Why do I feel like a liability as a T in the GLBT/church bridge building taking place?

In recent months, I have become more aware of several evangelical Christian individuals and groups, both straight and GLBT, who are committed to 'bridge building' between the church and the GLBT community.

I must admit that this is all new to me because even though I only transitioned recently in view of my age, I existed in a self-imposed cloister of sorts, and avoided immersing myself in trans (and GLB) politics.

I can be accused of reaping the benefits of all the hard work done by others. But I am appreciative and need to make it known that I do acknowledge that if it had not been for the advocacy and hard work of all those who have dared to navigate the uncharted waters, that my ability to transition and finally enjoy 'congruence' as a person would have been impossible.

At least in Vancouver, and in Canada in general, the laws, medical services and the general attitude of the people, are all contributing factors in making our situation more bearable, compared to what I perceive it to be for our American counterparts. Having said that, things are not perfect in Canada either, but at least our rights, as are the rights of all Canadians, better enshrined and protected, and with respect to rights specifically protecting Trans people, there is a bill that is making its way through Parliament that seems to be very close to passing.

But I digress. I started out by talking about the work taking place in the church and my conclusion is that the bridge builders seem to be holding the 'T' in GLBT at arm's-length, in much the same way the secular "GLBT Inc." has been guilty of doing, especially in American politics. Perhaps it is oversight on their part and they just simply need to be nudged, or perhaps it is more systemic and an indication that their work becomes more challenging if they have to assert the T.

I would like to think that it is the former.

Alternatively, it may be incumbent on us to not rely of the GLBs to be our voice in this church arena? This is not to undermine the good work that is being done by these individuals and groups, it is to add to it.

The fact and the reality is that GLB issues are less overwhelming to resolve than T issues, and our experiences as individuals is markedly different.
As a foot note, it also needs to be pointed out that even under the T umbrella, there are huge differences between those who are medically transsexual (like myself), and those who are simply gender benders, drag queens and kings, cross-dressers/transvestites, the fetishist and "hobbyists." I speak for the transsexuals, which, I suppose, makes me guilty of the very thing I suspect of the GLBs and their allies, since I am holding the rest of those under the T umbrella at an arm's-length. It's complicated, isn't it?

Comments

  1. Hi Lisa,

    As someone engaged in bridge-building as a straight advocate, I think one of the factors is simply prevalence. While I personally know and relate to about ten trans people, I know and relate to hundreds of glb people. And most church leaders I know do not have personal connection with any trans people - though they may have relationships with some gay people.

    I'm not so sure that it is a matter of trans realities being more complicated - but gender identity questions are distinct from sexual identity questions. In some ways, I feel like it would be more helpful to then have distinct conversations with church leaders about trans issues - but then you inevitably run into the reality that they are busy and have many other priorities - and if they feel like they are not going to encounter trans people - then they struggle to justify investing a lot of time having the conversation when so many other issues pull and tug at them. That isn't to justify they're busyness and lack of engagement - but to simply describe it. Per typical, the church tends to be in a reactionary mode rather than a proactive mode. If a trans person comes into their community, I may likely receive a phone call from the pastor - but not before.

    Let me encourage you by simply saying that your voice and story are important - and to continue to share your life, your journey and your faith with others. This is what will continue to open conversations and allow pastors and other leaders to realize that even though they may not know someone who has made a gender transition - there are very real gender realities that people in their church may be facing - and that these questions need our humility, willingness to listen, and unconditional love in response.

    Be blessed friend.

    wendy

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