Becoming and Being

In a recent Facebook conversation that included people who don’t hate people who are trans and people who don’t understand them, my friend, the Rev. Barb Peronteau, made a simple, yet eloquent response. She wrote, “We don’t become trans – we are trans.” That made me stop in my tracks because I have been using the wrong term to discuss the topic. I have said it about sexuality for years; that our sexuality isn’t a preference (choice), it’s how we are born (thank you, Lady Gaga). In fact, you can tell a lot about a person’s politics and theology based on which version they use – preference or orientation. The same can be said about gender; a transperson has to go through a number of processes to make their inside match their outside, but they are, and always have been – just like you and me – who they are on the inside. The only choice is whether or not to take those steps to be their true self, and I am told that that decision, my friends, is incredibly frightening and courageous.

When I look in a mirror, I see a man. When I think of myself, I think of myself as a man. I am heterosexual; there has never been a question in my mind about that. If I had chosen to be celibate, I would still be heterosexual, because sexuality is not the act, it is who we are on the inside. A person who decides to go through the transformation has always been who they are, and no amount of doubt, yelling, or religious pontification can change that. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t stumbling blocks along the way to our understanding, and questions about who can play what sports or use what bathrooms do not have, at least, for me, simple answers. To jump on one side or another without discussing, thinking, and discerning is immature. If we could take a breath and put those things aside, we might begin to understand that gender and sexuality are fluid and worthy of respectful conversation. Knee-jerk reactions help nobody understand anything.

I don’t know why I hit puberty and realized I was heterosexual, and I absolutely am clueless about how and why we are who we are, gender-wise. What I do know is this: God has made each of us in the image of God’s self, and God has no gender or sex. God just is. How we are created physically is a completely different discussion, and that scientific bar is way above my – and 95% of the population – pay level. You can try to explain it to me all you want, but all I will hear is “Blah blah Ginger” (for you Farside fans). What I understand, however, is that all people have sacred worth, and to denigrate anyone for how God made them is to insult the Creator of all of us. In some ways, we are always becoming; in other ways, we just need to be. As St. Augustine said (and many others have restated), “In essentials unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, charity.” Good advice, Augie.

Prayer – Holy God, we don’t know much about most things, but we should know that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made by You. Teach us to give that same respect to others. Amen.

Today’s art is called “Fuel a Dream” by Kalki Subramanium.