HBM111: Waiting for Earth

Motherhood always seemed non-negotiable for Bethany Denton. Her upbringing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints certainly instilled this. Mormons believe in what’s called a “premortal existence,” a place up in heaven where the eternal souls eagerly wait their turn to be born on Earth so they can prove their faith to Heavenly Father, and then return to glory in the afterlife.  

For Mormons, life on Earth is just a short test, an opportunity to practice free agency and serve God’s will. That’s why leaders of the LDS Church like Elder Dallin H. Oaks are concerned about falling birth rates among members of the church. They believe that “one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth.”

This belief in pre-life gives additional weight to God’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply.” It’s about more than maintaining the populations; it’s about giving other children of God a chance to live. As an adult, Bethany lost her faith in the LDS Church. She stopped believing that her primary purpose in life was to be a mother, and for the first time, she started to seriously consider what her life would be without children.

Roberto Molina and Bethany Denton on their wedding day. Photo by Zephyr Wadkins. 2018.

HBM045: Deep Stealth Mode (How To Be A Girl)

Marlo Mack gave birth to a son.  At least, she thought she did.  As a toddler, her son crawled towards dresses, wanted to be a princess, asked to grow long blonde hair.  And at age 3, Marlo's son requested to return to her tummy so he could come back out as a baby girl.  Marlo thought it was a phase--it wasn't.  So she started learning how to raise a very young transgender daughter.  She started keeping audio diaries. 


In this episode, Marlo sends her child to a new summer camp, and struggles with giving her autonomy in revealing her gender identity to other children.  


Marlo faces questions daily about how to best raise her daughter.  How can she stimulate her child while protecting her in a world often unkind to transfolk?  She tells her daughter that there are some people who are like Darth Vader, just too sad to be kind anymore. 


Marlo Mack and her daughter produce a podcast about their life together called How to Be a Girl.  Marlo generously gave us access to her raw recordings for use on this episode.  How to Be a Girl is part of The Heard, a new podcast network.  Marlo also writes a blog called Gender Mom

Marlo Mack is a pseudonym.  She will keep their true identities secret until her child is old enough to understand the risks of revealing her identity.  These risks are real.  2015 has been an especially bad year for trans folk;  2015 has already seen the murders of at least 15 American trans women.  Marlo and her daughter exist in what they call "deep stealth mode." 

So, when do you tell people that you're a girl with a penis? When is it safer to hide?

This episode was produced by Marlo Mack.  Jeff Emtman edited it with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. 

Music:  The Black Spot 

Resources for trans children and their parents: 
Trans Youth Family Allies   - for families of trans youth
The Trevor Project - specifically crisis and suicide prevention
YouthResource - specifically for trans/lgbt youth
Human Rights Campaign - list of resources for trans youth

Video by Marlo Mack.

Marlo's daughter meets advocate and actress Laverne Cox.

HBM042: Deers

Andy Wilson and Ryan Graves are best friends, despite having very different opinions on the hierarchy of human and animal life. The two come face-to-face with those differences after a fatal encounter on a frigid winter day in northeastern Idaho when Andy's dogs chase a deer into Lake Chatcolet.

Today, Andy is happily married (celebrating his year anniversary next week), working as a fine woodworker at Renaissance Fine Woodworking, and living in Pullman Washington. He now has three brown dogs and Quincy (the brown dog from the story) knows the word "deer" - but is less likely to chase one in his 11th year.

Ryan works as a nurse in Pullman Regional Hospital and lives just outside of town.  His duck died last week, but he's looking forward to the five Muscovy ducklings he's going to acquire soon. And he's looking forward to deer season.

This episode is heavily adapted from a short animated film also called Deers (embedded below), produced by John Summerson.  His film received support from the Princess Grace Foundation USA

Bethany Denton produced this piece for Here Be Monsters, with editing help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.
 

Music: Flowers ||| Lucky Dragons ||| Flower Petal Downpour

Ryan Graves walking the hills of the Palouse.

Ryan Graves walking the hills of the Palouse.