Monday, November 2, 2015

A cold dose of reality

A few months ago a friend who has known me my whole life shared in the same week a link about the atrocities of allowing transgender people in the military and then a link to a video of a rare mutation of hummingbird that was born without pigment saying something about how beautiful the mutation is and how God does things like that on purpose to show how special they are.  I was flabbergasted. I couldn't say anything because I was afraid that I'd go off.

How is it that when it comes to accepting the mutations of the human condition we rate our fellow brothers and sisters as less than a flipping hummingbird?  You personally don't agree with medical experts and so that person isn't allowed to volunteer to fight for your freedom?  What is it about gender identity that lumps it in with sin?  Why is it so hard to accept?

Have you ever read the history of downs syndrome?  It's terrifying what people used to do to people who they believed were products of evil.  It's heart breaking that some parents still choose to abort children that they believe will be born with downs syndrome.  Casting these babies aside as though they aren't worth the effort.  Downs syndrome is a product of a mutation and people with Downs Syndrome are as beautiful as you or I, and in a great many cases their souls are much much more beautiful than ours.  It took a long time for us to understand exactly what and why Downs syndrome happens.

In 1995, literally 20 years ago a study linked the brain to what was then referred to as transsexuality. Every human hypothalamus has a nucleus that varies in size in relation to their gender.  Males have a larger nucleus, females smaller.  The study found that in untreated (prior to hormones) trans males (born female) the nucleus was the size of that found in natal males.  They found the same thing in relation to trans females (born male) and natal women.  Couple this with the fact that the brain and external genitals don't develop at the same time and you have a recipe for just about anything to happen.

This never seems to be enough for some people and I repeatedly get handed Genesis 1:27.  God made male and female.  You're right.  He did, he absolutely did.  But he didn't stop there, so stop saying he did.  When you try to tell me that there is only male and female you negate an entire percentage of the population.  No, not transgender people, intersex people.  You know, the I in LGBTQIA+, more people who get marginalized and dismissed because God only made male and female.

The thing that kills me about this though is that Jesus actually recognized that intersex people exist, and yet we still dismiss them.  Matthew 19:12.  There are eunuchs who are born (born with indiscernible genitals), voluntarily made (self-castration usually to rid themselves of sexual desire, which we now know doesn't mean jack), and forced castration (punishment, etc).  But God clearly said he only made male and who's wrong?  God or Jesus?  And then there's the fact that intersex people have been incredibly documented over the course of history, so obviously there is NOT just male and female.  Which means that at the very least that physical variations are possible and that somewhere along the way fetal development was interrupted.  If it's interrupted enough to cause these very obvious physical issues, it could happen in the mind as well, right?

I have been told that my child is only confused and that if I were more firm or sought proper help my child would be the boy that he's supposed to be.  This is offensive to me.  It questions my parenting, it says that I'm not doing my job properly and it suggests that my child is a fickle thing able to be swayed in any way I am consistent with.  I'll agree that my child can be fickle.  With her love of meat, it changes by the week.  With her favorite show, right now we're watching Frozen Fever for the 80th time but tomorrow it'll likely be back to Hoodwinked.  With whether pink or purple is her favorite color, whether she's currently obsessed with phones or keys, whether she wants clips or headbands or none of the above.  Even when she let us call her Owen she was still calling herself a girl.  Even after years of having the boy=penis, girl=no penis conversation she STILL called herself a girl.  So for those of you who think that my kid can be "persuaded" with the right help, I direct you to the story of David Reimer who was the product of a botched circumcision.  The doctor was convinced that the parents should take their boy and allow him to craft a vagina, raising him as a girl.  They did and "she" had extensive therapy, was treated in every way as a female and exposed to some of the most disturbing methods to reinforce "her" femininity.  David never complied.  He began defying at 9, telling the doctors and parents he was a boy.  He eventually transitioned back to male at 15, ceasing the estrogen and allowing his body to properly develop in line with what he knew he always was.  Sadly he lost his battle with severe depression, no doubt resulting from years of attempted brainwashing and improper mental care. Your genitals do NOT determine your gender.

Do you need further proof that your external doesn't determine your sense of self?  In the Dominican Republic there is a village where the guevedoces live.  These are babies who never grew their genitals in the womb and who are born looking relatively female and are most of the time raised as such.  These babies are deficient in an enzyme called 5-a-reductase that converts the shot of testosterone given in utero to dihydro-testosterone which is necessary to cause the testicles to descend and penis to form.  These children are raised as girls and when puberty hits and the testosterone begins flowing their testicles descend and they grow a roughly 12 years old.  How many of them stay the girls they were raised to be?  None of them, because none of them felt like girls anyway.  They had guys they hung out with and enjoyed sports and rough housing.  In America we'd call them tom boys...until their penises grew.  How would we treat these medical mysteries in the States?  I imagine we'd call them abominations, blame their parents and say that they simply need serious counselling.

As someone who believed that same-sex attraction was a result of sin and that transgender people were mentally disturbed I've been trying to wrack my brain as to why I believed it as deeply or for as long as I did.  Why would I admire the incredible odd flecks of purple in the sky but when it comes to human sexuality, gender and all things related consider it perverted?  Because of Genesis 1:27, even though it's clearly negated by Christ himself?  Because of those 6 verses people have been using to clobber homosexuals for centuries?  Because my strive to be like Christ was actually a strive to do what the preacher said on Sunday and adhere to what would my mentor do?  Is this Christianity for all evangelicals?  I don't believe so.  But it was mine. I read the Bible through a lens of sin, not a lens of grace.  And when my sins weren't obvious to me, or I was convinced I was working on them it meant that I needed to point out the sins of others and instruct them to make peace with God.  I stopped seeing people and I saw scripture.  I didn't care why or how you are who your are, the Bible clearly says this ... so you need to repent.  I was awful and i had to make amends.

In the interest of not answering questions we limited the number of people who knew the struggle we were having with our kid.  We had no idea what to do other than encourage "male" behavior and reinforcing gender, which is difficult with an oblivious autistic kid.  She dressed up in my clothes, traipsed around in heels with bags draped over her shoulder or the crook of her arm.  When we went out in public it was very clear that boy clothes were necessary.  We plainly marked the lines of where and when our child was allowed to express, so much so that her preschool teachers of 3 straight years are still not understanding our decision.  Neither are geographically distant family and friends.  They ignore our struggle, ignore the opinions of medical professionals who have actually talked to our kid and charge us with joining the latest fad.  It truly hurts and I will admit that with rare exception I haven't fought that hard.  I haven't tried to save these relationships, not as hard as I should and I've felt guilty about that.  But this past weekend I got clobbered by someone I've loved for half of my life and the phrase that kept coming to my mind while the web of what ifs and whys swirled through my mind was, "one more reason to be grateful for my kid".  I'd read it on a blog almost a year ago.  A mom whose church showed their true colors when her child showed theirs.  "One more reason to be grateful for my kid."

One more reason to be glad for the struggle that got placed in our path.  One more reason to embrace all of life's crazy insanity and mystery.  One more reason to trust that in spite of the hurt God knows exactly what He's doing here.  One more reason to thank God for where we are geographically, and spiritually.  One more reason to be grateful for all the people who have stood by us, listened to us, supported us and who just understood, even when they didn't.  To those people, I have never been more appreciative for you than I was this past weekend.  Thank you for seeing that nothing has changed in our lives except a name and a wardrobe.  Thank you for seeing that Elly is still the same person she was 8 months ago.  Thank you for recognizing that parenting is a struggle and that no one has it down.  Thank you for seeing that my family, while wrought with various struggles is one that is full of love and truly happy kids.  Thank you for researching, thank you for sharing your research with us, thank you for thinking of us, thank you for just being there.

Thank you for asking questions.  Thank you for wondering what made us allow our child to transition.  Thank you for asking why and how and what and allowing us to share our story with you.  Thank you for asking instead of speculating.  Thank you for being direct instead of gossiping.  Thank you even to the loved one who said I don't agree, I don't get it but I won't lose our relationship over it, I love you too much.

I have a lot of answers, I've had to search and pray and weigh truths to find them but I don't know it all. I think this is our great failing as a species - we need answers and we need to be right.  The inability to accept what is clearly real shows a lot more about your character than mine.  And I hate to break it to you but only God knows all the answers and I'm not pinning the future of my child on some unresearched biased opinion. God loves my child beyond gender and that's the job He tasked me with when he made me her mother. It's the job Christ gave you when He told you first love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul (funny how body is irrelevant) and love your neighbor as yourself.

You don't have all the answers, clearly the Bible doesn't either. So please, just love my kid. Call me crazy, I can handle the hurt. Just love my kid because she's incredible.


  1. .I am going through the same journey with my adopted grandson (born a girl). I also had deeply imbedded religious beliefs. When confronted with my transgender grandson I questioned everything I had ever read or been taught. It was such a struggle. But I chose not to show my grandson the inner turmoil I was going through. I chose to use my faith along with education to find the truth. It is still a hard journey. Those deeply imbedded religious beliefs are always trying to creep up in the middle of the night. But every time I look into my grandson's eyes I see the truth. I am thankful for this journey that God has taken me on. I believe that you and all of us always had an open heart concerning the things of God and that is why when confronted with our children being gay or transgender..etc...we let God lead us to the truth. Most believers will never do that. They will stay in the box because fear keeps them there. Your words were a comfort and an inspiration to me...thank you..Pat Westmoreland

  2. Beautiful, and informative. I love you and your whole family and am here for whatever you need! -Ashley Alcock

  3. Beautiful, and informative. I love you and your whole family and am here for whatever you need! -Ashley Alcock

  4. I love you lady!!! I applaud your ability to mother your child and love her for who she is-not based on anything but for the person she is.
    I love the fact that you supported your premises with data from science and nature to prove God is not as limited as we are.
    I love that you BELIEVE that your child is who she says she is even as her tastes in food and cartoons change-you are the clear-headed mother who can tell the difference.
    Finally, I love that you are sharing your story-this is the best kind of witnessing ever. God wants us to witness by living as Jesus did, not by pretending we're judgmental gods ourselves.

    Applause, applause, applause for you and your lovely daughter!!! Love to your family for embracing her. What goes around will surely come around for you and yours! XOXOXO
    Author of Raising the Transsexual Teen