I was discussing my transition with a friend on Facebook and we got on the subject of whether or not a person that is transitioning is a “mistake.”
My response below was written to a friend that has the belief that the entire process of a child being born is divinely directed from conception to birth.
This is a good topic to discuss and one that I think if people were to have an open mind about, they would see that there is a way to still believe we are intelligently created and yet not at all “mistakes”. This does not even touch on the perfectly valid point that God may choose to design transgender people from the very beginning to be transgender.
I believe that we are beings of intelligent design. Based on our discussions, I think you and I agree on what we believe the origin of that design to be.
I think where we differ and where we might need to agree to disagree.. is that I view all of us as intelligently designed autonomous beings that are brought into the world by the divinely created process of conception and then there are millions of moments of development that take place from that moment forward.
I believe that process of development from the moment of conception to no longer be divinely controlled. I know that may seem contradictory, but I don’t think it is.
We in the church have all heard that the very hairs on our heads are numbered. Well, I believe that because it is in our genetic code.
As a software developer/computer programmer, I view the genetic code as how we were knit together. It is a glorious and wonderful system that is begun at conception (all of the code that goes on to build out our bodies is already there). What I believe begins there is a creation which from that moment on develops both in the womb and outside of it and is subject to millions of factors influencing development. Examples of factors proven to affect development (with hormones being just one example) include everything from how the mother eats, stress levels, sleep patterns, common cold, disease, take your pick of any similar factor outside of that child’s body.. they affect development.
I do not look at the process of human development inside the womb or out as a constant divinely monitored process that is perfect in every way.
If it was, then there would be no point in having doctors monitor pregnancies.. at all.
Regarding my statement comparing us to a system containing “software,” that code drives how our cells constantly renew. We do not often think about the fact that our cells are constantly being replaced. Factors can affect even that process during our lives (cancer).
Our bodies seem static, but they are not. I am not saying we are programmed robots. I believe we are given free will and that we are a creation like no other made from an image like no other.
I believe that genetic code is how we all are knit together. I would never say God made a mistake with me. I was created and knit together just like you. The hairs on my head are numbered, they were coded that way.
I and many others (way more than 0.3% of the population) have a variation in my gender. I can’t fully explain how or why it happened, but that does not make it unreal or imaginary or “just in my head” (that is so insulting for a person who deals with this to hear).
My point that you can obviously disagree with is that our development is a constant process and the complexity of the process and how it all works and can vary is not even close to being fully understood.
What I am fairly certain we agree on, is that God loves each and every one of us and that we are each a beautiful creation the image of God. I also further agree with you that the Lord wants us to find our way back to being in relationship through accepting Jesus.
If our development and bodies were perfect and unvarying I do not think there would be a point in having to “find our way back” to that relationship.
This is my walk and my life and I am grateful for who I am, how I was knit together, how I developed, the relationship I found, and for where I am now headed. I am in no way a mistake that is trying to correct itself.
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…
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.
“So God created Dan/Ariana in his own image, in the image of God he created him/her; male and female he created them.”
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 appearance. This 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.