Dear North Carolina,

I grew up in the south, very close to your state, and I was raised in a religious family where Gay Was Not Okay. Trans and gender non-conforming identities weren’t even touched upon. We were southern Christians, we followed the bible, therefore queerness was not supposed to be a part of our world.

Or, at least that’s what my parents and community believed.

See, I’m a nonbinary and bisexual person. I’ve known about my bisexuality since my early teen years. (My gender identity began to develop later on.) I tried to make my queerness mesh with the strict religion I’d been brought up with, but I was failing. I was raised to know a God that had very rigid criteria when it came to which of His children He could and could not love. I fell in the latter category.

This was the attitude screamed from the pulpits. If God hated queer people, then He hated me.

Despite my parents discovering my bisexuality soon after I came out, they weren’t the ones I was concerned about. It was our community. I saw the way other queer kids were treated when they came out, whether or not they came out on their own terms. I knew how these people gossiped and ultimately shunned queer kids, even if they were a part of the church. (And most of the time, they were.) In the mind of my Christian adult counterparts, the love that they professed in church didn’t extend to these kids because of these kids’ queerness.

So obviously, I was scared.

When I was outed accidentally, it was more of my own doing than anyone else’s, really. (The internet is a tricky thing, and sometimes I’m a dumbass when I try to exist under an alias and keep it separate from real life shit.) Consequentially, my so-called friends shunned me. They accused me of “lying” to them. They said they were hurt.

Even adults in the community stopped talking to me entirely. Sure, they kept up with my parents and family (giving their condolences for my queerness, of course), but I was ignored completely.

I was scared, lonely, and hurt. All because a culture of fear and bigotry had been formed in the name of Christianity.

Dear North Carolina people, this is the kind of culture you’re creating for your trans and queer kids. For those of you that support anti-trans bathroom bills and other queerphobic bills, I ask you why. Don’t you realize that in your public displays of bigotry and ignorance, you’re hurting so many trans and queer kids who may already be struggling to accept themselves for who they are? Queer kids have enough to deal with already. They don’t need narrow-minded adults telling them that their innate genders and sexualities are wrong. They need adults who are decent humans beings who express nothing but love and support for them.

They don’t need adults who say that they’re dangerous if they pee in a restroom where people have different genitalia than them.

No one deserves to be discriminated against just because their existence goes against someone’s “religious beliefs.” (Which is a totally bullshit excuse, really.) Transgender people deserve our respect and support, not hate and ignorance.

North Carolina, I know your state can do better than this. Let’s make your state a safer and more loving place to be in. Let’s stop spreading this disease of hate in the name of religion. If you’re Christian, follow the example of your Jesus. Because that dude loved everyone with no strings attached.

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