For the last few months, it has been my privilege and delight to come to know a small group of transgendered individuals. Having known a few transgendered folks over the years, as well as one more recently whom I love like my own soul, I thought I had an understanding and love for someone struggling with gender identity issues, but I find that I had only scratched the surface.
The struggle of a soul born into a body that does not reflect their true self is epic in proportion. Many lose years and decades trying to be someone that they are not. In my own life, I know what it is to give up my identity, to lose myself and become a shadow for decades. Multiply that angst of identity times a zillion and you’ll still not be close. The battle to become your truest self and find your authentic voice, this purest reflection of who you are, is magnified in difficulty and dipped into murky water for a transgendered person.
Try to imagine it. I know it may be difficult if you think you already know what it may be like or if you don’t like to believe that such an impossible scenario could even exist. Yet, it may have been only a toss of the dice in your mother’s womb that likely kept this from being your life.
As you form a picture of what it would be like for you, be sure to start with your confusion as a child, an adolescent or young adult trying like hell to figure out why you feel like a freak, why you want a different body, why you hate this body, this life. Remember the astronomical suicide rate of confused young transgendered souls trying to understand who they are. Then add the ridicule of the ignorant, the threat of violence, murder, discrimination on almost every front, misunderstanding, rejection. Imagine the fear, often realized, of the loss of family, of friends, of all you have loved and known. Think. Think what your own lack of understanding could be bringing to the mix.
As I write these words, my blood is up from hearing someone glibly pronounce, “There is no such thing as transgender. God doesn’t make mistakes.” I want to scream in frustration. How easily the speaker relieves themselves of the duty of thoughtful consideration. How quickly they dispose of rational thought. “God doesn’t make mistakes”. If one believes in God, one could agree. Yet, how does one jump from this pronouncement to the belief that there is no such thing as transgender? Has there never been another time in your knowledge when things went haywire in the womb? Whether from environmental or genetic or as yet unknown randomness? Really? Every child ever born was perfect in every way? Please. Use your brain. Investigate, research the issue. There is science, there is biology, there is the testimony of history. Learn what are likely causes before you decide you have any real knowledge of an issue or before you summarily disrespect the experience of untold numbers of people over the centuries and among us today. And then open your heart to the careful placing of yourself in another’s skin to find compassion and love for a soul no different that you in every truly important way.
And while you are at it, seek out a transgendered person. Get to know them. Learn about their life, their struggle. I dare you not to fall in love with their warrior’s heart. They have survived and risked everything to stand up and be authentic in a culture that is primarily out to disregard, disrespect, diminish, sanitize and erase their very existence.
Don’t be afraid to try to understand. Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t be afraid to change. Change is growth; it brings new life into stagnant places. The world is a less frightening place when we learn to see one another through the lens of love. We are all one family, in the end.
These last few months, I have felt more acceptance, inclusion and open-heartedness from these amazing folks than I have ever felt in any church I ever attended. Churches – take note: there is much to be learned about acceptance, inclusion, love and courage from these scarred emerging warriors.