We are strong in the ability to
identify with other people and creatures, to relate to and empathize
with them. This develops our compassion, and may help us bring on
points of view across to someone holding another point of view. . . .
I'm just like everyone else, only more so. Hermaphrodeities, p64
A simple method that helps us know if something is sin or not is to measure the positive and negative effects it has.
should say that few if any of these advantages are exactly particular
to trans people necessarily. (Pre-modern cultures associated immense,
mystical or even supernatural power with trans people that gave us
these properties, among others. The modern trans community, however,
has rejected this notion that we are magic.) Anyone can have these
qualities as well, but it requires unusual knowledge, experience, and
hard work that trans people receive automatically, part through our
identity alone and part through our experience. I can think of a few
groups who poses some of these elements already. And as all trans
people are different. Some won't relate to some things I write but
most people will relate to most ideas.
Acknowledging Diverse People
I am more apt to reach out to those who are different. Much more. I've
always possessed this quality to an extent because, I believe, I've
always been a little different. But since coming out to myself and
others, my uniqueness in relation to others has become undeniable. So
when I see other people so visibly different, where before I silently
related, now I am much quicker to actively draw near. Everyone tends to
move towards others like themselves, but my attraction is uniquely
virtuous because the people I'm drawn to are the people who need others
- the shy, the outcast, the lonely, the ugly, the great sinners, the
short tempered, those too old or too young, the talentless, those
appearing crazy, who cannot make friends, lesbians and gays, and all
those ignored because they make others just feel uncomfortable. I am
utterly comfortable with them. As Jesus congregated with those whom the
world had rejected - sinners, the sick, women - because the world had
rejected Jesus as well; trans people do just the same.
friend of mine said in no ambiguous terms that as an Orthodox Jew, he
would normally be absolutely unwilling and unable to associate with
trans people, gays, and lesbians; because he was also trans, however,
he spends quite a bit of time with us.
Acknowledging Diversity of Thought
There are some people who assume everyone's mind works like theirs. For
instance, someone makes an unusual decision and someone else just
cannot comprehend they would choose differently than themselves. I see
this a lot when someone looks at another religion and thinks, "they
must be idiots for believing that" not able to comprehend there could
possibly another explanation. I never encounter this with trans people.
We constantly see both sides of the argument. We're quite attune to the
acknowledging the diversity of thoughts, feelings, and actions.
see the world as infinitely nuanced and complex. We specialize in
seeing the validity of different points of view and as such we are
enabled to reconcile those ideas and the people holding them. We have
long lived viewing the whole world through feminine eyes and then
transfer to seeing the same world through masculine eyes (or vice
versa, or moving partial or multiple times). We are also not
primitively inept to change our minds. We have already had to accept
that we and everyone around us were wrong about something so simple as
our bodies; that will humble anyone. Changing our politics, theology,
or philosophy comes much easier.
Our gender makes trans people more observant. Honestly, I am not
observant. At all. I'll never notice you change your hair. But what
little observational power I do have, I owe all to living outside the
gender binary. I know this because as soon as I came out I recognized
this part of me changing immediately. Understandably, my observation is
mostly limited to gender observation: I closely follow hand and eye
movement now, clothing choices, conversation styles, and how closely
every person is following their gender norm. If you hair is gendered,
then I probably will notice if you change it. I've always had a
particular lack of skill with flirting, to be kind, but average
flirters who are trans tell me that their skill in flirting is
significantly enhanced by their power of observation.
We are our own gender critics. Trans people spend from dozens to
hundreds of hours analyzing our gender emotionally and in practice.
What's my gender identity? What's my gender expression? What's my
gender role? What is society's gender norms? Do I like my gender
expressions/roles/norms? Are they healthy? Sincere? Authentic?
Positive? Responsible? Realistic? Helpful? And on and on for our every
action, mannerism, feeling, movement, and on and on. By the time we're
finished, if we ever finish, our gender is positively as mature as
anything you can imagine. If our gender was an object, it would be a
neutron star - an entire star contracted into a tiny size making it
powerful and perfectly symetrical. Cisgender people, however, at least
those little affected by feminist thinking, sadly live their whole life
not knowing what their gender is, let alone how to mature it.
We have not only transported through gender in the
past, we can transcend it on command. Humans tend to be locked into,
well, ourselves. We have trouble doing things we've never done before
and especially things our world tells us is impossible. Gender is but
one example. Our gender expression and gender roles, society tells us,
is a Law of Nature. While anyone can change their gender, few people know they can
and this makes all the difference. Being transgender is a key out of
this structure. A psych professor told me that a geat power of
understanding psychology and sociology was that after you comprehend
the rules that govern humanity, you can begin to rise above them and
even manipulate them. Being trans is the same in specific regard to the
gender aspects of psychology and sociology. On
one level, this ability is inherent to any trans person - we know with
our every fiber that the gender norms only influence realty as far as
we allow it. On
another level, this ability comes from our years of experience of
living in one gender through childhood and beyond and then years living
Strength through Suffering
We utilize our suffering. Thank goodness, because we have suffering in
droves. Emotionally, we're often depressed and moved to suicide, most
are rejected by significant family, friends, and our church, we're
called sinners, perverts, and abominations to our face. We've also had
to face head-on that our conceptions about our very body are wrong;
most of us don't scream of being in the wrong body the moment we learn
to speak so we have evolved and have to admit our original ideas were
wrong. Our expectations are lower: our friendships are limited to those
who will embrace our differentness or whose disgust we can tolerate;
while many more people will date trans people than is publicly
acknowledged, it's very hard for us to know who those people are.
Paperwork prevents us from marrying or having children in some states
and international traveling is dangerous. Some Christian organizations
have entire sub-organizations keeping us from getting a job there. We
can't assume we'll receive the dignity deserved by all creations of
God. The amount of bitterness I see from trans people is extraordinary
low - so much that I honestly don't understand it. To succeed as
transgender, namely, to get out of the closet and avoid suicide, is to
transform suffering into something useful: especially, motivation,
perserverance, and the ability to be humble. We're not humble in that
we don't let others control us, but we don't feel entitled and are
keenly aware of our own weaknesses.
We don't murder people with different genders. Trans people are killed
all the time by people who hate them simply because their gender is
different. I challenge anyone to find a trans person who murdered or
wounded a person just because of their gender identity.
Despite far reaching political and religious propaganda depicting us as pedophiles and horror movies (Psycho
and The Silence of the Lambs
as the most famous) depicting us as serial killers or raving lunatics,
Gateways to Ministry
have the keys to an exclusive society of outcasts. Most trans people
have been burned by the Church and have lost any interest. The Church
still maintains a Holier Than Thou attitude regarding entering queers
spaces and letting queers enter theirs. Even if a Christian overcomes
that prejudice, it's too late. Your reputation that calls us as
perverts precedes you. Trans Christians are uniquely able to bridge
that divide. Are gender identity rescues us from a hateful reputation.
We are flesh and blood proof that not all Christians are transphobic
and that Jesus can include us.
Harbors of Safe Space
For many non-trans people, it's refreshing to spend time outside the
gender binary. Spending time around someone of your own gender brings
outs that gender more strongly but also limits the feeling of
acceptance for breaking that gender norm. Spending time with the
opposite gender may be a space for expressing their rarely seen
masculine or feminine side, but there's also that constant reminder of
difference - that one person is a woman and one is a man. Trans
communities take this freedom to its completion. A trans person has
already loudly decried the pressures of gender norms so we are clearly
open for others to do the same. These little pockets of
cross-genderness tend to be interests or a way of moving their body.
Another trans friend expressed her joy when seeing "someone's eyes
light up" when there were able to express something they had to hide
from the gendered outside world.
Withholding First Impressions
A trans friend of mine put it this way: "Being trans, I recognize
that I don't know anyone's gender identity unless they tell me. This
has taught me how to patiently not assume anything about other people,
not only in regard to gender, but everything about them."
(Paraphrased.) Sometimes our first impressions are correct but
sometimes not. Incorrect first impressions spoil our ability to
accurately know someone. It takes an excess of information to balance a
false belief and sometimes others don't make it that far. I would
personally love for people not to assume I'm a raging liberal just by
my appearance or one thing I say.
I remarked to a trans friend that there seem to be an unusually high number of