After watching my YouTube video Transgender Rights? A Christian Speaks Out, a viewer sent me the following message.
hi my name is craig, im a male that feels traped in the wrong body,i watched your video and was comforted and inspired, i just wanted to know having the feelings that i do, would god allow me to get a sex chage? would he still love me? is it wrong?
also once you recieve this and i get your answer i would love for you to help me choose my new name.
also are eunuchs in the bible really transgendered people?
I felt honored to receive this message (I change the name above) but also uncertain of how to answer or if I could answer. I do come from a religious background and I realize that “craig” is looking for understanding of transgender issues from a religious perspective. I know that when I struggled with being gay, it was within a religious context, and I needed help from people who could communicate within that context at least initially. It was important for me to understand God’s will for my life in order to move ahead. Ultimately I found my answers within–that still small voice–but at the time so many voices vied for my attention.
Here’s my response:
HI there. Thanks for writing. I am glad you found my video helpful. It sounds like you have many important questions. I am not transgender myself, but I will answer you as best as I can. A wonderful resource for you may be the Trans-Ponder podcast. It’s done by two women who transitioned from male. They speak about the transition process. They also interviewed me about my work with gender-variant Bible characters.
In regards to God, we need to remember that according to scripture, humans look on the outside, but God looks on the heart. We are told in Paul’s writings that in Christ there is neither male nor female. Not that our gender doesn’t matter, but God sees our spirits. God sees beyond what others see. God sees us people not fixed genders. I have met MANY people who might agree that their insides didn’t match their outsides. There are all types of males and females and some people who are a little of both or something altogether different. As believers we understand that God desires truth from within to without. There is no reason why God would not want you to be authentic in regards to who you are and your gender. God will not have trouble with if this is someone’s sense of self. Others might, but they are not God. My personal belief is that we can have faith that God trusts us to make these important decisions about ourselves.
It will be important that you continue to spend time thinking about this, getting more information, and perhaps even seeing a trained professional about this topic to answer your questions. It will most likely help for you to connect with transgender people too if you haven’t already. You sound like you have a leading to seek out more information about sex reassignment surgery. But even without surgery, you know who you are on the inside, and you can begin to affirm that for yourself. For some surgery is a necessary step, but not for all.
The eunuchs who appear in the Bible did not have the word “transgender” to apply to themselves. Many were forced to be eunuchs against their will. Some chose to be eunuch. In some cultures they were respected as eunuchs while in others they were not. We do not know much about how they came to be eunuch, but the important lesson is that they became a different sex physically than they were at birth. They became sexual minorities in a very visible way within their cultures. In some places they were considered a “third sex.” God did not simply tolerate people being different, but in the Bible stories with eunuchs, God literally reached out to them and in some cases desperately needed them in order to do the work that needed to be done. The eunuchs in the Bible provide a wonderful example of someone who is surgically altered and gender-different yet smack in the palm of God’s loving hand and purposes. For those of us who are people of faith, this can give us guidance and great comfort.
In regards to your name, that is a great honor to ask me for help, and I would love to hear about the process as you begin to consider new names. It is a very spiritual process for some with many examples in the Bible of people who changed their names to recognize a life change. I have faith that you will find the right name–or it will find you–as you go along in the process.
Many blessings to you!
What about you? What would you add? What would you say? What could I have said differently? I realize that not everyone who reads this blog is a person of faith, so maybe all the “God language” is a turn-off or not your style. I can forward your remarks to “craig” for you or provide a link to your comments here.
Now I am off to TransForm New Hampshire, an event in Concord, NH that seeks to unite the LGB with the T and help non-transgender people better understand transgender issues.
What you wrote “Craig” was a gift, so I’ll not look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. okay, the teeth look to be in good shape to me.
While I appreciate your desire for excellence, the drowning person probably doesn’t so much care if you throw them a rope or an inner tube.
When I was struggling with my own sexuality and questions of “God,” I reached out to many Christian people and often got no response at all. I also reached out to a prominent atheist, and he ended up showing me exquisite ‘christian’ kindness.
My point is that one will see and hear if one is listening and looking. I think you did your part by being a voice in the wilderness.
Paul, great to hear from you. You remind me of all of the ropes, inner tubes, wrenches and other things hurled at me when I was looking for answers. How often I clung to the hatchet while rejecting the life jacket. I think ultimately we need to find our own answers that we own. Sometimes we hear them out of another’s mouth, but I cannot stand on another person’s truth or conviction. I need to find my own. That takes time and it often requires rejecting some/all of the old ways of thinking.
Of course you know this well from your own experiences. Thanks for commenting. (and when will we hang out???)
This was an absolutely beautiful response. Thank you so much for being a witness to Christ’s love. You are an inspiration.
I wanted to mention a video that was made of my church last fall that’s recently found its way online. We held an open mic night to support trans awareness and I was the preacher that evening. It might be a good resource for Craig (and others like him).
Here’s the link:
Thanks again for so unabashedly being such a beautiful soul!
My favourite Bible passage is Matt 19:12, when Jesus tells that only some people are fortunate (!) enough to be able to live without marriage:
“Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage [or: have made themselves eunuchs] because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Or, as it says in my Swedish translation: “Some are born without a sex, others have been made so by man, and others have made themselves sexless”.
You can of course argue that Jesus is talking strictly about intersexed people and people who alter their gender for reasons that doesn’t really apply to most transgender people, but he doesn’t stress the difference, does he? I’m not a Christian anymore, but that passage always made me think that Jesus wasn’t just “accepting” trans people, but actually… ehm… “promoting” transness.
I used to have a very autistic view of Christianity, which probably saved me from a lot of trouble. To me, Jesus was on my side, but many of his so-called followers weren’t. I knew who I thought was more important to follow…
The only other thing that I would want to tell Craig is that I learn more of God from those who are open about their true gender. This is what I told the young girl at Gender Odyssey when she told me God made a mistake with her. She is not a mistake; we know so little of God. I learn more of God from those who struggle to live their innermost truth outwardly.
That’s an awesome response. The only thing I would add is that, as a trans person, I see my transition as a practice of being outwardly faithful to an inward understanding of God’s intentions for me. God made me trans, made me a male- and genderqueer-spirited person in a body that is culturally identified as female. Transition has, I believe, not only been a faithful expression of how/who God made me and wants me to be; it is also a process that has made me more available to God. Gender transition has opened up all sorts of opportunities for ministry with queer and gender-variant folks of all stripes. It has given me a more concrete, experiential understanding of what it means to be who God made you. And it had lifted from my shoulders some of the angst and oppressiveness of gender dysphoria– that crushing feeling of wrong-bodiedness– so that I have the mental and emotional energy to be present to God. Pretending to be female when I became clear that I wasn’t would have been nothing less than spiritual suicide.
Thanks for your work, dear friend. 🙂
What a great response, Peterson.
For years, when I struggled with my gender issues, I begged for God to free me of the desire to be a woman. I kept believing that if I went to church enough and prayed enough and read the Bible enough, I could be the man that my church told me God wanted me to be. But all that happened was an increasing feeling of failure and worthlessness that led me to alcoholism and other addictions.
When I finally changed course and accepted that I was transgender and that God loved me regardless, I stopped my drinking and learned to love myself for the first time in years.
I think you have hit on something when you say discovering truth “… requires rejecting some/all of the old ways of thinking.” Often our “old ways of thinking” is comprised of stuff we have been taught. And it does “take time” to examine all that we have been taught and actually think about the “old ways of thinking.” More and more I find that seeing and hearing are more important than the stored ideas I have.
Hey, would be great to “hang out.” To bad you had a gig last week, the recent invite would have included a concert. Got to see Coyote Grace last Thursday (they opened for Indigo Girls). They were wonderful. I’m not sure what was more fun, the music or the crowd that attended. 🙂
I think your response is exactly the right one for you to have made. Where you write, “As believers we understand that God desires truth from within to without. … My personal belief is that we can have faith that God trusts us to make these important decisions about ourselves” you could very well be speaking for me also, except that you have written with more kindness and patience than I am often able to muster.
I would want to tell Craig, what seems a simple question –will God allow me to change sex, and still love and approve of me? –may not have a simple answer. And ultimately cannot be answered for you by anyone else (however wise, every person’s understanding of his fellows is limited compared to the infinite awareness & compassion of God) only by reflection and communion with that still small voice within that is the part of oneself closest to God. My own experiences grappling with gender, sexuality, acceptance, love and honesty make me wary that a yearning for a less painful existence may push one to escape one ideal only to fall into another which is only marginally better.
I think you spoke to this when you answered another comment: “I think ultimately we need to find our own answers that we own. Sometimes we hear them out of another’s mouth, but I cannot stand on another person’s truth or conviction. I need to find my own. That takes time and it often requires rejecting some/all of the old ways of thinking.”