Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And then there is Dr. Michael Brown, author of the best selling Christian homophobic (and transgenderphobic) book, "A Queer Thing Happened to America"

Dr. Brown is organizing to sabotage the Charlotte, NC Pride event on August 27, 2011 and set up a Facebook page for that end. He has allowed me engage him on his views regarding transgender persons. So far, he has not censored the stream. 

Just in case these get deleted from the FB page at GHABW
http://www.facebook.com/pages/God-Has-A-Better-Way/235562896484049

Lisa Salazar

‎"…we do not celebrate the fact that some people choose to surgically mutilate their God-given organs and must take hormones for the rest of their lives just to be at peace with themselves…" As a transsexual Christian woman, I also don't celebrate the choices I had to make, but I am grateful I was able to make them none-the-less. Your assertion that gender reassignment surgery is mutilation is sadly misplaced and by extension, using the the same logic, one could argue that all surgeries are acts of mutilation of some God-given "tissue." I'm sure the cancer patient who has a leg, a breast, a lung, or some other part of their body removed is grateful to the doctors who have given them another chance at life, even if there are life-long consequences. I am grateful to God to live in a day and age when medical science not only understands gender dysphoria, but also offers choices that can help the quality of a person's life, as it has mine.


God Has A Better Way 
I'm sure you have had many struggles in your lifetime, and I don't minimize them, but would you agree that it would have been better had you been able to find peace with you biological sex without surgery and hormones? And are you comparing yourself to a cancer patient who regrets having a mastectomy, for example, and would have preferred that the cancer was eliminated before such radical surgery took place? And did God make a mistake when He put you in your body and gave you a male genetic code? The bottom line is that you and I should be able to agree that "God has a better way" than the painful and difficult course you have taken, especially since you say that don't celebrate the choices you made. Will you join me in faith that God will provide this better way to others diagnosed with gender dysphoria?

Lisa Salazar 
Would you agree people all over the world requiring surgery or medical intervention have prayed earnestly to God to fix them and make their problem go away—so they don't have to make difficult choices—yet the "healing" they pray for has not materialized? This isn’t new and it’s pretty universal. I suspect you must have at least one family member or close friend who has been in this situation, and for them— and for you—the prayers have not been answered the way you hoped. Would you say to them, God has a better way, don’t listen to your doctors? How can you or anyone make such a statement on God’s behalf? I find your position patronizing. I was forty-eight years old when I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and yes, I hoped and prayed for a better way to deal with it than to have to make the difficult very public changes I had to make, starting four years ago. God’s better way for me was to protect me through my faith in Jesus Christ—it is what kept me safe and sober of mind during all my years of "struggles" and kept me from becoming another suicide statistic. You may find it ironic and perhaps heretical when I claim I was able to reconcile my faith to my diagnosis with Jesus' words in Matthew 19 about eunuchs. It is significant that here he warned his disciples not everyone would have the ability to receive or understand His words on the subject. My prayers were answered when he allowed me to understand these truths, even if it took me another eight years after my diagnosis to make sense of the it all. Jesus allowed for the possibility that human sexuality was not strictly binary when he conceded some were born different from their mother's womb. That one statement serves as an admission by God himself that humanity is damaged and some are born with things that cannot be fixed, others are damaged after birth and will remain broken until the day they die. It is therefore irresponsible to claim God has a better way when God does not make that promise and very few are healed miraculously. Wouldn't you agree the medical intervention we sometimes have to resort to is a gift from God and an answer to or prayers? So, what is God’s better way? I believe GOD'S BETTER WAY IS TO LOVE. All I can do is echo this inspired prayer for you and me: God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. We could add: God, help us not to judge others who are not like us. Thank you for allowing me to share on your page, I respect that.

God Has A Better Way 
‎"Lisa" -- be assured that I am sensitive to your struggles (I have a cousin who, in his late 60's, is in the process of sex change), and be assured that I'm convinced that God has a better way than sex-chage surgery and hormones and attempting to change from male or female (or the reverse). I have friends who identified as transgender and who had GID who are healed and transformed by the power of the gospel. Is not that the better way? Love compels me to speak the truth.

Lisa Salazar 
Love compels me to speak as well. I hope your cousin is spared the guilt trip that results from hearing over and over again that God has a better way, yet that better way has somehow eluded her and she is now forced to make the changes. Will you love your cousin regardless, or will she now be handicapped and excluded? Will she be treated as equal or sidelined socially? I'm sorry to continue with the analogy, but you still seem to miss the point, is the cancer patient whose leg is amputated disqualified from life and especially from life in the fellowship of believers? Should transsexuals who opt for the surgery be ostracized? I have read the stories and have met many trans persons and the few who have had regrets, in large part, their regret is re direct result of having been rejected and thrown away by their often very devout Christian families and friends. Sadly, Jesus was right, not everyone has the capacity to receive his teaching. I did not want to use this venue to self-promote, and believe me, this is not why I posted my comments. If your or any supporters would like to, you can search for Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life on Amazon by Lisa Salazar. Peace to you and may your love compel you to remove barriers of distinction.

God Has A Better Way 
Of course this cousin will be loved unconditionally! And let me restate that you and I agree that sex-change surgery and hormones for life are nothing to celebrate, and when the analogy we both use is radical amputation because of sickness, we must both agree that God has a better way. Grace to you!

God Has A Better Way 
One last note: I appreciate your gracious tone, and again, I do not pretend to be your judge, and certainly, my heart breaks for what you have lived through.

Lisa Salazar
Thank you, and you are right. There is nothing to celebrate about undergoing sex change and having to take hormones for the rest of one's life. However, because these options are available, some are now able to celebrate life without the internal turmoil that beset them previously. I celebrate that your cousin and I have made it into our sixties and are still around. We don't want to be the exception and I pray the few who struggle with their gender identity in society and in the church will be able to celebrate life as equals. One more thing, the use of "GID" to describe transgender persons is not very kind since you perpetuate the thinking that what we have is a gender identity disorder and it leads us to always be seen as somehow flawed. When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip if he shouldn’t be baptized, he wasn’t saying, “Hey, I want to start out right by following the new rules.” Instead, the question was packed with so much more importance. It was as if he was saying, “Though I have been a devout Jew all my life and have done everything that is expected and demanded of me, even coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, I have not been a full participant. As an other-sex person, I have had to stand on the sidelines. Will this also be the case now, or can I be a full participant as an equal?” Humor me a little bit longer, and just imagine how the eunuch must have felt to no longer be marginalized and excluded. He was now an equal. How could there be no rejoicing? (We are told, by Luke the physician that the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.) That, in essence, is how I finally feel after almost six decades. I finally accept myself as a woman, and though there is still a long road ahead and it won’t always be smooth travelling, I am finally able to rejoice in who I am in the word and in the Lord.

God Has A Better Way
Thanks for the dialog. Allow me first to explain why I write "Lisa." I certainly don't want to dishonor you, but more importantly, I don't want to dishonor the Lord who made you, and He made you a male, I don't want to change that. I know for you it's not that simple at all, and once more, I don't claim to be your judge, but I hope you can understand my perspective as well. 

As for my cousin, consider this: He was married for decades and is the father of two grown sons. How does his wife, who loved and married a man, now relate to his new identity? And how do his sons understand that dad is now a woman? As you know, many other lives are traumatized by such a decision, and that's why we say that God certainly has a better way than that. 

Now, back to your own situation. I won't get into a discussion about the Ethiopian eunuch, since I have a somewhat different perspective on the text, but I can assure you that God fully accepted you in Jesus as a man struggling with his gender identity and His best plan for your life would be to heal you from the inside out -- be that healing emotional, spiritual, or physical. That being said, if you'll allow me to continue my dialog with you, let me know, and I'll raise one biblical question to you. If you're not comfortable doing that, again, I wish you God's grace.

Lisa Salazar
I accept your invitation, but I must first state you reason for putting my name in quotes is a touch self-serving and it is not very helpful if you really desire to have open and honest dialog with me. It betrays your motives and the implication is that God only sees me as a male, regardless of my gender identity as female. It also begs the question, how do you know that for sure? I was convinced that in Him there was no male or female, slave or free, Greek or Jew. It’s okay with God if you call me Lisa. Now, isn’t that as arrogant a statement as yours is, to claim to speak for what is okay or not okay with God? That being said, like your cousin, I too was married and am the proud father (of three adult sons). Like your cousin's wife, my wife has also paid a monumental price and our marriage of thirty seven years has come to an end. On the other hand, I am grateful my sons have been able to embrace who I am. I don't know about your cousin's, but my sons continue to call me and refer to me as "dad" and I hope that never changes. The decision I made was not an easy one to make. It would be an understatement to say it was the hardest decision I have ever had to wrestle with. I agonized over the inevitable consequences it wold have on the most important human in my life, my wife. That is the one and only regret I have and my heart breaks for her. She is an amazing person, as I am sure your cousin’s wife must also be. I suspect that you and many others may shake your head and pity me for not being "man" enough to hang in there for her, and you may even consider my motives selfish. One of my psychiatrists responded to my comment that I just wanted to die rather than transition by posing the following: “suppose I was to survey every person who loves you, knows you or is acquainted with you and could ask them if they would rather have you live the rest of your life as a woman, or for you not to be around any more? I guarantee you one hundred percent would rather have you around as a woman.” He insisted the pain I would inflict on family and friends would be graver than my transitioning. What do you think, was he wrong in telling me so? As I stated before in an earlier comment, it took me about eight years to finally decide to make the changes. I reached the point where I realized the most loving thing I could to was to choose life, even if I had to make the difficult decision to live as female. You can not know how difficult the process was and I ask that you respect that fact and not superimpose your views on what was going through my mind. Pause and consider one fundamental truth, only God can judge the motives of the heart. You state "God fully accepted you in Jesus as a man struggling with his gender identity and His best plan for your life would be to heal you from the inside out -- be that healing emotional, spiritual, or physical." This sounds very pious until we stop and see the subtlety of the bias you have for insisting you know what God’s best plan for me might be. I can claim and testify that God has healed me emotionally and spiritually. And He provided a human agent to affect the physical healing. I give him thanks for the skills and compassion of my surgeon and by extension, the medical profession that has invested itself to understand how to best help persons like me. This is worth celebrating, don’t you think? Think of the many other conditions that until recently were literally cradle to the grave life sentences that medical and mental health sciences have been able to resolve. You would not deny those whose quality of life has improved (as a result of these new advancements) to have cause to give Him praise? That is the crux of the issue. I know of no LGBTI agenda other than to desire to be treated as equal and not be denied the rights and privileges straight people take for granted or claim exclusively for themselves. God’s better way is to love others as you would have them love you. True or false?

God Has A Better Way 
"Lisa," I'm reaching out to you by calling you by the name you currently use but at the same time being honest before God on my part. If that's not satisfactory for you, I'm sorry, but each of us must be true to our convictions. And I'm terribly sorry to hear about the loss of your marriage. And yes, I praise God for advances in medical science, but that doesn't mean that everything that surgeons or psychiatrists can do is from the Lord, does it? As to your claim that what I say is pious, are you saying that God had no better way to help you than by destroying your marriage? Is this the love of God being expressed to your wife? Moreover, if you suffered from some kind of disorder -- you identified it as gender dysphoria, but whatever the term, you likened it to a cancer victim needing radical surgery -- shouldn't we all be praying and searching for the cause of this problem, rather than thinking that radical surgery and lifetime hormones and destroyed marriages are the best we can do? It is love that looks for a better solution, while at the same time being sympathetic to your struggles. So, here is the question I wanted to ask you. If we lived in ancient Israel and had cancer, if God didn't heal us, we would die, since there was no surgical or medical treatment available, but we surely would not be called sinners by God for being sick. I assume we agree with that. However, the Torah expressly forbade cross-dressing, calling it an abomination in Deut 22:4. So, what was God's solution in ancient Israel for someone suffering with gender dysphoria? Cross-dressing or cross-identifying would have been considered sinful in God's sight -- not a sickness, but a sin -- so what was the person to do? Remember that the God of Israel is the Father of the Lord Jesus, full of mercy and compassion and longsuffering, and yet He made no room for any kind of transgender expression. (I repeat once more: We're not talking about being sick and not having a medical option back then; we're talking about something that at that time was considered an abomination in God's sight.) What would someone in your condition have done back then? I don't mean this as a bating question -- you have endured far too much to play games like that -- but as a serious question about God and His children. One last point on the Matt 19 passage you've referred to several times: First, as the context makes clear, the people he's talking about have foresworn marriage and sexual activity for the sake of the kingdom of God (or else they were born incapable of sexual activity, or they were made eunuchs by men). Is that the same as SRS? Don't many professing transsexual Christians go on to marry and have sexual relations? Second, someone voluntarily swearing off marriage and sexual activity for the sake of their commitment to the Lord does not physically change their identity and go from male to female (or the reverse), so again, the passage in Matt 19 doesn't apply to SRS. What would have applied would have been if you chose not to marry or have sexual relationships and consecrated yourself to the Lord as a male, even if you felt trapped in the wrong body. Can you see that?

Lisa Salazar 
Dear "The Facebook Team," 
(I'm using quotes because God knows your real name.) 
You choose not to answer questions which then makes me wonder how much you really desire a dialog. Would it have been better for my wife if I had died? Would it have been more honorable to go that way than to choose to become and abomination? Your references to the OT about cross dressing must be properly contextualized. Prohibiting the impersonation the opposite sex was in association to the sexualized religious practices of the nations Israel was to supplant. Further, there is a huge difference between impersonation and identification. Do you think I am simply impersonating a woman?

As a young man, when I found myself falling in love and then getting married, I earnestly believed it was God's answer to my prayers that I would be healed and made normal. Yet, there was the persistent disconnection I experience between my body and how I identified. It caused me to become more determined to pray to God and hope for Him to change me. I cried and pleaded with Him. I loved my young wife so much, I wanted to be the best husband I could be. I consecrated myself and offered it all to Jesus. When our first son was born, It was not only a holy moment, it was also a most sad time for me. What more proof did I need that I was not female? Why did I still feel "trapped" and why was God not snapping His finger and solving this? I was a defeated person, I wondered why God's better way was not my reality. The ups and downs of my faith were deeply secret and it was not until after our second was born that I confessed to my wife I had a problem. We circled our spiritual wagons and vowed to fight Satan together, whom we identified as the culprit behind my gender distress. We prayed fervently and she stood faithfully by my side, devoting herself to help me be strong. Spiritualizing the conflict had short-lived benefits and for a short time I thought that I had found the missing piece of the puzzle. Now that my wife knew my horrible secret, I was sure God would honor my prayer. I lived for months walking on spiritual eggshells, hoping to to jinx the spell. Without realizing what I was doing, I reduced God to a capricious, rule-crazy entity who only showed His favor to those who figured out how to behave, think and pray by some elusive set of formulas. It became the game of cause and effect and nothing I did seem to have the desired effect. 

Despite this internal and secret war, by God's grace and through his amazing love, I was somehow able to be a good father and a devoted husband. But by the time our third son was born, I was resigned to the fact I was never going to be free of what I saw as a curse. Why (isn't his the universal question?) was God not choosing to make me normal? Why was I different? Why could I not be like the majority of people on earth who never questions their gender? So to answer your question about whether or not it is God's best for us to rely on surgeons and psychiatrist's methods or to continue to search for a cause and a cure for gender dysphoria, yes, absolutely. Let's hope others will be spared what I have gone through and yes, let's hope that as a result marriages will not suffer the way ours has. But I pray that until such a less invasive and destructive alternative is found that you tread gently and compassionately on us, the ones who have, in desperation opted for what is currently available. To introduce the "A" word into the discussion is not fair. I won't deny abomination is used in the Bible, but you must concede that there are many things the Bible calls an abomination that which today culturally acceptable and or understood and interpreted differently under the covenant of grace. Case in point: Peter's vision of the sheet coming down from heaven with all manner of unclean things and God's declaration to not call unclean what He has made clean. Do you know any Christians who eat at Red Lobster? We better warn them if this abomination may still stand. 

Jesus’ interjection of eunuch’s into the discussion of marriage and divorce in Matthew 19 is in part, as you pointed out dealing with the abstinence from sex as a result of various causes and or motives. But it cuts deeper than that. Sexuality was not the big taboo to Jesus that it is to the church today. Jesus was speaking in very graphic terms and the point he was making about the sanctity of marriage in the preceding conversation with the Pharisees and then the poor confused disciples had to do with the very casual way in which marriages were dissolved by the patriarchal culture of the day. We could argue it is not very different today, except that today women now able to ask for the divorce. Infidelity was what Jesus justified ending a marriage, but even then, divorce was not God’s better way. 

What do we do with this and what do we say to Christians who have the same divorce rates as non-Christians? But if you dig deeper, the eunuch issue has implications for transgender (and gay) inclusiveness in marriage. If there is a place where God could have once and for all solved the “problem” your movement and book is fixated on, it is here, yet there is pregnant silence. With the addition of a just a few words, Jesus could have set the record straight by saying, “if you allow eunuchs to marry, it’s going to destroy the family.” Or how about, “Anyone who is sexually different, whether by chance or by choice is never to marry and should not be allowed to have a person they can choose to love or make a life-long commitment to.”

I will grant you that sexually immoral persons have no place in the church. But also know that the majority of sexually immoral people are straight since they comprise ninety percent of the population. Uganda can serve as a good example of how horribly wrong the anti-gay mentality can go, where Christians are calling for the execution of persons convicted of “aggravated” homosexual acts. But statistically speaking, these same unmentionable sex acts are performed more often my heterosexual couples and straight men than by the LGBT portion of the population. It is unfair and intellectually dishonest to assume that if you are LGBT, that you engage in immoral sex and that sexual activity is what defines us persons and or couples. 

It is not so simple. Hence, in humility we need to defer judgement to God. 

“The Facebook Team,” I have never felt closer to God than I do right now or have felt in the last four years. How do we account for that? I see Him at work in my life in ways I could never have imagined, and His peace, joy and grace are as real to me as life itself. I am drawn into His presence, compelled to worship Him and His profound joy fills my soul to overflowing as I declare His praises.

I sense you too are a person who enters into His presence with confidence. I ask you to join with me in praying for my wife as I entrust her to Jesus daily and pray that she too will sense God's gentle, sustaining power in her life and that His joy will be her strength. Though I have disqualified myself from being the one who is privileged to be one flesh with her or to be her companion in life, and in that regard she is like a widow, I am confident of one thing, His grace will be more than sufficient for her. He is faithful when we are faithless.

God Has A Better Way 
 "Lisa," there are several administrators on this page who can interact, but you've been interacting with me, Michael Brown, throughout, as you might have assumed. I apologize for not answering everyone of your questions, but because of time constraints (which prevent me from normally interacting much on FB), I've tried to stay with the main issues. Please be kind enough to let me know the key questions you'd like me to respond to, and I'll try to do so before the day is out, OK? Three very quick points: 1) The vast majority of the people we will be interacting with on August 27th, by God's grace, are not transgender-identified and so are not the main thrust of our God Has a Better Way message. 2) Everything you have posted confirms that, at least ideally, you agree that it would be great if that better way was real and possible (just like healing rather than amputation), but for you, it wasn't available, and so, in a figure of speech, you would say that you found healing through amputation. I will stand with anyone who wants to hold on for their healing from the inside out. 3) I would encourage you to re-study Deut 22:5. There's more to it than you might imagine. 

Again, please list the main questions you'd like me to respond to, and I'll do my best to write again. Thanks!

God Has A Better Way 
‎"Lisa," I have one more minute before leaving to speak this morning, and I must respond to something you wrote: "But I pray that until such a less invasive and destructive alternative is found that you tread gently and compassionately on us, the ones who have, in desperation opted for what is currently available." Oh yes, yes! Of course I desire to tread gently and compassionately. I assure you that if we sat together you would find a listening ear and an open heart and we would probably shed a good amount of tears together. And as I have said repeatedly, I am not your judge. There are, however, many, many radical goals of LGBT activism that are contrary to God's Word and contrary to what is best for our society, and I will oppose those goals with truth. At the same time, I will lay my life down to protect people like you from the abuse and attack of society while praying fervently for the reality of that "better way" in your lives. And what do all of us do if something deep inside of us -- even to the core of our being -- violates something God requires? We deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him, recognizing that His grace is sufficient and in Jesus, we can find wholeness.

Lisa Salazar 
Michael, it is a pleasure to meet you. You are a skilled communicator and I'm sure your sermons on other topics must be captivating. But I am troubled with things you have said to me which sound hopeful at first glance but then your biases poke through the surface. There are many questions I asked that were not meant simply as rhetorical. Perhaps that is why you stepped over them. I also appreciate that FB is not the best forum for this kind of dialog. Thank you none the less for being generous with your time with me. I won't take the time to list the questions because you can find them in the comment thread. However, your comments from this morning have raised several new questions. Your answers could provide some insight into what you really believe.

But first, let's begin with the quotes around my name. Do you not realize this is hurtful? Lisa is not a stage or pretend name. It is a legal name and it is MY name. I am not a "drag" impersonator that reverts to another name at the end of the day. Would you please stop it? Don't worry, I don't believe God will be offended if you omit the quotation marks. Besides, it will mean you are willing to stop marginalizing me. Please tell me you don't put your transsexual cousin's name in quotes when you write to her.

"1) The vast majority of the people we will be interacting with on August 27th, by God's grace, are not transgender-identified and so are not the main thrust of our God Has a Better Way message."
On your God has a Better Way website you include statements several about transgender persons. These are what prompted me to write you in the first place and as you clearly must sense by now, I was troubled by them. Why, if the TG involvement at the event is so insignificant, do you single us out with such strong language? 

"2) Everything you have posted confirms that, at least ideally, you agree that it would be great if that better way was real and possible (just like healing rather than amputation), but for you, it wasn't available, and so, in a figure of speech, you would say that you found healing through amputation. I will stand with anyone who wants to hold on for their healing from the inside out."
I'm sure you would have stood with me as I held on for my healing from the inside out, but after nearly forty years of holding on with me, I suspect your words would have sounded hollow, even to you. Are you sure you have God figured out that well? Are you not saying to me it would have been better for me not to transition and to keep hoping and waiting, even if I died before the "acceptable" cure that does not offend your sensibilities was found? Will you not grant that God may choose a different way than what you propose that does not include a miraculous healing? This has implications that go beyond the transgender issue. What do you offer to those who struggle with any one of the hundreds, if not thousands of conditions that plagued humanity? Do you ask them to hold on until God heals them from the inside out? What do you so to those who obviously are never going to be blessed, honestly? Would you prevent them from opting for a human solution?

"3) I would encourage you to re-study Deut 22:5. There's more to it than you might imagine." 
I have studied Deuteronomy 22:5 ad nauseam of the years. I have read Christian as well as Jewish commentaries and the preponderance of what I have read leaves me unmoved in your direction of thought. The thrust of the prohibition is to forbid the "local" practice of the day where men and women, but mostly men, sought the favor of their fertility gods by having mock sex in their temples. Literalist's commentaries actually make for entertaining reading for how ridiculous and narrow some of their assertions can be. I pity their children, and if they are of were pastors, I pray for their congregations. Isn't it dangerous to take one verse out of the Bible upon which to base a doctrine that imposes serious conditions on something God has chosen to say very little about? What do you say about all the other abominations listed in the OT, some of which are declared more often that the ones you point out as being applicable the LGBTI persons? Shouldn't they receive the same attention? For example, dishonesty, adultery, illicit sex, making false statements, having idols, not being hospitable, ignoring the plight of the poor, not feeding the hungry, etc. And then, there are those abominations that would condemn many today—do you have people in your church who sport tattoos? Do you know if any of them eat shellfish? Back to your point though, I don't crossdress. I wear clothing that is gender appropriate for me.

"Oh yes, yes! Of course I desire to tread gently and compassionately. I assure you that if we sat together you would find a listening ear and an open heart and we would probably shed a good amount of tears together." You add "At the same time, I will lay my life down to protect people like you from the abuse and attack of society…"
This is touching and I appreciate it. Thank you. But I need to know how far your love extends. Would I be allowed to join your church? Would I then be allowed to participate fully in the life of the church? Would I be prohibited from any leadership position? Which Bible study would I be allowed to join? If I was younger and available for a committed relationship, would you counsel me not to marry? If I came to your church already married, would we be allowed to join? If we already had one or more children, either from a previous marriage or through adoption, would the children be welcome and would we as parents enjoy fellowship with other parents equally? What if my spouse was another woman? What if my spouse was a man? If a family came to your church with a transgender daughter, would you allow you son to date her? 

"There are, however, many, many radical goals of LGBT activism that are contrary to God's Word and contrary to what is best for our society, and I will oppose those goals with truth." I agree with this part of your statement, as long as the truth is not a construct of your own opinion or based on discredited sources such as the works of Paul Cameron et al. I have seen the consequences of the venomous fundamentalist rhetoric that has resulted from these sources in Uganda, thanks to your friend Lou Engles and others. I have been advocating for the repeal of anti-gay laws in there, but more importantly working for a global outcry agains the proposed "Kill the Gays Bill" through the creation ofhttp://www.ugandaurgentaction.com/ Further, as a Christian, I strongly support the Yogykarta Principles and believe they provide a workable roadmap for all countries with respect to the protection human rights for LGBT persons.

"And what do all of us do if something deep inside of us -- even to the core of our being -- violates something God requires? We deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him, recognizing that His grace is sufficient and in Jesus, we can find wholeness."
You insert "violates something God requires?" and it makes me think I am only seeing the tip of the iceberg. This is the issue I have with your theology. You are judging, even when you say you are not my judge. The only thing I know God requires are the two great commandments (which you know) and is demonstrated by walking humbly with God and loving mercy and doing justice. Love is the fulfillment of all of the Law and the Prophets. But your words are explicitly telling me I am doing something God requires (of me). This continues to say that in your judgement I have done the wrong thing. Are you not saying so?

I'm off to church now and won't be back until much later tonight. I trust your day was blessed.

Until later,
Lisa

God Has A Better Way 
‎"Lisa," the fact that I'm taking so much time to interact with you means that I'm not marginalizing you, and I'm truly sorry that putting your legal name in quotes offends you. I even took time this afternoon to meditate on this and to ask the Lord for His heart in terms of how to interact. That's how important this was to me. I can simply say that I cannot in good conscience call you Lisa without qualification, and I am not convinced that you have not changed who God made you to be. As for my cousin, when we have interacted, I have either referred to him as I always have all my life (and yes, I still believe he is a man), or else I use an abbreviation that he too uses. I do understand why this troubles you, but I ask you to understand my perspective as well. If you choose not to interact any further with me based on this, that's your choice, but the fact that you tell me calling you Lisa won't offend the Lord is not good enough for me, since I have to relate to Abba directly and not through you. So, let me know if you'd like me to respond to your lengthy post given the parameters of what I can do with a clean conscience before God, OK?

Lisa Salazar
Michael, what can I say. I am honored you have interacted with me to the extent you have. That is commendable. 

But I am left feeling a little skeptical by your latest response regarding the use of quotes around my name. Either you are incredibly self-righteous and arrogant, or you are using the explanation as a way out of the conversation, thus avoiding having to answer the various questions/scenarios I posed about how I would be received at your church. I think you owe it to all those who may have been reading our public discussion to not wiggle out now but to tell us. 

If using my name without quotes is so difficult for you and will violate your conscience, then how about simply dropping the name altogether and thus avoid insulting me and doing something that will cause you to stumble? You can do that, can’t you?

But you know what? I think that by what you have just shared about how you deal with your cousin has already revealed your true perspective and the damage to your earlier sincerity has already been done. You may be willing to defend transgender persons from abuse and attacks, but you will never extend them equality and may not be prepared to extend them the hand of fellowship—at least not without conditions. Your tone makes it clear you will continue to classify us and think of us as sadly mistaken persons who need to correct their thinking to match yours, which you equate to God’s way of thinking on the subject. 

What if you are wrong? Are you absolutely certain that what I had was not a medical condition and that what I underwent was not a valid medical intervention? Have you invested any time at all to speak to the medical experts on the field and have you spoken and really gotten to know transgender individuals and their families? And by the way, your cousin doesn’t count because if as you pointed out, you will always think of this person as male, then you really have not gotten to know her.

You will stand before God one day to give an account of how your teachings caused people to judge others by your standards. I pray for any family who may have been influenced by you and I hope no transgender person has been left no other option but to exit life as a result.

Sincerely,
Lisa Salazar

God Has A Better Way 
I'm not trying to get out of the conversation (although I've had no time to write today until this moment), and I would gladly write without using a name, as long as you know I'm writing to you, OK? So, if I address anyone else in this thread, I will use their name, and all other posts will be addressed to you. Fair enough? I won't be able to respond further until later tonight, God willing, but at that time I'll try to interact fairly and clearly with your last two posts. I urge you, though, not to judge my sincerity through your grid. I have agonized over these issues before the Lord -- although obviously, not in a way that compares with your agony -- and I believe what I do before Him. Love for Him and love for you is what motivates me, and nothing else. What if my conclusions are different than yours?

One question for you so I can understand your perspective better. Would you be at home with someone diagnosed with BIID (Body Identity Integrity Disorder) amputating a healthy limb if that gave them peace and prevented a suicide? And would you back the doctors who would perform such surgery? I've read studies comparing gender dysphoria and BIID, and your perspective would be helpful for me to hear.

Lisa Salazar
 Dr. Brown,
You have just made my work a lot easier. In earlier comments, you have challenged the notion that being a transsexual is a medical condition and have basically reduced it to a behavior with moral and spiritual consequences. I do take to heart that you love God (and me) and that is what motivates you. You ask “what if my conclusions are different from yours?” I will grant you that and on that point you could say I rest may case, but not before I make some points which bear repeating. When Jesus talked about eunuchs, he warned not everyone would be able to accept it, receive it, get it, agree with, wrap their brain around it, fathom it, explain it, articulate it, live with it or tolerate it (my amplified version). Could it be you are one of those who doesn’t get it? There is nothing wrong with admitting it if you are. It does not take away from you doctorate (in divinity?), your right to claim you are a Christian, nor does it make you less spiritual.

But I digress. Back to the medical aspects I began with. Now that you have opened the door by grouping “GID” and “BIID” as medical conditions, the rules have changed and you cannot back out. You cannot use the medical card only when doing so supports your argument and then deny it when it goes against your thesis. The condition you asked me to comment on (BIID) is, from what I just finished reading a very troubling one in deed, and there are some similarities to being a transsexual, namely that the person is unhappy with their body. But that is where the similarities end. To become an amputee is not what the transsexual wants to become. BIID persons are, predominantly middle age white males, transsexuals are from every race and ethnicity, and I may add gender. More significantly, it would not be an exaggeration to say all transsexuals are aware of their gender/sex incongruence from a very early, pre-pubescent age. In my case, this forms some of my earliest memories, I just didn’t have the intellectual capacity to either convey or understand my very confusing condition.

I am happy to read that no surgeon will amputate a healthy limb on a BIID person. Aren’t you glad doctors are moral persons? But Dr. Brown, I’m sure that you would take issue if a Medical doctor challenged you on your own turf and told you that you were blowing smoke and had no clue about theology or the Bible. All I’m saying is that it would be refreshing if you conceded that Medical doctors who are not only researching the cause but also diligently working to find the best way to help transsexual persons are not charlatans. I defend them and I find your prejudice offensive in that regard.

Since transsexaulism is a medical condition, you should back off with your hostility and mean-spirited definitions and assertions of what a transsexual is, because in this case, you are off of your turf and out area of expertise. Did you know that current research is pointing more and more to a congenital hormonal/brain anomaly that hard wires the person’s gender identity to the opposite sex the your body? Hence, the eunuch paradigm could apply, right? It happens in the mother’s womb.

The CRUX of the Issue:
Before we loose track of what is truly essential with any more diversionary tactics, lets get back to the real issue, what should the Christian response be towards transgender persons. You asserted earlier with respect to your transsexual cousin, “Of course this cousin will be loved unconditionally!” Dr. brown, my computer’s thesaurus says unconditional is the same as unqualified, unreserved, unlimited, unrestricted, unmitigated, unquestioning; complete, total, entire, full, absolute, out-and-out, unequivocal. Let’s see if you can live up to you own words and teach and encourage the church to love transgender persons unconditionally. You should start by practicing with your cousin.

God Has A Better Way 
Thanks for continuing the dialog. I'll respond ASAP, although it may be a day before my schedule allows lengthy posts. I'm surprised, though, at your lack of unconditional love and your mean-spirited comments re: people with BIID. (Or am I simply unfairly judging you as you are wrongly judging me?) For the record, you might want to read this article by Dr. Ann Lawrence (a MTF, like you), on deeper similarities between BIID and GID: "Parallels between gender identity disorder and body integrity identity disorder: A review and update." In A. Stirn, A. Thiel, & S. Oddo (Eds.), Body integrity identity disorder: Psychological, neurobiological, ethical, and legal aspects (pp. 154-172). Lengerich, Germany: Pabst, 2009. Also, re: transsexuality and the brain, see here: http://mygenes.co.nz/transsexualBrain.htm. 

I do hope to get back to your last two major posts and respond in more detail shortly. Again, thanks for continuing the dialog, and I will close by saying that unconditional love embraces but does not endorse; it transforms people even when it cannot affirm them. Don't limit the power of love!

God Has A Better Way 
I have a moment for two quick comments re: the eunuch. What Jesus is saying in terms of not everyone being able to receive it does NOT mean not being able to understand what He was saying but rather to not be able to ACT on what He was saying and renounce marriage and sexual relations for the kingdom. As for this happening in the womb, that is possible, in which case the person is set aside to the Lord, never to have marry or have sexual relations, since they are either incapable of such. How does this relate to a transsexual? To follow your analogy, it would mean that, as a man who felt incapable of having a true relationship with a woman (or, feeling like you were in the wrong body), you would have given yourself over to the Lord in a unique and wonderful way, never married or sexually involved but enjoying a glorious closeness with Him. Isn't that clearly what the text says? Please do read it yet again with open eyes.
38 minutes ago · Like

Lisa Salazar 
What mean-spirited comment about BIID persons did I make? All I said the "condition is very troubling in deed." Another diversion on your part? Whatever the cause, I am happy the medical professionals who diagnosed and treated me were able to offer me a solution that seems to be working just fine. And I thank and praise God, not only for answering my prayer to remove the anguish, but also the guilt I lived with all my life. 

Regarding your limited interpretation of the eunuch passage to simply having to do with involuntary and voluntary celibacy for the Kingdom of God, it is what it is, limited. If anyone was a realist, it was Jesus. Give us a break, are you suggesting children born inter-sex should never marry? Don't they have a right to fall in love with another person and choose, as a result, to live in a committed (even if sterile) life-long relationship? 

What are you afraid off? That if transsexuals are suddenly allow to integrate into the church that the world will end? Have you considered the possibility that there may be transsexual men and women, both single and married, who live stealth so nobody is the wiser already in your church? I know trans-women who not even their gynecologist know they were born male. And i know trans-men who are more masculine than many males. You would not be able to single them out unless they told you. And you know what, it would be none of your business if they didn't. Will you propose a genital inspection of all new membership applicants just to make sure?I'm being sarcastic to make the point that it is not impossible for transsexuals to give themselves over to God in unique and wonderful ways, even after transition? I humbly put my name forward as one who has.


Lisa Salazar
 By the way, if you know Dr. Ann Lawrence was a transsexual, why did you not put her name in quotes? Double standards are hard to maintain, aren't they? 

I also have been meaning to ask, are you going to ever answer these from a previous post:

1) Would I be allowed to join your church?

2) Would I then be allowed to participate fully in the life of the church? 

3) Would I be prohibited from any leadership position? 

4) Which Bible study would I be allowed to join? 

5) If I was younger and available for a committed relationship, would you counsel me not to marry? 

6) If I came to your church already married, would we be allowed to join?

7) If we already had one or more children, either from a previous marriage or through adoption, would the children be welcome and would we as parents enjoy fellowship with other parents equally? 

7) What if my spouse was another woman? 

8) What if my spouse was a man? 

9) If a family came to your church with a transgender daughter, would you allow you son to date her?

And in closing I will say that Jesus' unconditional love transformed me and allowed me to make some very difficult choices.



Due to Facebooks limitation, the original note has exceeded the allowed character count so I am adding the latest comments from Dr. Brown and my responses in this continuation.



Part Two:

God Has A Better Way 
I’m still playing catch up on emails and posts and life, but I didn’t want the night to go by without responding to some of your previous posts. I’ve gathered a number of them here and will reply point by point, not to be argumentative but for the sake of clarity. Please forgive any tone that sounds impersonal and that doesn’t constantly state sympathy for the struggles you have endured. Read that as implicitly written in every line!

With regard to your marital struggles, you wrote: “Despite this internal and secret war, by God's grace and through his amazing love, I was somehow able to be a good father and a devoted husband. But by the time our third son was born, I was resigned to the fact I was never going to be free of what I saw as a curse.” 

As a husband, I often preach to other husbands from Eph 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That means that her needs and wants come before mine, and that I lay down my life for her good. That is what it means to follow Jesus as a husband. The fact that the choice you made to have SRS destroyed your marriage, and, in your words, rendered your wife a widow, violates the spirit and letter of this verse. 

You will say, of course, that your only other choice was suicide, but then you write in another post that you pray for your wife daily that God’s grace will be sufficient for her. Why wasn’t it sufficient for you? Did Jesus lead you to destroy your marriage and render your wife a widow? These are very weighty issues to me, and I don’t raise them lightly.

In our discussion, I had cited Deut 22:5 "A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” as part of a question about what you would have done in ancient Israel, to which you wrote, “ To introduce the ‘A’ word into the discussion is not fair. I won't deny abomination is used in the Bible, but you must concede that there are many things the Bible calls an abomination that which today culturally acceptable and or understood and interpreted differently under the covenant of grace. Case in point: Peter's vision of the sheet coming down from heaven with all manner of unclean things and God's declaration to not call unclean what He has made clean. Do you know any Christians who eat at Red Lobster? We better warn them if this abomination may still stand.”

This is easily answered. There were laws God gave to Israel to keep them separate from the nations (including dietary laws, where God said that certain foods were to be an abomination TO THEM), and there were other laws, like the prohibition against murder, for example, that were based on universal moral principles. The prohibitions against incest, bestiality, and homosexual practice in Lev 18 are based on universal principles, as seen by the fact that God judged pagan nations for these practices (see the beginning and end of Lev 18). If God said it was wrong even for pagans, it is wrong for us! In keeping with this, the Hebrew phrase in Deut 22:5 is literally, “an abomination to the Lord,” a phrase that only occurs 19X times in the OT, and every time, it refers to something that is wrong for all people for all time, not to issues like dietary laws. It is an abomination TO HIM. (BTW, for the record, I’m not a pork eater or a lobster or shrimp eater, but that’s just by life habit.)

You wrote: “I have studied Deuteronomy 22:5 ad nauseam of the years. I have read Christian as well as Jewish commentaries and the preponderance of what I have read leaves me unmoved in your direction of thought. The thrust of the prohibition is to forbid the ‘local’ practice of the day where men and women, but mostly men, sought the favor of their fertility gods by having mock sex in their temples.”

The deeper issue is that crossdressing violates and blurs God’s order of male and female. That is a very serious issue throughout the Word.

You ask: “Isn't it dangerous to take one verse out of the Bible upon which to base a doctrine that imposes serious conditions on something God has chosen to say very little about?”

I addressed this question, above, explaining that this particular instance is listed as an abomination TO THE LORD. That means He Himself abhors it.

You ask: “What do you say about all the other abominations listed in the OT, some of which are declared more often that the ones you point out as being applicable the LGBTI persons? Shouldn't they receive the same attention? For example, dishonesty, adultery, illicit sex, making false statements, having idols, not being hospitable, ignoring the plight of the poor, not feeding the hungry, etc. And then, there are those abominations that would condemn many today—do you have people in your church who sport tattoos? Do you know if any of them eat shellfish? Back to your point though, I don't crossdress. I wear clothing that is gender appropriate for me.”

First, most of my books and messages for decades focused on these other serious issues, and I don’t downplay their importance for a moment. And if you’ll check out my ministry website, you’ll see that I’m involved in many other areas of ministry work, not just this one, and that we raise up and send out missionaries around the world (and the USA) to engage in acts of compassion to hurting and needy people. That’s the gospel! And out of the thousands of hours I have spent teaching our ministry school students, I have yet to teach an entire course on homosexual issues. As for the question about other “abominations,” I address that above. As to crossdressing, do you actually think that the same God who called crossdressing an abomination to Him would think less of surgically changing one’s outside from male to female? If merely putting on opposite sex attire was very wrong in His sight, how much more wrong reconstructing the body and taking hormones to fight against the physical condition in which He made you? (More to come in the following posts.)

God Has A Better Way 
You quoted my words that: "1) The vast majority of the people we will be interacting with on August 27th, by God's grace, are not transgender-identified and so are not the main thrust of our God Has a Better Way message." You then asked, “On your God has a Better Way website you include statements several about transgender persons. These are what prompted me to write you in the first place and as you clearly must sense by now, I was troubled by them. Why, if the TG involvement at the event is so insignificant, do you single us out with such strong language?”

The statement on the website you’re referring to is our statement from the 2009 event. I stand by the words, but this is not a major focus of our outreach. We are there in obedience to God’s leading and in response to statements like this from the Charlotte LGBT community: “This is the year, my friends, when Charlotte’s queers rise up and say: We demand equality. We demand it now. We’ve waited long enough and we will no longer continue to reward or support politicians and other civic or religious leaders who fail to deliver on their promises and work to ensure all their constituents are equally protected by the full weight of law, policy and practice. . . . Come August, Pride Charlotte will be back in the public square and in the heart of Uptown.”

They have every legal right to hold their event – some of which is marked by shameful displays, including a major gay porn booth last year – and we have every right to share the gospel in the midst of their event in a peaceful and non-disruptive way.

You wrote: “I'm sure you would have stood with me as I held on for my healing from the inside out, but after nearly forty years of holding on with me, I suspect your words would have sounded hollow, even to you. Are you sure you have God figured out that well? Are you not saying to me it would have been better for me not to transition and to keep hoping and waiting, even if I died before the "acceptable" cure that does not offend your sensibilities was found? Will you not grant that God may choose a different way than what you propose that does not include a miraculous healing? This has implications that go beyond the transgender issue. What do you offer to those who struggle with any one of the hundreds, if not thousands of conditions that plagued humanity? Do you ask them to hold on until God heals them from the inside out? What do you so to those who obviously are never going to be blessed, honestly? Would you prevent them from opting for a human solution?”

Thanks for believing that I would have stood with you. (I believe you are right.) But I would never have counseled you to go against God’s design for your body – this is simply not an issue of, say, amputating a cancerous breast. There was nothing wrong with the parts of your body that were changed, and if I have a conviction that a certain treatment is contrary to God’s will, I would rather die holding to that rather than sin. So, to turn this around, if you were convinced that SRS was a sin in God’s sight (I know you don’t, but stay with me here), would you have had it done, even if it offered you peace? (More to come in following posts, ASAP.)

Lisa Salazar 
Dr. Brown, you state "Please forgive any tone that sounds impersonal and that doesn’t constantly state sympathy for the struggles you have endured. Read that as implicitly written in every line!" Hmm. I'm not convinced. What I read in each line is condescension and judgement, for when you insist that addressing me as "Lisa" was the best you could do or bring yourself to do so as not to offend God, explicitly because "God knows I am a male," you also undermined your sincerity. But aside from how I feel personally, what I am most concerned about is how your words, couched as they are in Christian speak, have the potential to inspire discrimination, hatred, and even acts of violence towards transgender persons. You may argue that this is impossible and that your teachings, writings and speeches are not inciting hostility, but you delude yourself. Did Lou Engles envision or even consider remotely possible that his teachings in Uganda would contribute to the incredibly hostile situation there? Probably not, at least from his claims that he never suggested gays should face the death penalty. But as James warned about the tongue, “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!”

Why is this so important to me, that I should challenge your conclusions? Because I know there are parents out there who have children who are transgender and as they read the things you say, they are distressed for their child and fear that life for them is going to be an impossible journey. And if not the parents, then the transgender person who is already facing discrimination, bullying and lives under constant fear for their safety, could resort to self-destructive, if not deadly behaviors. This is in fact why the percentages are so disproportionately high among transgender persons, even when you place us as a subgroup in the LGBT equation. If you are motivated by love and compassion for transgender persons, it is incumbent on you as a teacher, public speaker, author and activist to do the research and talk to the medical experts in the field. Simply superimposing your interpretation of the Bible on this very complex issue is not intellectually honest or responsible. I maintain that the Bible, and by extension God, is silent on this and many other aspects of the human condition and unlike you, as I read those clobber passages about cross-dressing and God’s intent for males and females, I also read many more about God being merciful, compassionate and long-suffering towards those who are afflicted in body, mind and spirit. And before you accuse me of taking license and using this truth as a justification for selfish actions, let me assure you, there was no joy in the decisions I had to make. To make a decision that may result in you loosing, family, friends, social status, home, security, to say nothing of your church—it certainly is not an easy decision to make.

Where does that leave us? You stated in an earlier reply that unconditional love does not mean endorsement of wrong behavior, and I would agree with that. But the problem we have is this, what you call inappropriate behavior for a male is not inappropriate for me as a female. And as you aptly pointed out, that is where you and I disagree.

The doctors who supervised my transition followed strict standards of care and protocols. These have been established for the very purpose of ensuring that candidates meet the criteria are therefore deemed to be likely to enjoy a better quality of life. As a pastor, I’m sure, you have heard many heartbreaking stories from people who struggle with guilt, depression, stress and a sense of incredible brokenness. By now you must also know that one’s physical health is impacted by one’s mental and spiritual health. Hence your insistence of healing from the inside out, and with this I will concur. However, you also know that for many, these conditions can be symptoms of chemical imbalances in the brain, which can be alleviated with psychoactive drugs. In earlier days, when science knew less about these issues, people were accused of being demon-possessed or insane and were treated inhumanely with such things as electroshock therapy, lobotomies, stupefying drugs, etc. Aren’t you glad for these people that doctors continue to do due diligence and not only learn from earlier mistakes but also monitor the benefits vs. drawbacks of what they carefully prescribe? 

To continue on the tact that I was created a male and that God does not make mistakes is simplistic. It is not an affront to God to say that sometimes things go wrong and that the world is not always ideal. That is not a reflection on God, it simply recognizes that thanks to “the fall,” things are no longer perfect and that we are under a curse. In His mercy, He not only promised that one day we would be set free from this body—the ultimate healing—but he purchased us back through Christ’s death on the cross. He put a value on each of us, and though we be “curse,” we are also His. To label everything that ails us as sin is therefore not consistent with how God sees us, as per my previous comments regarding mental conditions. More than anything, what is important to God is how we treat each other. Satan’s most effective tactic is to get us to do his dirty job, since he can’t kill and destroy us personally, he gets us to do it for him, right?
The church is full of immature, impressionable people who are easily swayed and or react in very unChrist-like ways. You cannot deny that, case in point Uganda. How are you going to ensure that no well-meaning Christian is not going to cause harm, whether emotional, social, spiritual or physical, to a transgender person? It could be subtle, such as distancing and not befriending, or it could be more damaging, such as the refusal to employ, rent housing, join allow into the church, etc. 

Haven’t some of these responses been responsible for why LGBTI persons are so hostile towards the church? What heartens me is that in recent years, more LGBTI persons who were kicked out of homes and churches are returning to Jesus and from all appearances, God is not only at work in their lives, He is pouring out His Spirit in a fresh new way. Those who were numbing their pain with drugs and alcohol are being set free from addiction, those who engaged in licentiousness and promiscuity are committing themselves to monogamous relationships, and some are even choosing to remain celibate (sexually inactive) though in a committed relationship. More importantly, they love Jesus and are drawn to worship Him. The evidence is undeniable and all you have to do is attend a worship service to experience it for yourself. 

Respectfully yours,

Lisa Salazar
Co-ordinator, Transgender Ministry, Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship
Board Member, Canyonwalker Connections
Author, Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life

and redeemed by the Lord


God Has A Better Way 
You wrote: "If you are motivated by love and compassion for transgender persons, it is incumbent on you as a teacher, public speaker, author and activist to do the research and talk to the medical experts in the field." I have done that very thing, and the ones I have spoken to share the exact opposite perspective to yours. Either way, I have the utmost sympathy for your situation and hold to the biblical message that God has a better way.

Lisa Salazar 
Can you name the experts? Because just as there are many experts in other areas of medicine who disagree as to the best treatment, sometimes those experts are a fringe. I have found that the preponderance of the experts working with transsexuals support the treatment I received. Others would have liked me to undergo electro-shock therapy and castration to kill the "drive." It's not so simple, Dr. Brown. Look at the consequences of citing those who the profession has distanced itself. The research that Engles et al use to support their claims on the dangers of homosexuality, namely the work of Paul Cameron, has helped to enflame the homophobia in Uganda. 

You accuse me of fear mongering and you may be absolutely right. My fear is well-founded, and for reasons of personal safety for them, I am unable to elaborate about first hand knowledge of the life and death struggle LGBT persons face in Uganda. My advocacy there and my involvement in helping some of these individuals flee Uganda is known to the U.S. State Dept., UNHCR, HIAS, and to their chagrin, the government of Uganda. Thanks to "Christians'" hatred, these individuals have been imprisoned and tortured at worst, and face unimaginable discrimination. Don't be surprised if zealous, immature Christians in America see your group, which I will grant you may be loving and compassionate to a fault, and conclude that aggression is justified in the name of God. I pray not, but if Africa serves as an example, it is possible. Don't you agree?


God Has A Better Way How extraordinary that it comes to this (honestly, I wasn't expecting this from you, but I guess I misjudged you in thinking too positively). You write, "But aside from how I feel personally, what I am most concerned about is how your words, couched as they are in Christian speak, have the potential to inspire discrimination, hatred, and even acts of violence towards transgender persons. You may argue that this is impossible and that your teachings, writings and speeches are not inciting hostility, but you delude yourself." This is so tragic, on your end.


I wrote words of love and truth, based on the Scriptures and conveying God's heart, and they produce light and repentance and hope for those who embrace them. We have watched these words impact others, who are now reaching out to LGBT's like never before, with compassion and sensitivity. What I have seen, however, is that those who oppose us -- be it Kathy B. or Wayne Besen or anyone else -- fill people's minds with fear, which actually helps us in the end, because when we actually talk with people face to face and pray with them and interact with them, they realize they have been told lies about us. It happened two years ago when a black lesbian activist in the city was interviewed for TV as we marched over to our place of prayer and worship, and she spoke negatively about us. Then, as she came into our midst and we let and her lesbian friends worship among us, she received prophetic ministry from our folks and then said to me that she had misjudged us and that what we were doing was "radical love." She and I stayed in touch after that and even had lunch together. 


The fear mongering is coming from your side. What we will do will honor the Lord.


It's also distressing to see that you are free to judge me however you like -- just look at everything you've written in your posts and put it together in one paragraph -- but if I say to you with gentleness that I can't imagine what you've lived through but that I believe God made you male and the best solution is to be fixed from the inside out and to preserve your marriage -- now I'm guilty of making a terrible judgment against you. Can't you see what a double standard you have? And it's also discouraging to take time away from other, pressing deadlines, out of love for you, to systematically interact with your questions and objections, and rather than even getting the beginning of a reply, you accuse me of potentially inciting violence. What incites violence is the irresponsible provocations of fear from those who oppose our loving witness, but we will overcome your fear mongering with longsuffering and love and truth.


God Has A Better Way 
"If you are motivated by love and compassion for transgender persons, it is incumbent on you as a teacher, public speaker, author and activist to do the research and talk to the medical experts in the field." I have done that very thing, and the ones I have spoken to share the exact opposite perspective to yours. Either way, I have the utmost sympathy for your situation and hold to the biblical message that God has a better way.

Lisa SalazarCan you name the experts? Because just as there are many experts in other areas of medicine who disagree as to the best treatment, sometimes those experts are a fringe. I have found that the preponderance of the experts working with transsexuals support the treatment I received. Others would have liked me to undergo electro-shock therapy and castration to kill the "drive." It's not so simple, Dr. Brown. Look at the consequences of citing those who the profession has distanced itself. The research that Engles et al use to support their claims on the dangers of homosexuality, namely the work of Paul Cameron, has helped to enflame the homophobia in Uganda. 



You accuse me of fear mongering and you may be absolutely right. My fear is well-founded, and for reasons of personal safety for them, I am unable to elaborate about first hand knowledge of the life and death struggle LGBT persons face in Uganda. My advocacy there and my involvement in helping some of these individuals flee Uganda is known to the U.S. State Dept., UNHCR, HIAS, and to their chagrin, the government of Uganda. Thanks to "Christians'" hatred, these individuals have been imprisoned and tortured at worst, and face unimaginable discrimination. Don't be surprised if zealous, immature Christians in America see your group, which I will grant you may be loving and compassionate to a fault, and conclude that aggression is justified in the name of God. I pray not, but if Africa serves as an example, it is possible. Don't you agree?


God Has A Better Way 
I'm doing radio now and will be busy the next few hours. My posts may be short during that time, if at all, but I'm glad this conversation is continuing between us.



…Lou Engle's involvement has been greatly mispresented, but more importantly, you're talking about a country where fornication is also illegal, where, until recently, adultery was illegal, and there is a terrible history of a king raping and killing young boys. Uganda is not America!

Lisa Salazar 
Lou Engle's involvement is downplayed by all those who don't wish to be seen as supporting Uganda's anti-gay bill. However, my comments are fact-based on first hand accounts from those who were there and their accounts are corroborated by explicit video footage which can be quickly found on YouTube. Your description of Uganda is correct—you left out female circumcision of young girls. This is precisely why it was irresponsible for Lou Engels, Rick Warren and Scott Lively to speak into that volatile environment with "American" rhetoric. Even your own government has come out in protest and continues to threaten Uganda with sanctions if the infamous "Kill-the-Gays" bill is passed, but that's another issue. 



Dr. Brown, what I am calling you to consider are the implications of your well-meaning rhetoric will have on transgender and transsexual persons. Your answers to the questions I asked and enumerated would perhaps clear the air, but I suspect from your thorough earlier answers—which by the way, I appreciated—have given me a hint of how you would answer these specific queries. And not to belabor the point, but I am curious, if we ever meet in person will you use air quotes when you mention my name? I know, silly question, but Dr. Brown, that is where the rubber meets the road.


You cite the beautiful interaction and friendship that resulted from the "black lesbian" and how you even had lunch with her one day. Why was it important to point out the color of her skin? Forgive me, I digress. In the same way you mention she had a change of heart about you and your group, did you have a change of heart about her? 


Can you categorically claim that all of the hoped for 1000 persons who will be part of your crusade will have a truly open heart for the LGBTI persons they might encounter? I've read the comments made already by a few of them and they sound like judgmental persons, but heck they do love the "sinner but hate the sin." More importantly, will they be willing and able to say, "hey, why don't you join us at church tomorrow and bring your partner with you and then we'll go out for lunch afterwards!" And if they speak to a transsexual woman, might they compliment her on how she looks? That will really be the test of how loving they might be.

God Has A Better Way
Lou Engle is a dear friend and colleague, and I know firsthand what happened with his visit to Uganda. He had organized a previous prayer meeting for Uganda (a "Call" event) before there was ever an issue with the legislation, then, when there were concerns the prayer meeting would be tied in with the legislation, he prayed much about going, not wanting to break his commitment but also not wanting the event to be politicized. After much prayer and counsel, he felt he should go, but he had nothing to do the organization of the event and was on the platform for a short period of time, for the record. What you need to understand, however, is that there was massive gay activist pressure on Ugandan leaders, men and women who are dealing every day of their lives with the massive devastation of AIDS, and it has spread among homosexual men there at alarming rates. And this is their country with its own customs and backgrounds (polygamy is legal there). In any event, Lou has had nothing to do with the bill since his trip, the bill has been grossly misrepresented by the media (listen to my radio interview with a Ugandan pastor about it), and to repeat, Uganda is not America. When I asked by a gay newspaper about it, I basically said that I was not here to sit in judgment on Ugandan Christians, but that the bill, as currently constructed, could bring great suffering to many.


So, back to my "rhetoric" -- there is none. For many reasons, I oppose SRS for followers of Jesus, but there is not the slightest connection between that and the idea that someone would act violently towards a transsexual after listening to me speak or reading my words. None at all. I don't believe people should worship idols. I don't believe people should get drunk. I don't Jews should reject Jesus. I don't believe people with BIID should amputate limbs. The list goes on and on. What kind of reasoning would extrapolate from this that people should therefore be violent towards any of these folks? The thought is ridiculous.


I could readily argue that people reading your posts would think of doing violence to me. Would that be fair? In fact, if you'll watch my clip from the Tyra Banks show on "transgender children" and then read the comments of some of the viewers on YouTube, quite a few of them said in detail how they wanted to do physical violence to me (in graphic detail) based on my comments that the ideal would be to help these kids be at home with their biological sex -- said with gentleness, and certainly expressing the best case scenario. Just read the responses!


As for the lesbian woman, I mentioned she was black to identify her if you ever read the story on our website with a clip from her on the air. Beyond that, I see no other reason to mention her skin color, which was irrelevant. As for my time with her, it confirmed what I believed and understood. She wants to serve the Lord, she has certain high morals (but can't explain adequately why she embraces those but rejects other scriptural, moral values), but she needs to submit her life fully to the Lord and no longer claim that God has made her to be lesbian. 


You ask: "Can you categorically claim that all of the hoped for 1000 persons who will be part of your crusade will have a truly open heart for the LGBTI persons they might encounter?"


We are not having a crusade. We are gathering for prayer and worship, then walking through the event, handing out bottles of water, inviting folks to a concert that night, and talking with those who have a desire to talk with us or want prayer. That's it. There will be moms and dads and kids involved (if there are lewd displays, like last year's major gay porn booth, we'll obviously keep kids away from that), and when we're doing, we'll regather for worship and prayer and then have an evening outreach. Two years ago, when hysterical articles were being written online about potential violence, it made those who wrote the articles look silly. I wish you could be there to see for yourself this year how silly the petition drive and all these posts will prove to be after the event.


Those coming have been praying for God's heart of love for LGBT people, they have to agree to gracious terms of engagement, we will all be identified by our shirts, and we will be fully accountable. We won't allow a lone ranger to mess things up for anyone or bring disgrace to the name of the Lord. 


Without a doubt, there are gay activists in the city and others who feel we will be raining on their parade, but we will also take issue with the nature of what they are doing in the city (shall I tell you about the nights when they "take over" a restaurant, filling it with same-sex couples who start making out at their tables?), so this is 
just a matter of equal access and equal time.


You ask: "More importantly, will they be willing and able to say, 'hey, why don't you join us at church tomorrow and bring your partner with you and then we'll go out for lunch afterwards!' And if they speak to a transsexual woman, might they compliment her on how she looks? That will really be the test of how loving they might be."


For sure, the folks we are training and working with will absolutely be able to give that invitation. As for complimenting what to many of us appears to be a man in a woman's dress (or vice versa), I doubt we would be able to say, "Wow. You look so pretty in that dress!" But to make that a test of love is ridiculous, to be candid with you. True love would be to get involved in that person's life, lead them to Jesus (if they don't know Him at all), and then help them through the potentially long process of finding wholeness in the Lord.
 
Lisa Salazar ‎
As for complimenting what to many of us appears to be a man in a woman's dress (or vice versa)" I didn't say drag queen(king), there is a difference. To you Dr. Brown, a transsexual woman may appear as a man in a dress (or vice versa), but to the transsexual with a medically accepted condition, it is not playing dress-up. And there, dear friend(s) is where things will probably stay. Sad that you still don't get it. Anyway, I may get to meet you. Thank you for investing so much of your time on me. Practice your air quotes. :)


God Has A Better Way 
I do get it, but I differ with you. Can you understand that? When you differ with me does that you mean that you don't get it? And how do I distinguish between the drag queen (king) and the person with a "medically accepted condition"? As for the air quotes, if you like! :) There are still parts of your posts to which I have not replied, and I will try to finish them in the next day or two if you desire. Let em know, and please let me know if you'll be at the Pride Charlotte event.


God Has A Better Way 
Last night, I found a clip where you are talking about Matt 19 (that you also referenced here, of course) with reference to your SRS, and you explained that it was important to you for your surgery to be in harmony with your faith and with God's Word. What if, through further study, you realize that you actually misinterpreted the Scriptures? I don't ask that lightly, since I'm sure you wrestled with this for years already, but since you also have to admit that there would have been an intense desire to rationalize as well -- after all, you have far more at stake in this then, say, your average Matthew scholar -- there's a greater possibility of reading what you want into the text. I can easily demonstrate to you that you're missing and even misrepresenting Jesus' point in Matt 19. Shall I write more? And what if you realize you were in error in terms of the Word? How would that affect you? (I'll be happy to answer this last question for myself, at your request.)


Lisa Salazar 
Michael, to quote you, "there's a greater possibility of reading what you want into the text…" I concede that point, but in all fairness, that is also applicable to you. But I am willing to let God be my judge on that count. Thank you for taking the time to Google me and want to know more about who I am. Honestly. I look forward to meeting you in a week. Oh, and by the way, thank you for not putting my name in quotes when you replied to Anita on you radio broadcast's FB page. 


God Has A Better Way 
So, you'll be coming to Charlotte for the event? Wonderful! You should no problem finding me, and I would be delighted to spend time with you talking face to face. As for the possibility of rationalizing the text, don't you agree that the issue means more to me than to you, in particular, the interpretation of that specific text in Matt 19? After all, dealing with LGBT issues does not define who I am, and it is only facet of the ministry work that God has called me to, whereas these issues, in many key ways, define who you are and why you have done what you have done. So, just for the sake of argument, if I realized I was wrong, I would have to humble myself, confess my sin to God and man, and seek to make right what I had made wrong. If you realized you were wrong, not only would you have to do all the above, but you would have to leave "Lisa" behind, go back to your male identity, stop taking hormones, reverse whatever you could surgically (where and if possible) -- just to mention the most obvious. So again, there's no question that you have more at stake in the interpretation of Matt 19 than I do. My question again: Are you open to reexamine the passage?


Lisa Salazar 
There are many more important passages that define me.


N.B. The flow of M.B.'s diarrhea went on for a considerable amount of time... Since this is my blog, I'm ending the exchange right here.