Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Caitlyn and the Christians

This is a comment I made on a Christian blog. The last I saw of it, it was awaiting moderation, and I guess I was too immoderate. Anyway, I had to put it somewhere, so here it is with a few edits.

When looking at someone like Caitlyn Jenner (or me, for that matter), try thinking this way: God made Caitlyn the way she is – Transgender. It is a burden and a gift. We have been so regularly treated as pariahs that, until very recently, the vast majority of us have kept our authenticity hidden from the world, expecting even (and, perhaps, especially) those closest to us to detest us if the truth were known. And we have hated ourselves, especially if we buy into the societal thought that women are somehow inferior to men. 

And yet... there is The Gift -- that when we embrace this aspect of ourselves, we are allowed to see both sides of the gender divide. We open ourselves to compassion and empathy and (believe it or not) spirit.  It is the gift of insight, but though it is a gift, it comes with a very high price. There is not a one of us who has not suffered. For all of her wealth, I would not be Caitlyn Jenner. For all the adulation of the past few days, she has had to brave the most vile ridicule – and not just from folks who hate trans people; there has been much acrimony from the trans community as well. But I firmly trust that she has received the gift of insight that goes beyond who the best makeup experts are.

I know many trans people who are adamant atheists, but I know just as many who have a very strong faith. At least three are clergy. I do not find this in the least surprising. When I began to actually face this part of me, I sought to find the spiritual side to it. (I'm an English teacher. I'm always looking for the theme that runs under the main narrative.) And accepting myself as a woman has been as much a spiritual experience as it has been a physical and societal one. But a great part of that spirituality has been the fact that I can reach out more easily to others - to feel their emotions and express my own toward them. I sometimes feel like "Mom" to the world. And it feels nice. And right.

Oh, and in answer to those who bristle at the thought of tinkering with one's anatomy, an analogy: When a child is born with a cleft palate or other deformity, has God made a mistake? And should that deformity be fixed by human intervention? If an individual’s happiness and self-worth can be enhanced by human skills, is that a sin? What then if the individual’s mind – which is the true and authentic self – does not match the physicality? So many of my friends, for all the acrimony they have received and difficulties endured, are happier and function better as their true selves. Have they sinned? Isn’t that between them and God?