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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Golden Rule

I have to admit, I’m probably a good deal older than many of my readers. When I was growing up, there really wasn’t a lot of dialogue about sexuality and gender. We didn’t practice much along the line of political correctness and when I ran across people who didn’t quite fit into the mainstream, I honestly didn’t know they weren’t in the mainstream!

When I was in grade school, my life revolved around 3 things: books, negotiating my way around school and trying not to get on the wrong side of my father. Because of my obsession with reading, I was exposed to some interesting stuff at an early age. From the novel Little Big Man, I first heard of Berdache, or Two Spirits. As portrayed in the novel, this wasn’t so much an issue of sexuality as of gender. The character was a man who took on the life of a woman. But the concept of Two Spirits is flexible, as I grew older and began to learn about world cultures, it seemed so similar to the Greek concept of Chao and Logos, and also to Yin and Yang.

As a child, it made perfect sense to me. Especially since one of my idols in school was an inter-sexed girl named Jody. Remember I mentioned the lack of political correctness? Jody’s boyishness was something we discussed among ourselves, and our teachers were fairly open about it too. (Confidentiality? What's that?) 

 When Jody came back to school after summer break one year, she was more feminine, her voice was pitched higher and her body had changed somewhat. She told us she’d chosen to take hormones and become more of a girl. 

Again, none of us really questioned it. We didn’t think about what was under her clothing or that she actually had a choice to make. She was just Jody, just a little prettier than she'd been.

Another person I remember from that period of time was the Hand Bag Man. There were a lot of interesting characters around town…Garbage Bag Man, Raincoat Man and Hand Bag Man. Mom and I used to see him walking around town. He generally wore women’s polyester pants and a blouse, and always carried a purse. He shopped at the thrift stores and I remember he (again…no concept of PC language back then) wore his hair short, generally had facial hair and moved with an air of total self-confidence. I remember asking my mother about him and she never joked about him, though I know his cross-dressing  must have shocked her. She just told me he liked to wear women’s clothing.
She also told me he takes care of his mother and loves her very much. I’m not sure how she knew that but I do recall seeing him pushing an old lady in a wheel chair. Because she didn’t judge him, I didn’t either.

I know Jody and Hand Bag Man and some of the other inter-sexed and transgender people I’ve known throughout the years have lived through moments of hell. One friend told me that he’d faced choices that nearly drove him to suicide. But the things that I recall about Jody are her unfailing kindness to me…an odd, visually impaired kid two years down from her. I remember the Hand Bag Man’s quiet dignity and gentleness with his mother. I remember that my mother and her parents never allowed a mean word to be spoken about these people. I'm sure other people were cruel to them. It amazes me that they were both such gentle people.

Within my hearing, there was no talk of rights or equality, of morals or sin. Just acceptance. Because of the example of my teachers, my classmates and my family, I grew up with some friends who remain precious in my memories. It wasn’t until high school that I witnessed bullying and cruel behavior, and that was generally reserved for disabled kids, and it was heinous. 

It was a different generation, more conservative, but at the same time, I think that the manners and etiquette that were drilled into my parents’ generation created an atmosphere of acceptance in our small school district. I know this isn’t the norm, and as sexuality and gender equality draw even higher in our national consciousness, the lines become ever more divided. The idea that a trans-woman would be barred from using the women’s restroom is just so bizarre to me.

There are so many ways to teach others…by word and by example. But I think we all need to remember a very simple concept: Treat others as you wish to be treated. Because that’s what my mother was teaching me way back then, whether she knew it or not. 

The Golden Rule. 

Do unto others as you would have others do to you.  

May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Take this opportunity to visit other bloggers participating in the blog hop. Here's the url to the homepage:

I'll be offering a choice of my backlist (one book in .PDF) to a random commenter on my blog! The blog hop runs through May 27 and my winner will be chosen at the end of the hop. 

Thanks for coming by!



SaCajunGirl said...

You brought tears to my eyes and I thank you for allowing me a glimpse inside. It's a shame that tolerance and acceptance aren't more commonplace, but by sharing, as you have, eyes and hearts can be opened. Thank you again and I'll be sharing this with everyone. Only when hearts are opened can change truly take place.

KimberlyFDR said...

Thank you for taking part in the hop! and for such a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Simply and beautifully put--how easy it is for us all to forget!


K-lee Klein said...

The Golden Rule should be the only thing that matters. As an organizer of the hop, thanks so much for participating. I love your books and I think I'm actually your age. ;)


ilona said...

Thank you for taking part in this worthwhile blog hop. I am so glad you were brought up the way I hope I brought my children up. Namely that acceptance and understanding got a long way to make life easier for all people. If only everyone took that lesson to heart the world would be an lovelier place to live.

felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

Sophia Rose said...

I think you bring up an interesting point about how old-fashioned good manners play a part in things. I look back and remember a few people who stood out when I was a child and we just accepted that that was who they were and that was that. My girl cousin brought her girlfriends to family get togethers and the only thing worried over were curfews, drugs and alcohol just like with the other teens. Golden Rule for sure.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posting and being part of this Hop.

strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

Urb said...

Beautiful post! I like the Platinum Rule, too: Treat others the way they would like to be treated? Easier said than done, but at least try! Thanks so much, just lovely.
brendurbanist at gmail dot com

DarienMoya said...

Awesome post thanks for sharing!!

awindandbooks said...

Thank you for such a lovely post! Treating others with respect are certainly wise words to live by. Thanks for participating in the blog hop!
awindandbooks at gmail dot com

JPadawan11 said...

That was a great post. I am not old enough to know a time when homosexuality was not discussed, so it was nice to hear a little bit about what it was like back then. Thanks for doing the hop!


Karl said...

Please count me in.


Kathleen Hayes said...

Thanks for such a wonderful post! Count me in.

Loveless3173 said...

Thanks so much for being a part of this hop. <3


löni said...

oh my and I get criticized for my stand on " If you are nice to me I will be nice to you" attitude apparently I'm not "open" enough and too harsh and excluding a lot of people that way.

I guess it's the modern way to be all individual and talk about and judge and comment on everything and all if it's your business or not.

nancy said...

This post triggered some memories from my youth when gay was a happy attitude. When one of my great uncles died his granddaughter came for the funeral. She wore men's shoes and slacks and shirt and had really short hair and she had a woman with her. I was fascinated but the adults would stop whispering whenever any kids got near. So no questions were ever addressed and I never saw her again. That was in the late 50s so heaven only know what she had to live through but I think she was very brave.

Suze said...

Like your mum, I try to teach my children to treat others as they would be treated - and to be aware that words can hurt as much as deeds

littlesuze at

ShirleyAnn said...

I enjoyed reading your post. Are children wonderful they just see a person why can't adults be like that?

Sophie Bonaste said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are so right about how important the Golden Rules is. Thanks for participating in the hop.

Sophie Bonaste

Lena Grey said...

I grew up in the 50s and yes, times were quite different. I've always tried to adhere to the 'Golden Rule' because I seriously believe what the Beatles sang" "The love you take, is equal to the love you make."

Anonymous said...

I too lived in this time also. I was brought up using The Golden Rule as my moral backbone against a liberal belief system. I am happy there were others who saw the world as I did.

H.B. said...

Thank you for a great post, participating in the hop and for being a voice against hate because of ones sexuality.

Crissy Morris said...

Thank you for this post. It's so beautiful.

Peggy said...

Thank you for the great post.


Sherry said...

Great post! Thank you for taking part in the hop!
sstrode at scrtc dot com

nkkingston said...

Thank you for taking part in the hop! I think kids are generally more accepting of people outside 'the norm', because so much is new to them that nothing seems unusual. What's important is how parents react, and your mother sounds great in that respect.

I'm a big fan of your books, so fingers crossed! nkkingston AT gmail DOT com

Penumbra said...

Thanks for participating in this great hop!


Emily said...

I wish more people would get rid of the hate and live by the Golden Rule. Life would be so much better. Anyways, thanks for participating!


Emily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.