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Religious Tolerance logo

Homosexuality, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual topics:

2016-DEC & 2017-JAN:
National Geographic's issue on gender
features girl, Avery Jackson, age 9.

Part 2 of seven parts

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love hate imageSusan Miller, writing for USA Today, discusses Avery Jackson and her transgender identity:

One day when Avery and her mother were walking through Target on a holiday shopping trip, Jackson said Avery turned to her mother and dropped the bombshell: 

'You call me a boy, you think I’m a boy, but you know I’m a girl on the inside, right?'

Avery's parents reacted quickly. In quick succession there were visits to pediatricians, and a genetic therapists. Avery's parents decided to let her dress in feminine clothes at home on weekends. Then came a birthday party on a weekend to which she had been invited. Avery didn't want to change back to boy clothes for the party. She said: "I don't want to pretend to be a boy." 1

Her parents took a major risk by letting her dress as a girl for the party. Debi said that none of her friends "... batted an eye."

The next day, Avery dressed for school "... in pink head to toe and she was excited about going to school for the first time in months." 1

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Avery's pro-LGBT involvement with the non-profit group "Planting Peace:"

Avery first became widely known by the public in 2015 when she started to discuss her transition from male to female on You Tube's "Avery Chats."

Aaron Jackson, who is unrelated to Avery, heads up the non-profit group "Planting Peace." Their web site describes the group as:

"... a global nonprofit organization founded for the purpose of spreading peace in a hurting world. Our projects focus primarily on humanitarian aid and environmental initiatives, including our multi-national deworming campaign, Equality House LGBTQ rights advocacy, a network of orphanages and safe havens, and conservation effort in the rainforests of Peru." 2

While surfing with Google Earth, he had discovered that a house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS was for sale. The church was founded by Fred Phelps (1929-2014). According to Wikipedia, he was:

"... an American Baptist minister and disbarred attorney who became notorious for his vehement homophobic rhetoric and deliberate disruption of funerals of homosexuals, military veterans, and disaster victims whose deaths, he believed, were the result of God’s hatred of America’s 'bankrupt values' and tolerance of homosexual lifestyles." 3

Phelps founded the Westboro Baptist Church in 1955, which has been called:

"... 'arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.' Its signature slogan,'God Hates Fags', remains the name of the group's principal website. 3

Jackson immediately started to draw up plans to purchase the house and turn it into a LGBT museum. This turned out to be impossible because of zoning bylaws. However, he bought it anyway, had it professionally painted in the same rainbow colors as appear on the LGBT flag, and named it "Equality House." Surprisingly, the church is happy with the Equality House across the street because it focuses more attention on their church. 4,5

Avery visited "Equality House" (left building in the image below) and described how it helped her feel proud to be a transgender girl. This comment started Aaron Jackson raising funds to also purchase and paint a companion "Transgender House," (right building) next door:

Equality and Transgender Houses

Aaron said:

"I was deeply touched when Avery visited us and said it brought her joy and gave her confidence. She inspired us to partner with her to create a symbol of support for the transgender community by expanding the Equality House and permanently painting our neighboring house the colors of the transgender flag."

The most commonly used transgender flag:

Transgender flag 8

Monica Helms, a MTF transgender American woman created the flag in 1999. She interprets its colors as follows:

"The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning, or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives." 8

The original flag now forms part of the Smithsonian's LGBT Artifacts Collection in Washington, DC.

Avery's mother, Debi Jackson said:

"The Equality House has always been a positive, iconic landmark for LGBT people to visit. I would love to see a Transgender House embraced the same way -– with enthusiasm, love and pride."

During 2016, Avery helped "Planting Peace" raise money to buy the house next door to Equality House, and paint it with the colors of the Transgender flag -- blue, pink and white. 4,5,6 Martin Dunn, a developer, donated $70,000 to purchase the house. 7

 

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Reactions to the National Geographic 2017-JAN issue about the world-wide "shifting landscape of gender:"

National Geographic Magazine personnel have shared the cover image on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Editor in Chief, Susan Goldberg, writes:

"... tens of thousands of people have weighed in with opinions, from expressions of pride and gratitude to utter fury. More than a few have vowed to cancel their subscriptions. ... "

"Avery ... has lived as an openly transgender girl since age five, and she captured the complexity of the conversation around gender. Today, we're not only talking about gender roles for boys and girls, we're talking about our evolving understanding of people on the gender spectrum. 9

Most young children who identify as transgender become cisgender long before puberty -- that is, their gender identity reverts to their birth-identified gender. However, some children identify as transgender continuously from early childhood until puberty. They are likely to remain transgender for their entire life.

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Discussion of the National Geographic
magazine on gender continues in the next essay:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Susan Miller, "Trans girl, 9, makes history on National Geographic cover," USA Today, 2016-DEC-21, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  2. The "Planting Peace" web site at: http://www.plantingpeace.org/
  3. "Fred Phelps," Wikipedia, as on 2016-DEC-15, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. Mackenzie Yang, "Man Turns House Across the Street From Westboro Baptist Church Into Gay Pride Flag," Time Magazine, 2013-MAR-21, at: http://newsfeed.time.com/
  5. Noah Michelson, "Westboro Equality House: Aaron Jackson Paints Rainbow Home Across From Anti-Gay Church," Huffington Post, 2016-FEB-02, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  6. Kaitlyn Hayes, "8-year-old trans girl raises enough to build Transgender House opposite Westboro Baptist Church," 2016-JUN-29, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  7. James Russell, "Eight-year old transgender activist wants to purchase house across from Westboro," Dallas Voice, 2016-MAR-30, at: http://www.dallasvoice.com/
  8. "Transgender flags," Wikipedia, as on 2016-DEC-24, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/ The design is in the public domain, and so may be freely duplicated without obtaining permission from the creator.
  9. Susan Goldberg, "Why We Put a Transgender Girl on the Cover of National Geographic," National Geographic, 2016, at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Media accounts > here

 Home > Transgender topics > here

 Home > "Hot" topics > Transgender topics > here

 Home > Christianity > Christian history, belief... > Beliefs > Transgender topics > here

Home > Christianity > History, practices... > Christian practices > Transgender topics > here

Home > Religious Information > Basic data > Transgender topics > here

Home > Human rights > Transgender topics > here

Home > Morality and ethics > Transgender topics > here

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-DEC-23
Latest update : 2016-DEC-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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