Let me start by saying that I am not responsible for anyone’s salvation or lack thereof and nor do I want to be. This is a write-up of my approach to interpreting the verses in the Bible that are often used to vilify transgender people.

If you want to argue with me on these points you can use the form on the contact me page. I will read them as long as they are framed as if we are discussing religion at a coffee shop with other people around. If you come at me with fire and brimstone just for discussing the fact that these verses should not be used for sniping, then you will be wasting your time. You go on and keep believing that your interpretation (or the one given to you by someone else) is the only possible one. You go on believing that limiting the rights of good people is a valid thing to do because of your “perfect” understanding. You go on sniping and causing pain and hurt and hate.

This article will address two things. First, I will address the myriad of interpretations of two specific verses used to hammer transgender people, their families, their doctors, and their mental health professionals. Second, I will discuss the act of Old Testament sniping and why from an evangelical and born-again Christian perspective, it is not something anyone should be doing for any purpose.

Sniping
“make a sly or petty verbal attack.”

To demonstrate what sniping is, I am going to attack you using it. Are you ready? Get ready to ask for forgiveness you heathen sinner…

Deuteronomy 22:9–11 commands, “Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.” – reference here: http://www.gotquestions.org/different-types-of-fabric.html

While the Deuteronomy passage specifically forbids wearing a woven garment of wool and linen, the Leviticus passage seems broader, forbidding clothes woven of two different types of fabric, no matter what the material.

Plunk! You have just been sniped. Are you worried? Do you realize that there are dozens of Old Testament verses I could use against you this way? Are you just laughing it off? Well, you should as the folks at GotQuestions.org go on and let you off the hook..

So, is it wrong for a Christian today to wear clothing made of two different types of material? The clear and unequivocal answer is “no.” As we have seen, the prohibition was only for linen and wool, which would be uncommon today, anyway. Other types of blends were simply not in view. Beyond that, the prohibition was for ancient Israel, not for the New Testament Christian. The ceremonial laws for ancient Israel as recorded in the Old Testament simply do not apply today.

Question: “Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law?”

Answer: The key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; Ephesians 2:15). – reference here: http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-law.html

So, now that we have established that. Let’s take on Deuteronomy 22:5 – “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God”

We have already established that Old Testament laws were for ancient Israel and do not apply today. If that is not enough to put this verse to rest for you then read on.

If you want to argue that the Old Testament is still relevant because it parallels many verses in the New Testament and reveals that God’s heart was consistent for us.. then I would agree. However, in the instance of Deuteronomy 22:5 you will not find another verse in the new testament to correspond with it. It stands alone and is used by modern Christians to snipe at transgender people and cause harm and hate. This is wrong, plain and simple.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at a Jewish Rabbi’s view of this verse. Remember, much of the Old Testament is studied and understood very well by your average Rabbi. His interpretation is that the abomination does not even refer to the person, but the forbidden act (adultery) for which the “dressing as the opposite sex” was described in this verse.

“The intent of the law, in this view, is to prevent men and women from associating with what would normally be a single-sex group of the other gender under false pretenses for purposes of, or in circumstances that are liable to lead to, heterosexual adultery.”

“The danger of ‘cross-dressing,’ .. is that it might allow men to enter women’s groups and women to enter men’s groups. In societies in which gender segregation was widely observed, this subterfuge was seen as a real danger.”

“Today the concern would be that men or women would sneak into the other gender’s locker rooms or bath rooms. Given that men and women in our society mix freely in other settings, it is hard to see how heterosexual adultery is a particular danger of what is called “cross dressing.” – reference here: http://www.beki.org/dvartorah/crossdressing/

All of that is basically saying that the verse was talking about dressing up as something you are not, in order to enter the realm of the opposite sex and commit adultery. That’s right, the “abomination” is adultery and sexual impropriety.

Transgender people, are not “dressing up” as something they are not in order to rape and pillage or steal away someone else’s spouse. We are being who we are, we are dressing as the gender that we are. This is not a hobby and it is not a “get my kicks on the weekend” sort of thing. Transgender people go through agony and a difficult and painful process at intense emotional, physical, and financial cost in order to transition. At every stage of this transition, they are standing against tradition, against hatred, and against many in their own family who simply can’t accept the truth about them. Transgender people, along with gender non-conforming individuals are rebels who refuse to give in to the establishment. With modern science and understanding at our side, we stand against established gender norms (binary-only gender), but in doing so we are not standing against God. Let’s call sniping from the Bible what it is.. it is simply a tactic of those who wish to stay in their comfort zone and burn down anything that challenges it. Those tactics and that kind of hatred causes others who are more extreme to directly harm, beat, and kill transgender people. If you are posting transgender related hate on Facebook, Twitter, in the comments section of news articles, or verbally spreading hate, then you are complicit in those beatings and murders.

If your church or your pastor is telling you that you can’t associate with a transgender person, serve food to a transgender person, tow a transgender person’s car, or accept a transgender person as a member of your family.. then I defy every word on the subject is being put in your head by that particular church or pastor. Hopefully, this is only happening in the most extreme churches. I defy them, and the words of Jesus are not in congruence with those views. My life, my story, and my actions do not add up to what that kind of hatred and miss-understanding are calling for. I am a human being who is deserving of your respect. Transgender people are human beings that are born in a unique way, just as you are a human being that is born in a unique way.

Another verse that is often referred to when sniping at transgender people is one that does not even make sense to use: Genesis 1:27“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This one is so simple to debunk as a sniping tactic that I honestly am annoyed that I have to even include it in this post. This verse is literally an inclusive verse. Many biblical scholars agree that “male and female he created them” is not mutually exclusive text. We are all made in the image of God. WE are all male and female. All males start as females in the womb. Yes, really! All of us have both testosterone and estrogen in our bodies. All of us have varying levels of what one could call “gender.” You can spend weeks googling all of the arguments on that one, but it is the truth.

Let me just end by saying again that I am not a biblical scholar. I became a Christian around age 22 and spent many years being a part of several great churches. I co-led a men’s ministry for close to three years. I care about my faith and I love having a relationship with Jesus. Because of verses like Deuteronomy 22:5 and how misguided Christians would use them, it took me a very long time to understand that I could still be the real me and that the Lord would love me just as I am. I prayed about this for years.

Ladies and Gentlemen and all of those in between.. what the heck are we fighting about this for?? Jesus is Love. He loves you and YOU are a unique creation that is MEANT to be unique in this world. BE YOU. BE FREE.

Ariana Danielle

“So God created Dan/Ariana in his own image, in the image of God he created him/her; male and female he created them.”

2015-03-17 17.40.57 20160605_ariana_1080x1907

20160422_155134-COLLAGE-series0A20160427_162235-COLLAGE-series1A220160418_122158-COLLAGE-series2-220160422_125138-COLLAGE-selfies320160323_215741-COLLAGE-selfies-520160407_191549-COLLAGE-selfies4

I was once asked this question from an anonymous follower of my blog.. “Why so many selfies?” The same question has been asked of other transgender women that post about their transitions.

Let’s assume that this was an innocent question for a moment and give it a simple answer:

I take lots of selfies because my body is slowly starting to match the sense of self that has always been there. I post some of them along with the narratives that I write about my life because both the photos and the narrative give hope to other transgender people. This website and my blog are for them, it is not for anyone who wants to look at transgender women for “other” purposes. The feedback I receive from other transgender or non-binary people is amazing and it lifts me up, so I benefit from sharing my story as well (see the bottom of my home page for samples of the support I receive from other people like me).

Beyond this simple answer, is a more complex one that I hope takes on yet another stereotype of transgender women.

You see, a funny thing happened once my outside started to match my inside. I began to love myself again. I have gone from being in a 242 lb dysphoria inducing body that was pre-diabetic and condemned to being on cholesterol medication, to living in a body that is healthy, happy, and dare I say growing more beautiful by the day. Now, the stereotype is that transgender women are narcissistic. Apparently we only want attention, and that is the only reason why we post pictures on the internet. As I mentioned above, we are putting our stories and our pictures out there to support each other and to present ourselves accurately. Imagine turning on the nightly news and having a politician or a pastor demonize you on a national news story when they know nothing about you. THAT IS WHAT WE FACE. The nightly news, movies, radio programs, authors and bloggers all misrepresent us. We are not able to trust anyone else to tell our stories, so many of us have chosen to do it ourselves.

“But you just said ‘I began to love myself again,’ which makes you narcissistic” – If this is what you may be thinking at this point, my response would be to point you to a dictionary.

Narcissism means: excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearanceThis is not the same thing as having a healthy love of yourself or in finding joy in walking a path that is difficult but leads to extreme growth. I tie a few photos to every post that I write. It captures a moment in time. It shows how I looked that day and it captures the subtle tension in my face or the lack thereof. It captures the joy in my face of finding acceptance from yet another family member or friend. It can capture confidence and courage that I may need to look for again on a bad day. For me, it also shows me the evolution of my makeup skills over time and reminds me of things that I probably should not try again 😉

People that call out women for being narcissistic do so from a very misogynistic viewpoint. This misogynistic attitude purports that women are not allowed to call attention to their beauty and are not allowed to think of themselves as beautiful. If a girl is complimented on her looks and says anything other than “thank you” then she is seen as being narcissistic. She can be told she is beautiful, but she better not think she is beautiful on her own. This is of course, complete and utter garbage.

Women, whether transgender or not, are beautiful and have the right to love themselves for who they are. They have the right to share their stories with those who draw encouragement from their experiences.

Stop calling women narcissistic for having confidence and for sharing that confidence.

-Ariana Danielle

20160427_162235-COLLAGE-series120160323_174908-COLLAGE-selfies620160420_185352-COLLAGE-series720160315_160357-COLLAGE-series820160417_123306-COLLAGE-series920160423_134422-COLLAGE-series10 

                       

Transition is a perfectly reasonable choice for a transgender person. There are many people out there who speak against the idea of transition and say that transgender people need to instead seek treatment for a mental disorder that doesn’t even exist(*). They choose to ignore the findings of MODERN medicine and wish to instead hold onto incorrect and biased beliefs that were put to paper by certain medical professionals during the last century. What we are really talking about is the idea of Forced Conformity or Conversion Therapy vs. Social Acceptance of Transition.

Today a transgender person is condemned to constantly be at war.

First, there is a war within themselves. There is what can perhaps be best described as an in-congruence between the mind and the body. The old thinking was, that obviously we just need to try to fix the mind, because this is not normal. Not common and not normal are too very different things. It is my opinion that being born transgender is simply another possible outcome of the dice roll that is part DNA, genetics, pre-natal development (search: hormone exposure in the womb), and variation in “coding”. Whether you believe that we were intelligently created beings or not can be entirely beside the point here. We are just another valid variation of a human being. Forced Conformity or Conversion Therapy can really at best delay the war with a fake truce. Replacing it with a cold war where both sides still hate each other and still do damage to one another. Ultimately both sides (mind and body) will still suffer greatly.

Accepting oneself is the next war. Whether transition even comes into play or not, a transgender person needs to be able to accept who they are. Society, family, and even friends all quietly but consistently enforce gender stereotypes on us even before we are born. (Is it a boy or girl? A boy? Okay blue walls in his room then, clothes with toy cars or trains on them, etc.) We play along and learn what is “not for us” extremely early. We conform, even though we know something is off. Thus begins the first war mentioned above. Some of us will rise up and fight against conformity while we are very young, others will do so in their teens. Many will be brought up in ultra conservative households or live in ultra conservative towns and bury things so deep that they somehow get by until they are much older. At some point though, they may finally choose to face their gender dysphoria head on. Hopefully, they learn to love and accept themselves.

Finding acceptance socially is the next war. This is the war that I am currently waging in my personal life. It is a complex and painful war that is being fought on multiple fronts all at once. I am not fighting this war alone though. I have many new friends and have re-connected with some of my old ones. Some battles were lost and there are those that refuse to accept me and have cut off all communication. It is hard to win a battle when the other side decides their opponent is not even worth fighting. Even if one finds acceptance from most of the people in their life, we still have to defend our very existence from strangers or from those who have decided to attack us openly (such as the family research council and other hate groups disguised as religious organizations). Hate groups that target transgender people feed on misconceptions, stereotypes, and fear. I can only come against these groups with my story. They want to label me a pervert or a sexual deviant because they can only see a couple of reasons why somebody would transition. They think I want to “pretend to be a woman” to fool men into sleeping with me, or they think I am fulfilling some deep-seated fantasy of my own by becoming my own twisted version of a sex object. If you don’t believe me look at the comments section on any news story that has anything to do with transgender topics. Especially if the article paints transgender people in a positive light, the hate mongers will attack and fill the comments with their filth. Big surprise by the way.. the reasons they assume that I have for transitioning are all categorically WRONG!

This is only part of my lived story. It cannot be denied, and it cannot be argued against, because it is My Life and My Experience.

My transition started out as an attempt to simply find relief from crippling gender dysphoria. I had not decided to transition fully at that time. However, beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy brought me incredible balance as my brain and body were finally running on the right fuel. Just a few weeks in, my entire being breathed one huge sigh of relief.

Whatever your belief on how transgender people should be treated by the medical community, I beg you to listen to those who have actually had access to proper care from doctors and therapists that follow the modern and accepted way of treating transgender patients. Don’t discount their first hand knowledge of the difference it makes. Listen to their stories and attempt to understand. The science is catching up. In my experience, something biochemical and profound changed for me and I am absolutely certain that there was an in-congruence that existed between my brain and the once “male” hormones that I carried. It has absolutely changed my life for the better and has saved me from a dark place that now seems like a fading memory. Please fight for transgender people to have access to affordable health care.

I am living proof that HRT works. I live a happy and productive life. The only pain I have related to HRT and transitioning is brought on by social stigma, misconceptions, hatred, and incorrect assumptions that other people subscribe to.

I AM HAPPY. I AM HEALTHY. I AM NOT A PERVERT OR PREDATOR. I AM NOT DOING THIS FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN TO IMPROVE MY HEALTH AND WELL BEING AND LIVE THE BEST LIFE I POSSIBLY CAN. I HAVE MET MANY TRANSGENDER PEOPLE FOR WHICH I CAN SAY THE SAME.

Stop the hate. Stop perpetuating the misconceptions. Help end that war. Please.

Ariana Danielle

* According to DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, the American Psychiatric Association does not classify being transgender as having a mental disorder or mental illness – opinions to the contrary are part of a harmful stigma still being perpetuated despite scientific study proving otherwise.