, we each tend to consider what might be best for ourselves.  This is normal and natural, a way we act to keep ourselves safe.  Something I ask that we consider, though, is how our choices impact others who share our interconnected web of life.

Today we are faced with the consequences of choices made years ago.  As the President said last week; “Elections have consequences.”  Now, years ago, each of us may have been considering our tax situation, our own desires, or perhaps our frustration with The System when we cast our votes.  Those votes have had consequences, however, that have a much broader impact than ourselves.

These consequences are having a profound effect on me, my partner, and many others in my community.  

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day established by LGBTQ activists in order to maintain positivity and celebrate coming out.  Most people think they don't know anyone gay, lesbian, bi, queer, or trans, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out, let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.

There are a few things each person considering coming out really needs to be aware of:

  • You may lose friends and family.
  • You’re going to be OK; You are not always going to feel OK, but you’re going to be OK.
  • If you want to make it, you’re going to have to learn to ask for help.
  • It’s worth it!

When coming out as a transgender person, there are a few additional things to know:

  • A gender transition may be too much to bear even for liberal family members.
  • Should you try hormone replacement therapy… It’s like being a teenager all over again, both good and bad!
  • Your sexuality may shift.

I’d like to disclose that I am a woman who is attracted to other women, and just last week I was honored to be married to Laurie, my life partner, in a ceremony held right here at Mt Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, officiated by our own lead minister.

I am also a woman of transgender experience, forced to live part of my life pretending to be a man to try to avoid the abuse this culture heaps on anyone failing to meet narrow social standards.

Now, y’all know at least one LGBTQ person.

The consequences of the individual choices made by others have a profound impact on me.  In a 4 page opinion issued October 5, two Supreme Court justices referred to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that allowed Laurie and I to be married; “The court has created a problem that only it can fix.”  They explicitly want to invalidate my marriage and are awaiting the appointment of a new justice who shares their opinion, an appointment made and to be approved by elected officials in our government.

Elections have consequences, indeed.

As military veterans, Laurie and I were were happy to learn that on June 30, 2016, Secretary Carter and the Obama administration approved a policy rescinding the decades-old ban on transgender persons serving in the military, after a study found no real reason, no real impact on readiness for maintaining the old ban. 

We were dismayed when the current elected Commander in Chief revoked our ability to serve with a midnight tweet.

Elections have consequences, indeed.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a new ruling driven by elected officials, allows homeless shelters to assign individuals to housing based on their sex as assigned at birth.  If I am in a community where shelters operate under this rule, I would be assigned to a mens shelter.  I feel that I would rather sleep rough, on the street, than be placed at risk of violent abuse again.

Elections have consequences, indeed.

When we as individuals make choices, I ask that each of us consider not only our own wishes, but the impact of our choices on:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Let us consider this further today, as we worship together.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Marriage of Michelle Paquette & Laurie Wickwire

We were married on October 3, 2020 in a ceremony held in the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church Sancturary, with a total of 8 people including ourselves present.  Marriage in the time of COVID-19 is a strange experience.  Everyone was masked, and maintaining social distancing.  Contact zones were established for each small social bubble, to ensure no physical contacts outside of very specific controlled items occurred.

We were blessed to have Rev. Leslie Takahashi as our officiant, as well as our coordinator and author of much of our service.  We adapted a bit of the text for our needs, and in recognition of the pandemic denying many of our friends the ability to be present, we added a section to recognize those absent from physical presence.

We were honored to have our fellow UU and singer-songwriter Laura Zucker present to perform three of her songs that felt extraordinarily appropriate for Laurie and I.  Visit her website at, and listen and purchase her songs from Band Camp, at 

We also very much appreciated the witnessing and support of our friends, Linda Russell, Elisabeth Andreason, and Melissa Allen in the service, and the expertise of our MDUUC Music Director Mark Tuning in taking on sound setup and running the A/V deck and live stream. 

    - Laurie & Michelle

Rev. Leslie Takahashi

Witnesses: Linda Russell & Melissa Allen

Opening Music

“Life Wide Open”, from “Life Wide Open”, Laura Zucker

Unity Flowers

Laurie enters the ceremony with red flowers, Michelle with white.  The flowers are both placed in a single vase on a table, mixed together.

Michelle and Laurie place the rings on the table by the vase.

Opening Words

Good afternoon.  To all of you gathered here today, Laurie and Michelle extend a fond welcome and their sincere thanks for sharing this special time with them.  We have come together in spirit not to mark the start of a relationship, but to affirm a bond of love that has already proved its strengthThese pledges grow out of Michelle and Laurie’s love for one another, out of the merging of their lives this love has made possible, and out of their sense of joy in the expanding possibility this love creates.  We come to witness the creation of something about to come into being:  a mutual and true marriage.  

In this ceremonial moment, we are suspended between a beginning and a true unfolding.  And yet, this moment – this mere fragment of time – is filled with meaning and hope.  Laurie and Michelle come to pledge themselves to one another, and to life’s most rewarding and difficult adventure:  that of a life lived in partnership.

In the magic of this moment, warmed by love and lighted by hope, words are too fragile to carry all the meanings we would say...still we know that when this moment is but a memory, it will echo on in our hearts.

Chalice Lighting: Melissa Allen & Elisabeth Andreason

“When I first met her I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days rearranging my mind so there’d be room for her to stay.”

- Nick Carraway in  ‘The Great Gatsby”

Statement of Purpose

Michelle and Laurie, in presenting yourselves here today, you are formally announcing your desire to pledge your love to one another for life.  Each of you has chosen the other as your life’s partner and today you promise to make your love for each other your ongoing choice.  Your faith in this commitment should grow and mature and endure.  No other human ties are more tender, no other vows more sacred than those you now assume.  Do you now choose to enter this sacred union?



Be with us as we gather here today in a space made sacred by the presence of all assembled here, by the love professed here, by the hope burgeoning as the spring around us, and by the connecting and sacred nature of this occasion.  So may it be.

Remembering Those Present in Spirit - Linda Russell

A union of marriage is best created with loving purpose, maintained by abiding good will, and renewed by human intention and commitment.  These intentions and commitments are able to flower over time with the support of family and friends.  As we gather together here to share in the celebration of Laurie and  Michelle’s marriage, we would also like to remember those most dear to us who could not join us today:



Melissa and Jon,

Peggy and Jim,

Tia Anne and Deb, 

Beth, Saha, and Kendra

Jessica Rose and Susan,

Stephanie and Cassandra,


and all of our dear friends scattered and sheltered around the globe.

The care of this community shared with Michelle and Laurie contributes and supports the love that shapes this ceremony.

Declaration of Intention

Michelle and Laurie, you have freely decided to commit yourselves to each other in a close and continuing relationship in which your lives will be intertwined.  In the presence of these witnesses you will exchange your pledge of that commitment, affirming your intention to strengthen and cherish the relationship you are building together, and to find through the sharing of your lives with each other a unity which expands the boundaries of self.


(A brief expression from Rev. Leslie Takahashi)


“You’re The One”, from “Step Ahead”, by Laura Zucker 

Preface to the Vows

The vows through which you accept each other as life partners have no hidden power within themselves.  Only your continued intention and commitment give them meaning.  In the days to come, your commitment to one another will need to be re-expressed in many different ways and reiterated through the coming years.  The expression in today’s vows is of your aspiration and will remain as a goal toward which you will continue to strive.


Laurie/Michelle, I take you to be my life partner from this time onwards;

To shape all that is to come; giving and receiving, speaking and listening, inspiring and responding, cherishing your family as my own.  In all circumstances of our life together, I will be loyal to you with all my being, until life shall end.

Statement on the Symbolism of the Rings

(The minister shall take the rings from the table and while holding them will say:)

These are the rings Michelle and Laurie have chosen.

The giving and receiving of rings has long been a symbolic gesture representing the joining of two lives in loyalty and enduring love.  It is fitting that this symbol, the ring, should be a physical object, which you wear in constant contact with your own body.  In the years to come, these rings will serve as a tangible reminder to you of the presence of your partner in your life.  May your love be as unending and as simply immediate as these two small circles.

Exchange of Rings

(One person will place the ring on the other’s finger and then repeat after the minister the following words.  Then this is repeated by the other person.)

I give you this ring and ask you to accept it and to wear it always as a symbol of our love and union.  

Unity Flowers

(Laurie entered the ceremony with red flowers, Michelle with white.  The flowers were both placed in a single vase.)

When the two of you entered into this ceremony, you did so as two separate individuals.  Symbolic of your uniqueness, each of you brought with her a separate handful of flowers, which were placed into this vase. 

Just as each of the stems in this vase remains its own, so each of you retain your blessed individuality. And still, the gathering of these flowers together in one vase create a strong and unified presence which represents you as a couple.  Just as the stems in this vase mingle to form a bouquet, you will combine your gifts and talents to meet the rewards and challenges of married life.

The Pronouncement of Marriage

With these vows and with this exchange of rings, you have affirmed what your hearts already know – that you two are partnered for life.  You leave this place both more fully all that you each are and also as a committed part of this union.  As life partners, you will journey forward together in love and in strength, Michelle and Laurie, now I ask you, do you recognize yourselves to be married?

Couple:  We do.

Now I ask you, Laurie and Michelle’s gathered family and friends, do you recognize them to be married?


Then I too recognize you to be married and I pronounce you life partners.

Words of Celebration

We rejoice this day in your marriage!  We celebrate the love that has brought you to this moment.  With joy that deepens through many years, may you know its meaning and its mystery – how we become truly one in sharing ourselves with one another and in caring for one another, and yet remain truly two in our uniqueness.

May your house be a place of happiness for all who enter it, a place where the old and the young are renewed in each other’s company, a place for growing, a place for music, a place for laughter.

May no person be alien to your compassion.  May your larger family be the family of all humankind.  And may those who are nearest to you and dearest to you be constantly enriched by the beauty and the bounty of your love for one another.

Closing Music

“Haven”, from “Say Yes”, by Laura Zucker


“Life Wide Open”, from “Life Wide Open”, Laura Zucker

“You’re The One”, from “Step Ahead”, by Laura Zucker

“Haven”, from “Say Yes”, by Laura Zucker

Video of the Service:

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Michelle and Laurie's Wedding

Michelle and Laurie are getting married! After three years of teasing each other online, dating, and pretty much constantly being in each others company, we are tying the knot.

The big day is October 3, 2020, at 1 PM PDT. We will be married at a local Unitarian Universalist Church by the head minister, taking all the appropriate pandemic precautions.  Physical attendees are ourselves, our minister officiant, our witnesses, and our musician friend, with a tech support person to make sure the gadgets work, and our live stream wedding webcast goes out OK.

Yes, you are all invited to watch the wedding on a live video stream.

To watch, use your browser to go to:

This link should work for the live broadcast and for replays after the event. (And thank you, Jen for working your technical magic!)

You may also watch through the church’s web page:

Near the top of the page, there's a button labelled WATCH LIVESTREAM.  Click it.  This will take you to the BoxCast MDUUC live stream, which, if nothing else is going on, promos the time til the next Sunday service. 

At about 1PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time, Saturday, October 3, the live stream should... um... go live with our wedding, which should be about 30 minutes long.  Afterwards, we will be doing a reception event in person, but distanced in the church parking area, and later that day will be uploading a video to YouTube.

For our meet cute story of how we first met, take a look here: How Michelle & Laurie Met

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Finding the Joy We Can, Opening to New Sources of Joy

Welcome!  I am Michelle Paquette, and my pronouns are She/Her/Hers.

The whole world seems to be afire with tensions and strife.  TV, the Web, and my E-mail box are full of conflicting things demanding my urgent attention.  How can I juggle so many different things and find my own path? How can I find joy in the middle of all this?

Joy.  It’s something I would like to find.  Now, happiness is an emotion that brings bursts of intense pleasure, excitement, and satisfaction, but joyfulness…. Ah!  That’s a stronger, longer-term state that results in feelings of inner peace and contentment.

I’ve experienced many moments of happiness in my life, but relatively few moments of joy.  I spent too much time distracted, the “squirrels” in my mind restless, driving me to constantly worry about what might be, what might have been, all that two-in-the-morning sleepless night stuff.

I really did think that joy was something talked about, but not experienced.  Then I learned better.  I was so busy fretting over things that I missed the moments of joy in life, skipped right over them while I kept asking myself “What next?” as my mind spun in little circles.

Well, I discovered that asking “What next?” over and over quickly reaches the point where the answer is “I just don’t know.” Circling back and repeating this over and over really doesn’t accomplish anything useful! Silly squirrels!

“Whereas happiness can be easily manufactured, joy comes through setting up the right conditions for it to suddenly appear," says Forrest Talley, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in California. "Happiness can be brought about by a good cup of coffee in the morning or a funny movie. Joy, on the other hand, is more difficult to cultivate." 

The cultivation of joy is an ongoing process that takes time.  I had to develop some new habits, new practices, so I wouldn’t miss the joy I encounter on my journey through life.

Joy really isn’t in achieving some distant goal.  Oh, that may bring well-earned happiness, but we soon adjust, make this goal our new normal, and will find ourselves creating some new distant goal to be unhappy over not attaining at once.  This behavior of reaching, adjusting to, and seeking a new goal even has a name, the “hedonic treadmill.”  That doesn’t sound very joyous, does it?

Those goals provide us with a sense of achievement, a feeling of certainty when we can reach them.  But between these goals, we spend far more time on the journey.  

“I got so focused on the difficulty of the climb that I lost sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.”

 — Oprah Winfrey

I’ve learned some things in my search for joy that I’d like to share.

We can find joy every day, as part of our journey, if we only take a little time to notice it.  When we set up the right conditions, we can notice joy, and we can embrace and extend these bits of inner peace and contentment as they arise.

Mindfulness practice, a way to settle the mind, calm ourselves, and focus on the present, where we are.  The “squirrels” running around in our minds often distract us from the present, overwhelm us, and lead us to miss moments of joy.  Taking a few minutes to calm ourselves, just breathe, and focus on the act of breathing, letting go of the “squirrels” and simply being aware of ourselves, our breath in our body, and nothing more can be very calming.  Consider joining our Friday 10 AM meditation, or our Vespers service Wednesdays at 6:30.

If we don’t mind the triteness of it, a gratitude diary might help.  At the end of each day, we just jot down a few things that we are grateful for, or that brought us joy, perhaps a few places or activities where we felt calm or at peace.  This both encourages us to notice these moments, and can give us ideas of other, similar experiences we might deliberately incorporate in our lives.

It’s a wonderful thing, finding these moments of calm, noticing that which brings us joy and taking a moment to embrace it.  Let’s open ourselves to discovering and embracing a little joy this morning, as we worship together.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Reflections on “Disclosure”, a 2020 film directed and produced by Sam Feder

I recall reading “Myra Breckinridge” when I was barely 16, and being more than a little freaked out by it.  The transsexual woman as insane, murderous rapist is an old and absurd storyline, particularly with the ending that has Myra "recovering" from her insanity to return to life as Myron.  I can now understand why Gore Vidal might chose to use this as the core of his satire.

But at age 16, the thought that this was a satire didn’t remove the thought, the fears really, that if I were somehow able to come out and live as myself, would I somehow risk becoming the insane and dangerous person that Myra became?    The thing about these fictional characters is that if we don’t have a reference, if there is not a real world contrast we experience to point out the absurd bits in the character, that we may accept far more of the character as being ‘real’ than we should.

When I was eventually caught and put into treatment to correct my errant behavior of being an unacceptable human, a young person with an obviously feminine gender identity against assigned sex, this novel played a part in my eventual cooperation with treatment.  I believed what I was told about my existence being a perversion, and I feared becoming another “Myra.” This cost me dearly, and I believe led to considerable harm to others once I thought I was “cured” and tried to live in a male role for decades.  

I’m better now.

I bring this up because the film “Disclosure”, now on Netflix, chronicles Hollywood's profoundly disturbing portrayals of transgender persons and their relationships with others.  These portrayals are interleaved with commentary of the impact of visibility, and the persistent myths and mockery in the way that visibility is portrayed.

In television and film, transgender persons are the sex workers, the murder victims, the patients ironically dying of some disease associated with their assigned sex at birth.  Transgender women are the ones portrayed by a cisgender male actor, inducing vomiting in their dates on disclosure, perhaps before being murdered or beaten, perhaps being publicly humiliated.

“Disclosure” brings all this to the table.  Actors and producers are interviewed, along with behind-the-scenes folks, the writers, the historian, the folks working with real world issues every day, to comment on the tremendous difference between the on-screen portrayals, the real history, and the real experiences of everyday life. 

In this film, we see the connections from the history of media portrayals to the construction of bigotry, centered on the myth of the transgender deceit trope, existence as a ‘trick.’  We see the reactions of physical revulsion to trans bodies that are considered to be comedy.  We also see the grace and dignity, the forbearance displayed by transgender people in the face of the indignities foisted upon them in the media and real life.

Producer Janet Cox does explain that even the most misguided portrayals can provide a starting point for dialogue to improve the understanding of others, and offers hope that the future may not be as ugly as the past.

This is a positive, if difficult film.  I strongly recommend it for those why would like to consider themselves as allies, and a useful tool and reminder for those transgender folks who are out, strong and secure in their identities, and interested in the issues involved.

I would proceed with caution in viewing this film for someone young, or someone not out or perhaps early in coming out, without guidance to help in better understanding the information presented and the unrealistic nature of the various media tropes presented.  I mention this because of my own early experience with these tropes and the poor choices that this influenced.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Commentary on the Alliance Defending Freedom response to the Supreme Court LGBTQ Employment Ruling

As many of us would expect, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ rights organization and hate group, had a few things to say after finding itself on the losing side of the Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ employment rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the ADF:

Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion. Since the election of President Trump, ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBTQ rights.

After Aimee Stephens came out to her employers, the Harris Funeral Homes, and indicated her intention to transition, she was fired, explicitly because she was a transgender person and therefore failed to meet the dress code for male employees her employer demanded she follow.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission backed her, and the case was litigated with decisions in Aimee’s favor.  On the opposite side of the case was the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing her employer and funded through it’s very conservative Christian backers.

After losing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which ruled that not only was this discrimination, but the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not allow an exemption in the case, the Alliance Defending Freedom decided to take the case to the Supreme Court.

That court decision has now been published:

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."

- US Supreme Court, Harris Funeral Homes vs EEOC Majority Opinion, 2020

There it is.  Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids. There isn’t any wiggle room in this very clear ruling.

Naturally, this upset the Alliance Defending Freedom, and they voiced their outrage and disappointment on their website today.

“Redefining “sex” to mean “gender identity” creates chaos, with widespread consequences for everyone.

  • It undermines dignity, privacy, and equal opportunities for women.
  • It could compel professionals from all walks of life to refer to colleagues with pronouns and other sex-specific terms according to gender identity rather than biology.
  • It puts employers like Tom in difficult positions—requiring them to treat men who believe themselves to be women as if they are in fact women, even if that results in violating the bodily privacy rights of other employees.

The bottom line is that ignoring biological reality in our laws threatens our freedoms of conscience, religion, and speech.”

OK, they said their piece.  Let’s dismantle these intellectual droppings.

ADF writes: “Redefining “sex” to mean “gender identity” creates chaos, with widespread consequences for everyone.”

The Supreme Court decision did not do this.  Instead, they simply applied a test.  If Aimee had been assigned a female sex at birth, would she have been fired?  No, she was only fired because she had been assigned a male sex at birth.  She was fired for failing to adhere to the dress code of her assigned at birth sex, while she identified as a woman and adhered to the woman’s dress code of her employer.

Her employer fired her.  Sex played a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

ADF writes: “It undermines dignity, privacy, and equal opportunities for women.”

Rights are not a pie, in which a larger slice for one person means smaller slices for others.  Transgender persons, just as women are, are entitled to human rights, the fundamental rights that belong to every person.  Persons who are cisgender (that is, not transgender), or are transgender deserve to live, even flourish within their communities, with freedom to work, love, learn and play.  Both cisgender and transgender persons should be able to build their lives at home, at work, and in public spaces without fear for their safety and survival.  

Each human life, cisgender or transgender, is and should be the prerogative of the individual, deserving of the law’s equal protection.   It is very unlikely that people with a transgender identity simply choose their identity, unlike a freely chosen religious belief, yet the USA protects this choice of religion.  A property as intrinsic to the individual as their gender identity, whether cisgender or transgender, is something at the core of the individual.  The choices each individual makes about the expression of their gender, as a human being, whether cisgender or transgender, affect fundamental aspects of the individual’s identity at work, in school, and in the community, and are supported by our laws and policies, now at the federal level with this Supreme Court opinion.

ADF writes: “It could compel professionals from all walks of life to refer to colleagues with pronouns and other sex-specific terms according to gender identity rather than biology.”

Yes, it’s true.  Professionals really shouldn’t be assholes towards their colleagues.  That’s just... unprofessional.  Professionals don’t typically refer to colleagues with racial epithets, and professionals don’t typically refer to persons of another sex with sexualized or belittling language, either, if they wish to continue their employment.   Colleagues are supposed to be collegial, right?

Oh, and biology A person’s being transgender rather than cisgender is almost certainly due to biology, nature and not nurture.  It’s not mere chromosomes, but a complex dance of genetics, the uterine environment, chemistry, timing, and fetal brain development.  This biology appears to set the gender identity, and in some cases, about as common as natural redheads, this biology sets a gender identity deep in the brain that does not match the genitals that determine the assigned sex at birth.

ADF writes: “It puts employers like Tom in difficult positions—requiring them to treat men who believe themselves to be women as if they are in fact women, even if that results in violating the bodily privacy rights of other employees.”

These are not men who believe themselves to be women These are women whose bodies were assigned a male sex at birth, but whose gender identity deep in the brain is that of a woman.  These are men whose bodies were assigned a female sex at birth, but whose gender identity deep in the brain is that of a man.  These are non-binary people who decide to live true to their gender identity.

These are people who have made the decision to finally live as their authentic selves, deciding to stop hiding themselves within a false front matching the assigned sex at birth and constructed painfully for the purpose of protecting themselves and pleasing others.  Their gender identity is at the very core of their being.  The choices each individual makes about the expression of their gender, as a human being, whether cisgender or transgender, affect fundamental aspects of the individual’s identity at work, in school, and in the community, and are supported by our laws and policies, as affirmed by this decision of the Supreme Court of the land.

If an employer’s workplace is constructed so as be violating the bodily privacy rights of employees, whether of the same or a different anatomy or sex, that employer may want to reconsider how their workplace is set up.  I know that in the women’s room, no other woman can observe details of my anatomy, as we have doors on each stall.  Mens rooms also include urinals, but there can be dividers installed to afford the men a little more privacy.  There are very nice gender-neutral restroom designs available, should one be planning a significant remodel of the facilities.

ADF writes: “The bottom line is that ignoring biological reality in our laws threatens our freedoms of conscience, religion, and speech.”

The biological reality is that transgender people exist, and are human beings, entitled to the same basic human rights as cisgender persons.  If the existence of these people violates your freedoms of conscience, religion, and speech, I have to ask; what exactly do you expect society to do about this?  

Erasure of an entire population of human beings has been suggested by a few of your supporters, however, I suspect that would be considered a violation of the human rights of that population.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is time to sit with your conscience, and look deep within yourself to see where these feelings come from.  A deeply held belief system is all well and good, until it conflicts with reality.  Remember that your freedoms end when they curtail the basic human rights of another, just as their rights end where they would curtail your own basic human rights.

Your religion, and your speech are your choices.  You are free to make choices that align with reality and civil behavior.  You are free to make different choices, as long as you do not curtail the basic human rights of others.

These are your choices.  Choose wisely.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Outreach message for Rainbow Community Center

Recorded for a message from Rainbow Community Center reaching out to our community, to all Queer People of Color feeling the distress and pain in this time.

Each of us has worth and dignity.  Each of us deserves to be treated well, fairly, with our humanity recognized.  Yet, we know this is not the case.  Far too often, those holding authority forget that Black Lives Matter.

We see you.  We see your worth and dignity, your humanity.  We at Rainbow Community Center seek to do what we can, from where we can.  Building power takes many shapes.  Thank you for joining us.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Call to Worship for Memorial Day 2020

Hello, I am Michelle Paquette, and my pronouns are she/her/hers.

In 1975, I stood before others, right hand raised, and swore an oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Millions of others have sworn that or very similar oaths, marking the beginning of their military service.  We each have our own reasons for going into military service, whether for patriotism, a drive to be of service to our society, for self-improvement, or simply to learn work skills.  

In taking that oath, we are dedicating ourselves, our lives to something greater than ourselves, the Constitution that bound our country together and serves as a guiding set of principles for our land and those who live here.  We agree to defend these principles against all enemies, foreign and domestic, who might seek to deny or subvert them, and to carry out our duties in this greater task faithfully.

I undertook these tasks, like so many others have.  The work was often hard, but the support we gave one another as a team working for a common cause was remarkable and uplifting.  I have fond memories of that time, including my years as an instructor, and my time on board the USS Parche, a fast attack submarine which at decommissioning was the most highly decorated vessel in US Naval history, with nine Presidential Unit Citations, ten Navy Unit Commendations, and thirteen Navy Expeditionary Medals.

I eventually completed my military obligations and returned to civilian life, older and perhaps wiser.  Not everyone who enters military service has that privilege.  

Tomorrow, the last Monday in May, is Memorial Day, a day set aside for honoring and mourning the military personnel who had died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  These people took an oath, dedicating their lives to something greater then themselves, and lost their lives in that service.  Whether they died from hostile action, or something as prosaic as a vehicle accident doesn’t really matter.  They never had a chance to complete their obligations and return to civilian life, but lost their life in service to our country.

For some, Memorial Day is a day of picnics, perhaps holiday sales next year, or a Monday off of work.  For others, this is a day of tears and mourning, for friends or family we will never see again.  

We may differ as to whether or not their service was the right choice, or whether the tasks they were assigned were just or worthy.  They swore an oath to carry out their duties, without any mental reservation or evasion, and they died while carrying out those duties.  They each were being faithful to something greater than themselves, and they lost their lives in doing so.

Please keep them in mind today and tomorrow, as we worship together.