I'm a Christian who happens to be transgendered. It's taken a long time to get the description in the right order.
It isn't a divinity degree or special schooling that makes me write to you about issues of faith. By training, I'm a scientist, by profession an engineer, by upbringing a lukewarm Protestant, hardly the makings of an evangelist.
What, then, have I have to say? First, let me relate what my pastor tells me in counseling, a man who does hold a Ph.D. in divinity, taught theology, leads an 800 member church, a forthright type many would consider a fundamentalist Christian.
YOU AREN'T GOING TO HELL FOR WHAT YOU WEAR, OR HOW YOU APPEAR. Okay, he wasn't that blunt, and I admit to using profanity for effect. What the good doctor said was that the Old Testament text in Deuteronomy 22.5
"A woman must never wear any article belonging to a man, nor must a man put on a women's garment; for whosoever does such things is abominable to the Lord your God." shouldn't stand at the core of a conversation about transgenderism. He notes that we simply do not know how this passage relates to pagan fertility cults of the ancients and the prohibition in the Torah, and that in any case, it would be legalistic and judgmental to condemn someone based on this isolated piece of scripture, and blithely ignore other prohibitions in Deuteronomy about wearing clothes of mixed fibers, et cetera. (Read them, it's enough to make me glad not to have lived in Old Testament times with all the concerns of the faithful of the day.)
Friends, the good news is that Christians are not saved through obeying the hundreds of Old Testament laws and prescriptions - they are saved by accepting God's Grace and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made once and for all on the cross for us. Don't let anybody beat you over the head with a Bible and tell you otherwise.
If they try, ask them to open it up and read aloud from the book of Matthew, starting at Chapter 7, verse 1 and continue on through verse 12. Jesus has some rather pointed things to say about passing judgement and what all the Old Testament Law and Prophets summed up to say. In fact, if you aren't familiar with Him and can find the time, take an hour or so and read what these guys Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John had to say about Jesus. It's only about a hundred pages or so in the New International Version or other modern translation, and if you grew up plodding through thee's and thou's like I did when I was young, you might get a whole new slant on things.
Now for the bad news. I am not endorsing pagan fertility cults, or any other sort of compulsion. In fact, my pastor and I admit to an "intellectual difference of opinion" about whether transgendered behavior is compulsive - his concern being that it seems something like it, and therefore at odds with what the apostle Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 6, verse 12) about things "controlling " the life of a believer-
"I may do anything I please, but not everything I may do is good for me. I may do anything I please, but I am not going to let anything master me."
I count myself fortunate to have a pastor who is open minded enough to tell me, after talking to my therapist, "Even if I were 100% right in my concern about this being compulsion, you need to work things through with skilled therapy. If I tried to exclude people with compulsions, I'd have an empty church, including myself".
In this, I can agree. Each of us has to come to our own conclusions in time about what is controlling, what is compulsion, and what is compelling, simply because it's part of us, like breathing. Often, we need help to sort it out. I'm not advocating an unexamined life. Jesus gave the first and second commands in the book of Mark, chapter 12, verse 30 - "The first one is, 'Hear, Israel!' The Lord our God is one lord, and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and your whole strength. And this is the second: 'You must love your neighbor as you do yourself.' No other command is greater than these."
However you consider yourself to be gendered, these still tell us where to look for answers, and how we should conduct ourselves.
Believe me, my personal life is hardly without questions, either. For 30 years, I tried to hold God at arm's length, wrestling with what some might call an alter ego, going through the binge and purge cycles and the guilt a lot of TG people know like second nature. Now, fifteen years past a "this or the marriage" confrontation about TG issues, pained years of abstinence and hiding, and sudden, stormy, unprepared disclosure, I find myself trying to explain my TG feelings to my spouse. She, in turn, is stretching her faith trying to find common ground, and understand the preson with whmo she married and parents four children.
But what kind of answers have I seen? In my life, even in my past ignorance and stubbornness, God kept providing when I relied on Him, instead of myself, as though waiting for me to finally see the light. It was His peace and mercy that came to me as I paced hospital halls, asking for His will and not my own, when my son was struck by a car and thrown 15 feet. His daily bread and His church fed my family through two layoffs in five years, when I lost my job and found the Bible during five months of food stamps, and couldn't see the way out. In the very face of evil itself, His Holy Spirit delivered me, literally making me to leave instead of taking a life and destroying my own when I, otherwise alone, confronted my daughter's rapist.
Yet when I prayed asking God to make my transgendered feelings stop, cast everything aside to make a new start, I found no peace. I found some solace in the writings of other transgendered Christians, learning that others were wrestling with the same issues. In desperation, I finally prayed "God, I give up telling You what to do with this part of me. Just teach me what it is you want me to see or learn."
I received an answer when I woke up the next morning, so striking I felt like someone had hit me on the head. It didn't matter what I looked like. (Don't just believe me, read the book of Matthew, Book 6, Verse 25 and following). God knew my uniqueness, He had a purpose for me, and that I'd been passing judgment on my yearnings, trying to hold Him at arm's length instead of asking God what He had intended them to teach me. It felt like an enormous weight had been removed, like breathing free after being trapped underwater. He wanted me to give my all, all my heart, all my mind, all my soul. Moreover, His scripture was teaching me to be collaborative, to build my brothers and sisters up, to be a cheerleader instead of just a competitor. It was almost ironic that this was the way the very role models I was trying to emulate behaved. I realized that day that my faith was critical. It set a standard for all my behavior, freeing, really, for a person kind of living across roles. Little did I know my faith would soon be tested.
I doubt I would have lived through this fall, let alone seen my marriage survive, save for faith. My spouse and I aren't that different than we were 15 years ago, except for latching on to Christ as our Savior. We still have many of the same problems we are trying to resolve. So when we both hit rock bottom when some of my things spilled out of a suitcase that stormy September night, two broken people turned to God, one in a home seeming turned upside down, and one from a cold hotel room, and got an answer to hang on and keep trying. I can't explain what has happened since, except to say that I feel like I sense God's hand working. By some strength beyond our own, we somehow kept talking. Through answered prayer, we received good and discerning counsel. With His help, we keep on working on things, day by day. I will trust in my faith, for God has been good and gracious to me.
I encourage you all, don't settle for someone else's interpretation that says you don't have a place in God's house, but read God's Word, not mine, and take comfort, as I do, that Jesus says "EVERYONE who will acknowledge me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven". I've found peace by putting faith first, and gender second.
Love in Christ,
P.O. Box 2176
Monroe, MI 48161
Diane Zahn is a transgendered parent of four ranging in age from 18 down to 4, blessed in marriage for 19+ years to the same wonderful person. Led back to Christ some years ago, she is in the process of professional and pastoral counseling to work through gender and other family issues to preserve and strengthen this same family. She writes from her own experience - the opinions and beliefs expressed are her own.