“Before and *After” is a blog series in which Brady takes a hot-topic subject, offers his previously-held Christian views, and counters with a his current post-religion perspective.
What I Would Have Said:
“The Bible says that men shouldn’t wear women’s clothes.” Even though I would have parroted that response as I grew up, there was always a tingle in the back of my mind. Something didn’t feel right, and as an Evangelical Fundamentalist, I knew that many in my faith over-simplified people from the other initials of “LGBT” as a means to dismiss them. The others in my faith believed that gay people chose to be gay, but that wasn’t my experience. Being attracted to other guys was my biggest curse, and despite my begging, God appeared to opt out as the wizard who would use his infinite power to lift it. I knew that my experience didn’t match what others said, and I imagined the same probably could be said for transgender people.
Also, as someone who cared about handling the Bible carefully, I had to ask that if someone identified as a woman, isn’t that verse a total bust? And the verse’s context gives no clues to why it was written. There is a myriad of things that could have caused the writer to write it, which would have given us an idea of its meaning. I would have settled on an answer that honestly expressed my concerns, but I would have given one last push for the traditional interpretation of the verse above so I would feel less responsible in Heaven for leading others astray when I’m answering for all of my sins one-by-one if I was incorrect (I have no clue why I thought this was a thing for as long as I did. I later realized it wasn’t in the Bible).
What I Say Now:
Oprah talks about “Aha Moments,” and one came to me while watching the Amazon show, Transparent. Maura, a male-to-female transgender character and main focus of the show, is caught wearing traditional women’s clothing by her daughter. It’s the first time her adult daughter has seen her parent like that. Her parent had kept this a secret for over sixty years.
I tried to imagine keeping my attraction to men dormant for that long. It had been about 15 years since I had started my sexual suppression when I saw this episode of the show. I couldn’t fathom adding another 60. Maura came out to her daughter, and here’s where my Aha Moment comes in.
Her daughter asked, “Are you saying that you’re going to start dressing up like a lady all the time?” Maura responded, “No. Honey, all my life—my whole life, I’ve been dressing up like a man. This is me.” Boom. That’s when I got it. If I was in the room with that character, I would have said this to her.”You know who you are. You’ve felt it in a way that could be compared to how I knew I wanted to be with boys. For me, I got hints for years and years. When I was 14, I took a step back, and I saw the picture on the puzzle I was piecing together. That’s how you feel, isn’t it?” I imagine she would nod her head and agree.
I will respect the desired pronouns of whomever I’m speaking with, to the best of my ability, because I would be a prideful piece-of-shit to believe I knew more about other people’s unique experiences than they do while in the thick of it. Out of respect, I will honor who they say they are because I would want to be treated that exact same way.