For most of my life I have fallen between the margins of our complex and heavily compartmentalized American society. Whether it’s because of my clothing style or my brash nature, I have either been too weird, too mean, too good, too big, too small, too fat or too skinny to fit into many of the typical and acceptable societal roles. Many people fall between the margins just as I have and for the most part it’s no big deal, we navigate those empty awkward lonely areas and find ourselves right where we belong.
The problem isn’t falling into the margins of society, the problem is being deliberately swept into the margins between identity and spirituality, where a person can not belong to both the religion and societal role that they identify with.
I am proud to say that I am a Christian, however, I am not accepted in my religion because I am also a trans woman. For more than a year I have struggled to fit into either group because the trans community as well as most of the world has been shown a highly judgmental and unforgiving Christian society, and well, Christian society has been highly judgmental and unforgiving of the general population. There are however, a few things that are missed by both sides.
Being trans doesn’t mean a person can’t be a Christian:
Take a second and think about this, the bible sets a pretty simple guideline for salvation and nowhere in the salvation story does it include “except for __________ people”. That means that any member of the LGBTQ+ community, around the globe, or even little green men from outer space for all I’m concerned could be Christian. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like or who you love, so please don’t say “you cant be because _________”.
To commit one sin is to commit them all:
Believe it or not, the bible actually says this in James 2:10. So it doesn’t matter how much you go to church or pray, if you have lied lusted or otherwise sinned according to scripture, you are as guilty as the people you see as being the most immoral; maybe more so simply for the judgement of others.
Christianity is an individual pursuit:
Yes, I said it, no Christian needs other Christians to actually be a Christian. Like most belief systems Christianity calls for a spiritual pursuit, and since we as individuals hold our own faith it is up to each of us as individuals to tend to our own spiritual health.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean I disagree with you:
I, and many others like me, stand far from the Christians we have seen on TV, in the news and in conversations that claim they will burn themselves, or a book or a flag if legislation is passed for equality. Those people actually make up a small percentage of Christians in America.
Being Trans does not mean I agree with you:
There is no rule that says I have to be on your side with all issues simply because we share a single common issue. People disagree, there is no need to start a war or marginalize an individual because we don’t see things the same.
I don’t have to choose sides:
I have heard from several people over the last year that I can’t transition if I’m a Christian and I can’t be a Christian if I transition. The reality is that language like this only further divides communities of people and the truth is the God I love has seen me as I am long before transitioning, so I think I’ll be Okay on both fronts.
We can still have conversations:
Being Christian doesn’t mean I don’t understand your point of view or at least want to, maybe we should just take a second to hear each other out and attempt to understand our differences.
Expression is victim-less:
Me being me is about me. If you have a problem with how I present myself or what I believe please feel free to an open conversation, though ultimately you have to understand that I am being the best me I can.
Don’t be a mirror of the side you are divided against:
If your problem is that you feel judged and discriminated against by a person or group of people, be careful not to express the same. I know it can be hard but gross generalizations of an entire people group are not fixed with more gross generalizations in turn. Nothing will make the people that stand against you more angry, confused or curious than rising above the hostility and happily going about your life.
The world around you is a creation of your own intentions:
You ultimately decide how you face the world and the things you love and hate about it. If you see something you don’t like in the world take a look at yourself. I know this may not make a ton of sense right now, but think about it, if you met one person that said your whole community was crap would you say the same about theirs from that one experience?
Discrimination and marginalization are horrible realities that we all must face on a daily, but we can combat this by not turning to those same tactics and trying to truly see each person as individuals apart from the the generalizations of the whole. As cheesy as this might sound, we really do need to be the change we want to see. We have to be diligent about looking at ourselves before waging war with an entire community because of the words or actions of an individual… After all, none of us likes to stand alone between the margins of our identity and spirituality because of uninformed ideation.