Obama Appoints Transgender Woman

Earlier this month President Obama appointed Amanda Simpson as the Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce. This is such a big deal because Simpson is the first ever transgender person to receive a Presidential appointment. Most of you have probably heard about this appointment already. I waited to comment on this situation because I wanted to see how the Christian and the secular media would react. Here are a few thoughts:

Broadly speaking, as liberal as the mainstream media is, I was shocked at how derogatory some of the outlets were regarding Amanda Simpson’s appointment. Names such as “tranny” and “gal” were written in some not-so-subtle condescending ways. I believe this highlights a lot larger transgender push-back within society.

As much as the mainstream world says they’re ok with gays and lesbians, this is just another reminder of how transgenders are still a huge unknown. While I was speaking at the general session at Ball State University last week, a student came up to the front of the auditorium to ask a question and said:

“I’m transgender and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Although I feel love from the Spectrum (the gay group on campus), they still don’t understand me, and there is no one around like me. I feel so alone. Christians don’t understand, the gay community doesn’t understand. What am I supposed to do?”

Wow! The boldness it took for this person to stand up in front of a packed auditorium to communicate such a message was one of the most sacred and special moments I have experienced in a long time. I wish I had a great answer to the questions, but I didn’t. As honestly as I could communicate it, I believe peace and reconciliation can only come through Christ, along side a loving community of people to hold you up when you can’t hold yourself up anymore. It was an unsatisfying response, but it was all I could muster for something I really know nothing of.

As for the Christian world’s response to this appointment, I am not surprised about (generally) their vocal, slippery-slope-driven reactions. However, what does continue to surprise me is the question of why Christians are always so surprised by such things!

We do not live in a Christian society no matter how many of us like to think the opposite. Ours is that of God’s Kingdom; something we are commissioned to bring here to our world. However, our world is governed by a secular culture that governs in a secular fashion. Yet we still continue to place our worldview upon them, expecting that one day they will ‘wake up’ and see the boundaries we are placing upon them to be able to productively work with us. That is not going to happen. Instead, let us continue to hold on to our belief and start working within the mainstream worldview that has been placed upon us; to figure out how to peacefully and productively bring our Kingdom within the structure we have been given. Or, we could just keep expecting something different to happen by doing what has always been done? You know, whichever you think is best.

I urge you brothers and sisters, take the structure that has been given to us and work to find a way to bring Kingdom to that—not working to try to have Kingdom rule and dominate a culture unwilling to allow such a thing to happen.

What are your thoughts?

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Mrs T

    I’ve kind of picked up that the mainstream media is not as pro-gay as we thought, either. The October gatherings in D.C. didn’t get as much coverage as I thought they would(just like the huge pro-life gatherings in various cities recently). This is the first election we have had so many gay or lesbian candidates in Illinois, but I haven’t heard much of anything from the secular media. Maybe it’s like the old civil rights era – “get your rights, but don’t marry my daughter!!” So now it’s “get your opportunities, but keep your distance.”
    Is that how you see it, Andrew?

  • Seth

    Dude, great post! Say more about how to bring our Kingdom into the secular, mainstream worldview and structure. Jesus, Peter, Paul and the early church did that very thing, and the world has not been the same since. They turned the Hebrew tradition–in the context of the (more-or-less secular) Roman occupation–on its ear, and those vested in it were not at all happy about it. Jesus was crucified as a result (even Pilate considered him innocent), and most of the remaining leaders were persecuted and martyred–they paid the ultimate price for ushering in the new Kingdom. Imagine what things would be like if that kind of radical love had a better foothold in our society. It might not even matter whether anyone was gay, straight, male, female or transgender, because we would routinely recognize them foremost as created in God’s image and loved by God. Some days this seems just around the corner to me; other days it seems so far away.

  • http://www.lifewalk.info David Foreman

    Wonderful post and insights. I feel for this individual. To make such a radical change in oneself, hoping for some kind of peace, only to find the emptiness, loneliness, and separation are still there. To me, this isn’t a transgender issue. It’s a human issue. One we all face in different ways.

    By the way, Andrew. A few times I’ve asked how you approach the hatred of “ex-gays” by many in the GLBT community. I certainly don’t buy into much of what those kind of ministries sell, but I DO buy into the right of the individual to investigate whatever avenues of help they so choose. Maybe you’ve already answered that concern, and I’ve missed it. If so, please direct me to the appropriate link.
    Again, thanks for all you’re letting God do through you.
    Be very blessed,
    dave

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Mrs. T – I think you bring up a very interesting point. Though I wasn’t around during the civil rights era, I do see quite a bit of correlation with what you said. I am so puzzled by the mainstream media’s attention/lack-their-of/backhanded compliments, that it makes me wonder out loud: Where, really, are they with such divisive issues…other than just continuing to perpetuate it for attention’s sake?

    Seth and David – Sorry, I have never answered such questions. I will though. I’m starting to compile a list of questions and follow-up questions folks have asked me in the comments section, and I’m going to start doing full length posts about them. I will be adding your questions to the list. And if you have anymore of them, feel free to ask away…

  • http://carleton1958.xanga.com/ Jeff S.

    Bravo, Andrew! Great post. Thanks for speaking out on this subject.

  • concerned friend

    Andrew,
    I have a friend who has recently announced their decision to go transgender. This person is married and has children. I am not sure yet but it seems their spouse is supportive of the decision. They feel this is God’s will for their life at this time.
    I want to be a friend to this person and show them love, as this is what they need the most right now, this is just such a new topic for me and I am sure this person will have questions also if we have a chance to delve into it further. Are there any books or resources you can suggest that have a *godly* (ie., loving yet truthful) perspective on this topic?
    Thank you.

  • http://www.faithonthefloor.blogspot.com Lincoln

    Hi Andrew!

    This is a pretty nice post. I just had a quick point to make as a transgender man.

    The word “transgenders”…yeah, we’re not real keen on it. Transgender isn’t a noun. It can modify a noun, like I did up there by saying transgender man. Or if someone says they’re a member of the transgender community. But we’re not transgenders. That was something cisgender (non trans) people smushed together for a shorthand. It’s pretty much like calling us homos.

    If you need a shorthand term, which God knows we all do these days, trans is the most grabbed word. I use it all the time, as do most of the other trans activists (see how nicely that rolls? *grin*) I run with out here in Seattle.

    There’s another tricky cultural bit that using trans sidesteps. There can be conflicts around inclusive language between folks who consider themselves transsexual and some who consider themselves transgender. Because some from each group (not all) don’t like to be lumped in under one category or the other. So the word trans lets them fill in that blank, and we all get to move along to the task at hand.

    Here endeth the lesson. I love your book, btw. I think I emailed you once a few months ago. Could have been longer ago than that even. I’ve been ill, so time has kind of sped by me. But since your book, and some of the things you’ve been up to since have built up a measure of cred with me, if you want to email back and forth to learn more about trans issues, I’d really enjoy that.

    Lincoln

  • Eugene

    “I urge you brothers and sisters, take the structure that has been given to us and work to find a way to bring Kingdom to that—not working to try to have Kingdom rule and dominate a culture unwilling to allow such a thing to happen.

    What are your thoughts?”

    What does it have to do with transgender people? Are you implying that people who identify as transgender don’t belong in “God’s Kingdom”? You say, “let us continue to hold on to our belief”. Does it mean that you essentially agree with “the Christian world’s response to this appointment”, but merely consider it too vocal or too harsh? What exactly is “your belief” about transgender people?


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