The older I’ve gotten, the more experiences I’ve had with people, and the more I’ve thought about God – the more I realize how much energy I have spent in life worrying about judgement.
Not God’s judgment; human judgment.
Looking back on most of my life it’s fair to say that when it came to my gender incongruence I was afraid that maybe this was some kind of curse from God, or maybe some kind of ‘test’ God gave me to ‘overcome’ (meaning to ignore) and that if I allowed myself to try and do something about it that maybe God would judge me in some way, or worse that I’d be lost. But in reality, my spiritual fears about God rejecting me because of my gender identity were tiny; tiny in comparison to the fear of judgment I felt (knew) I would surely face among some in my community.
At some point in all this I guess even that small spiritual fear got worked out for me. I’ve come to internalize that should God exist, that It probably either loves me in spite of my physical deformity, or at least is indifferent about it (since God is most concerned with matters of the heart, and it’s mankind that cares about penises and vaginas). Now days I even try and even express gratitude for the path I was given, and allow for the possibility that perhaps transition is part of my spiritual journey or has some greater purpose. Inasmuch as I might guess that God created me transgender as a “test” to try and “fight” my whole life, it could equally be said that God created me transgender as a “test” to see me through transition, and experience authenticity in a fully human way. It certainly is as easy for me now to imagine that God even created me transgender as a blessing and means for me to live more fully than I might have otherwise as a result.
But even though the spiritual part has worked out for me, the spiritual part I don’t think has kept me from being my true self. I came to the realization of the potential depth of God’s acceptance and love of me years ago. The spiritual question isn’t what has made me try and bury this deep inside myself for much longer than I needed to – it was the fear of hurting my parents, family, and friends because of the judgment they and I would face in our community. Or fears that they too might judge and reject me. I did not want to bring this shame and condemnation upon myself or those I love – so I pretended to be something I am not.
And so I hid this thing for all those years, in order to hold back the waves of human judgment that was certain to befall me and loved ones. I felt unable to live as an authentic human being, in order to prop up other people’s ideas about the “perfect family”, or the ‘perfect son’, or ‘perfect Christian’ and perpetuate the myth that I had all my ducks in a row.
This of course was incredibly damaging to me, but also I believe to my community.
How it was damaging to me is obvious, because living a lie of this magnitude is extremely taxing on an individual. Hiding something so fundamental as ones gender identity bleeds into nearly every aspect of one’s life, every relationship, every interaction. But I now feel it was damaging to my community as well because by my not being willing or able to discuss things like this I helped perpetuate the myth that it (and other perfectly normal human identities and conditions) doesn’t exist. I helped perpetuate the poisonous philosophy that ignoring these types of issues is in the best interest of all – as if ignoring it somehow makes it go away, or might make it more likely that someone could be saved. What silliness.
Now I realize that yes, some will judge. This is what human beings do. But I can no longer live a fraudulent life simply to prop up the arbitrary and binary ideals of others. To make it easy for those around me to pretend like transgender people don’t exist, or to make it possible for others like me out there to feel like burying their true selves deep inside is the only option, or the best thing to do for their spiritual and psychological selves, and their community.
Life, humanity is so much more diverse than this; so much more beautiful.
As I slowly grow the circle of people who know me for who I am, my fears about human judgement are coming under control. I am realizing that everywhere I turn there are people who carry with them a spirit of love and compassion that originates beyond themselves – and they engage and accept me as I am, without judgement. I’m also surprised at the diversity of places this comes from because it’s not only from non-religious people, but also from people who identify as politically and religiously conservative.
Having a small group of individuals around me who can see past the outside, and love me for who I am inside gives me the courage to face those for whom this may be too much.