Symphony of a Thousand

It’s a girl!

The struggle for LGBTQ civil rights is like a great symphony now being played. The singular notes below, struck together, make for a sweetly moving chord in that majestic orchestration.

This past Saturday I received this, from reader Matt:

Hi, John. I’m just writing to share some great news! My partner is a transgendered woman, and on Monday she leaves to fly cross-country and have SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery). This is a big step. After this, she will finally get the green light to change her driver’s license, birth certificate and other documents to “Female.” She’ll get to take estrogen and progesterone at full dose. And her transition will be all done!

She’ll finally get to live as her authentic female self.

She has known she was a girl since she was 14, and she is now just shy of 22. I am very excited for her, but also a little apprehensive. The surgery is no walk in the park; it is six hours long, and there is always the risk of complications. She will be away for three weeks recovering, and I cannot be with her because of work. I will miss her enormously.

Will you please join me in praying that everything goes well and that three weeks from now she comes back, whole and complete in herself?

I certainly did say those prayers.

And then yesterday morning I received from Matt this:

The last few days have been an absolute roller coaster of emotions. Many of my family and friends don’t understand, and I can’t talk about this at work. But I just had to share this with someone.

The surgery has gone so well! But what has gotten me the most was my partner’s reaction. I heard (secondhand through our friend) that she now has the letter “F” for female on her hospital bracelet, and that she saw that she broke down with happy sobs.

When I heard that I, too, sobbed so hard my jaw ached. I miss her so much, but this was worth every bit of heartache and strain. She talks about what she can do now: Shop for clothes that fit, go swimming without shame, bathe and shower without emotional pain, finally be completely with me (in every sense of the word). Complete strangers will now call her “Ma’am” and “she”!

She and I both spend most of our time crying at the moment, mostly sobs of relief and happiness. Our friend has gently reminded me that I need support, too, so I’m just writing you to help get it out.

Nothing can touch me right now. All the hate against the LGBTQ community, and against transfolk in particular, just flies right past me at the moment. They’ll never know this love I feel, this profound joy that fills me to overflowing. Even if my partner died tomorrow, she would die as herself, the most beautiful thing to happen to a human being. And oh, how I love this human being in particular!

Anyway, hope this brings a smile to you and Catherine. :)

It did bring a smile. And a tear or two.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Last night I got in this, from the same Blake whose letter I presented in my post “So basically I’m gay. I clearly don’t know how to start this.”

John! I finally came out! It went great. I made an It Gets Better video, and gave you a shout out! Thanks for being awesome. Love, Blake.

And for Most Lovable Guy Ever in a Video, the winner is:

* * * * * * * * * * *

As you may know, last month the United Methodists voted to maintain their denomination’s stance that homosexuals acts are “incompatible with Christian teaching.” (On the other hand: Group of Methodist Ministers Succumb to Gay Agenda!)

Just now underway is the West Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church. (Because, apparently, you just can’t meet often enough.)

Reader and loyal Methodist Carol VanderNat sent me this picture of herself in the lobby of that conference, where for at least two days now she’s been holding a symbolic vigil.

Carol writes:

Our pastors cannot perform same-sex weddings in the churches, or they will be immediately de-frocked. Our LGBT friends are prevented from exercising their faith, and from being married in a church—and the voices of those who wish to include everyone in the United Methodist Church were squashed and not heard. The people at this conference will have to walk around me, ignore me, speak to me or not, but they will have to see me. There are several people—friends, clergy and laity—who will come and sit with me off and on. I know that this action probably won’t change too many hardened hearts and minds, but maybe someone seeing me with my hands tied and my mouth taped shut will think twice about what the word “marginalization” really means.

[UPDATE]

* * * * * * * * * * *

And finally, this morning I heard from our Taiwanese friend Ting Lin (from the recent A Taiwanese lesbian everyone should know):

Dear John,

I am doing all right. I am glad to have met so many people via email. I hope to meet more of them, and to learn their stories.

Just as I expected, I’ve also gotten in some “advice” about my “sexual weakness.” (As usual, those kinds of letters all came with no author name.)

For two days now I have been waiting for my parent’s reaction to the blog post. It will be the last time I have any hopeful expectations from them about this. No matter what happens, I will keep going.

Besides, read this good news!: Taiwanese rights group to propose alternative marriage bill.

I am excited about it, though we all know that we might yet again only end up disappointed.

Meanwhile, an influential organization called the “Chinese Christian Evangelistic Association” has actively mailed all churches and ministers a letter in which they spread the same old rumors. (I have been to many fundamentalist churches here, and they always teach how the legitimization of gay marriage will surely lead to sinful gay people getting married today and then divorced tomorrow, followed by our next demanding the legalization of polygamy, zoophilia, and pedophilia.

If you are interested in seeing this letter, let me know.

Love you,

Ting Lin

I told Ting Lin that I did want to see the letter that the Chinese Christian Evangelistic Association sent to all churches in Taiwan. I also asked her to send me a letter representative of those that she got in offering her “advice” about her errant ways. I was curious to see them; I wondered if such letters were the same in Taiwan as they are here.

Alas, they are.

And guess what? I don’t care. Reading them was like listening to a tone-deaf derelict playing a kazoo in the parking lot outside of a symphony hall in which the greatest orchestra and choir in the world is performing, say, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, (also known as Symphony of a Thousand).

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Kristina Rutledge via Facebook

    So much happy news. That will help me sleep well tonight. Thanks for sharing.

  • Molly by Golly

    Great job, Carol!

  • Molly by Golly

    ..and also Matt, Matt’s partner, Blake, Fang-yi and John.

  • Commenter

    Inside should be worked on so it comes into agreement with outside.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Cool! I KNEW Yoda read my blog!!!

      • Mindy

        This is actually Yoda’s slightly-less-insightful younger brother, Yoduh.

        I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help it.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Oh, shit. I didn’t even see what this dink was saying; I had no idea what he/she/IT meant. But, duh. Sorry. He’s been blocked.

        • Allie

          Don’t feel bad, I didn’t understand him either. I thought he was trying in some cryptic way to say that it’s a shame surgery doesn’t enable transgendered people to gain the internal organs of the sex they’re transitioning to. Which is true, but give it time, this is just the beginning.

      • Elizabeth

        I love this exchange. The easiest way to stop stupidity is with laughter. It’s the most useful thing this blog has taught me. It works with every issue, every time.

    • Lymis

      Oddly, this also works as a haiku.

      • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

        You know, if haiku’s we about preferencing the superficial over deep truths, yeah, it’d be the perfect one. Not sure the masters will see the brilliance of it, though!

    • http://lisainbc.blogpost.com Lisa Salazar

      Who in the hell is “Commenter?” I’m sorry—YES—I’m reacting in anger at what this brief comment is implying…I think it’s a load crap. Is Commenter simply a coward who hides behind a screen name and is too afraid to use his real name (assuming he is male)? Is this coward suggesting Matt’s girl friend should have had her thinking fixed instead of undergoing gender reassignment? What an ignorant and insensitive thing to say. Matt, I am grateful your girl friend was able to change the outside so it is in agreement with who she is inside. I am praying and giving thanks for both of you.

      • Matt

        Thanks for your support guys :).

        It’s interesting to note something. Alan Turing was a brilliant British mathemtician who was sentenced to taking female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) as punishment for being homosexual.

        But because Turing was not transgendered, the changes wrought on his body by the hormones were unbearable to him. He killed himself two years later.

        The inside cannot be made to match the outside. You can pretend or force someone, but that’s all it will ever be, a pretense. I hope you’ll come to understan this, Commenter :).

        • Christelle

          Matt, you and your partner inspire. And your writing is full of humility and grace… thank you.

        • Diana A.

          That’s appalling. I hadn’t heard that part of the story.

          Was he the one who broke the code of the German army during WWII so that the allies could understand the transmissions of the German army, or was that someone else?

          I so hate the attitude of hate.

        • http://bhaney15@gmail.com Blake

          Loved your story, Matt! I was just talking about it to some friends of mine :)

      • n.

        I thought about that interpretation but couldn’t decide if that’s what they were really saying. could well be, especially if they only read the first story,

        Who are they to judge what they haven’t known…. That’s messed up.

    • Kristyn

      Yes. Here’s an example: When you walk around outwardly proclaiming to be a “Christian”, but inwardly, you have no love or empathy for your your fellow human beings, and your heart is a black mass of bigotry and hate. “Inside should be worked on so it comes into agreement with outside.”

  • Carol VanderNat

    THANK you for posting this…I have been amazed at the shift in attitude toward just me in the last two days…people who would not meet my eyes at first are now coming up and offering a hand on my shoulder or my head, offering a prayer or a blessing…a couple have even apologized for their denomination’s choice of inaction and marginalization…change doesn’t start in a plenery session, it starts HERE!

    • otter

      Your story was most inspiring!

    • Brooke

      Yay, Carol! That’s awesome to hear. So many times, it takes a strong voice to help others overcome their own hesitancies and the overwhelming groupthink. Stay strong!!

  • Matt (letter writer)

    Thanks again for including my and my partner’s story in your post, John. It means so much to me, because so often she and I feel very alone.

    It’s important to know that I have so many people cheering me and her on :).

    • Matt (letter writer)

      Also, adore that picture. Spot on, John :).

    • Lymis

      Add some more cheers from me! Congratulations, and best wishes for you both!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Lymis! (Okay, just thought I’d say that.)

        • Lymis

          Since “Lymis” is short for “Love ya. Mean it. Swear!” it’s actually not a bad cheer.

          • Kerry

            Thanks for sharing that Lymis – funny I have used lymi before and while your name had a certain “je nais se quois”, it had not clicked for me.

            Good one :-)

    • http://lovehasnoboundariestw.blogspot.tw Fang-yi

      Dear Mat and Mat’s lovely partner, congratulations!! I am very excited for your new life. I pray God’s peace, love and strength be with you two always. Please remember you are not alone, you have our blessings.

    • Kerry

      Matt,

      Your letter was so beautiful – seeing a love that strong and so much about the other person’s happiness is really inspiring. I’m glad you two souls found each other and I truly wish you both the very best!

    • Carol VanderNat

      Matt….cheers from me as well! Blessings on you both!

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.com Amy

    Wow. What a post to wake up to this morning! I am overcome with emotion at these amazing stories. Lots of people with incredible courage. John, thanks for posting this. Blake, Carol, Matt, & Fang-yi, thank you all for sharing your stories and your hearts with us.

  • Annette Ervin via Facebook

    You’re right. Blake is ADORABLE! And, I too will pray for Matt and his partner. Congratulations on a surgery completed and a life on the mend!

  • Lymis

    Not specifically religious in nature, but I’ll add that we’ve just in the last week or so gotten a number of important US legal victories that are moving gay rights along, mostly having to do with either the legalization of marriage equality for same-sex couples or striking down the Defense of Marriage Act that is preventing same-sex couples who ARE validly married from getting any federal benefits.

    And that more and more polls are showing that public opinion is not only moving toward equality for LGBT people, but that the speed of that shift is increasing dramatically.

  • Rob B

    Inspiring stories one and all. I’ve begun to realize that our courage isn’t always within… sometimes, when we can’t seem to find any, it comes from others.

  • Becky

    Thank you for sharing Matt’s letters! I pray for his love’s healing and that they have a wonderful new life and full life together. In defense of United Methodists, many of us are saddened by what happened at General Conference and many of us want the LGBTQ community to be included in all the church has to offer. One day it will come. I believe that much of what is holding it back is the large delegation from Africa that was at General Conference that still believes homosexuality to be a pariah. Not sure what to do about that, or how that will play out in the future. It’s frustrating to have people from not only a different culture but a completely different continent have so much influence on what we do in the USA, but it is their church as well. The LGBTQ community needs to know that there are many of us here who love them as they are and want them included, but as a UMC pastor, I still have to follow the rules that I signed up to follow.

    • Diana A.

      I don’t know, Becky. I’m a United Methodist too (not a pastor) and I’m not sure that it’s enough anymore for us to stand around wringing our hands and feeling sad. If we’re serious about having “Open Hearts, Open Minds…” and “…Open Doors,” we need to start putting our actions where our mouths are. I think the woman John highlighted is setting an excellent example. I don’t think the United Methodist church is going to change until we who support the LGBTQ community are willing to put our Christian principle of loving our neighbors as ourselves above our desire to keep the structure of the United Methodist Church. Maybe I’m wrong, but this is what I’m seeing.

      • Carol VanderNat

        You, ma’am, are seeing correctly…..

    • Molly by Golly

      “The LGBTQ community needs to know that there are many of us here who love them as they are and want them included, but as a UMC pastor, I still have to follow the rules that I signed up to follow.”

      So, the job of a pastor is to put rules before compassion, job security before discipleship, and the UMC before the teaching of Christ? (Mark 12:31 and Matt 12:1-14)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kelly-Withee/100001922106189 Kelly Withee via Facebook

    Great article – I’m glad the surgery went well, and I wish the protestors the best

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    “I heard (secondhand through our friend) that she now has the letter “F” for female on her hospital bracelet, and that she saw that she broke down with happy sobs.”

    I found this ridiculously cute. I mean, really adorable.

    I am tempted to ask if this kind of feeling is something like what happened in my own life, but I fear causing an unintended insult because my situation is a different one.

    • Lymis

      Well, even without the details, if that story reminds you of something from your own past, a belated congratulations!

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Well, what it reminded me of, the whole “I’m finally myself!” thing…

        When I first received a proper diagnosis for the disorder I live with and started taking the particular psych medication that I’m on. I remember being on the phone with my mother telling her that I “finally feel like myself again” – that I finally felt “like myself” because it gave me back a feeling of control and balance I hadn’t had for a long time.

        I am never going to have any idea what it’s like to not be “female.” I am biologically female and despite being a bit “mannish” in some aspects of my life, I’ve never felt anything other than “female” inwardly, so everything just matches up for me there, but I do know what it’s like, in another way, to feel “trapped” and “not myself.”

        I’ve actually been going off the rails lately… you can read the lastest posts on my blog if you really want details, but I know I’m more in control and “myself” now than I was back before medical intervention and I recall that magical feeling of “finally feeling like me” even though the situation is completely different and I’m afraid I just offended a lot of people simply by “comparing something to mental illness” even though I’m trying to do so in the most positive way possible . I kind of know that I’m sort of a non-person, even to a lot of other people on society’s margins. It’s just that a part of me wonders if “being trapped in your own body” feels in any way the same as “being trapped inside a malfunctioning brain-computer” that you know in some fashion is not “really you.”

        • Matt (letter writer)

          Not to worry, Shadsie. It is not the same situation, but the underlying feelings are the same. You too are important, your feelings are valid, and you did not offend anyone, least of all me.

          I’ve heard a lot of awful things around my partner’s situation, as you can imagine, and that was not offensive at all :).

        • vj

          Shadsie – you are most definitely NOT a non-person! Your compassion and insights into the human condition are very much appreciated here, as is your willingness to share some of the struggles you face in your own life. You are ‘fighting the good fight of faith’ in a most courageous way, and you are truly an inspiration to me. Please always remember that you are precious and loved JUST AS YOU ARE.

        • n.

          There are a lot of parallels between all the different struggles. Sometimes people get mad if i might compare the “passing” and “coming out” issues for autistics to those of glbtq folks but most understand that (A) that is how i got solidarity with them and (B) that there ARE enough parallels that we can somehow understand each others’ dilemmas. So it is with other neurodivergences, too.

  • +++++++++++

    you think of nothing other than gay sex, evidently. That’s all you see here.

    • http://bhaney15@gmail.com Blake

      I missed the part where I mentioned gay sex in my video. I missed where anyone talked about gay sex, really. So, I’ll send you a bless your heart and I’ll be praying for you to stop thinking of gay sex.

      • Diana A.

        :-D

      • DR

        You are so fantastic, I was smiling through your entire video. Brought tears to my eyes.

        • http://bhaney15@gmail.com Blake

          Thank you! It was so fun to actually sit down and talk through everything. Of course, I know I missed some things. Perhaps an update one year later! :D

      • Christelle

        Oh my word… I just commented to Matt on how his writing is full of humility and grace… BUT NOW this… I love you all!!!!

    • Melody

      Sigh…why do perverted, homophobic trolls always have to come in and steal the glory of others? The people John writes of here are courageous, joyful people who know who they are. You’re just jealous, so you make a nonsequitur mention of gay sex, which John has not mentioned. Seems you’re.the only one always thinking of sex, you pervert. Finally, the fact that you remain anonymous says everything about you: you are nothing but a coward. Go rain on someone else’s parade. Not here.

      • Lymis

        Hey, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly. Perverted homophobic tolls gotta troll.

        Of course studies have increasingly confirmed what most of us already knew – there is a very high correlation between homophobic obsession that causes this kind acting out and repressed homosexual desires. There’s usually a reason people like this see gay sex everywhere. It’s wishful thinking.

    • Melody

      Also, how many fake names have you.made here? That proves that not only are you a coward, but you clearly have no.life. Get one, and stop taking your misery out on others.

    • Lymis

      If you look at a Rorschach test and all you see are genitalia, that’s a problem with your mind, not the inkblots.

      If you look at these stories and all you see is gay sex, that’s a problem with your mind, not the lives of LGBT people.

      Odd choice of a screen name. I see nothing positive about your post. Maybe a string of minus signs instead.

    • DR

      Awww. Another “loving Christian” hiding behind their user name. What a wonderful reputation you’re building for Jesus, thankfully there are sane and loving Christians here to actually combat this level of creepy. I hope you don’t have children.

    • Mindy

      Interesting anonymous screenname, there, dude. Or dudette. I find people who can’t say what they want to say under their own name are generally very cowardly and kind of sad.

      I am not gay. I am not L or G or B or T or Q. I am a middle-age straight woman with straight kids – and we are all straight allies of people who aren’t.

      When I read and write here, I don’t think about gay sex. Well, at least not most of the time. Really the rare times I think about it are when a homophobic drive-by poster rants on about it being unnatural or perverse. Otherwise, I think about LGBTQ LOVE. Yes, of course I realize that gay sex is a likely extension of gay love, but I don’t think about it specifically any more than I think about my straight friends having sex when they mention they have husbands. Well, unless they are telling me about sex with their husbands, but they rarely do that, so it’s all good.

      Your silly perception of all that is discussed on this blog shows one thing and one thing ONLY – and that is that you have a whole lot to learn about humanity. A LOT. It’s probably not your fault that you possess such ignorance – you were probably raised up that way. So I will pray for your education, for light to fill the dark corners in the empty drawers of the file cabinet that is your brain. You’ll feel so much better when you clear out the hate and replace it with both valid information and love – really, it’ll be amazing. And you won’t even have to think about gay sex! Unless you want to, of course. Up to you. Good luck!

      • Allie

        You know, Mindy, thinking about whether or not I’ve ever thought about it as a result of your post would make the first time I’ve ever thought about gay sex while reading this site. Okay, actually, that’s not true. There was once when some troll came on and made rude comments about specific practices. That would be the only other time.

        I’m mostly thinking about human rights and human happiness when reading John’s posts.

      • Carol VanderNat

        I love you Mindy! In only the purest sense, of course!

        • Mindy

          Right backatcha, Carol! Very proud of your quiet protest, and was thrilled to read your update that people began to respond positively. :)

    • Carol VanderNat

      I don’t believe I demonstrated anything CLOSE to gay sex while seated on a pillow, bound and gagged, and hundreds of people walked by….

      Bless you, +++++++++++…..God love you, too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ablakehaney Blake Haney via Facebook

    Thanks, Annette! :) Prayers for all going up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ncf81 Nathan Fullerton via Facebook

    @Blake – just sent you a friend request! Loved your video!

  • http://donrogers.org Don R

    Our son came out to us in 2000. We love our son unconditionally. We have accepted who he is. Then why did it take us 12 years to go to a PFLAG meeting. What a wonderful group of people!! WHY did we wait so long?

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    Read the post. Will be watching the video after I do everything else on my agenda for the day. (Arrrrrgh!)

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    Matt, Carol, Blake, Fang-Yi — each of you has touched my heart. I just want to hug you all, and stand with you and smile with you and shed tears with you. The courage you each have to speak your truth, to love without shame, to accept yourselves and those you love so wholeheartedly is encouraging and humbling.

    John, thanks for sharing these with us. You’ve given me a case of the warm fuzzies today.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    I cannot figure out the problem anyone would have with transgender people. Not understand it? Sure. But the hateful stuff I see now just does not make sense. People just gotta hate I guess.

    • Lymis

      I’m sure I don’t get all of it either, but it’s clear to me where some of it comes from.

      As someone who grew up being gay surrounded by straight people, I was more or less constantly aware of just how many gender-based rules and assumptions there are, everything from how to pee to how to hold your books to what colors you can like to wear. As someone who had to pay a lot of attention and do some of it essentially manually, it was exhausting to try to keep up. And my gender was never in question to myself.

      But in a lot of ways, people’s self-image, self-worth, view of themselves in society, and sadly, in many cases, their view of their own eternal salvation is tied into rigid gender roles.

      So two things happen. If I have to follow these rules to base my own self-worth on, then it follows that I will use them to judge others, with nonconformity being the ultimate sin. And worse, for some people, if I allow that not all rules apply to all people and I should just live and let live, then how do I know that my rules for myself are the right rules, and if I have to choose my own rules, what if I get them wrong? Far easier to condemn others than do a deep searching inventory of my own moral standards.

      So, I’m firmly convinced that a lot of the hateful stuff you see is a knee-jerk “self-defense” of what they see as a threat to their own identity and place in the world. That’s true of sexual orientation, but if you look at it, the vast majority of attacks on gay and lesbian people aren’t so much about orientation, but about gender identity- that gay men are too feminine or aren’t real men and don’t do sufficiently many things, or that lesbian women are too masculine or aren’t real women and don’t properly care about womanly stuff, or that same-sex couples deprive children of clear (and rigid) gender role models.

      So an actual transgender person is even more of a threat to that, because they aren’t just “acting” wrong by some external rule, they “are” wrong to the kind of people who think this way. Their very existence calls all that gender-based BS into question, and happy, well-adjusted trans people fitting into society, into relationships, into church, religion, and salvation throw the “you have to fit rigid rules to be acceptable” idea right out the window.

      People are being told that their value and self-worth aren’t supposed to be based on following the rules and “doing it right” but rather on “being who you are” and “finding you own unique path” – and that scares the living snot out of a lot of people. Hate is always a cover for fear. And I am convinced that the fear is not a fear of actual trans people, but what trans people call for people to consider about themselves.

      Which is why trans people, and all LGBT people, have such a prophetic role in our reality these days. We are called to stand up, be ourselves, find out path, and live it, and in the very act of doing that, inspire others. If you can change something as significant in society as your outward gender identity in order to be happy and healthy, then what can’t you change? And why shouldn’t you, if that’s where your walk with God and before God take you?

      • Diana A.

        Once again Lymis, you nail it.

        • Matt (letter writer)

          Absolutely, Lymis. Nailed it! :D

          I think also a small part comes from people having some sense of a trans person’s pain, and recoiling away in horror without even realizing it. Living in a world which does not call you by the right name, pronouns, etc. is bad enough, but you can ultimately live with it and function.

          But living in a body that does not match with what your brain expects–that’s constant, grating agony, each and every day. And I do think cisgendered (not trans) people get a teeny, tiny part of this out of empathy–but pull away because it hurts so much.

          They insist that “it’s just a phase” “but you look so pretty now!” “but you don’t look like an X!” because they just can’t deal with the reality that for some people, their whole life (without transitioning) is constant pain.

          My partner and I (I am trans as well) aren’t transitioning because it’s fun or it’s “different” or to offend anyone. If we could go back to our birth, both of us would have chosen to be born male for me and female for her. All we want is bodies that match ourselves, and to be seen as we are.

          I suppose that’s why transfolk tend to befriend, date, and sleep with each other–we get it. Also, strength in numbers. That’s important too.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore
          • Allie

            Matt, the thing is, I feel almost certain if I woke up tomorrow in a man’s body I would be just fine with it. I can’t imagine it being a huge deal for me, certainly not a big enough deal to consider painful surgery. But my experience doesn’t mean your experience isn’t equally valid. I have female friends who suffer desperately at the thought of not being able to give birth to a baby. I’m not one of those, either – when I learned I would not be able to have biological children, I put some hopes and dreams away, but it didn’t crush me – but that doesn’t mean they are lying or faking it, it just means different people have different feelings and different priorities and different self-images.

            I think Lymis is onto something big. I’m not sure I’m gifted enough to say in words what I want to say. But it’s very threatening when someone else says that whatever you consider the most important thing in life isn’t all that important. Those of us who grew up as outliers and weirdos had to get used to the idea early on. The “normal” people were allowed, by sheer strength of numbers, to believe that what they liked is somehow objectively better, somehow objectively right. I’ve seen normal people chew each other to bits over yard decorations. No one can possibly care that much about yard decorations, enough to really really hurt someone over them. Yard decorations are just a symbol of something larger, a sense of being and belonging, of aligning oneself with the crowd. Humans are social beings and so much of this is instinctive. Long ago, the one who acted weird was the one who got shut out into the cold, without food, and died. No wonder humans get ferocious over the notion that we might not be members of the in-group, the ones who control who gets to stay in the cave. But every bit of what we call civilization is about getting past those instincts, because they aren’t helpful anymore.

          • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com Molly Bandit

            Even the progressive church online community can be unfriendly to trans folks at times. I’ve seen (not here, thank goodness) some places totally embrace the LGB part and stop there. I wrote about it a year or so ago:

            http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com/2011/06/christians-combating-transphobia-in.html

          • http://lisainbc.blogpost.com Lisa Salazar

            Great post, Molly. I could not have said it better. I shared the link on Facebook.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Great job on that post, Molly.

          • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com Molly Bandit

            thanks!

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        Beautiful, Lymis. :)

  • charles

    I was watching some the film “The Last Temptation of Christ” this morning. I stopped after Jesus stopped the stoning of Mary Magadalene, and I marvel at how fitting it was after reading John’s post here.

    Anyone thinking that being Christian in this time is a safe and easy act of faith is perhaps not seeing much of the big picture.

    • Carol VanderNat

      Amen!

      • Kristyn

        Double Amen!

  • Jeff

    Wait, wait, wait. I might be misunderstanding this, but…

    There are Chinese Christians who, despite facing all sorts of horrible mistreatment by the Chinese government because of their faith, are still on the gay-bashing bandwagon?

    My. Head. Asplode.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Jeff: Right?

  • Soulmentor

    Hey Matt. I’m gay and out and I’ve done a lot of activist writing, etc, whatever. BUT….I just can’t relate well to drag and trans all that. Not a prejudice and you’ll never catch me being impolite to them and I have no problem being around or in conversation with them….blah blah.

    But I really don’t get it. And YOU have seriously confused me. I’m gay. I love men. You’re gay. You’re a man. You have a partner who was, presumably a male. That I get. But now the male partner has become a female and you are overjoyed? That I don’t get.

    I get you being happy FOR HER. I don’t get that you now are a gay man with a female partner? I’m just shaking my head. Sorry. I don’t get it. I don’t care. I’m fine with it. But I don’t get it. I get her. I don’t get you.

    Cuz, you see, now we get down to it. The gay sex. You’re gay. Now you won’t have gay sex. You will have str8 sex? How does all that work?

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      It’s possible he’s a straight guy who didn’t know she was a he when they met and perhaps that was revealed much later. Obviously, I don’t know, but I’m just throwing out a possibility.

      • Matt (letter writer)

        Actually, I am not a gay man (at least, not as you’re thinking of). I identify as a bisexual trans man. That is, I was born female, but now identify as male.

        I’m hardly going to lay our personal lives out for you, but yes, I knew my partner when she was perceived as male, when she had not begun transition yet. We became partnered while she was in the middle of her transition. She is female, she always has been inside, and that will not change :). But how we have sex is, frankly, between us.

  • Soulmentor

    The tears were literally screaming out of me as the intensity of that Mahler Symphony segment increased. I have not heard it before. I have sung many fine choral compositions in my life and I could feel myself doing that right along with them.

    And all those beautiful young people in that orchestra!!!!!!!

    And the setting!!

    It was magnificent!!

    I’m getting along in years and naturally thinking about what I want my funeral to be like. I’m thinking of making is almost entirely of music and it struck me that this movement of the Mahler Symphony would be a stunning way to end it. I have so many ideas for it but I better stop procrastinating about putting it together. One never knows………….

  • ~Sil in Corea

    Bless you all! I’m humbled and strengthened by your love and compassion. There IS hope for humanity! Bigots die out, because hating your brothers and sisters is *un-natural.*

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.co Rev. Roger Wolsey

    On a related note, some United Methodist Annual Conferences are quite progressive on these matters. Case in point, the Minnesota Annual Conference which just met and voted to express their opposition to a proposed amendment to Minnesota’s State Constitution that would ban gay marriages. : ) http://www.startribune.com/blogs/156351865.html


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