“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
– 1 John 3:3 – The Bible Promise Book
Someone from my church had expressed deep concerns about my soul when I had come forward and explained that I identified as a transgender female. They feared that I might be under the influence of some evil spirit sent by Satan to corrupt me or mislead me into thinking I was female when God intended for me to be male. They understood in basic terms what I was explaining–about what the term “transgender” means from a clinical and psychological and emotional perspective. Yet this person sincerely believed that there was something inherently evil or wrong possessing me–making me think and act and feel and behave in ways contrary to God’s plan (and possibly this person’s personal preferences and biases or ideas of who I am.)
This person asked that I pray on this and invite God to either take away this evil spirit inside me (if such an evil spirit resides in me) or give me and this person some unquestionable sign of affirmation and acceptance.
As I explained to this person, I never intend for my transition to be an act of deception or rebellion or some mean spirited act of hatred towards God or His divine plan. I see myself as an instrument of God’s plan– whatever that might be. If I truly resented God, I would never have even considered returning to a church after a twenty-odd year absence from the church. I never would have even bothered to listen to this person’s concerns or even considered having a conversation with this person. I would have simply kept to my cave and gone about my own business and remained spiritually neutral or blank. I didn’t have to care about this person’s thoughts and feelings but I did and I still do.
The way I approached this challenge was to basically turn things around in different perspectives. For folks who are faced with physical or emotional challenges or disabilities for example, one might question God’s plan in this fashion:
“If God is so perfect… and God’s plan is perfect… why then would He create people who are born blind or Deaf or with Down’s Syndrome or spina bifida or multiple sclerosis or with different birth defects or diseases? How could an all-loving, all benevolent, most merciful God allow or enable such things to happen?”
If being transgender is an affliction– or the conflicts of finding and being one’s true self is an affliction, why would God have a hand in creating such an affliction?
This might suggest that it is Satan and not God who bestows all these situations on us. But then I got to thinking… nothing happens without a reason. What we might call good luck or bad luck or odd circumstances usually comes with life lessons or some hint of the hand of God being present somewhere. Satan may have a hand in things– but God is watching and if the story of Job is any indication of how God reacts to Satan’s handiwork, we know that God restores those who are faithful who have been afflicted.
In my case, I believe God knows my struggle. He knows the inner turmoil inside me and knows where it is coming from. He knows my heart yearns to find my true self. He is providing me the means to do so. He knows how happy I was when I walked into my first ballet classes as Rachel. He knows how special ballet is to me and how I feel about myself when I slip on my leotard and tights and slippers. He knows!
He knows how relieved I was when I came out of the closet and went into therapy. He knows my heart was set on being true to myself as well as to Him that created me. God gave me the challenge of being who I am to make me a stronger person but to also, I think, show people that our outside appearances are not nearly as important as our souls and who we are inside.
I have no regrets per se about being born male. I wish I could have begun transition much sooner and I wish I could have experienced more girly-girl things when I was still a kid– but that was not according to God’s plan. God wanted me to have the experiences I did for a reason– to challenge me, strengthen me, and give me the patience and resilience and the mental and emotional toughness to handle what is now– a difficult environment for the transgender community. As tough as it is to be transgender now… it was practically impossible for me to have come out twenty-odd years ago as a kid. The world was not a safe place for Rachel to come out and play and be a ballerina. Now, God has decided it is safer… it is relatively okay for Rachel to come out. So she can. And she will. And God has asked me to be an advocate for others– an example as well–and maybe a pioneer into some new territory, letting transgender folks and lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to know that there are safe spiritual places we can go and we are all welcome, loved, and needed by God.
Which brings me to the Scripture I have quoted here– whatever the affliction or challenge or messy situation we find ourselves in– whatever presence that is inside us that may feel out of place or twisted or corrupt– can and will be purified or made pure if we only believe in Christ. The crooked road will be made straight. What seems muddled and foggy or messy will be made clean and clear to us. The answers will come to you. Who you are and who you feel you are is not a mistake or an error or something that needs to be changed or fixed. You are not a broken misfit toy or some messed up machine. You are a precious soul who may have questions or fears or concerns– and you would be no different than anyone else in that regard. Pray for clarity and it will come. Know that Jesus has forgiven all sins, has welcomed everyone to his table of communion, has invited us to know him, and learn from him. We don’t have to sacrifice who we are to be with him– he has already sacrificed himself to be with us instead! All he asks of us is to believe in him and to love God and love one another and strive to be honest, sincere, loving people.