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Paradox = Father’s Day for a trans woman.

It seems innocent enough, to have a day to celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. The Salazar family, summer 2002. If one’s relationship with their father was a good one, this day of honor will seem completely appropriate and welcomed. If your dad was not deserving of this kind of respect, then this yearly reminder could be extremely painful. Equally, if you’re a trans woman who fathered children, this day can either be a good or a bad—if not surreal—experience. It all depends on the kind of relationship you now have with your children. Father’s Day is extremely painful when your children have rejected you and want nothing to do with you. As far as they are concerned, you might as well be dead. It hurts. However, If your relationship has survived, then you can count yourself extremely lucky. I was fortunate on two counts. On one hand, I had a dad who was loving and, best of all despite his relative old age when I came ou

We're in, we're out.

It’s a dizzying time for trans people. Vancouver parent's opposed to trans inclusive policy, June 11, 2014 Last night I attended a meeting at the Vancouver School Board (VSB) as it listened to the final presentation from medical experts. The issue being considered is the revision of a VSB policy that has been in place since 2004 that spells out the district's guidelines for providing a safe, positive environment for transgender and gender-variant students in all grades, from kindergarten to grade 12. According to the associate superintendent, “The biggest change, really, was about getting some clarity of language.” This simple administrative procedure became the entrée for a well-organized and vocal group of conservative parents who self-describe themselves as Chinese evangelical Christians. They used this as an opportunity to lobby against the adoption of the proposed updated  policy, arguing that this policy took away their rights as parents and guardians to decide w

Can I Trust You With a Secret?

Another friend,  Susan Cottrel,  also invited me to write some thought.  This is the link to her blog,  FreedHearts :  http://freedhearts.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/can-i-trust-you-with-a-secret/   I invite you to visit her blog. Do you have a secret? How big is it? How do you think people will respond if they find out? Disclosure, revelation, exposure, or whatever word you may have for it, is a visceral, frightening process to go through. Especially if the information is so sensitive, some would prefer death by flaying. But in fact, that is what disclosure is all about, peeling away the layers that hide the “body” of truth. Perhaps that is why it can be so traumatic. On October 2007 I began disclosing to family and friends that I had been diagnosed with acute gender dysphoria—that I was “transgender.” I had already lived eight years with this verdict; it took me that long to reconcile myself and my faith to my diagnosis. The news was a shock to everyone in my life;

On Belonging and Mattering to God

A friend, Matthias Roberts, recently invited me to write some thoughts on belonging. This is the way he put it: "Specifically, if you could share a story on a time where you felt that you truly belonged — even if was just for a moment." He published my response today (May 17, 2014) so I'm sharing it here too. This is the link to his blog, Not Boring Yet :  http://notboringyet.com/saturday-stories/belonging-saturday-stories/   I invite you to visit his blog and read some of the other stories from other contributors. For nearly two decades I felt like I did not know how to pray. Oh, I prayed, but my sense was that my prayers were ineffective—like lead balloons—my prayers didn’t even reach the ceiling, let alone God, so I thought. Maybe the reason I felt this way had more to do with my expectations and not with my prayers. I really wanted to be “normal.” I did not want to undergo social, medical and surgical transit

Personally, I look forward to falling into the hands of God.

Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, but not into the hands of mortals; for equal to his majesty is his mercy, and equal to his name are his works. (Sirach 2.18 – NRSV) In all the reading I've been doing in preparation for my Hebrew Bible class, I’ve come across several verses that have captured my imagination. The one above made me pause and the more I reflected on what it describes, I couldn't help but compare it to the admonition in the letter to the Hebrews were the perspective of falling into the hands of God is described as a frightful experience. (Heb. 10.31) Because of my personal involvement a couple of years ago with respect to the "Kill the Gay" Bill that eventually was passed in Uganda, I have kept an eye on the key players—the American fundamentalists who are recognized as being fully responsible for instigating the kind of homophobia that resulted in the infamous legislation. In an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times on March 23, 2014, Kapya Kaom

No, I haven't seen the movie Dallas Buyer's Club and don't plan to.

It's my wallet that decides what I do these days! Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Anne Marie Fox — Focus Features But in the mean time, I have been reading the on-going negative commentary about the portrayal of the transgender character "Rayon" from the perspective of the trans* community.  What needs to be taken into consideration is  that there is today a generational divide in the trans* community that needs to be understood. For us who are over 55, our experience is vastly different from those in their thirties and forties. And a universe away from those who are in their youth and into their twenties. I suspect that all the clamor is coming from the younger sets who have not lived through the painful years when we did not have the nomenclature to make sense of our lives.  In 1980 I was thirty. I had been married for six years and was terrified. I didn't know what I was. That year I came out to my wife. All I could tell her was that I felt

A sad postscript to "My highs and lows of transgender advocacy."

In my blogpost of a couple of days ago, I touched on some of the things that lift me and those that, well, shoot me down. However, I have not been able to get one thing out of my mind since I received the news on Sunday evening. Let me explain. At last week's Gay Christian Network (GCN) Conference in Chicago, I met Betsy, a fellow Canadian. She attended as an ally and we had a long chat about an old friend from her high school, who like me, transitioned from male to female in her fifties, Amanda. She shared how Amanda had friends who supported her but these relationships had slowly cooled and Betsy was concerned for her friend. She thanked me for my work and was looking forward to being a more informed friend of Amanda. The note I received from Betsy on Sunday night was short; Amanda had ended her life. This my friends, is a very low low. It is a sad commentary that life is made to be so impossible for some that they cannot envision living another day. That impossibility is

My highs and lows of transgender advocacy.

Workshop photo by Kathy Baldock, GCN 2014 Jolt: no projector in the room for slides! (one of my lows) But it actually worked out well as we interacted more freely (one of my highs) Sometimes I preach to the choir, sometimes to the genuinely curious and sensitive; at other times to hostile skeptics, but often to myself. I had the distinct honor and privilege to do a workshop at this year's Gay Christian Network Conference (GCN) last weekend. I cannot begin to describe what it is like to be among 700 attendees who have one thing in common, a hunger and a love for God, and for whom faith is not a legalistic dogma, but a the river of life. To say that gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender, and gender-queer persons are excluded from the "banquet" of the King is to deny the essential message of the Gospel, and comes pretty close to that unforgivable sin, which is to ascribe the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. One only needs to meet the large number of parent

Dear Uganda, it's not that I don't care anymore.

It was with a heavy heart that I chose not to renew the website I created three years ago on New Year's Eve, "UgandaUrgentAction.com." It's time for quiet diplomacy and prayer. Original Website, January 3, 2011 How it looked on Dec. 17, 2012 Earlier that December 31, 2010 I read a blog post by my friend Kathy Baldock titled: "Genocide brewing in Uganda." It dealt with the infamous "Kill the Gays Bill" that was being debated in Uganda's Parliament and its passage seemed eminent. It upset me deeply and I decided to write an open letter to all 287 members of parliament, the President, the Prime Minister, and both the Cabinet and the shadow cabinet. Then I got the idea to create the website to promote a letter writing campaign. I enlisted a friend who is a copy writer to come up with three letters people could choose from and while I waited for the domain to go live, I got busy creating the page. Once it was up and running and a

Why I don't look forward to Christmas, but really want to.

Have you ever considered the irony in the Christmas story with respect to family? Luke tells us "a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David, called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child." Whether this census really took place in exactly this way is debatable. It may have been a more localized census, affecting only the Province of Syria, which included Judea. Assuming there is some truth to Luke's account, can you imagine a homecoming where you are unable to connect with any of your family, and are forced to find shelter in a stable? If Joseph was returning to his roots because of a decree, one would think his roots would also be aware of this decree and would be ant

On this solemn day, the 14th Transgender Day of Remembrance, I would like to share this with you

…And the eunuch asked two pregnant questions. A passage that has become very significant to transgender Christians is Acts 8:26-39, the story of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. The narrator of the story explains how Philip was instructed by an angel to intercept a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, a eunuch, on the dusty road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Why this detail of the person’s sexual otherness is in the account may not be readily apparent to us. It seems a bit odd, after all, how did Philip know this intimate detail? It’s not as if this person had the word “eunuch” tattooed on their forehead. Perhaps the possible lack of facial hair, high-pitched voice, or even attire my have been the clue. But why out this person in the narrative? This story, therefore, requires that we do a little queering in order to get at the significance and the importance of the story for us today.

Another First: Walking the Labyrinth

Dedicated to my friend RuthAnn. Today was the second day of orientation for new students at Vancouver School of Theology (VST) — we had a spiritual retreat. The morning started with a short worship service as we gathered together. We were then led through a couple of community building exercises designed to get us to know each other better, giving us the chance to share little things about our stories and how we have ended up at VST.  Not surprising, all of our stories and the paths that have brought us here are uniquely different from the others, yet there is the sense of calling that resonates with each narrative.  Due to my curious nature, but equally suspicious and reluctant to embrace things too quickly, I tend to ruminate and over-analyze; and It's usually after the fact that I finally make some sense of things.  Which brings me to my next point. We ended the morning by meeting outside at VST's labyrinth. I won't attempt to explain what a labyrinth i

“Do I know you? You look familiar.”

As featured in Medium.com Ever wonder what it might be like to change into a different person? I’ve lived in Vancouver for the last forty years of my life, that’s about two-thirds of the total trips I’ve taken around the sun. During those years I’ve met hundreds of persons, if not thousands. Some were my business clients; a couple were my bosses; dozens were my employees; about three hundred were my students at Capilano College; a crazy number were customers I had the pleasure of serving at my family’s restaurant in Kitsilano, Las Margaritas; another five hundred or so were fellow worshippers in the seven different churches we attended as a family; and several dozen were neighbors, the parents of our childrens’ friends, and the many other people I knew only by first name—the grocery store clerks, pharmacists, postal delivery persons, etc. I haven’t added all these people up and I don’t know how my list compares to yours—is it larger, smaller, average in size? I have no way of k

The Power of the Paradigm-Shifting Gospel

Which Gospel do you profess? As Stephen, the author of the blog "Sacred Tension // A Story of Dissonance" powerfully expressed in his post today ( "The Cost of Words" ), "Most Christians believe they speak eloquently and wisely on this topic (homosexuality) , but as long as they fail to realize the cost of their words, they will be babbling uselessly to those who are practically dying to hear the gospel of love." As a transexual Christian woman, I can say that when it comes to reconciling our faith to our sexuality, all of us who are LGBTQI have experienced an internalized struggle and fierce debate that would make your dogma run for the hills.  Growing up in a time when the word “transgender” did not exist meant that I did not even have the ability to understand why I felt the way I did. As the fundamentalist Christian I grew up to be, there was only one explanation, I had a perverse bent that needed high spiritual maintenance. This w