I saw someone on fbook post a picture of Caitlin (formerly Bruce) Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, look it up. But in a nutshell—the former olympian Bruce Jenner came out as trans a little while ago, and now she is Caitlin Jenner. And she looks stunning.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this, because while on one hand, my heart is encouraged by the outpouring of fbook, internet, and media support for her decision to embrace who she is—I'm also skeptical of the sincerity behind most of it. It is really really easy to give a shout out to a trans woman who looks beautiful and feminine. When I see that sort of support for trans women who don't look so feminine or beautiful (as well as trans men), I will start to believe that my warm fuzzies are warranted.
But, even a base level of acceptance is a start, for many people. Because there are many others who still say things like this:
"God doesn't make mistakes, and he didn't make one when he made Bruce Jenner."
Which was a comment that was posted on the above mentioned fbook post.
This immediately sent me into angry mode. Because that very attitude is a large part of what contributes to the forty-plus percent lifetime suicide attempt rate for trans people. And yes, you heard me correctly—over forty percent of people who are transgender attempt to take their own lives at some point. Why? Because people apparently can't not be shitty, and judgmental, and make them feel like they are disgusting, or evil, or mentally defective, and so on.
Despite wanting really badly to crush the above commenters logical cherry picking (what if someone is born blind, or deaf, or with a cleft pallet? Do we not fix those if we can, because "God doesn't make mistakes?) I refrained. Instead, I had an idea for a short story, which I sat down and penned today.
I have to admit, I don't exactly believe in Jesus (or at least his divinity, anyway). But I grew up with a picture of Jesus in my mind, that evolved as my faith changed. But even as a so-called "unbeliever," I felt compelled to portray the way my heart thinks Jesus might have been, if he were indeed divine, and the son of God, and had the experience which follows.
A man shuffles down the dusty road, bent from the weight of mental torments too great to bear. His clothing is tattered, yet he doesn’t care—it’s the wrong clothing anyway.
His feet are filthy, and visible to all since sandals hide very little. His soul feels just as dirty, and he is grateful it is less bare than the leathery, worn skin wrapping the bones that carry him nowhere that matters. He pauses at a small, nearly dried out puddle of mud. Alone, he makes eye contact with a stranger, through the ripples. God, I wish I were beautiful.
He immediately feels the burn of shame, as his discordant thoughts fill him with near-crippling guilt. I just want to be free of this. I just don’t want to feel this way. I want to be fixed.
Which is why the man walks in this particular direction, away from the solitude of a self imposed isolation. Remaining hidden away from the majority of humanity, most of the time, is one way he avoids the almost constant, evil, unnatural desires. Their beautiful hair. Their shape. God, their shape. The man instantly feels disgusting for wanting something so forbidden.
He’d heard the rumors. There is a man who performs miracles. Who heals. He casts out devils, makes blind men see. He had even heard that now a once dead man walks the earth, his limbs quickened once more. If he can rip a man’s soul out of heaven and put it back in him, surely he can tear the demon out of me.
The man has grown so tired of the conflict. Of feeling sick inside. Of feeling wrong. Only his fear of an even worse fate, and a punitive eternity somehow even more full of torment than the punishment of his earthly existence, has kept him from freeing his lifeblood to fill the cracked, dry earth in a flash-flood of crimson.
Maybe this man can do it. Maybe this man can free me from the desires I cannot let go.
The man approaches the village. The closer he gets, the more frequently he finds himself pitifully hiding his face within the folds of his threadbare cloak. He scans the horizon. The sun is about an hour from setting behind the village dwellings. There. The crowd is there. That must be where he is. In this moment, his eyes meet those of the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. His chest wells with a desire so strong it is painful. Her full lips. Her high cheekbones. The man tears his eyes away in anguish, loathing every disgusting part of himself. I am evil. I know I am. How could I want something so wrong? He buries his face behind rotting cloth, and sets out at a stumbling half-run towards the man who can fix him—who can take it away.
He approaches the crowd, and slows. The thought of wading amongst so many normal people is too much to bear. Surely they will sense the wrongness in him, the awful sin. The few people in whom he’d ever confided his dark secret told him he was an abomination—that the God of Abraham didn’t make mistakes. That his desires were sinful.
These were the weights that bent and broke him more surely than any lifetime of slave labor ever could have. I didn’t choose this. But they told him it was a test—one he was choosing to fail. Choosing to give in to the Adversary.
I didn’t ask for this. They told him his faith wasn’t strong enough. That God could take away the sickness of his mind if he merely prayed harder.
But the man can no longer take it. This man is my last chance. They say he is the son of God. They say he forgives sins. If he can do that, he can surely fix me—and I can feel like a man.
The sun begins to dip below the rooftops. He sees the Master, sitting upon the earth. All but a handful have begun wandering away. I can’t do this with anyone to witness my shame. He remains in the shadows, as one by one, the last few take their leave. What if he looks on me with abhorrence? The man, awash in terror and uncertainty, slowly approaches the Master.
The man kneels in the waning light, eyes cast down.
Why will you not meet my gaze?
Because I dare not. I am disgusting, Lord—an abomination. I am not worthy to look upon you.
Who has told you this?
Who are they to decide whose eyes I may meet? Please—look at me.
The man looks. He feels as though the Master is looking upon his soul, and his breast fills with terror and shame.
What is your name?
The man tells him.
The Master looks confused. That seems odd.
The man withers, shrinking into himself.
What would you ask of me?
The man hesitates.
I want to be clean, Lord. Fixed.
The man’s shame rises to a crescendo.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be someone else—someone who isn’t sick— Who doesn’t have desires that God hates.
The Master looks perplexed.
Who ever gave you the idea your Father hates anything about you?
Again—what would you have me do?
The man crumples in a heap, body racked with sobs. His left hand, trembling, probing, slowly reaches out, stuttering across the dirt, and clasps the Master’s bare foot.
Please, Lord. I don’t want to feel like a woman anymore. I want to feel right. I want to feel fixed—for my soul to match my skin. I don’t want to hate myself anymore.
The Master reaches down, and tenderly rests his hand on the man’s own.
My dear child. The pain you’ve suffered is immeasurable, and my heart weeps.
The broken man slowly raises his head.
Please Lord. If there is any mercy left in you, fix me. Take away this burden, for I can bear it no longer. Change me into the person I am meant to be.
Time seems to stand still. Through the chaos of pain and emotion, the man dares wonder what it would be like to not feel like a woman, trapped in a man’s body. To feel masculine. To feel like he belonged in his own skin. To not look upon every woman with envy, but rather desire. To feel whole.
The man feels 2 hands, heavy upon his head. His breathing catches, stops. He holds his breath for seconds, an eternity. He feels the Master’s hands leave his head.
And his heart sinks, as it feels no different.
He feels a hand gently cup his chin. It softly lifts until he is looking into eyes full of love.
Daughter. Arise, and be whole.
Instead, she wept.
Transgender people kill themselves, because they don't feel loved. Transgender people kill themselves because they don't feel accepted. You don't have to "believe" (whatever that means) that men and women sometimes really, actually feel like they are stuck in the wrong body, but if you are a decent human being, you ought to at the very least acknowledge that the feeling is very real to them.
If you are treating them with anything but love and acceptance, then you are part of what is literally killing them. If you actually believe in Christ, then start acting like it. You just worry about you, and trust that this all-powerful being you believe in can work shit out on his own, without you having to inform people whose lives don't fit in with your specific world view, that they aren't living right—especially when that entails who. they. are.
Just love people. It's really, really simple.