It’s because, in most contexts in which faith has come up, it’s essentially cisgender people demanding that I defend my existence (“lifestyle choices” as they might put it) against their impenetrable interpretations of the Bible.
Those discussions, frankly, have seemed like landmines designed to stop me from continuing on my spiritual journey. So I’ve avoided them.
Being forced to defend my existence and sanity, to me, is not a discussion about faith. It’s a draining and dehumanizing exercise in
But I’m very interested in talking about my faith.
So let’s talk about faith a little, yeah?
Let’s start with something the Bible says
A friend of mine insightfully invited me to meditate on John 9 with her, because she recognized profound parallels in the story to the trans experience.
The parallels struck me, too.
In this passage, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. You can read the whole passage here, but I’ll quickly summarize what happened.
Many of the religious people of the time believed the man was born blind because he was a sinner, so it justified the idea to them that he had to live his life in pain and poverty. It was what he deserved.
Jesus found him and healed him by spitting in dirt to make some mud, putting the mud on his eyes, and telling him to go wash himself in a certain pool.
When he came back a man who could see, people doubted his story, or if he even was the same man, not just pretending. The Pharisees (religious leaders) questioned him when he shared what happened, and got really up in arms about it.
They nitpicked him on the details of who Jesus was, they scorned him because of his status as a sinner, and they refused to believe his story or experience.
Parallels between the blind man and trans folks
There are some strong parallels between the blind man’s experience in this story and with what I’ve experienced as a transgender person. Here are a few.
Both the blind man and I were born with a condition that culturally had a lot of shame surrounding it. A condition that made us displeasing to society.
In both cases, the condition was blamed on sin, and it was assumed that we were responsible for that condition—which supposedly made us worse people than anyone not born with it.
This parallel extends to all of LGBTQ folks. These stigmas about the people we are can easily leave us rejected, destitute, or even killed. (I was borderline homeless for a while and had three near-death experiences directly related to being the person I am, so this isn’t just an abstraction to me.)
As we learn that God actually loves the people we are, and doesn’t hate us and want us to die like we were taught, we experience profound spiritual healing. It’s probably not too different from what the blind man experienced.
But if we try coming out and sharing these experiences with most Christians, we are nitpicked, scorned, or refused to be believed.
Parallels with the Pharisees and the church
The parallels aren’t just between LGBTQ folks and the blind man. There are some heavy parallels between the Pharisees and the church, and they’re somewhat alarming.
The Pharisees write off the blind
Many of today’s Christian leaders write off LGBTQ people, because they see us as sinners with no credibility.
The Pharisees had already dictated, according to their interpretations of the law, that the blind man was blind because he was living in sin. So if he had a meaningful healing experience to share, it didn’t matter. Listening to him would undermine the power they were holding onto to speak on God’s behalf and control peoples’ behavior.
Much of church leadership dictates, according to their interpretations of the Bible, that if you’re LGBTQ, you’re living in sin. So if any of us LGBTQ folks have a meaningful thing to say, the church leaders have already decided that they’re not going to listen. Doing so would undermine their ability to wield their exclusive access to understanding God’s will, which allows them to control peoples’ behavior.
It’s not that either the Pharisees or today’s church leaders are more serious about their faith than us sinners are.
It’s not even about faith.
Just like the Pharisees, today’s religious leaders are blinded by their desire to maintain their power over the marginalized.
PS. I’m still meditating on John 9, so I might not be done talking about it yet.