In 2010, shortly after I officially transitioned, I heard a very distinctive call in my life. The call came as a subtle rumble through much of what I did. I had to make a very public transition at work, but since being separated at the time, I was able to lead a fairly quiet, private life outside of work. I was able to put my male past behind me, not really wanting people, especially at church, to know.
But God had other plans. There were hints, okay more like a slap up side the head, that God was calling me to not ignore my past and not live in the shadows. In 2 Corinthians, God calls us to be ambassadors and that is how I felt. I felt as though I was being called - called to be a bridge. At that time I didn’t really know or have the faintest idea what all that would look like in my life. I thought maybe God wanted me to be a Christian voice in the transgender community. OR I thought I was to be a voice for the transgender community within the Christian church - goodness knows they need it.
But as I soon found out, the bridge God had called me to be was a two way street. I couldn’t be one without the other. When God called me to be authentic, he called me to be authentic in all aspects of my life.
In the time since, I have hopefully done what God has given me to do. It has not been an easy road, but nothing worth while ever is.
I have faced down, sometimes not so successfully, the bigotry found within the walls of the church and I have heard my share of mistrustful comments from those in the trans community about their thoughts on religion. But up to this point I have tried to be there as a bridge between the two worlds.
But in recent days, I have felt less like a bridge and more like the knot in the middle of a tug of war rope - being pulled from one side to the other. I felt helpless in the ever growing tension between the trans community and the outspoken holier-than-thou people shouting condemnation. I find myself weeping at times when I read articles that denounce me and my community. I weep that these words are coming from my so-called brothers and sisters in Christ.
The toll that this tension is creating is palpable. The hurt that has been heaped on the trans community by so-called religious leaders continues to cause immeasurable harm. The community has been demonized, victimized and often brutalized - all in the ‘name of God’.
It saddens and hurts me that these people who dole out ignorance, prejudice and hate call themselves Christians when they are, as Jesus called them, nothing but white washed tombs - void of the love and holiness that should characterize those that are called Christians. The people shelling out this hatred are no better than the ones that burned crosses on the lawns of African-Americans in the early to mid 20th century.
I hurt deeply that these people think they speak for the entire Christian community. More and more trans men and women are walking, if not running, away from the church and my heart aches knowing it is because of the words and actions of empty people. Christ himself did not come to this world to condemn, but contrary to the desire and example of Christ, the face of the Christian church in the trans community is one of hate.
Just as Islamic extremist have warped and distorted the teachings of Qur’an and Muhammad, I would hope and pray that transgender men and women would know that the Christians spreading hateful rhetoric are extremists as well and are acting contrary to God’s word and to who he calls us to be.
It is days like this that I feel powerless. I feel absolutely helpless to effect any change when I am just one small voice in an ocean of prejudice.
But I am forced to remember that it is not my power that I must count on. I must remember that if God could make a donkey talk, he can certainly use me in the face of discrimination and hate. I must get past my own discontent.
I have to remember that God doesn’t want us to be a shadow casting darkness. God calls us to be a light in our world. It is in the darkest of dark nights that the flame of a single candle can be seen from 50 miles away.
The only way we can be a light in the world around us is to have a light inside of us. The darkness of prejudice and hate cannot exist in the presence of the light we have when we have Christ in our hearts - it is impossible for the darkness and light to exit in the same space.
John 3:19-21 "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."
1 John 2:9 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness."
Someday, I truly hope and pray that the hate speech will stop for just an instant for these people to see the light. Not just for them to wake up and understand the pain they have caused by their ignorance and prejudice, but to see the light that Christ, a man of peace, love and Holiness, can truly bring in to our lives.
But I must also remind those who stand in opposition to those that deny our existence, God calls us to love our enemy. Yes, you heard me right. For all the pain that has been caused, for all the hate that has been spoken, God still calls us to love and to forgive. I know this is one of the most difficult things we as Christians are called to do. It is an ever present task that I struggle with, but forgiveness and love can be the foundation to building a bridge that will last until the second coming.
We can not sink to the level of those that hate us. If we continue to hate those that hate us, we are no better than them. We are condemned to the same fate. When we return hate for hate, we are no better than liars and murderers.
I call on all Christians to end this. We can not continue a cycle that only leads to pain and hurt. We must be the ones that rise above and walk in the light.
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