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The Ex-Trans Pattern

I personally know people in the US and Australia who have resumed living in their original biological gender role. Nearly all claim to have done so as a result of Christian conviction. Tiller in The Guardian

While reviewing various ex-trans figures, people who were transgender but then rejected their transgenderism, I stumbled onto a pattern. If you can follow along, the observations yeild fascination conclusions. This pattern holds true for every single transgender or ex-trans Christian I know of, made up of people you'll find around this site and personal contacts. Provided that's not a huge sample size, but the accuracy is startling. This pattern divides itself into three groups:

  1. People who transition as transwomen first and become Christians second
  2. Bigender / cross-dressers
  3. Everyone else: transmen, genderqueer folk, intersex, and people who become Christians first and transition as transwomen second
This grouping is similar to the classic grouping of trans people: transmen, transwomen, genderqueer, and bigender.   Why lump the groups together this way and separated transwomen based on when they converted? Because those three groups happen to be the same as these groups:
  1. People who do not easily integrate and attempt to change their gender
  2. Some end up staying transgender, some act cisgender
  3. People who easily integrate Christianity and transgenderism
I'll keep my personal contacts anonymous but I add that religious Jews I know also fit into this pattern. Of the people I reference on this site, how many fit into Patterns 1, 2, and 3? All of them.

Pattern 1

None of them were raised as Christians (minus Joseph who was a non-devout Roman Catholic) and all transition as transwomen included hormones and going en femme full time. When they became Christians, they were all impressed with the idea that their transition was wrong. This always happened fairly quickly, sometimes right after converting or sometimes in the process of converting. Sometimes the conviction came from within themselves, other people were convicted by their pastor or church family. What happens is no secret and is usually boasted by the person in their testimony. They are in the midst of living in their feminine gender when they're struck with all the newness of Christianity.When someone becomes a Christian, they don't prove to themselves that every detail of Scripture and dogma are valid. No, for the vast majority of converts, accepting Christ is synonymous with accepting all the teachings of the Church as well. In their leap of faith to Jesus, they also make faith in the Church. When someone converts from Protestant influence, they become Protestant. From Catholic, Catholic, etc. Converts don't say, "Now that I believe in Jesus, let me study Wesley, Calvin, the Vatican, and the Patristic Fathers to see who I believe in." No, they take it all in a single swallow.  This is a wonderful thing! We wouldn't want to teach immature Christians thousands of years of history and the doctrine of the Trinity before they can accept Christ.

Something else happens. They come to a turning point in their whole where they're evaluating everything they ever believed. "If I was wrong about Jesus, what else was I wrong about?" They also come into intense vulnerability where they are willing to accept without question the beliefs of the Church or local church. If there's anything dubious about her occupation or lifestyle, she'll question them. For a transwoman, this includes transition because gender is a huge part of her life constantly on her mind. More than any other time since childhood, she is willing to question and change her entire life and has the motivation to do it. When her church learns of her gender history, and they will always know, they'll instruct that right alongside authority of Scripture and the Resurrection is the doctrine of the Gender Binary. The convert cannot say No; in her mind, the Gender Binary is a critical part of Christianity and the life she's devoted herself to. A good church family will help the convert along every step of her second transition, reassuring her that God wants this and giving all the emotion support needed. Often, a church will take a collection and help pay for reversal surgeries. In most situations, this support system is exactly what the Church should do. This is just one place where it is perverted.

There is a final step: staying the course. Some do, some don't. For Marissa, Michael/Michelle, and Peta, living as men doesn't give the happiness and well-being their church promised. They like Jesus just fine, but being a man is as unfulfiling as ever. It takes quite some time for them to mature to the point of separating their parish from Christianity, doctrine from dogma but they stop seeing Christianity and transgenderism as incompatible and Marissa and Peta transition yet again.

What about transwomen who were Christians before transitioning? Simple. They did not experience the perfect storm of becoming intensely vulnerable to others who would tell them how to be a man. They've grown up in the Church; they've been there and done that. They've had years to think about their gender and faith. There isn't rush of change to make them re-consider years later. If they're transitioning, they have already worked through the differences between their feelings and the Church. Now, some males who identify as women raised in the church don't transition. We never hear from them, but surely they must exist. There are transwomen in the closet in the Church for decades before coming out; presumably some just stay there their whole lives. Those people quietly try to integrate transgenderism and Christianity but cannot. So they never come out; they never start transitioning; they never write a testimony about their struggle. Those who can integrate them, they never turn back. None of this second and third transitions. They're stable.

Pattern 2

Bigender people (aka, cross-dressers) are the only group whose outcome varies. They may decide to live transgender or cisgender regardless of when they became Christians. See Jerry Leach and Randall Wayne and many people on the Stories page. They grew up as Christians but they struggled back and forth. They never integrated their faith and gender. Jerry's story is clear: he has constant cycles of embracing cross-dressing, then shunning it. He binges and purges. Only in his forties does he supposedly come to a state of stability. Jerry and Randall ended up living cisgender. Other bigender folk have embraced their transgenderism.

Pattern 3

Finally, what about genderqueer and transmen? We aren't often lumped together! I am going out on a limb to say that non-Christian transmen who convert later never become ex-trans, not because they're transmen versus transwomen, but because of our surrounding culture. I said early that a church always knows a transwoman's status. They know because 1) many transwomen cannot pass, 2) those who can pass struggle to pass with people with pro-longed contact, 3) church's gossip and if one person knows, the pastor will surely know, and 4) even if she passes, as Marissa did, she'll feel compelled by guilt to come out. Transmen, however, don't have any of these problems. They pass extremely well. In your own life, you've probably recognized a transwoman but have you ever recognized a transman? Transmen are more immune to gossip because people find the concept hard to believe. Of several transmasculine friends, when they say, "I was born female" people often don't believe them! Lastly, transmen don't have the same guilt. Our culture simply doesn't have negative feelings associated with females expressing themselves as men. Whether tomboys or Joan of Arc, being a man is valued and accepted without challenge. Just ask a woman (trans or cis) and you'll see the difference in how much people work to be acceptable as women versus as men.

Genderqueer people are stable for a different reason. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I believe people who think of themselves as genderqueer are more thoughtful, mature, and resilient to criticism. It takes some guts to call yourself "queer" voluntarily. Defying gender norms is tough and no one dares unless they've got high self-esteem and lots of confidence in themself. (Incidentally, ex-trans hugely lack both.) And because Genderqueer is an unfamiliar category in our culture it takes lots of thought and analysis. Our culture basically understands transexuals ("woman in man's body") and cross-dressers ("who like to dress up as women"). But a genderqueer person must go much farther than our culture. (Transmen can find some similarity here too.) The difficult journey creates knowledge and experience that won't let us be easily swayed by others later, even in a religious conversion. And while transwomen and cross-dressers learn to conform to womanhood and transmen to manhood, genderqueer people are, by definition, independent.

People who are intersex have all the transmen and genderqueer advantages. Most pass easily, they have put much thought and energy into understanding their situation, and Christians rarely (compared to transwomen) criticism the choices of intersex people. Intersex people certainly have stigma, but their decisions do not have stigma. The Church is unwilling to demand the intersex people live as genderqueer! Most intersex people want to fit into the gender most similar to their sex anyway.

Loose Ends

Since I'm claiming everyone fits into these categories, I have to address the people I ignored. I ignored drag queens because I don't know any who are Christians. In this context, they share a lot of similarities with genderqueer people, so I would estimate they appear exclusively in Pattern 1. I ignored Walt Heyer a) I do not think he's transgender, b) I don't know if he grew up Christian or converted, and c) which of his alternate identities were Christian. Walk is very complex in this regard and I would need more information.

Jerry Leach's gender is in dispute. For this purpose, I do not consider him a transwoman because, regardless of his inner-most identity, he acted bigender as someone who shifted back and forth between gender expressions rather than have a single expression as transwomen do. Even if, as he believes, he began a cross-dresser and evolved into a transexual, he was not a transexual until at least his thirties and forties.  If you know of any exceptions or possible exceptions, please contact me.

See Also

Jerry Leach: Things in Common Among Transsexuals