“Who Are We To Judge…”

Constance, I likely will not post an awful lot about the Jenner Transition Announcement until she gets further underway.

I totally, utterly get where she is at right now.  She is thinking things about how she is not that worried about pronouns, and how she is willing to overlook the othering and policing that is going on right now, yadda yadda yadda…she feels a responsibility to other transgender people to effect a graceful transition with dignity.

But deep down inside…all those things are hurting her, affecting her, wounding her.  She doesn’t need me adding to the cacophony of noise surrounding her (and all of that exacerbated because of the family dynamics she married into). Eventually, she will begin to find her bearings and her voice, or if she already has, she will begin to express it in her own unique ways.

But I will be commenting on things that orbit her transition, things that are revealed and illuminated as a result of her decision, and here is one of them:

On my Facebook page, a friend linked to an article about her transition.  That article is here:

Bruce Jenner’s declaration creates an opportunity

What was telling was in the comments on the Facebook post, all generally very supportive, but one stood out to me.  It simply said “Who are we to judge…”

“Who are we to judge…”

Constance, do you see why that comment jumped out at me?  Yes?  Jot down your thoughts about it…or No?  No you do not see anything odd about that comment in relation to gender identity?

Well, Cis-Constance, imagine yourself being introduced to someone, and them very kindly and sagely assessing you and then saying to you and everyone “Who are we to judge…” and then shrugging as if to say “to each their own”…

 

as if your gender identity is something that is up for judgement in the first place!

as if your gender identity is an article of clothing that you simply decided to wear that day.

as if your gender identity was a moral choice you made or make.

Gender orientation is put into the same classification as sexual orientation and then judged as a moral choice, and this is simply incorrect and unfair.

There is orientation that is a given…and then there are behaviors that descend from choices that we make as creatures who are moral creatures and subject to moral constraints as determined by God and current cultural climate (and those are rarely congruent, btw)…the behaviors themselves are what I choose to do…but the orientation is who I was born to be.

Orientation is not moral behavior.  It is simply the given baseline.

You as a cis-gender person are never subjected to the statement “Oh…you say you are a (fill in your biological chromosomal state).  I see.  Well, who am I to judge?”

And that, Constance, is the very epitome of cis-gender privilege!

Don’t get me wrong…I love the compassion that is at root behind the commenter’s post…but gender orientation is not a matter subject to judgement any more than race is, or that there is a brain in a skull, or that there are arms and legs on a human.

The deep underlying ignorance that is being exposed in the light of gender-education right now is the notion that gender-variance is a moral issue!  The deep presupposition fostered in our binary is that any person who is cross-gendered is by definition subject to moral assessment should they decide to authentically live out who they are in spite of the external casing they are housed in!!

Do you see this?

The commenter is correct:  we are not the judge of one another and should not judge one another.  But the issue that she applied this moral principle speaks volumes of how far we have to go yet as a culture, and why we transgender people are subject to such tremendous othering.

Even the way we are supported is often times OTHERING!

I have the same internal response when people say to me “Hey, whatever makes you happy makes me happy”…and they are sincerely “for” me in terms of their willingness to accept me.

But they have no idea just how deeply they sentenced me to more time in the gender penitentiary.

“Mr. & Mrs. Cis-Gender Constance:  Tear down this wall!!2008-5-10 Auschwitz No 11 - Final 2-1-2009 750

Never Again

Constance, I want to write here my commitment to myself and to you, and also state ahead of time that I recognize the result of this commitment will be quite a bit of ostracization from many people who call themselves Christians, but want to use that name to police me and my life decisions.

First of all, let me state that I am not removing myself from the scope and majesty of the wonderful word of God.  When read and understood properly, it is a document of collected writings that show a God of love and advocate a relational ethic, not a legal ethic or a behavioral ethic.  Right standing with God is found in right relationship!  Not right deeds or right thinking (though each will likely result when you focus on maintaining a whole relationship first).

Given the pre-eminence of my commitment to this relational ethic, I am fair game for being called into account for anything that violates this ethic…things like committing adultery, committing murder, stealing, cheating, assaulting another physically or verbally, harboring hatred in my heart, and other things such as that.  See the thing in common?  All of them involve a relational breech with either myself, my neighbor, or God.

But:

BUT:

I am no longer going to subject myself to the inquisitions that I previously felt I owed anyone who wanted to “correct me” or “express their concerns” to me about who and what I am.  For the record:  there is nothing in the Bible that is prescriptive on the subject of being transgender, and there is less than that on the subject of whether or not a transgender person should pursue transition.

Therefore, anything beyond genuine questions seeking to ascertain what I face in order to stand with me and help my life to glorify God is off limits.  I am not going there again.

Here is why:

In my recent encounter with a man that I have known for about 25 years, I spent 4 hours of my life in the attempt to reach this individual’s heart.  Truth is?  I never had a chance.  He listened to me about an hour and a half, with a few questions, and then began to interject with a list of “concerns” which he had written before he even heard my story!  He began by saying that he might (might!) modify what he had written if he had heard my story first…but since he was soo upset, he felt justified in going ahead.

He then proceeded to list for me several concerns that ranged from things that simply were not true factually about what being transgender is, all the way to accusations that I was under the influence of a demonic spirit!

He thinks that transgender people are victims of the fall (we all are victims of the fall…whether or not being transgender is a direct result of the fall or not is moot, as the Bible simply is silent on the topic).  He also thinks that transgender people are bound by the words of Jesus that we “take up our cross and follow Him”…meaning that verse prohibits us from pursuing technological help and remedy which is readily available and so swiftly brings about such immediate change emotionally and spiritually, and is documented in so many places and in so many ways.

(Constance, I am very capable of nuking this proof-texting rape of these words, if you are interested, please let’s pursue that in the comments or via email, but trust me, it is not about transition specifically!).

Clearly, this man had seized upon this verse and wrenched it to fit his preconceived judgement that transition should not be undertaken…an opinion of his, not a biblically given command.  He did not think it was wrong for someone born with a hole in their heart to seek surgical repair, or someone born with a cleft palate to seek surgical repair, or any other number of examples…just transition!  he was intractable in this opinion, and I was considered by him to be indulging the flesh.

Next, he told me that I was under the influence of a spirit of deception that he called “the impostor”, and that this spirit opposed my becoming who God wanted me to be (which was code for him saying I was not becoming who he wants me to be).  When I asked him if he thought I was bearing more fruit in my life in the last year than he had seen before, he affirmed that this was noticeably so, and so I then pointed out that it seemed to me the impostor was doing a pretty counter-productive job, as I was becoming more, and not less like Jesus…reminded me of the Pharisees who accused Jesus of casting out demons by demonic power!!

Then he told me that I was going to lose out on the blessing of being a patriarch of my family (nope, didn’t touch this…it would have been like telling a fish that it is in the water).

Next I was informed that he had never been so devastated since he was divorced from his first wife and that marriage totally fell apart…that he was just barely more devastated by that than he was by my decision to transition!  When I asked him how many times we have had dinner together in 25 years, he answered none.  When I asked him if we had ever done anything…anything socially together, he said no, never.  When I asked him if he had ever come to my house, reached out to me when my father died, or when my children experienced growing pains, when I was injured and couldn’t do chores, he said no.  When I asked if he agreed that we had not truly been a part of each others’ lives with the exception of the occasional church activity and our seeing each other at work where we casually interacted, he said yes, he agreed…

…so when I pointed out that this seemed to indicate a judgement of me made from the outside with no real knowledge of me what so ever, and thus would point to his devastation being far more his own issue rather than my “violation”, he denied it!  He said that the Holy Spirit was laying it on his heart!  That my claims that Mama had been gently leading me, confirmed by my wife, by my therapist whom I have opened my entire life to, by my naturopath who knew I was transgender at least a year before I did, and by a few close friends who lived everyday with me…that all of that was purely subjective and his own subjective “feeling of conviction” had just as much weight and legitimacy!

I kid you not.

When I asked him to show the biblical passages upon which he rested his “concerns”, he confessed this: “the bible is silent on this subject so I can’t actually say this is sin“.  Shocked by his terminology, I asked him “Do you want to be able to say this is sin?”  He got offended with me, and said that I was being harsh to him (!!!  Yes, he went there).  I said “no, not at all.  I am so struck by your word choices.  They reveal so much to me, for I would have phrased it something like this ‘Since the bible is silent, I would never say that someone was sinning in their pursuit of transition, absent knowledge of the relational parameters between the person and God, and friends and family.'”

He sought  many times to other me and police me, and I gently and firmly rebuffed every attempt.

And then at the conclusion, he said that I had shocked him, because he thought I would blow up at him (“blow a gasket” is what he said)…Constance, when I was dissociated from myself experiences like this were very threatening to me, and I did tend to react very strongly and vehemently when accused unfairly.  But I was calm, peaceful, and sorrowful far more for him than for myself…this bothered him, because it didn’t jibe with the picture of a demonized deceived person who was in rebellion to God.

But it wasn’t enough…he told me that he (and this is a quote) “had to obey his conscience above all else, and that when people asked him about me it was his duty to tell them his opinion and concerns regarding me”.

Yes, Constance…he has elevated his own conscience even above God, for when I inquired what he would do if God told him to remain silent, he said that God would never ask him to deny his conscience!  I think you can see the problem with this…essentially there is a conflation of his conscience with what God wants!  If he feels something strong enough, and labels it his conscience, then it is the same as God talking!

I did not have the heart to point out to him that even a cursory examination of biblical teaching regarding the conscience commands us to put the conscience and behaviour of our brothers/sisters as preeminent to our own…besides, it would not do any good.  He considered it his right to out me, to anyone, in the name of conscience.

tumblr_mxkabvs2Yl1rzzi2co1_500                 (Charissa before she decided to refuse to let others savage her)

(Now here is a little secret, Constance…part of the reason I agreed to meet with this person is that I suspected this might be the endpoint of things…and the truth is that I am ready to come out…I want to move on, get it over with and get on with an effective and fruitful life lived free and without a mask.  So I sort of planned to use him as a stalking horse.  If I wasn’t ready, I would have not met with him.  Nevertheless, it was staggering to me…the arrogance that he so blindly bathed in, wallowed in…oh, and by the way, he has no “official ecclesiastical authority” in any denomination, or for that matter in my own life!  He is simply a fellow follower of Jesus…and make no mistake, he does indeed love God and love people…just within the boundaries he has chosen to call legitimate.)

He specifically said his conscience demanded it of him.  I didn’t even bother to ask him what he thought would be the consequence if he decided to not speak, to be silent and urge people to come to me if they had questions…I already knew his reply would be this:  if I am not true to my conscience, then your blood is on my head…a phrase that indicates he considers me blood guilty of something or other, and also believes he is both qualified and called to be the bringer of correction to me, never mind by what credential or authority…there is an old testament comment in Proverbs that uses this phraseology…people who have adopted this as a moral code use it to justify all kinds of things including bombing abortion clinics and other heinous acts like that.  The people at that crazy church who are so virulently anti-gay use this idea to justify their own evil deeds.

So his conscience is more important to him than I am, than the lives of the people who he talks to that may have been open to actually getting to know for themselves where I am at and what I am going thru but after he gets done will almost certainly avoid me…and the lives of the people who may have been touched by newly open-hearted lovers of God who would reach out to transgender people in love because of knowing me, and who I am, and my being transgender makes it not as weird as they thought it was…

And lastly, he said he would never ever call me “Sister”, or a woman…that this would be him empowering my lie and participating in it by proxy!  What does one do with that…besides just shake off the dust and move on?

Constance:  I had no chance of persuading him that this was a good thing, a fruitful thing, a blessing.  None.

Everything I said to counter him was evidence of my deception and was a regurgitation of the evil that the deceptive spirit had spoken to me…and everything I was silent to I was silent to because I was incapable of refuting his great convicting words (he is wrong…I was silent because I didn’t want to destroy him by stripping him of every vestige of intelligent discourse and exposing his xenophobic foundations…when someone says they read about transgender issues for a few minutes the night before, and really don’t need to do any more research because God is speaking to them…well, there is nothing to be said there, is there?).

So here is my resolution:  I will never again submit to such so called “expression of concern”.  I will seek to find out ahead of time why someone wants to discuss my transition, and if it is for right reasons I will go ahead after giving the caveat that if they begin to “correct me” I will shut them down and leave the situation.

This is not evidence of my not being correctable…it is evidence that I am finally going to not be a dormat and put myself in harms way…which I have always done before (ask my wife, she can tell you of years and years…)

This man right this moment thinks me in error…nothing I said made a difference…and the others who will be coming, and many far worse than he, for he is at least merely passive aggressive, so his demeanor and voice are calm and pleasant…well, they will be even less persuadable!

They will do this (and it is a fact…ask any of your church friends, they can tell you):  they will conclude that I am deeply deceived and in sin…because I won’t let them befoul me with accusations…so why should I even try to persuade them?

My therapist said something very powerful…she asked me what would be the result of my refusing to allow them to savage me so…and I said if I don’t, they will think me a heretic and not a true christian…and she then asked me “and what will happen then?  Will you become a heretic?  Do you care what those people think right now?  Does their thinking anything change you or effect you in any real way?”

and I laffed!!  Cus the answer is “no”.

This I resolve:

To do justly

to love mercy

to walk humbly…and love Them with all my heart

to be kind and gentle and full of Grace…upon Grace.

Love, love always,

Charissa Grace, beloved of her Mama the Holy Spirit, joint heir with Jesus the first fruits of the resurrection, and a daughter of the Father of lights, from Whom comes every good and perfect gift.

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This is why the subject of Acceptance is soo inportant

Found this online…Constance…oh, Constance, this could have been me.  I myself have written of identification with the monster that Viktor Frankenstein gave unholy birth to in that tragic and terrible story (terrible in an awe-ful way).

This could be me…without my Mama, without my baby, without Heather…

Constance, as late as last November, I was on the edge.  Go back and read some of those fall poems from 2013.  I have actually been reviewing the last year, and I marvel at where I am now, but I tremble at where I was then.

Here is the story of a woman who had no one, and nothing but everyone’s hatred, in black and white.

I recently heard that “no one is quite as mean as those people who are ‘mean for Jesus'”…and while there is a sad truth to that sometimes, the actual fact is that mean is mean.  Period.  Here is the story of Filisa, the sister of Charissa.  If you love Charissa, or if you have fondness or admiration, I would ask for a favor:  find someone outcast in your region…trans, cis, gay or straight…and go love them.

Just.
Love.
Them.

Charissa

“On January 5, 1993, a 22-year-old pre-operative transsexual woman from Seattle, Filisa Vistima, wrote in her journal, “I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’ so I could go swimming… . But no, I’m a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster.”

Two months later Filisa Vistima committed suicide. What drove her to such despair was the exclusion she experienced in Seattle’s queer community, some members of which opposed Filisa’s participation because of her transsexuality — even though she identified as and lived as a bisexual woman. The Lesbian Resource Center where she served as a volunteer conducted a survey of its constituency to determine whether it should stop offering services to male-to-female transsexuals.

Filisa did the data entry for tabulating the survey results; she didn’t have to imagine how people felt about her kind. The Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network announced that if it admitted transsexuals the SBWN would no longer be a women’s organization. “I’m sure,” one member said in reference to the inclusion of bisexual transsexual women, the boys can take care of themselves.”

Filisa Vistima was not a boy, and she found it impossible to take care of herself.

Even in death she found no support from the community in which she claimed membership. “Why didn’t Filisa commit herself for psychiatric care?” asked a columnist in the Seattle Gay News. “Why didn’t Filisa demand her civil rights?”

In this case, not only did the angry villagers hound their monster to the edge of town, they reproached her for being vulnerable to the torches.

Did Filisa Vistima commit suicide, or did the queer community of Seattle kill her?”

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