I am a Christian. I am also transsexual.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been told that both of these things are mutually exclusive. Indeed despite knowing my mental health history and my struggles with Gender Dysphoria the church I had been attending threw me out immediately upon my starting transition, citing that not only was it sinful behaviour on my part but to have me continue to be around would be sinful on their part !
Growing up I was raised in a very religious environment and I was particularly influenced by one particular denomination. This group absolutely knew their Bible inside out and back to front yet, were so judgemental about anything and everything that fell outside their own strict ideas about who God was. The concept of love, compassion and understanding was nowhere to be found.
1 Corinthians 13 1-2
It was in this environment that I learnt to hate myself. I came to a realisation that I could never admit to, let alone truly be, who I was. Anything that was in any way connected to LGBT was evil from the pit of Hell. Being transsexual was a shameful secret that in many ways was worse than murder. In fact I can think of a number of occasions where I was told of the amazing redemptive power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of terrorists and murderers yet never so with those who were gay or transsexual.
Of course being transsexual wasn’t something I could easily hide but any diversion from a gender stereotype was met with condemnation, counselling and punishment.
And so it was that I entered adult life as an actor. My role was as a cisgendered heterosexual man, married with 2.4 children. This was apparently God’s divine plan for my life and anything outside of this was of the devil. Guilt was my middle name. The problem is that you can only play act for so long before your mental health is affected and inevitably I spiralled into a very dark place.
In 1998 I was sectioned for the first time. In 2005 I had my first breakdown. In 2011 I had my second breakdown that rendered me housebound. In the years that followed I lost count of the number of mental health professionals I met with, and I was given a lot of help to try to deal with the symptoms. Sadly progress was poor. I could never ever admit to my deep dark, twisted evil secret – I was transsexual and I couldn’t cope with pretending to be someone I was not and so the play acting continued. I couldn’t deal with the expectations of gender roles and stereotypes.
One positive thing though that happened whilst housebound was not being able to get to church. Strange as it sounds I learnt an important thing; being a Christian is first and foremost about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and not about tradition and being told what to believe. For the first time in my life I started to really learn and I realised that my whole life I had been caught up in a lot of false teaching. Ultimately I enrolled in a 2 year distance learning Diploma in Biblical Studies with Emmaus College.
The Bible can be the most wonderful thing imaginable yet the most dangerous thing. Wonderful in its truths yet so dangerous in its misinterpretation, misunderstanding and misapplication by people. I challenged everything I had been taught and I learnt so much. Finally I was able to accept who I was and my evil shameful secret.
With a new understanding my journey of self discovery really began. Although I understood God loved me and I was able to admit to who I was, the question was what to do. There are a number of verses in the Bible that on the surface seem to oppose transition. As desperate and miserable as I was play acting a part, I would still choose to stay that way if the price was my eternal soul.
When it comes to interpreting verses in the Bible there are several important considerations that are all too often ommitted:
- The cultural and historical context.
- The verses and chapters surrounding what is being studied.
- Changes in language over time
- The meaning of individual Greek and Hebrew words and the way they are used elsewhere.
In Deuteronomy there is a particular verse that refers to the “abomination” of men wearing women’s clothes and vice versa. This verse is referenced hundreds of thousands of times online as absolute definitive proof that God hates all transgender people. Yet further study reveals the verse isn’t that simple.
For further information this is an excellent read Transgenderism and Deuteronomy. This article states:
All too often we blindly accept a majority view when interpreting the Bible and superficial research often creates a confirmation bias; we find what we want to find. However it is worth noting that there are a number of beliefs held by the majority of people that are easily proven inaccurate. For example Jesus was not born in a stable – it was a room of a house, typically used by animals. There were not three wise men but rather three types of gift. Where does it say the wise men came at the same time as Jesus was born ?
In my heart I do not believe my transition is sinful nor do I believe God condemns me for my actions. I have the medical condition of Gender Dysphoria. I no longer believe this to be a sin. I am learning to let go of the guilt that has held me back and the anger towards those who peddled a message of hate.
I was finally able to go to my psychiatrist and tell him the truth and a weight was lifted from me. I have been able to be open with every doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist I have seen since without shame or embarassment.
After transition finding a church was difficult. Most refused to even talk to me. One church though was different and the pastor met with me in a Costa Coffee shop one afternoon. It has very much been a learning experience for myself, for the church and for the pastor but I have been met with nothing but love and compassion. I have openly shared my journey and my mental health issues with the church leadership and in an environment of mutual openness and honesty I have been welcomed with open arms.
My true identity though is not about gender or sexuality. It isn’t in the clothes or makeup I wear. My true identity is in Jesus Christ as a child of God.