The Christian community often finds itself on the wrong side of history ranging from the rejection of the science of Galileo, to the demonizing of the invention of the telephone. Well, maybe they got the phone thing right. Lol.
One of the most fascinating classes I took in Seminary was Church History. I was stunned to see the huge variety of views that were considered orthodox at different times in history. It is a shock to many to discover that what their denomination teaches is often relatively new and sometimes vastly different than the sum of church history. Obviously 41,000 different denominations can't all be "correct".
So is it possible that the conservative evangelical view of the transgender community is just another lens that needs to be cleansed with a bottle of truth? The issue brings to the surface many ideas that may be more cultural bug splatter than it is revelation truth.
I have a few questions for you. How many transgender people do you know personally? Have you ever listened to the story of a single one? Will a transgender person not be "saved" because they wear the clothes of the opposite sex? Is that a disqualification for eternity in the light of the gospel of grace? Is it possible that the church is on the wrong side of history when Jesus has brought us all to the right side of grace?
People want to know what my "position" is on this. I'll be glad to tell you. My position is love. I didn't know there was another position to take. Maybe the real transgender problem isn't bathrooms, but Christians who drive them away from God.
After our son Preston confessed to us at the age of 20 that he truly felt he was a she desiring to be known as Presley... we could no longer avoid the topic. I had to admit that there was never a time in Presley's life from the smallest age in which he didn't want to be a girl (or "the princess"). We knew nothing of transgender at that time and we did everything we could think of to influence him away from that idea.
Now some will suggest that the reason that I teach and preach grace is to somehow justify the transgender "problem". But God began teaching me about the gospel of grace LONG before Preston said she wanted to be Presley.
At the same time, a man who had been away from our church for several years asked me to lunch. With trembling hands and voice he explained how he was on the verge of suicide before deciding he could not keep his secret any longer... he believed he was a woman, not a man. Monica went on to explain how science has demonstrated that some wires may get crossed in the brain causing a person to have a male body but a female gender in every other way. The very fact that some people are born with both male and female parts is irrefutable evidence that there can be a biological source for a physical mix-up. With complete sincerity she said that she felt normal for the first time in her life after taking hormones.
Later that year Monica put on a Thanksgiving Dinner for the LGBT community in our area. Apparently there are MANY in that community who are alone at holidays because their families have rejected them. Because I love ALL people I decided Jesus would show up in just this kind of setting. So I went. It was an informal highly relational gathering in which I simply listened to their stories as we ate together.
It was there that I met Sarah Hope. It was Sarah who was eventually willing to share her story with me. I think that maybe you should hear her out. Maybe your position should be love too.
Chuck: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Sarah: I'm just your average male to female transsexual. I live my life and for most part it is all in stealth mode. I'm not "out" in my professional and some of my personal arenas (they don't know that I was born with a male body). I started transition with my first HRT pill on 2-6-06, got a name change and went full time as a woman in March 2007.
In my professional life I'm the owner of growing technology company offering on-site computer repair service and do nature and landscape professional photography and other art in the little time I have. I have been on radio shows and TV multiple times discussing tech news.
On a personal level I can be considered, storm chaser. paranormal investigator. thinker. unique. improv comedy. counselor. slightly geeky. spoken word artist. nature and camping lover. designer. independent. loves flying. easy going. busy. poet. traveler. seth macfarlane lover. absent minded professor. creative. clumsy. philosopher. handwriting analyzer. word crafter. electronica music and horror movie lover. random comment maker. God seeker. encourager. reader. photographer. naive with hope. questioner.
I am unapologetic when I say that I am simply me, no cookie cutter, neither boring nor extreme, having seen and been through it all, I’m a survivor, resilient, confident and energetic, and will not fit any other mold other then what God has called me to be.
Chuck: You mention God here. What has been your experience with "church"?
Sarah: I grew up Nazarene in Ohio but when I transitioned, I made many people feel uncomfortable at church. I remember people saying that I looked like a girl and slowly people stopped inviting me to social events as I was "ma'amed" out in public even in full guy mode. I had a naturally high voice and was often "ma'amed" over the phone. To my Ohio church friends it was "acceptance" to my face but then they would post anti-trans stuff to social media.
As for my relationship with God directly, it got much stronger. At first I would pray that the demons would be sent back to hell. I asked for an exorcism when I was 18. I was a very conservative christian male growing up, but I struggled with God over the gender stuff. I didn't know there was a word for it or even a cure until I was 19
I would pray so deeply on the ground. I told people I was snorting carpet fibers. I wanted to be a tech/media pastor for churches. I "lived at church" but after coming out, I lost my family, many friends and decided to go to a new church where they only knew me as Sarah. Back in 2007 when I went full time I found many people didn't know what trans was but due to rejection I learned to not tell people, especially Christians, as they were often the least likely to accept me
I took almost two years off from church because I went to a place that says come as you are in the bulletin but then got unfriended on social media if I shared about transition.
Many Christians have said they can't support my "lifestyle" which amazes me because all I do is work, eat and sleep. I can't find a lifestyle that is bad there.
Chuck: But why risk all that?
Sarah: That is a great question. That is why I live stealth for the most part, keep the trans world and my "normal" world separate. As for why I choose to transition, being a male never fit me. I was often clocked a gay guy. I had the feminine mannerism and a very high voice. I had no interest in girls or guys sexually. I just wanted to be the girl. I didn't know that there was a name for it though, I thought I was the only person in the world who had more girl clothes hidden then guy clothes.
Chuck: How did you finally reconcile the God stuff with church and your journey? Can a person be trans and Christian?
Sarah: The irony of this journey was my faith in God got stronger as I transitioned. I would pray that God would close any doors that I wasn't meant to walk down and open the ones I was suppose to go down. Everywhere I went, even the songs I heard on the radio all pointed to transition. The people who claimed to follow God rejected me yet my God told me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. So even though I gave up on churches for a time I never gave up on God. I still feel strongly to this day, that God called me to be trans so I could access a world of darkness and hurt with the light that only God would give me and call me to.
Yes with no doubt you can be a Christian and Trans because to me there is no morality to being transgender, you can be a good person or a bad person, being trans doesn't indicate what person you will be.
Notice Matthew 19:11-12, "But He said to them, 'All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who WERE BORN THUS FROM THEIR MOTHERS WOMB, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.'”
Though many interpretations of this passage have arisen, it may be of voluntary celibacy, but the fact that Christ mentions people born that way indicates to me a birth condition. However, I think the most literal interpretation would include inter-sexed (born that way) and transsexual
persons (made that way). Regardless of interpretation, the main point is that anyone able to receive the Kingdom of Heaven may do so.
Chuck: How have your parents related to you through this process?
Sarah: I haven't had a holiday with my family since 2005, my mom is the only immediate person who will speak with me. After 10 years on hormones she will talk to me some but still refers to me as my old name and male gender pronouns. Going home to Ohio is hard, I'm "mr" and "him" and "he" again even with friends
I'm from a small country town and the word spread like wild fire. I'm the only trans person in the country to people's knowledge.
My grandma said she had to choose my mom and my sisters over seeing me because she didn't want to have the family upset with her. I told her I wasn't asking for sides. I still dream of a day where my whole family would sit together and I could get that photos of me with them happy. 10 years and still waiting on it. My mom won't take a photo with me because she said she doesn't want her friends to know, she has said she will "go to her grave before she tells people about her son."
Many trans people are formerly conservative Christians but lose their faith when they transition due to the attitudes that can best be seen in a Fox news article comment section on trans people. I'm not ashamed to tell people I'm a christian and I can tell just admitting that puts people in a defensive posture. Sometimes I think I might be the only person to "reach" them (Conservative Christians) but all I can do is listen to them and love them.
I have extended family who have accepted my Facebook request, all of them are liberal leaning. I found there was lots of people who were related that we never knew about because they were liberal. We were a very strong political household but I didn't realize we banned people from family reunions based on their politics so I became another one of those people.
I hated liberals when I first started but it was transition and being rejected and finding that my liberal friends where the ones that were there to hear me out. My sisters won't answer me, they won't ask me any questions. I was just blocked from there lives. As one of my sisters said her kids will grow up never knowing I existed.
Yeah maybe my life can be an encouragement to other trans people who have had a bad encounter with Christians and maybe those conservative Christians can see that I'm not so bad after all.
Chuck: But didn't God make you a boy and you are just confused about who you really are?
Sarah: I heard that one many times, "God doesn't make mistakes, you were a boy, how could you slap God in the face by changing that?" I think it is a biological problem, I'm fixing it by transition. It isn't like I'm having raving orgies now that I transitioned. All my hobbies are the same now as they were before transition.
I've considered writing a book about my life. I've been through so much. The title would be Nobodies Daughter, The Journey for Self Acceptance in a Life of Rejection.
Chuck: Do you feel accepted by anyone? Do you feel truly valued by another Christian (non trans)?
Sarah: I came out to a photographer who was very conservative last year. We met in person maybe 4 times. Things were great but she posted lots of anti-Bruce Jenner stuff and so I came out to her in person. A day before she said I was inspiration to her, I live life to fullest and she was jealous of my travel. After I told her I was trans, she told me she couldn't accept my "lifestyle" and that she prays for me that I would go back to what God wants for me. So I got hero to zero, nothing changes in my life just her knowledge of my life.
Rejection has been my weakness, I was made fun of and beat up in school, my family was full of emotional and verbal abuse. So I'm cautious, I keep people at a safe distance. I admire Monica being so open and public about it because rejection breaks me. All the faces, the friends and family flood my mind of people who I care deeply for. All my grand parents died and my family told me the day of the funeral so I couldn't make it in time.
Chuck: I'm so sorry you've been through all that. Why do you think they do it? Rejection I mean?
Sarah: What my immediate family says is I embarrassed them, their only son. My sisters can't go places without them asking about their brother so they said I ruined their lives and I'm selfish and I should have thought about theirs instead. Lots of rejection seems to come from what people will think of them if they accept me.
Chuck: To love and accept you means they will be rejected. Their real motive is fear. I want you to know that while I don't know your whole life story, there is nothing you could say that would make me reject you. I think God loves you unconditionally.
Chuck: Last questions. Do you feel more "normal" or yourself now that you transitioned? Do you ever have second thoughts?
Sarah: I have had second thoughts but only to avoid the rejection, when Christmas or holidays come around and all my friends post their photos with family and calling their dad or mom their best friend, is like pouring acid on my sensitive heart so I consider if I went back it would be so I could have a family again. As for regrets for being a woman and transition, hell no! Not a single regret. I only wish I didn't wait until 23 to start transition when I had the chance at 19. I do feel normal, I love nature photography and traveling. It is so much better as a woman.
It is me after all, I was meant to be Sarah.
I have had a secret blog for some time, but I'll willing to share it today: https://hopeandtruthiness.wordpress.com/
Thank you so much for caring and asking, that actually means a lot!
For a great help in the discussion about the LGBT community I highly recommend Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, by Andrew Marin
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