A letter written to a transsexual, a stranger to me. I was in Montreal at the residence, next door to the hospital, recovering from my surgery. Somehow her call was put through to my room by the nurse who answered the phone. Donna just needed to talk to someone and I had nothing better to do. She was seriously considering reverting back to male mode after living 24 years as a female, because her new girlfriend did not want to be in a lesbian relationship. Donna loved this woman and didn’t want to loose her. Complicated, to say the least.
April 4, 2010 (Good Friday)
Gender is the brain part, sex is the biological part, orientation is the relational part... each of these needs to be considered on its own before we can assemble the three together. Where it gets complicated is that each area is also a continuum from male to female. As you aptly put it, for the great majority of the population, these three parallel each other and these "lucky" people never question what they are in any of these areas, they are all the same... male or female. Then there are the lucky few who have one or more of these areas out of sync and their gender/sex/orientation settings are not the factory default.
One thing remains true for all of us, we are created in God's image and as I was saying when we broke off, he knows my(and your) name and he knows what my(and your) default values are, and He is OK with them. I finally was able to separate the fundamental, black and white false reality society sometimes latches on to, from the simple fact that creation is full of variety and even Jesus acknowledged this.
I had always struggled with Jesus’ comments recorded in chapter 22 of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus was having a discussion with His disciples about divorce and marriage and quoted the passage from the Old Testament that we often hear at weddings:
“Haven't you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
The disciples asked him a few more questions and he answered them but adds: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (my emphasis)
Now, tell me that the last part of the conversations makes any sense to you if the discussion is about divorce and marriage. For years I used the first part of this passage with its reference to the Old Testament to beat myself up. Then one day, I saw something in Jesus’ last statement I had never seen before. First, Jesus re-stated that God created us male and female, but He concedes that it doesn’t always work out that way. “Some are eunuchs because they are born that way.”
This one fact didn't just crack the door open for me, it blew the door off its hinges. I no longer felt that my condition was the result of my sin or my lack of faith. More importantly, I knew he loved me as I was and I no longer feared accepting the prescribed course of action. I transitioned with total confidence that he had answered my prayers by allowing me to live at a time and place where my condition was understood and there were caring people who were available to be there to help me.
I have one regret and I will take this to my grave: I have caused unimaginable pain on the person I love most, my best friend for 35 years, my wife. I recently had a conversation with my Dad, he commented that what I was doing to my wife was too hurtful. He asked why couldn’t I say to myself that I had endured my condition for 58 years and I might as well stay unchanged for how ever many years I may have left and return to being a man for her. If it only were so easy. I asked him if he would say the same thing to me if what I had was another “congenital” or lifelong medical condition for which there was now a procedure that could improve the quality of my life for my remaining years? Should I not have that procedure performed on me but just take it with me to the grave because, after all, I had already lived with it this long? “That’s different.” he said. I asked him to tell me how it was different morally but he couldn't answer. But I know what he was talking about... this "procedure" impacts my wife's factory setting to be united to a man, and how she views herself and how she wants others to view her.
Ultimately, it came down to whether it would be better for her to have a dead husband and no marriage, or a live marriage but no husband. You know what I mean. I'll put it this way, I deal in pictures—I make my living doing visual stuff—so it was no great surprise an image came to mind one day as I was trying to explain to someone how I saw my life: I remember unraveling a large ball of heavy string I found when I was a child. I pulled on the end that was poking out of the center and started pulling on it. I kept this up until the ball lost its critical mass and what was left collapsed and was formless. Until that very moment, the outside shape was intact and one would not have known that its core was slowly disappearing by just looking at it. That was me. That was my life—I was unravelling from the inside but no one was the wiser. I knew that my “critical mass” would soon be gone and I would collapse into an unrecognizable heap. I didn’t what that to happen to me for my wife’s sake. I didn’t want it to happen for our sons and the rest of my family’s sake either.
I knew that it was not healthy to dwell on death all the time and to think that death would solve so many of my problems. Additionally, I thought is paradoxical and ironic that God had not taken me on any one of the many times I escaped death in nothing short of miraculous ways. “Why, why didn’t You take me then?” I have asked God. To simply say that my time had not yet come is a cop out. Why wasn’t my time? Could it be that I had something to live for? If so what is it? I love life as much as the next person and from this human point of view, there is a lot I will miss when I’m gone. But the things I am talking about are not material, they are persons. Each of our sons, my family, but most of all my wife. So, I plan to be around for as long as I can and I thank God for the years He has ordained for me, including all the the painful ones.
RE: Your photo. (Which she emailed after the phone call)
You are lovely, Donna. should you decide to re-embrace the gender you chose 24 years ago. My absolute honest response is that if I knew nothing about you, I would read you as female. I wish I had your hair.
You mentioned your height being a challenge, have you seen Kimberly Reeds, award-winning film maker? She is 6'1" and used to be her high schools star quarterback.
You mentioned your voice being too masculine, well, there are voice training tips and exercises that you can do to affect a more feminine quality (I am currently in a regimen that is making a difference for me when I am in public- Google "Changing Keys transsexual voice training" You should fined some articles in the BC Trans Health Services program).
The person you are in love with, I know... I know. You and I cannot imagine life without our two friends, I don't have an answer for you.
I will include you and your friend in my prayers as I continue to lift my wife up to Him, I pray she will remain my friend. I have never loved her more than I do now and that will never change.