church, Uncategorized

I am an act of rebellion

My short hair and red lips are more than simple physical attributes, they are acts of defiance against the programming that I received as the survivor of a backwoods apostolic cult.

We were taught many horrible things, but growing up male in that culture gave me the most amazing opportunity to gain a unique perspective.

We had some pretty strict rules concerning our women.

Women couldn’t wear pants, only skirts, maybe culottes if they were designed well enough that no one else could really tell that they were pants.

Women that wore pants were going to burn in hell for all eternity.

Women couldn’t wear makeup except for clear lipgloss because, again, no one could really tell that you were wearing it.

Women that wore makeup were “whores and sluts, praise the good lord, baby Jesus” dedicated to nothing more than deceiving and enticing our young men into a life of sin, making them ineligible to marry their cousins who were pure, because being fondled by daddy didn’t count.

Women couldn’t cut their hair, because “their hair was their glory” and thus had to be pulled super tight against their heads and hidden in a small bun at the crown of their head.

We all scorned the women who displeased God but trimming their split ends.

“Men that wanted to be women” were the worst.

Nothing was more depraved than the sex lives that we invented for them without ever having met or spoken to a transgender person.

We would obsess about those sex lives. I remember how our pastor would scream about it until his face was purple and he was soaked in sweat.

Later, I would wonder if that was the same way he looked while cheating on his wife with my married stepsister while her two kids were at school.

So today I present myself as an act of defiance to all of those who insist that I am not enough, that I can’t call myself a Christian.

I am going to continue my transition from male to female.

I am going to wear pants, not culottes, because culottes are gross.

I am going to cut my hair.

I am going to wear as much makeup as I want to, or none at all depending my my mood and the number of times I’ve hit the snooze button that day.

And you know what?

God is going to love me anyway, because God so loved me that they sent their only begotten son so that I would not perish, but have everlasting life.

Let your life be an act of rebellion.

It’s the quickest way to freedom.

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I’m No Expert, But I Don’t Think That’s How You Do An Exorcism

Growing up in an isolated apostolic sect, you get a front row seat to some pretty bizarre and fascinating scenes. There was always lots of dancing as the pastor’s wife pounded away on the old piano and his daughter danced around with the tambourine, lots of pulling people to the front to have the pastor hit them upside the head whether they wanted it or not and lots of falling down. So much falling down. Maybe that’s why I still to this day can’t see someone fall without laughing, the more flailing the better. I was born into a society of people who cheered one another on as they flailed and screamed and rolled around on the floor in their ankle length skirts and perfect cinnamon bun hair.

As a side note, it was at church that I first noticed the plight of the rhythmically challenged middle-aged white man.

Some nights when we’d arrive to church there was a different energy the air. People got super excited when we had a visitor because it was pretty rare. This may be hard to believe, but people were hardly pounding down the doors eager to be told that they were bound for eternal damnation. That sometimes doesn’t sit so well with folks that just wanted to show up, sing some hymns, learn a little about Jesus and go home to tuck the kids into bed. I never understood why, we were just trying to help, and no kid was ever scarred by hearing in great detail what happens to flesh when it burns, right?

Anyway, those nights were extra special. On those nights we’d learn all about demon possession again. You could almost feel the electricity in the air as Brother Danny would scream for an hour and a half about Jesus casting demons into pigs, all the while breaking every two minutes to wipe the torrential sweat from his face and the dripping spit from the microphone.

As he’d begin to close, Sister Kathy, his wife, would begin to pound as softly on the piano as she could manage. She tried her best though, and we all enjoyed it. He’d begin the standard pleas to come to the altar, to repent your sins. You know, it’d been an entire 6 hours since we’d done so at Sunday school.

I was never sure how it happened, but somehow that night’s guest always ended up being dragged forward, completely of his own free will. The prayer would start innocently enough. He’d be anointed with oil, Brother Danny would ask the church to pray and BAM! Our guest was splayed out on the floor, held in place by four of the church’s strongest men, one on each arm and leg. Now here’s the fun part. We’d get to sing and pray and cheer our friends on as they beat the young man with bibles until he was literally vomiting and seizing and threatening to kill us all. He didn’t mean it though, that was the demon talking.

Eventually he’d stop fighting and repent and we’d all cheer and celebrate and dance and fall down again.

By this point he’d have vomited out all of the demon, so he’d rest for a bit before a bunch of the guys would help him out to one of their trucks. I always thought it was super nice of those guys to make sure he got some safe after such a stressful ordeal, but I never understood why it took so many guys to escort him home or why they were so excited to do it.

None of those guys ever visited a second time, though. Pretty ungrateful, if you ask me.

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An Open Letter To Those Christians and Pastors That See Me As Unworthy

Far too often in life, we see people drift away from the church and we simply don’t hear from them again, but rarely as churches do we gather to discuss where they’ve gone. . It’s an ongoing problem, one that seems to be growing. You see, I’m one of those people, and I’m finding more and more refugees out here on the battlefield where we’ve been sent to die.

Several times last year, I attempted to find a home church. Time after time, in varying manners of harshness, the answer was no. Sometimes I was told that I shouldn’t visit at all, once I was told that the church would never be ready for someone like me, and once I was told that even though I was welcome to attend, I simply couldn’t consider myself one of them by joining. Separate, but encouraged to support the church anyway. (Why would God have me support a church that refuses to support my family?)

So here we are. I float between churches hoping that one day, a church family will stick and I can take a break from trying to find a refuge in Christ where my friends and family would be welcome without judgement.

Here’s where things start to get a bit sticky. I’ve left your churches, and stepped right into water over my head. I’m out here floundering, gasping for air, begging for a lifeline like so many others beside me, a lifeline that you refuse to throw. Our screams are deafening. We’ve lost so many. Some have passed of natural causes, never having felt the loving embrace of God again. Some have taken their own lives. I can’t blame them, I’ve considered it myself at times. Watching people die the spiritual death that we witness out here is one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to cope with in my life, and I’ve seen much.

We see you though. We see you watching us silently from your fortresses, synagogues and sanctuaries. We watch as you worship and then embrace one another warmly, encouraging each other to embrace Gods grace, the same grace that was supposed to save me from this death. You love telling one another that you’re good Christian people, even if you are slightly broken.

We watch you as you ignore our pleas. We don’t blame you. Those chairs look comfy. We wish we had one. Let us know when you’re ready for us to come back in. Until then, we’ll be out here doing our best to rescue as many of your rejects as possible.

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Was I born just to be a sin?

Recently, someone that I didn’t know, hadn’t met before and haven’t met since, spent several hours persistently asking me if being transgender is a sin.

For a little context, let me preface this a bit by saying that I had shared a quote on my super awesome Instagram page, @TransitionalChristian (Sorry about the shameless plug, but not really. Visit the page, give me a like. I enjoy those.)

Anyway, this particular quote was “I almost always find my strength during my most vulnerable moments.”

So, armed with that knowledge, it’s perfectly logical that this persons obsession with my genitals was immediately triggered and they simply weren’t going to move on until they got their answer. Long story short, I sent him off with a lecture and a block, but no answer. It was none of their business simply because they had made it their concern and I can only handle the same boring talking points buzzing in my ear for so long.

Interestingly though, this person triggered some fairly deep reflection. I’m no stranger to that, but this is a pretty icky gray area that I try to avoid. Over and over tonight I was asked if being transgender was a sin. I never did offer an answer, because if I’m to be fully honest, I simply don’t know. I don’t think so. I certainly hope not. But I do not know. I know that I love God and God loves me in all of my brokenness.

So here we are. I’m transgender. There’s really not much that I can do about that other than neglecting my suggested medical regimen, returning to living a complete lie 24/7 (I was really quite good at that) and pretend to feel like I was living a wholesome life until I finally ended up driving off a bridge out of sheer misery and self hatred.

Or….and this is a big or….I could live the life that I firmly believe that I was created for. I can embrace this amazing person that I’ve grown into with Gods help, delivered from my alcoholism and cocaine dependency, into a place where I’m able to help, support, encourage and uplift others in Gods name while doing my best to show Christ’s love in everything that I do.

I feel pretty certain that I’ll stick to the second scenario. It makes me joyful and it makes it possible to be a person that dedicates their life to service. If after all of that, God decides that my gender is the one thing that will keep me out of heaven, I will die knowing that I had done all that I could do.

If that worries you, my prayer is that you’ll search your heart. Find the thing that’s holding you back from offering unconditional love. The process of finding the source may suck, but I promise you that it’s worth the work. It’s so much happier on this side.

We’ll walk through it together, if you’d like.