In a way, growing up as a young transgender girl in a church that will never see me as anything other than male put me in a very interesting position.
Being born male, I was often in situations to observe and I was a sponge. Looking back, it would be easy to be ashamed that I didn’t speak up, that I didn’t do something and I’d be lying if I claimed to be completely shame free. Even as the broken and abused child that I was, I knew that I should have said something.
When the room is full of good old boys, the filters come off. When the old boys that are good begin to drift out, the skeletons come out. I knew everything.
I knew that the pastors’ brother wouldn’t let his daughter wear any skirts that covered her knee, even though our sect required women to wear ankle length skirts at all times, even at home.
I knew that one of the patriarchs of our church had a certain fondness for his grandkids. This was more of a horribly kept secret than a revelation, but of course we all acted devastated and shocked when he was finally caught. We all pretended that we hadn’t known, I mean the guy could croon The Old Rugged Cross like no one else. He’d bring you to tears every time, he was such a good Christian man.
I knew that when my cousin married my other cousin, they had to rush the wedding because she was afraid that the baby bump would begin to show. That gal still calls me by my dead name, the last I heard. Who knows, maybe she’s evolved. I don’t care enough to find out. Incest is not best.
I know that my stepfather attempted to molest all three of my cousins, that two of them told my mother who called them liars and sluts, and that my stepfather found that hilarious. I knew that he also raped my aunt with cerebral palsy while she was staying with us, which earned my family a 5 year disownment from the clan. It’s ok though. Pat eventually shut up about the rape and everything was hunky dory.
I knew that a recently divorced daughter of a church matron was sleeping with my stepbrother and providing him with drugs and porn. I hated her for it, but mostly because I’d been groomed to think of him as mine by this time. There’s no wrath like the wrath of a scorned lover.
I knew that the very same church matron had a thing for our pastor and that the good old boys took great humor in knowing that her husband knew about it but didn’t dare say anything. She also wanted my stepbrother, but her daughter and I were there first. She never did land the pastor. He had a thing for my married stepsister.
Growing up male in the apostolic church provided me with a front row seat to study rape culture. It taught me what to expect, should I somehow survive to see adulthood. Growing up male in the apostolic church taught me how to survive the worst kinds of human depravity, and because of that, I am one hell of a survivor.
As a transgender woman, I am eternally grateful for having been born male.