I had a trans woman in a previous congregation. Before transitioning, she had served in the military, reaching a high rank. She lost everything in the transition: job, military benefits, spouse, and was more-or-less homeless when I knew her. What she did gain by transitioning was a sense of freedom to be who she wanted to be.
You don’t lose your sense of hearing when you transition. Nor your sight. Nor your feelings. You hear what people say. You see the looks of confusion and disdain. You feel the rejection and the condemnation. There are both subtle and direct rejections.
When I think about trans people, I go back to a forum on trans hosted at Sunnyside and sponsored by Oregon-Idaho Reconciling United Methodists. That forum allowed me to hear directly from several trans persons about their experiences. I can’t say that I understood it all.
That seems to be the biggest barrier between the trans world and the mainstream world: confusion that feels threatening. It is common to fear that which we don’t understand. It is common to try to suppress that which we fear. It is also historically true that getting informed is the peaceful way to negotiate things we fear or don’t understand. Learning from the people: hearing their stories, allowing their experiences to change our minds is the pathway to peace.
There are experiences particular to trans people and the trans community that I will never have. On one hand that creates space between me and my trans co-humanoids. On the other hand, I don’t have to have had a heart attack to care for the people with heart disease. I can navigate the deeper, more basic feelings: I may not have been lonely the way many trans people have been lonely. But I’ve been lonely in my own way and am self-aware enough to know that lonely sucks.
In the way that we cross boundaries all the time-befriending people of another color, welcoming non-English speakers-we can get to the boundary and extend the hand of fellowship. That’s what Jesus wants. Of this I am sure.
So, we’re here because the president made a pronouncement out of ignorance and fear. The people of the Way of Jesus know better. We know that fear kills: too often the people objectified by the fear. It also kills the souls of those perpetuating the myths and fears. If only the president would sit down and listen to trans people: truly listen without prejudice. He would learn of the struggle and the freedom. I am sorry that he will not go to the boundary and extend the hand of fellowship. The people of God have no such qualms and a moral mandate to go to that boundary to protect and welcome our trans friends.