Over on the Facebook page for Unfundamentalist Christians, Robyn, a transgender woman wrote the below. I thought I’d also run her letter here, because it offers such a unique and fascinating perspective on such an important spiritual question. Thank you, Robyn, for being so willing to share with us such a vital part of your journey. Here is what Robyn wrote:
Why do there always seem to be spiritual implications to sexuality? For a race of people supposedly interested in spiritual development, why do we put so much emphasis on sexuality?
Specifically, what has my gender to do my worship of the Infinite? Does the Infinite itself have a gender or a sex? And if not, why then is mine of so much interest to so many other people?
I was born in a body that came with a penis. That automatically labeled me as “male.” Since then, I have spent a lifetime trying to fit into the socially-dictated role of “man.” It hasn’t worked, and now, 60 years later, I have had enough. I’m through with trying to fit a role that doesn’t fit me. Tired of trying to be someone I am not.
Finally, in 2007, I began to get the help and guidance I needed. Unable to keep a steady job because of mental issues—chronic, debilitating depression—I traveled from California to Seattle, to live with my daughter and her family. I went on public assistance, one of the conditions for which was that I had to go into therapy.
I was fortunate in that there was a post-graduate psychology student doing fieldwork in the same office, and I was able to go into treatment with her. After a few sessions, which seemed not to be helping much, I showed up for my latest appointment. I walked into her office, sat down, and burst into tears. Through my sobs and gasps for breath, I finally managed to say the words that changed my life:
“All I ever wanted was to be a pretty girl.”
Continuing sessions led me to the realization and understanding that I was—and am—transgendered. But more importantly, they led me to the acceptance of my condition, and the acceptance of who I am .It’s been a little over a year and a half since I started my transition from male to female; in that time, I have met with understanding, rejection, hostility, acceptance, and finally, love.
But as I write this, I am still recovering from a serious suicide attempt.
My own religion doesn’t accept that two persons of the same sex can be married. It doesn’t accept—indeed, it condemns—homosexual relationships. The idea that two people can be in love and forge a lasting relationship is anathema to all major revealed religions.
And so we’re forced to lie. We’re forced to lie about our relationship, to lie about our identity. No one in our religious community knows that I’m transgendered. I can still pass as male, although the longer I’m on hormones the harder it is to hide my true self. And I’m tired of hiding. Did I spend the first 60 years of my life hiding from the truth only to recognize it, embrace it, and then go back to hiding it again?
Is there a solution? Can I be part of my religious community and profess to accept its beliefs while at the same time violating some of the most basic tenets of my faith? I cannot, in all good conscience, claim to be a follower of this Path unless I accept all of its Laws and Teachings.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with the woman I did. My dream was to become the woman that I am, and fall in love with a man who would accept me for who I am, not what I am. I dreamed of finding my Prince Charming.
But it didn’t work out that way. My soul mate, my dream partner turned out to be my Princess Charming. And here’s the catch: it wouldn’t have made any difference to me had she been a man. Her body, her gender, didn’t matter to me. Her soul called to mine, and mine responded.
How can this be wrong? How can any all-knowing, all-loving Creator create us like this in the first place, and then condemn us for being the way we are? But there you have it. Will I have no inner peace and tranquility unless I reject my religion? Must I publicly state that I am no longer a part of this community? My own conscience and honesty tell me that this is so.
How can I reconcile my beliefs and my Self?
 I use the words “transgendered” or “trans-woman” to describe what, not who, I am. I also use white, of Irish and English descent, writer, photographer, wife, poet, and many other words to describe what I am. But the words are not who I am. The who is easier to answer: I am Robyn. I am me. I am the woman I was always meant to be. I am.