Who is really qualified to judge people? The Bible says only God makes that judgement. But who tells us what God’s judgement actually is? Especially if Nietzsche is right about God being dead?
Not long ago I posted a short-short story about me wanting to see girls get naked while we were kite flying, and then, by verbal tricks backfiring, I ended up being the only one flying the kite while naked. I look back on that story now with laughter about my own personal foibles. But if I am completely honest, the church ladies with gray hair, wagging fingers, and tongues that are even waggier… Well, I am glad that the ones I knew as a boy are all now dead and can’t possibly read that story and shame me all over again.
And I know that I draw an awful lot of pictures and write an awful lot of stories that involve naked children. As a survivor of a traumatic sexual assault when I was ten (a thing that happened after the kite story was already in the past) there is a level of discomfort over recognizing that trend in myself. Not because I became a sexual predator of children. I clearly did not. I still am determined to prevent such things from happening in any way I can, though in retirement I no longer have access to children to talk with to find out about bad things that may be happening in their lives.
I write stories in which there are kid characters who are naked at times. Sometimes because of curiosity and developing sexuality, sometimes because of growing up in a nudist household, sometimes in their dreams, taking baths, and many other normal functions where clothing is optional. In The Baby Werewolf novel, I included a character who was trying to exploit a young nudist girl to make child pornography. He was the kind of predator I have always resolved to be against, and the book is intended to make readers aware of that kind of dangerous person and recognize where the opportunities to avoid such people lie.
And some of the nude young characters I create like the two fairy girls depicted in the illustration from The Necromancer’s Apprentice merely represent the liberating feeling you can get from embracing your own nude self, a thing my attacker deprived me of during childhood through trauma and fear.
I, as an adult human being, fully accept readers’ rights to be critical of my work and make prudish judgements about my writing. I don’t like that one critic of The Baby Werewolf who said things about my work being creepy for the wrong reasons (it is a horror story after all) and suggesting that maybe I as the author am bad and villainous instead of feeling that way about the villain of the story. It was fiction, not my personal life story. The villain character is not me.
But prudes being prudish and judgmental can do more damage than just hurting an author’s feelings.
I have had two students that I know of who were transexual.
One was raised a boy because he was born with a penis, but in grade school was discovered to have a womb and ovaries. I didn’t know such a condition existed until I saw an episode of Marcus Welby MD in the 70’s about a young boy who had to transition because he was actually a girl. The child in my class was from a poor Hispanic family that didn’t understand the problem and couldn’t really afford to deal with it. The prudes, judgemental as always, were not kind. This he/she hermaphrodite was forced to grow up as a flamboyantly gay male even though he was capable of physically changing into a woman who could conceive a child. I followed his development for as long as I was able. I did spend one long and awkward evening talking to him/her about his/her crush on me. I could’ve gotten the prude finger-wag over that strange conference too, if anybody had bothered to care about that poor child. I certainly wasn’t going to kiss him, and I had to send him home at the end of that discussion because of what he/she wanted from me. I suspect there were other men who took advantage of him/her. But I wasn’t close enough to help him in any real way. And I lost touch soon after he/she left my class. Based on that bizarre discussion we had, I have no confidence at all that the poor child is still alive. Nobody seemed to care about this child That is the most tragic of things teachers sometimes have to deal with.
The other trans student I had in class for a year was a girl as far as she was concerned. It was not a question open for debate. She was quiet and a good student. She only had a couple of friends, but they were good friends and stood by her. At the time she was in my middle school class, she already had breasts thanks to hormone therapy. By now she has probably transitioned by surgical means. Her life was a lot easier than the boy with ovaries. But prudes in Texas abound and provide a lot of sour fruit.
I personally find it offensive that anyone would deny either of these two people the use of whatever restroom was comfortable for them.
What gives the typical prude the right to pass judgement on anyone else’s behavior? Prudes can cause repression of natural behaviors for the benefit for no one but themselves. I find prudishness to be reprehensible. But the rub is… being judgemental about that makes me a prude too.
I try never to be judgemental. I would much rather accept everyone for who they are, or who they think they are, than rely on what I think they are. And I do listen when others judge me. I have changed things in my books and drawings because of observations my others. And I take everything seriously… especially comedy.