I knew from the time I started writing blogs, I would be entering a stage where there would be some controversy. The idea of being a Christian transgender person will fly in the face of many on both sides; the church and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community. The word Christian can spark heated debate on how the church has treated the LGBT community. To mention that I am transgender in the church has lit a few fires of disagreement. When you put the two together, you have napalm. If not handled correctly and without proper education, the firestorm can rage out of control, damaging all with in its path. But as a wildfire is known to do, it can burn away the old and make room for new life, so heated, healthy debate is not always a bad thing.
In my inaugural post here on ChicagoNow, one of the individuals that left comments made a few statements I believe I need to take time to discuss. Before correcting some common misconceptions about being transgender, I want to take a minute to agree with one of his statements.
I agree that many in society today believe that the Bible, the Word of God, is full of bigotry and prejudice. There have been many church leaders in the news recently that have done nothing but condemn the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community. Charles L. Worley of Maiden, N. C. preached a sermon that went viral on YouTube. He preached that he thought gays should be fenced off from the rest of the population so they would “die off”. With rhetoric like this, how is any non-believer ever going to think that God, above all things, is a loving God? How is anyone going to think anything other than God is a God of punishment when he really came to die on the cross and forgive our sins? I praise people like Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation for their work in Chicago connecting with the LGBT community and spreading God’s love to those that have felt rejected by the church. We need more people like that working to build someone up in God, instead of tearing him or her down.
Ok, now on to where I think a bit of education is in order to clarify some misconceptions. And by the way, I forgot to mention this is part one of a two-part blog, so fasten your seat belts, here we go. (I hope I don’t get too technical on you)
First. Let’s answer the question “Did God make a mistake?” No! Does God allow events and circumstances to happen to us? Yes. The Old Testament Book of Job is all about that subject. The issue when it comes to our bodies is the problem lies in that since the fall of man (thanks Adam) our bodies are flawed. Babies are born every day with physical and mental defects. The Bible has many examples of people born with birth defects. Matthew 9:1-3 is a perfect example, in this case a person born blind, that sometimes God something to happen though we may not know the reason until the time of His choosing. “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? “ “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Okay, so we have established that there are birth defects, which I don’t think anyone here really doubted, and we have established that God may be the only one that knows the reason why someone is born with a defect. On to how this relates to being transgender. Transgender individuals suffer from what is called Gender Dysphoria also known as Gender Identity Disorder (G.I.D.). The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association define this recognized medical condition as a disconnect between the gender assigned at birth and gender roles the brain identifies with. In basic language the brain’s gender is not in line with the physical gender of the body. This disconnect can cause increasingly more distress over a persons life span. Because of this distress and societies lack of understanding, many transgender individuals unfortunately feel that the only solution is to end their life. A 2010 study, done by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, reported that while 1.6% of the general public attempts suicide, over 40% of trans people do so. As a side note, I was nearly part of this statistic.
The current accepted treatment for transgender individuals diagnosed with G.I.D. follows a strict Standard of Care set up by World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Individuals typically go through psychological counseling, hormone replacement therapy, and for many gender conforming surgery (formerly known as sex reassignment surgery). Male to female transgender individuals go through years of painful laser hair removal treatments or electrolysis, many opt for feminine facial surgery and breast augmentation just to help the body be aligned with the mind and soul. With the proper support group including friends and family, transgender patients that go through all the steps typically are mentally healthier, happier and more content than they were prior to the beginning of their transition.
Recently, several medical causes have been discovered that are believed to have a strong impact on the cause of Gender Dysphoria.
Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome is one. With out going into a bunch of medical jargon, this is a disorder where the body is unable to process testosterone, thus the genetic male body can not develop secondary male characteristics and also affects the development of the brain, keeping it from becoming masculine.
Klinefelter’s Syndrome is another. In this case, males are born with an abnormality in their chromosomes. They are born XXY instead of XY. This occurs in roughly one in 500 to one in a thousand live births. The manifestations of the syndrome can vary widely and just because someone is born with an extra X chromosome does not mean they will be transgender. Many men will live their entire lives with out ever knowing they are carrying an extra chromosome. Though no studies have been done, there is speculation that in some cases, the additional X chromosome and the additional genes can affect how the brain is wired during development and causing the brain to develop more feminine than masculine.
These are just two causes that can be possibly linked to G.I.D. Much more research is needed in this field to have a comprehensive understanding of what affect either of these syndromes has on fetal development and what other causes there are for G.I.D .
So I ask you, if someone is born with a birth defect, is it not medically and morally ethical to do what ever it takes to correct the problem, up to corrective surgery? Let me leave you with one more example that hits close to home. When my son was born, by all appearances he looked totally normal, but as the doctor gave him his first physical, he discovered a small but problematic birth defect. We were informed that this defect would require surgical correction at some point in the near future in order for him to lead a normal life. At around 18 months old, my son’s pediatrician discovered another defect that would require another round under the knife. This time around the defect could have caused him major health problems in the future.
So I want you to ponder this question, is my birth defect any different? Did I choose to be transgender?