For months now my posts here and at catholictrans have been building up to a new direction. I realize in retrospect that everything I’ve posted recently, original material or otherwise, have been the contractions leading up to massive labor pains. For many insomniac nights I’ve been squinting at my dark ceiling and seeing patterns of motion, webs of ideas, and clashing good n’ evil in such a large vista that my small human mind can’t actually piece it all together and I feel literally insane. But slowly, the different pieces that I feel to be interconnected are presenting themselves to me in an orderly queue.
I blame the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She has that way of simplifying things. Nazareth spirituality FTW. B)
Since Caitlyn Jenner emerged into the spotlight, I’ve experienced growing anxiety and frustration about the conversations on trans issues. On one hand a lot of the wrath from both conservatives and feminists is deliberately hurtful and cruel. On the other hand, the claims of the trans movement amount to essentially “don’t tell the Emperor he has no clothes” – hence the outrage from conservatives and feminists. We may be a minority, but I’ve seen trans people and liberal “allies” swarm to destroy anyone who doesn’t completely and utterly agree with them down to the letter. I wonder to myself: is this the movement I’m part of? What does transphobia even mean any more? Not when a man beats a trans woman’s head in because she’s trans. Apparently if you even want to discuss what the definitions of “sex” and “gender” are, you’re a transphobe.
Apparently I’m a transphobe. Well hell.
The word that comes to mind to describe the actions of the trans movement lately is pride. Other words would be presumption, aggression, and entitlement. We demand that you immediately recognize anyone who expresses the tiniest inkling of gender doubt to be an autonomous definer-of-all-gender-for-all-people. We protest violently when we’re even reminded of the predicament of our birth. Yes, it sucks that I was born male – it really, viscerally, awake-at-four-in-the-morning-feeling-stabbing-pains-in-my-non-womb sucks. And my closer girl friends won’t jab at me that I have no uterus because it upsets me. But me demanding that the word
uterus is stricken from the dictionary because I don’t have one is as ridiculous coming from me as coming from a natal female who had a hysterectomy.
And believe me, I get it. There’s always a straw that breaks the camel’s back, and oppressed minorities can only handle so much. I mean, I really get it – I’m living it. I also get that us millennials don’t believe in natural justice or equity – our lack of faith in the older generation drives us to demand our needs. After all, if we don’t look out for ourselves, who will? Women didn’t get suffrage by politely asking men to hand them a ballot. I get it.
However, the mob mentality endemic in my little corner of the population is swelling into a rip tide. It’s actually sickening. It’s actually terrifying. Exactly two years ago I was praising God because it seemed a stroke of pure Fortune that just as I was coming out of the closet, trans people were getting the first positive visibility ever. Now, barely a smidgeon of history later, a swarm of what I call hiccup identities are trying to redefine literally all of philosophy and, well… the dictionary. I don’t get how we got from there to here. How did we get from cute little Youtube videos of trans girls coming clean about a lifetime of gender agony to bearded males waltzing into women’s restrooms in the name of their “infallible” flaccid gender identity? In the matter of a heartbeat I went from being a transgender activist to an inconvenient binary tranny on the outskirts, all because the tide’s water spread out over so much territory that anything hard and real like biological sex or crippling gender dysmorphia stand out of the shallows like ugly promontories.
And this isn’t a matter of “membership.” Anyone who struggles with the many-headed Hydra that is gender to the point of being substantially gender non-conforming needs a voice. But this whole remake-the-world-in-our-(transgender)-image thing is bizarre. Especially the part where putting on a dress for a day during an interview for a web journal makes you suddenly Eve, Mother of All Womanhood Herself.
I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about trans identity lately. And the truth is, I can still praise God at the Fortune of when I was born. Even as the movement I thought was there to liberate me moves farther away and teeters on the edge of some incalculable abyss, it makes all the more clear where the real movement is. The stirrings of the Spirit are making themselves felt, and I do believe God has elected this moment in history to bring transgender people into His family. The thing is, being part of a family looks different than being a postmodern individualistic monad. My gender identity will look different as a communal participation in Church life than a transgenderist activists will look like as the sole new definer of all gender.
In a recent post I wrote (addressing womyn-born-womyn, or really any natal female):
I recognize that as a transsexual, I’m something of a gender orphan. I hope for adoption, but I’m not about to demand it.
After I published that post, I found myself rereading that line over and over again. Narcissistic? Perhaps. But like Narcissus, this self-devotion was innocent because it was like seeing someone else for the first time. In that throwaway “catchy” phrase I realized I might have accidentally stumbled onto something huge! Or rather (I can only ever hope), the Holy Spirit elected to work through the imperfect medium of my socially-conditioned ramblings.
And then, the other night after tossing and turning with the aforementioned knives of dysmorphia stabbing my not-womb, amidst the labor pains of giving birth to death, with my vaginal cavity un-tearing and sealing up into nothingness, with blood flowing from my soul in fountains, I tiredly opened the Word for a moment and peered in. And there I read:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:22-24
I sobbed. I really sobbed. My heart felt pierced by the Sword of Truth. Suddenly the foundations of the world shifted, for a Savior was pushing aside the pillars of the Earth like so many decorative vases. And the land was barren and stricken and simple and the Breath of the Spirit hovered over it.
Maternal arms wrapped themselves around my shoulder from Heaven, and a celestial Mother – she who I neglect too often – made a sign of adoption.
Like Jacob in the stead of Esau, I have no birthright. I’m like the Samaritan woman who begs for the scraps at the Lord’s table. “Lord, even the dogs get the scraps.” I’m an orphan, a sexual misfit, a ritually unclean woman-man-woman-man-abomination. Or I was. But then those maternal arms wrapped me up while those paternal arms pushed aside Heaven and Earth, and I was adopted.
Like Jacob, the thing I have going for me is a Jewish Mother who’s got my back.
I’m a Daughter of the King. It’s not my birthright, or in my blood. I was not born a Daughter of the King; I wasn’t a Daughter of the King in my mother’s womb. But my Abba has elected to adopt me, bring me into His intentional family. I am a Daughter of the King, because He took in the child that didn’t belong.