It seems like the transgender thing – sudden support for this until-2014-shocking phenomenon – happened out of almost nowhere and rather quickly. Laverne Cox’s unusual and fascinating character on Orange is the New Black emerged as an interesting storyline, the actor who plays the part turned out to be transgender and now we have Caitlin Jenner front and center. And (breaking news) Physician General nominee for the state of Pennsylvania, Dr. Rachel Levine, is part of the transgender community. Yes, it seems like the transgender thing happened rather quickly.
Unless, of course, you’re transgender. And have lived either as some unrealized version of yourself or have lived out loud under constant ridicule and frequent rejection. It must have seemed like this took for freaking ever.
I’m a Christian. So I have a front seat viewpoint to the fist shaking, hand wringing, Bible beating that predictably happens in response to something like this. They will know we are Christians by…our love? Huh. Not usually.
Just when the evangelicals started to chill out a tiny bit about the gays, you had to hit them with this? Trying to wipe them out with a collective massive coronary? Probably came close to working.
I think about Caitlin Jenner and what it must be like to feel like your physical appearance doesn’t match what’s inside. Of course, I don’t see the svelte creature in the mirror that my brain tells me should be there as a result of high intensity work outs 6 days a week for 3 months, but I guess it’s a tiny bit different. 🙂
Seriously, People. If we’re sneering, especially if we’re using God as the justification for our sneering, we ought to be clear on exactly why. Yes, I can see that The Bible has some things to say about men and women and how things should be. And gender reassignment surgery is probably outside of what we might label “God’s best.” But we ignore all kinds of things in Scripture that our society has, like, moved past. Such as women not speaking in church. Yeah, I know, in historical, situational, cultural context, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but it’s still kind of uncomfortable and just doesn’t jive with who I feel like I am. I don’t feel like someone who should be quiet. (Yes, sometimes I really, really should. But mostly, not.) I feel like a woman who was raised in a world where older women fought hard and won to secure me some rights I use every day. I feel like a woman who can make things happen and fight for what’s good and right, even if it’s hard and complicated. That’s who I am. But what if I couldn’t be that? What if I had to be quiet? What if the me I am was continually rejected and a Bible verse or two was repeatedly thrown in my face?
I’m not crafting this little tidbit of an argument to say that Caitlin Jenner’s choice to pursue life as a woman is perfectly natural, wise and without grounds for concern. What I am saying is this:
A transgender person lives a difficult, confusing life, even in the most supportive of families.
Not being able to fully express who you believe you are must be torture.
There is a terribly high suicide rate among those who identify as transgender.
I am alarmed by the lack of empathy of the church. Can we not just acknowledge the pain and confusion of one who lives this life? Can that at least be our FIRST reaction?
I am disgusted by people’s unwillingness to consider her brave, and with the assertion that only soldiers are brave. That’s like saying only Angelina Jolie is beautiful. She is. But have you SEEN Sophia Vergara lately?
Finally, I think we need to examine our own reactions. Are we angry? Afraid? Nervous? Confused? Worried that we might relate to Caitlin a little bit? If you really believe that God is sovereign and full of grace, then, let’s just relax, grab a cold beverage and calmly ponder our thoughts and say a prayer that we might be blessed with Christ-like clarity about this issue. But until we get it, can we trust a big God with our discomfort and worry and get back to the business that Jesus entrusted us with of loving our neighbor regardless of the pronoun that neighbor prefers?