LGBTQ Support

The Limits Of Loving

I’ve been mulling over some ideas in my head for several days now after an interesting Facebook conversation with a Christian about transphobia. This entry has a million words because I had a million thoughts and I’m not even sure I’m done processing all of my thoughts on this, so I reserve the right to edit or make changes to my thoughts after you guys chime in :).

Before this conversation on Facebook, I thought there were two types of Christians in terms of their attitudes to the Transgender community.

1) The kind that honestly believe that gender doesn’t always match anatomy at birth. That you can be born in the wrong body and therefore support the entire spectrum of gender and all degrees of someone transitioning into the gender they feel more comfortable. They support a transgender person using the bathroom matching the way they identify and they use the correct pronouns etc. In other words? 100% supportive. (“I believe and I allow.”)

2) The kind that believes a person gender ONLY matches the body parts a person was born with. A “God doesn’t make mistakes” type of attitude. They believe that a transgender person is either mentally ill, sexually deviant, faking, or simply acting out in some way for attention. They don’t support their efforts to change their lives and they want them to be restricted to the bathrooms that match their biological parts. (“I don’t believe, and I don’t allow.”)

So, it turns out I was being naive, I guess. There’s an entirely different class, somewhere in the middle. The funny thing is, I’ve talked about this middle-group type of Christian before in my “love the sinner” posts. (The most recent one being here.) I just never thought of the middle-group in terms of trans acceptance I guess.

1.5) The kind that believes a person’s gender ONLY matches the body parts they were born with. Still a “God doesn’t make mistakes” type of view. BUT – they have no problem respecting the trans community and they don’t mind them using whatever bathroom they want and would use their chosen pronouns. They say they do this out of love. This is how you fully love someone and welcome into their church community. Jesus wants us to accept everyone with open arms, a type of “love the sinner, hate the sin” type of attitude although they don’t believe living as a different gender is a sin. But you get the idea, it’s the attitude of LOVE. To love someone, you would respect them, even if you don’t “believe” or agree. (“I don’t believe, but I do allow.”)

For the record – I hate using the word “believe” in these situations because it to me implies that a Transgender Female could be “faking” it or something but I can’t come up with a better word to describe this category of Christian’s thoughts on the transgender community. They don’t “believe” but they love and accept.

SO…this has been weighing on my so heavily. Can you truly love someone if you don’t “believe” their truth? It’s the same as the “Love the Sinner” attitude of welcoming a gay person in your church. Are you really loving them if you think that their marriage is less than yours? If two women have a healthy sexual relationship inside the bonds of marriage yet you still think it’s a sin, is that really love? In the same respect, if you don’t “believe” this woman in your church is “actually” a woman because she was born with a penis, are you really loving her?

It’s just been perplexing to me. I find the #2 category of Christians easier to understand (obviously I love Category #1 the best) because at least they aren’t trying to be respectful and accepting, they’re shunning outright. But the love/acceptance type to me is so conflicting with the “not believing” thing I was really struggling with it.

But then someone on Twitter said compared it to how I can still love/respect/accept a Christian family member in my life even though I don’t “believe” in their truths of religion.

BOOM.

I mean, that’s a pretty close comparison, don’t you think? It’s not a perfect comparison because to me, religion – even at it’s best – still requires Faith and gender does not. I believe a transgender female is a female. It is a concrete black-and-white thing that does not require a Faith or Belief in something I can not see or define. So, the comparison is not PERFECT, but…in terms of your capacity to love…it’s a close comparison in my world. And using the word “family” in my life to relate to “church” in an other person’s life is similar too. In my world my “family” extends beyond blood, so using my capacity to love and welcome someone into my family and comparing it to a Christian’s capacity to love and welcome someone into their church; that’s a reasonable comparison for this purpose for sure. So, I went with it to try to understand more.

So I got to digging into it. Let’s just say I have a family member – blood related or not (since we’ve established that’s my church) – who is a Christian. I obviously do not believe in the biblical God, in their heaven, or the literal interpretation of anything written in the bible. But, because I’m spiritual and I do believe there is a possibility of a higher power of some degree, I feel like I do “believe” the Christians in category #1. I can easily love a Christian from category #1 with all of my self because, in the basic understanding of their view of the world, I can “believe” it for them. I just choose to look at things and define things differently. But because religion does still require Faith in the unknown, it’s as close to “believing” as I can get so I can fully love or embrace that Christian in my life and in my family. I could open my heart up entirely to them and love them with my full self.

Category #1.5 or #2 are a different story. Category #2, I could not love to any degree more than I love humans as a concept. I love all creatures on this planet on a basic level and that’s as far as I could get with a Christian from category #2. I would help them if they needed help, I would feed them if they were hungry or clothe them if they were naked, but I would not love them beyond any level of basic human empathy. I would not turn them away if they needed shelter, but I could not be close them on a deeper personal level because there would be such a big part of my heart closed off to them. There would be huge limits to my love.

Category #1.5 is tricky. I think I could become clos(er) to this person because I would feel like if they got to know someone from the Transgender community, really opened themselves up to someone’s truth, they could move to Category #1. I think Category #1.5 is similar to the “Love the Sinner” Christian. Someone who has the capacity to love anyone from the LGBTQ community, they just have trouble rectifying their lives with the dogma of their religion. Christians from Category #1 have been able to work through that conflict in various capacities by choosing metaphorical interpretations of the bible and by allowing for some things to be tossed aside due to the fact that it was written by humans at a different time. Category #2 I feel like will never be changed, or at least the chances are too slim for me to give them my energy. Category #1.5 I would hope might someday change. And since I have hope, I can love those Christians deeper and hope some day they’ll change their minds. I would not close off my heart too much to them, maybe just a tiny sliver to protect myself in case they never change.

I think the way I love Christians from that category 1.5 is the same way those Christians love the Transgender community. They love them because they believe they can change them. The same way I love those Christians, because I believe once they get to know several members of the Transgender community, they would change their minds.

So, truthfully, we are loving but with HUGE caveats that make the love no where near as pure as we like to make it sound. My love for Christians in category #1 is pure. I love them completely and don’t hope to change them in anyway. But my love for Christians in category #1.5 is wrapped in a blanket of hope for change. And I’m not sure if my Christian friends in category #1.5 would like that…would like that I love them with a caveat. But in the same vein, those Christian friends would need to understand that the Trans community would feel the same way.

But then there’s the final piece. Evidently some Christians in this category #1.5 own the fact that they hope for a Trans person to change “back” to how they were born. But, there are some that say they don’t even hope anyone from the Trans community changes, and this is where I think I have the biggest problem. If you 1) Allow a Transgender Man to use the Men’s restroom and 2) Call him by his chosen pronouns and 3) Don’t hope that one day he goes back to living as a female then you know what?

I have to believe you’re either honestly in Category #1 and you just haven’t accepted it yet, or you’re lying about not wanting them to change. Because if you honestly feel those three things? In my heart, you “believe” a person can be born in the wrong body, and you just can’t admit it. If you TRULY don’t want a person to change and live like the gender they were born as? Then you are supporting their truth and no matter how many times you say, “I don’t believe a person can be born in a body that doesn’t match their identity” you are still supporting their truth and I believe you’re just having trouble accepting that. It’s just semantics. You’re saying you “don’t believe” them but, but my view of the word “believe” you actually do.

OR, you SAY you don’t want them to change but deep down you are really hoping they do.

I just don’t believe that a person who truly accepts and loves a Transgender Man or Woman as they are, embraces their truth and doesn’t hope they change, then that person “believes” that your gender doesn’t have to match your biology and that Christians needs to walk into Category #1 and be embraced. I think there’s a lot of Christians in this middle category as far as the LGBTQ community goes. I think it’s natural as people transition with society and as people get know people in the LGBTQ community.

THAT WAS A LOT OF WORDS. I can’t believe I spent over an hour writing this.

REMINDER: I reserve the right to come in and edit some of this based on comments because I’m still processing all of this and since I’m not a Christian I may have some things wrong. DO NOT HOLD ME TO THIS ENTRY EXACTLY AS IT IS IN THIS MOMENT.

5 thoughts on “The Limits Of Loving”

  1. I am a caregory 1, I anger my relatives because I am too darn liberal but I find hope in a Pope who I think seems to really get what I think Jesus was about. Jesus had the pure (child-like) love to all. In fact several times in the bible we are told to strive for that child-like love and yet the older we get the more caveats we put on our love.

    What frustrates me the most is the “I love you so much I am trying to keep you out of hell” approach. I would NEVER claim to know where any one person is going to end up. I feel like your relationship is deeply personal. If a murderer is sitting in prision and is devout in prayer and is begging the Lord for for forgiveness and is genuinely remorseful would God forgive? As hard as it is to wrap my mind around, I think he does forgive even that, so if you believe that being homosexual is a sin (I want to clarify that I do not), then how do you know what is in that persons heart? How can you begin to think you know their personal relationship with God? I sin ALL THE TIME, I gossip, I don’t always make it to church or holy days of obligation. I sure don’t treat my body as a temple with the crap I eat and my failure to exercise enough, I curse, I can be judgemental etc etc etc (I could go on and on)… yet I generally get a pass with the “I love you too much to let you go to hell” folks. It doesnt make sense to me how we pick and choose what “sins” we want to make laws about and what sins we are ok left to ourselves to sort out. Afterall, if marriage is to be protected at all costs, why arent we sending adulterers to jail? Why is that ok to sort out among families and churches but gay marriage and transgender bathroom priviledges not? Sorry for the rambles and I need to be at work but thanks for the thoughtful post.

  2. Here goes my random thoughts:
    We know that there are humans born with male outside organs and female inside organs and vice versa. Therefore- If God doesn’t make mistakes they are the way they were supposed to be or God does make mistakes. As for the bathroom issue, Why not Make the large bathrooms unisex with everything in a booth- Toilets in Some, urinals in some and both in some.This would make it equal for everyone. This would solve a lot of problems for families with small children. Then make the small bathrooms for single gender. I think the real reason women would reject this is because they don’t want to go in where little boys use the bathroom because they have bad aim and the rooms stink!. I once stood behind a family with small kids at the airport. They were trying to manage stroller car seats 3 kids, suitcases and get to Arizona to be with a dying grandpa. Just as they were called to the counter the 4 year old girl said, I have to go to the bathroom. Dad looked at mom, who was carrying the smallest child and the boarding documents. She said I can’t take her. So Dad gave her a what look , then took the little girl by the hand , got to the door, and said close your eyes!
    I would like to see what would happen if I went to Mississippi or North Carolina. Because I am very tall, small chested, short haired, and have big feet, I am often mistaken for a male and have been most likely mistaken as transgender on more than one occasion.I would think the pink Vera Bradley purse would be a giveaway but apparently not!
    As a preK teacher , I have more than once been told by a child that when they grew up they would be the opposite gender. I have always corrected. I would no longer do that. I believe that at least 2 of the girls do identify as male. Whether any surgery will be done is their choice. One is a homosexual female. She is married and a naval officer. The other is still too young to consider what she will do, but she has played football. She is a twin and I could always tell them apart by the way they chose to dress. okay no summary to this- rambling done

  3. I think what confuses me about the God doesnt make any mistakes argument is there are babies born missing chromosomes, with cancer, mental issues, learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, my own daughter had a vascualar malformation called a hemangioma. “We” still know so little about the brain and I am NOT convinced we understand completely the parts of the brain that relate to both gender and sexuality. Just like my daughters blood vessels got a little messed up during her formation, why cant we imagine that sexual orientation or gender can have a “glitch” if you will. This doesnt make any human being less than another, I certainly wouldnt hold my daughters issue against her and I certainly didnt put the blame on God. These things just happen. Nature is not perfect!

  4. If we can view sexuality as a “spectrum” rather than either/or, why can we not understand acceptance the same way? How about those who are trying to believe and accept but are still struggling against personal or cultural biases, religious values, discomfort, ignorance, or other factors? Everybody has different issues and battles and perceptions of the world.

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