A Thruway Christian Ponders Transgenderism

Troy is a member of Thruway Christians. On his blog today, he writes of his experience watching the TC’s interact with a transgendered member of the group, and of his own deep questions about the whole transgender phenomenon. (“The idea that God would make a mistake and create a soul to reside in the wrong body… God does not make mistak…es!”) It’s the kind of open, honest inquiry that I think stands as a reason for us all to have real hope that one day “Christian” will be synonymous with nothing but “loving.”

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://withbrokenbread.blogspot.com/ Troy

    Thank you for appreciating this! I have rarely had to grapple to such an extent as I did in writing this, but praise God for His Holy Spirit! And praise God for the members of the Thruway Christians! They have touched a life in a way that is truly beautiful and Spirit-led! May she come to a stronger, more sure-footed relationship with Christ, and complete security in who she is.

  • Anonymous

    Good job, Troy. Thanks for your gracious handling of that whole dynamic. U da man.

  • http://shadsie.deviantart.com/ Shadsie

    Meh, my only thoughts on this are – “Try to find/be sure of who you are. Make sure you aren’t just conforming to what you think society expects of you.”

    I had an online friend, actually, an online friend turned enemy – a frienemy. The kindest way I can describe her is as a paranoid, possessive, manipulative little narcissist. I pity and worry about her every now and again, though I have no idea what she’s doing now, hope she’s not dead, but also hope never to encounter again in this lifetime. We talked on AIM a lot. She had this kind of issue (among many).

    The thing is, when we were friends, she’d complain about her Fundamentalist parents and family church and all the ideas about women and the place of women they had. She was pretty well convinced that women were “supposed” to think and act a certain way and that females were inferior to males. I’d say “Look, dear, I wear combat boots, like to fish, have enjoyed doing ‘manly’ jobs, don’t particularly want children and am sure that I’m a female. You don’t need to listen to frilly pink happy homemaker stuff to be a woman – be yourself.”

    Then she got into talking about how women were inherently inferior to men in every degree and how she really wanted to be a man because of that…. and, well, she had *loads* of self-esteem issues but was the kind of person who was too proud to get help and kind of looked down on those who did (even me, a best online friend).

    Later on, after we parted friendship (but I was still reading her online prescence – after all, we still shared a small fandom/fictional obession), when she was going to go all-out and start living as a male, claiming she was a male soul… I hate to sound insensitive, but I just didn’t buy it. I was of the opinon that she probably wasn’t really a “true transgender” so much as she was a bratty young person with loads of self-esteem issues that bought into a lot of sexist lies.

    She was actually one of the most sexist people I’ve ever known.

    I’m not disparaging transgender people – all I plead for/caution for is to “make sure it’s really you,” make sure you aren’t just switching over or thinking that you’re one kind of soul because of lies society or your family has fed you about how the genders are “supposed” to behavior or the superiority/inferiority of one over the other.

    • Diana A.

      Yes, I’d imagine that the built in sexism of our culture (in most cultures?) doesn’t help matters when it comes to this issue. Men are constantly being pressured to prove their manhood while women are automatically assumed to be inferior in so many ways. Such a shame.

      • http://shadsie.deviantart.com/ Shadsie

        Yeah, I could introduce you to one of my current online aquaintences that throws sterotypes out the window. She likes romance-stuff, will say stuff like “I’m such a girl,” adores the color pink… she’s also an veteran/ex Army-MP who’s been to combat zones in Iraq!

        Acording to my (insane, sexist-brainwashed) ex-friend above (when I knew her, anyway), such a person should not exist.

        I do think that the sexism and “gender conformity” of the culture should be a consideration in the transgender issues… I mean, there are people who are intersexed medically, but for those who “have the choice” – I’d say “make sure that’s your heart talking and not society” because society is pretty hard on those who do not conform – such as sensitive men and tough women.

    • Zoe_Brain

      Then she got into talking about how women were inherently inferior to men in every degree and how she really wanted to be a man because of that….

      She’d be unable to transition then. She wouldn’t be permitted to.

      From the DSM-IV-TR
      “There are two components of Gender Identity Disorder, both of which must be present to make the diagnosis. Thee must be evidence of a strong and persistent gross-gender identification, which is the desire to be, or the insistence that one is of the other sex (Criteria A). This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex. there must also be evidence of persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex (Criteria B).”

      No formal diagnosis, no hormones nor surgery. Not permitted. And not just one, but two mental health professionals must concur with the diagnosis after a 15-month minimum period of diagnostic observation, often much, much longer.

      • Diana A.

        True.

  • http://withbrokenbread.blogspot.com/ Troy

    When I think of one who experiences a transgender mentality, I think of one that conforms not so much to the longing to be part of the modern social construct of each gender, but rather believe that they are (at their deepest, barest nature) more of one gender hormonally, spiritually, and emotionally. There will always be a sexism that is determined with each successive culture, whether it hinders the male or female. Some of those who fit a social construct better do not seem to match the mindset of those that truly believe that their very being is opposite of their human body. Either way, I believe that I am called to love them no matter what.

  • Pastorjeffbrady

    Why do we continually forget that God created a perfect world, but sin has tainted it and let in all measure of sickness, disease, irregularities, and imperfections. GOD, by nature, cannot create anything imperfect. It is His great enemy causing dischord in the world. I don’t question God, rather I pursue the fight against Satan.

  • http://N/A Joan Odom

    Simply saying “God does not make mistakes” is lazy, and a cop-out. I personally KNOW a person born with dual genitalia. “Assigned” surgery was performed, forcing this child to be a female. As time went on, the child was obviously male. He lives today as a male, with a wife and adopted child. How can you deny what comes naturally to you, as a child? I think the “Christian” community needs to stop dismissing people that way. That is the kind of speech that keeps me at Unitarian gatherings.

    • Diana A.

      God does not make mistakes. People make mistakes. People see a child with dual genitalia and feel a need to immediately rush in and “correct the problem.” Then the child grows up and the supposed “correction” turns out to have been the wrong thing.

      This human need to make everything and everyone fit neatly into a category is the problem. If there are people with dual genitalia or other issues, there are reasons. Those reasons may not be immediately apparent, but they do exist.

      Did you the entirety of what Troy wrote in his blog? Because I did and I didn’t get the impression that he was dismissing anybody. Rather, I got the impression that he was struggling to understand.

      Yes, this is a hot-button issue and a lot of hurtful things have been said by those of us in the Christian community and by some outside the Christian community. It’s the rush to judgment that is the problem. We could all stand to step back, take a deep breath, and think before we speak/act.


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