Sunday, November 15, 2015


This Friday the 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance.  It's a day set apart to remember all whose lives have been tragically taken for their gender identity.  Here's some info about #TDOR.

I never saw myself here.  I never saw myself standing up at a church speaking on a topic like this.  I've shared many stories in my life, I never thought I'd share this.  I never would have imagined how important and vital it is for a community to share their stories--until it was my story.  Until the wondrous mysteries of God became truth to me.  An unavoidable, unshakable truth that would, over time peel a veil from my eyes and slowly help me to see with God's sight and not my own. 

I have known for 4 years that my child was “different”.  Born to relatively conservative and yet mildly church wounded parents as Owen, she was the tipping point that capsized us into uncharted territory.  We got to watch and learn as she slowly came into her own.  Our families did not get to watch along with us and when faced with the prospect of having to explain to them that we had a gender non-conforming 5 year old—well, let’s just say I had heart surgery a couple months ago as a result of the anxiety.  Not knowing how we would be received, knowing exactly how we’d be received and fearing the worst.  I’ve had a few run ins with family both blood and church and I’ve never been so grateful for our move down to Dayton four years ago.  I can’t imagine having to explain this over and over to conservative family that we would have seen on a regular basis.  We were and are extremely blessed. 

We continue to be blessed, as we continue to have to “come out” to people in new situations.  It’s this process that never ends, and the fear and anxiety right along with it.  New church, new friends, new school, new job…it’s like you’re holding something back.  There are plenty of reasons to fear, will you lose the new friends, will the school cooperate, will the church be affirming, will you lose your job?  I’ve never known persecution in any form until the transition of my child.  For me though it isn’t the actual persecution—that just triggers my mama bear instincts.  It’s the fear of persecution and all the worry that goes with it.  Preparing yourself for any and all circumstances.  I interviewed for a new job back in September and the night before the interview I couldn’t sleep.  I spent an hour on my phone scouring the bio of every staff member listed on the website to find out their religious affiliations.  I felt like God was leading me to this job, but also that it might not be a good fit if they publicly listed their Christian service.  I was hired, I’ve told just about all of my coworkers about Elly and the reception was shock and curiosity, but not negative.  The paranoia about how I would be treated because of my parenting was almost panic-inducing. 

That hardest part of having a beautiful, vivacious and inquisitive gender non-conforming child isn’t actually the fact that she doesn’t match her anatomical gender.  It isn’t the anxiety, or the fact that I’ll likely be telling our story for the entirety of my life.  It’s the fact that now, after years of research, praying and hard questions I realize that I shouldn’t have to.  I shouldn’t have to “out” my child.  I shouldn’t be exposed to parent-shaming.  We shouldn’t live in a world that gets to qualify our lives.  Knowing that, after years of being the oppressor, all the damage I have caused.  My child is beautiful.  She is exactly who God made her to be.  There was a reason God made her exactly the way He did and I can’t wait to see what she contributes to the world, because she’s already grown me more in her short 6 years than I have in my whole life. 

I hit a metaphorical wall almost a year ago.  I was faced with the reality of the consequences of my actions.  Leelah Alcorn, born to her parents as Joshua walked into oncoming traffic on December 28 to escape a world of conditional love and conditional acceptance.  She left a world where her parents only tried to help her within their own scope of understanding, where she was forbidden from being herself and faced numerous attempts to rid her of the "evil" that resided in her. 

She left the world and transgender issues exploded in the media, facts and opinions on all sides.  I was faced with a choice.  I could have a happy and healthy daughter or someday I could face a dead son.  My faith was rocked, I got depressed and I sought help.  I stumbled into an online community of over 800 moms of LGBT kids who loved Christ and loved their kids at the samtime.  Those women save my life, physically and spiritually and catapulted me into Elly’s outward transition and my inward one.  Within eleven days of joining that group I had emailed both the childrens church leader and lead pastor at our church explaining the situation, allowed Elly to begin to express herself more and visited Harmony Creek Church. 

I saw the last line on the cover of the bulletin and I cried.  It's safe here.”  I cried for my child, I cried for myself.  I had never realized how much I craved absolute safety, a place with people who had the ability to see my heart regardless of my struggle.  A place with people who love my kid, regardless of the name she chooses, outfit she wears or which door she’s obsessed with this week. 

This is what the transgender community needs.  Safety, a place for them to be transparent.  A place for them to grow around people who will grow and learn with them.  A place of authenticity where they can discover themselves without being defined.  A place of equality, where silent stares, misgendering, and justification fall away leaving only acceptance and love in their place.  I’m so grateful that Harmony Creek is one of those places. 

No comments:

Post a Comment