Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reflections of the past year and of hope for the future...


As a Transgendered Christian woman the last year has been filled with issues that are very important to ones self-respect. Early in my Christian days I learned this quote by Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing." As a transgendered woman I learned that nobody was going to stand up on my behalf. So I made a vow to myself that I would not be one that does nothing in the face of evil – even if it isn’t much I can open my mouth and cry “foul!” when necessary. I decided to take up the challenge to speak up openly about my life and to tell about life from my perspective as well. I personally work for Marriage Equality and Faith without Prejudice whenever I am able. It is why I took up this blog and the “Living Transgender In American Society Today” vlog project too.

This New Years Eve and Day I spent largely by myself and I have done a lot of reflecting on the things that have affected my life and those of the people I care about. More specifically, I have been talking recently with several other transgendered people of faith from several denominational and religious backgrounds, and there seems to be a general consensus that we don’t feel like we fully fit in either the GLBTQ community or the community of faith. Often it feels like both groups that are supposed to be our friends and “community” kick us in the teeth. This makes finding self-acceptance a tremendous struggle for many – and it
isn’t just limited to transgender folk either. People dealing with divorce or a major illness or the death of a child or loved one – even dealing with a birth defect causes enough self-doubt. And then along come the people of our particular faith or our particular peer group – however one defines it – and they too become scared of us or indifferent or even hateful of us because of what we must do to cope. Anyway, my purpose here now on New Years Day 2009 is to tell some of what I have experienced and how I have come to grips with life in the hopes of bringing just a bit of hope to others that feel alone and lost in their struggles. Perhaps also seeing things through different eyes may help others to understand us too.

Several years after being tossed out of my first Church (a Fundamentalist Baptist one) after 14 years of faithful service on the day my father died, I started attending an Assembly of God Church in Riverside with a wonderfully kind engineer I worked with - he took on a mentor role in my life in those days, though I don’t think he knew that. I witnessed the love he had for his family and for God on many occasions. He, his family and that congregation were so supportive and comforting - they knew about my drug abuse and my depressions and everything except that I was a girl on the inside. I felt so welcome - it was a joy to walk in the door to their Home and to that Church – with the exception of having to hide my horrible secret. I so loved the worship times we shared and the laughter and the tears too, but I had to leave to start transition. They certainly would not understand so I left the Church quietly. Many months later – about 6 into transition - upon first mention of it, these wonderful people turned on the dime and tore me up as becoming "homosexual and being in lockstep with the baby murderers at Planned-Parenthood” and etc. Those were my mentor's words though he swore that this would not end our friendship. But then he began to fill up my e-mail inbox with all the hate rhetoric and would not stop when I asked him to. I had to tell him to not be my friend anymore. That one still brings tears to my eyes, but it typifies the spiritual and emotional struggles we of faith all seem to go through somewhere in transition.

I never thought of myself as part of the GLBT community in all the years prior to transition and still I have a hard time fully realizing that I am, simply because of how God made me at birth. To stand up amongst the GLBTQ people and say I am Christian immediately polarizes most against me. As a Christian I know all too well the pain of bashing from the people I am supposedly part of now that I have changed and become more whole as a person. I have learned to shed the false teachings and cling to God and to myself as created.

So how do I fit and where can I find my own niche has been a big struggle for me too. Maybe - and I think this is the right track anyway - I am just supposed to be a very vocal and visible spokeswoman for people like us. It fits my faith and desire to help people in some tangible way, though there are times when I have to wonder if anyone besides me really cares. I can channel my anguish into some sort of sane action, and it is something I apparently can do well with a little bit of effort, but I never in my wildest dreams expected this to be my life, and for it most days to feel like the right path. Time will tell on that score, but for now I'm OK with it.

In my journey to self-awareness and self-acceptance I discovered that "normal" does not exist in humanity – a normal human is a myth - most people that appear to have a handle on life are likely the most troubled of all because they have had to believe a lie (or a lot of 'em) in their life just to get to sleep at night, and at the other end of the spectrum some have so much material stuff they can buy a great fa├žade. The few that really do have a handle on it I have observed are the ones of deep faith, and I don’t limit that to just Christian faith, by the way. There are those that walk softly all through society living their faith - my Catholic Aunt who has been a pillar of strength to me from my youth until now is one of those earthly angels. I strive to be more like her every day - except my big mouth seems to keep me from walking very softly, and so here I am trying to live what I believe and share what I have come to understand openly.

Recently, one friend said she was suffering from TMI (Too Much Information) in her life
as she tries to reconcile her complete self to her long-time faith. I think most of us trans-women go through a major TMI episode as we start to fully accept life as a woman. I suppose that trans-men have similar experiences, but I can only speak from my perspective – and that is as a woman that had to get here the long way around. As we of faith begin to reconcile our faith with whom we really are we have to re-evaluate everything we were taught and everything we thought we knew. It is a traumatic but necessary process, but eventually we realize the vastness of God's love for us and the vastness of His creation and begin to see where we might actually fit in His big picture. That sounds like TMI to! We seem to have gotten an extra dose of sensitivity, perhaps because we wrestled with the man and the woman in us all our lives and spent most of our so-called male lives trying to justify, to ourselves and everyone around us, why we do things differently and why our natural reactions to things are different than the "norm" for our birth gender.

At the very best we are women that will always have challenges to face about our womanhood. It is overwhelming, but whatever you do, do not let go of Jesus, and don't ever let go of the person you know in your heart that you are. For those of other faiths you may plug in the proper equivalents here, but again I can only speak from my own experience – I am not being intentionally elitist here. I know Jesus won't let go of you regardless, but I find it helps me to visualize myself as a young girl clinging to Him in a happy embrace. It is ironic that my mentor/colleague/friend sent me this pencil sketch right about the time I begin transition in earnest and it actually helped confirm this as the right way to sanity and wholeness for me. I thought he somehow knew what I had kept hidden so deeply and was indicating that he would not cast me off, but I sure was wrong.

It is our self-identity - faith included - and acceptance of our female-self that make us complete people. For me, I decided when I went full-time 2-1/2 years ago that I was simply going to be myself with as much flair as I can muster because there are things about me that will always stand out as oddly masculine. Now when someone gets in my face and tells me that I am a man or I don't pass – I guess they think they are telling me something that I don’t already know – I can proudly say right back in theirs "yes, but I am doing everything I possibly can to remedy that and be the best woman I can be. What are you doing to be the best person you can be?"

In my life I count 3 major things that get me through the rough moments - so far my faith in God (stripped of most denominational traditions these days), my recent understanding of my disabilities, and then believing in the woman I truly am (regardless of outward appearances to others) keeps me out of the depth of despair. I still wrestle with depression and severe anxiety and Adult ADHD, but they don't take me out of the game anymore. Looking back on the past year and my 2-1/2 years as a woman I can say the best choice I have made short of trusting in Jesus and accepting that I am His girl is that I decided to be boldly open and truthful about who I am. I hope what I have said here will give you a bit of peace and hope to be your own self, happily and fruitfully in the New Year

I would love to hear your views and discuss them (politely only please) even if you disagree with me. The only way we will ever come to understanding and tolerance is by taking the time to actually talk with each other.


Happy New Year 2009! May God, as you understand Him or Her, bless you richly this year.

Sincerely,
Eva-Genevieve! Scarborough
evagenevieve@yahoo.com
Human
Christian
Transgendered
Advocate for civil-rights and Faith without Prejudice
On Camera Host/Moderator/Coordinator - Living Transgender in American Society Today, 2008

3 comments:

  1. Hi Eva-Genevieve. I read your blog and found many similarities in my life. Gd confirmed and affirmed me as a transgender person. I have dedicated 2009 to being a light for transgender people. Actually, Jesus is the light and I want people to see Jesus in me.

    I am a crossdresser and I do know the bigotry and prejudice out there. However, I am proud of who I am. I have been out in public frequently and will share with those who want to know about my gender identity. An excellent post.

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  2. Thank You Genevieve!

    I appreciate your comment. I am always surprized at how many transgender folk are also believers in Jesus. I believe God really does have something for us to do in the midst of the GLBT community and in the larger family of faith. We are in for some hard, but very interesting and rewarding days if we hold fast to our faith, to ourselves and to each other.
    Thanks for "following" my blog too.
    Hugs,
    Eva-Genevieve!

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  3. Yes, there are many belevers in the GLBT community. I pray that I have opportunities to share te gospel with other GLBT men and women. There's no doubt in my mind that we're here for this time in our history.

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