Thursday, February 09, 2012

Trans....ition!

Gender identity can be very complex and complicated. Each persons who struggles with their gender identity is unique and precious in Jesus' eyes. He looks at the heart and not so much the outer appearance.

How many times do we base all our assumptions just on the outward and have no clue as to what it happening on the inside? Sometimes we may think, "oh...if __________ just got their life together, everything would be great. If they could just look and act like everyone else...you know...not be so out of place!"

I wonder a lot about how we welcome people into our lives, families and the body of Christ. I wonder how we welcome those who just don't quite fit our definitions or even our conveniences. It got me thinking of when I was gay identified.

When I came out at 30...it shocked a lot of people. Mostly because my journey was pretty isolated to my own self. I didn't let a lot of people in to see my internal struggles. Recently God has been healing my own perceptions of gender distortions. For years, I secretly longed to be a female. This began in my early years (probably around the age of 5 or 6). I didn't at that time pronounce that I wanted to be a girl, I just felt out of place and awkward in my body. I didn't want to be a boy...and I saw all these girls that played with dolls, dressed up and I liked that. I wished I could do all of that, so I began interpreting that "I was a mistake, that I wasn't like other boys and that I should have been a girl." Now, if I was affirmed as a boy (that masculinity is really caring for others...being gentle to dolls, and creative...dressing up) maybe with the help of good interpretation of my recording that distortion may not have happened. So internally I struggled with my sense of gender. Secretly dressing up in my mother/sisters clothes and when no one was around, I bound myself, wore make up and tried to look convincing. Early on...I certainly did. I prided myself in looking like a girl. I didn't have a word for this longing or desire. I found out later through the internet and through Television that this was "trangender". It kinda fit for me. Maybe this was why I was attracted to the same sex. Maybe it was because I was born in the wrong body...that God really did make a mistake, that somehow my DNA and hormones were screwed up. This was a birth defect!!!

But the idea of talking about this with my family, with those around me (small town) was totally unacceptable. I resigned deep within me that maybe someday I would transition. So in secret, I dressed up. Until I came out as gay identified, I began playing with make up, dressing up and eventually would go out in public on Halloween or other occasions dressed as a woman...always in the safety of the fact that it was now deemed "drag". I over exaggerated the "look" of being a female. I was pretty convincing on a few occasions. I went so far as to even ask my partner if I ever did want to transition would he be okay with it. Surprisingly he was.

So deep down, there was always this longing to transition. Some of the things that stopped me was the extensive surgery, the apparent need for plastic surgery to make my face more feminine (softer lines, smaller nose, removing the adam's apple, electrolysis, implants and the necessary removal of my genitalia. Even though growing up I hated my anatomy, I couldn't think of that. Maybe internally it meant that I would no longer be able to father a child (naturally). I know that I thought a lot about it and it sometimes consumed me with fantasy and dreams and hopes of a different life as a woman.

Today, I was reminded of God's saving grace and mercy. How almost 7 years ago, He showed me a bigger picture and began restoring my broken gender identity. My identity as a male and my security in my body is almost 180 degrees different. There are days when the residuals of my past creep in, old thought patterns and thinking try to overwhelm me. When I see men who on the outside appear stronger more capable more confidant than me and the insecurities try to consume me, I remind myself that I am a good gift right where I am at. That in my own mess, God is the one who continual cleans and affirms me. It is His voice that is the one of acceptance and worth.

My life is not perfect, I don't have it all together, I sometimes act quite different than those around me, sometimes I am awkward in social settings and say or do things others wouldn't. I am reminded all the time that I am not out of place. Jesus welcomes me to the foot of the cross and there standing beside me is other children of God. The seemingly "put together pastor", the drunkard, the prostitute, the orphan, the widow, the mother, sister, brother, father, co-worker, neighbor, teenager, gay, lesbian, transgender, two spirited, queer, adulterer, liar, thief, gossiper, those who envy, covet, idolators, the rich, the poor. The list goes on.

At the cross we lay down our broken lives and hope is put into us. Extravagant mercy is extended to us. With that extravagance is this amazing gift of grace and truth. Truth to who we are created to be. Truth of the glorious inheritance that we have and importance of our gender and sexual identities.

Psalm 50...reads well of this beautiful grace and mercy as well as discipline and hope. It ends with "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God."

Lord Jesus...I give you thanks for opening my eyes, giving me new vision to see the importance of my gender. How you created me is no mistake, I honor my body as your creation. I am thankful that I didn't put it into the hands of others nor distorted and changed it to be something else. Jesus, I plead that you would meet each of us where we are at, would you give new sight. Bring a revelation of your mercy and love and pour out true understanding to your children...and those not yet your children. Bring clarity to our sense of gender and sexual identities...that are not based on others views, but of yours. Amen

2 comments:

jenni said...

Oh, this is beautiful. I am so glad you left a comment over at "my place" so I could come visit you, too! You have written so honestly, and there is SO MUCH of God's truth and wisdom in your words. May God bless you with His abundantly sweet presence as you follow after Him. It is so hard on this rock, no matter who we are or what our individual struggles are. Yet He loves us and has so much compassion...thank you for expressing that here.

Sarah-Jane Melnychuk said...

I am coming to believe, that with regards to struggling with gender identity the struggle isn't so much with regards to all the ways in which one can feel so incredibly different and awkward in comparison to others of the same gender but rather the great blindness and inability to see the unique qualities that you will share with those of the same gender.

I once heard Melissa Fryrear say, "I am a woman among many different kinds of women" which said to me... there is a diversity that the stereotype doesn't allow and I would say the same for men.

If our culture didn't emphasize the stereotype making the stereotype the normative in gender conformity I think there would be less confusion among developing boys and girls.