Answering Some of Your Questions
Your responses to the revelation I am transgender continue to move me so deeply – for their depth, love, concern, openness, integrity. I cannot tell you how sustaining they are in these difficult times. I have posted every comment and hope to be able to continue to do so. A number of people have contacted me in other ways to show their support and ask additional questions. In today’s blog I will attempt to answer some of your questions.
Why did you choose to write this information on your blog?
I kept this information private for a very long time. As it began to take a toll I could no longer bear, I knew some people had to be told. Unfortunately, over the past six months the information leaked out and began to work its way through the rumor mill. Information coming back to me was very inaccurate. After consulting with wise friends, I decided to tell the story accurately. I had to believe the truth would set me free, though I knew it was likely to make me miserable first.
What do you hope comes from telling the story?
The truth is hard to tell and the truth is hard to tell. That’s not a misprint. I’ll explain. First, it is hard to tell others such deeply personal truth. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. Second, the truth is hard to discern when it comes to the subject of Gender Dysphoria. So much misinformation abounds. What is it? What does God think about it? How should we respond to those who are transgender? These are difficult questions. Whatever conclusions one might reach, it is definitely time to talk about it. Outside the church the conversation has been going on for quite some time. Inside the church, not so much. I do hope out of my struggle a conversation will begin.
We care about you, but we are having a hard time putting our arms around this. What can we do?
Last week a respected friend wrote these words:
“What I often reflect on is how little I can truly deeply understand or feel what you have and are going through. It is not that I don’t want to understand. I just realize I have nothing to connect to. I can read (your document) and understand at just a mental objective level. I can accept it. But the experience is totally foreign. And that is not something I’ve ever encountered at this level. So I keep trying to empathize and go beyond understanding. It is still eluding me. Please don’t hear any of that as rejection, fear, being uncomfortable, etc. It is just the farthest outside my experience.”
My friend has expressed the sentiments of many. I have lived with this for 60 years. I have had ample time to process the information, yet I am still sometimes baffled by it. I spent years reading, going to therapy, praying and pondering as I tried to put my arms around what it meant. So I certainly understand how difficult it is for others to comprehend or accept.
Are there any resources you would recommend?
A good place to begin is Lana Wachowski’s speech at last year’s HRC banquet, easily accessible on YouTube. Lana and her brother directed the Matrix movies, among others. The 25-minute speech is informative and interesting. There are a number of books available on the subject, but the quality is spotty. I’d recommend beginning with Jennifer Boylan’s autobiography, She’s Not There. Another good place to begin is the book, Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue.
How do you believe God sees you?
I believe God sees me as God sees you – as a precious being made in God’s image. If you are asking what God thinks about me being trans, well, you are asking the wrong person. You’ll have to ask God.
I believe authentic living demands discerning God’s will in difficult circumstances. Sometimes scripture speaks directly to those circumstances, but often things are not all that clear. We are left to our own accumulated wisdom. Several people have expressed their conviction this is a moral issue, and anyone who transitions to live as the opposite gender is living in sin. They often cite Genesis, but as I wrote in the original post, Genesis does not explain the plethora of intersex conditions. Every single day decisions are made in hospitals about naming the gender of infants born with ambiguous genitalia. I am afraid quoting Genesis is not going to satisfy those physicians, the parents, and especially those infants as they grow into adulthood. Humans are not always clearly male or female. This is a messy and imperfect world and the truth is that Gender Dysphoria is complex.
Those of us who are transgender are always grateful for people who come into our lives to support us and puzzle with us. We are not particularly interested in the advice of those who believe they can easily dispense with the issue in a paragraph or two. Humans are quick to reject, and even exterminate, people or things that do not fit into neatly defined categories. When we are frightened, hardening of the categories is a visceral response. But as higher beings, made in God’s image, we are invited to wonder over perplexing mysteries, not categorize and condemn them. Sometimes what is called for is a holy, anguished, “I don’t know.”
So, what are you going to do?
I don’t know.
Is that a holy, anguished, “I don’t know?”
I don’t know if it is holy, but I do know it is anguished.
And so it goes.
Copyright c 2014 Paul S. Williams. This document is not to be reproduced or conveyed in any media, neither print nor electronic, without express, written permission of the author.