tonight i did an interview for a podcast: http://www.somethingbeautifulpodcast.com/ and it made me realize once again how complicated my journey is. both my identity as a queer person, but also (and maybe even more so) my spiritual identity. how do i sum up my journey in just a couple of minutes? it’s impossible. i am afraid that on this podcast i sound inarticulate. it won’t go up for a week or so, but when you all get the chance to listen, please be gentle!
i tried to make clear that i only speak for myself; that my journey isn’t the same as every one else; i think that came across. what i’m not sure came across clearly was my own sense of identity. it’s complicated because i had to come out twice; once as gay and once as trans. and in between those two coming out moments i did a ton of soul searching, research, and growing in regard to my theology. when i came out as a lesbian i really believed that i needed to be celibate for my whole life. but as i grew and learned i realized that was not the case. by the time i came out as trans i had reconciled my spirituality and my queerness. i hope that comes through in what i said.
i also realize that i do much better when i have time to prepare comments instead of just responding to questions. i am seriously introverted and it takes me a while to formulate a response. when one is being interviewed for a podcast one doesn’t have that kind of time.
anyway, hopefully it will make sense and will get people talking about trans issues. i provided a bunch of resources that will hopefully give some folks some education about trans issues.
what i really long for is the day when we can have a conversation about queer theology that doesn’t involve apologetics. i want to have a conversation about the richness of queer theology. i want to talk about how my theology keeps me queer. i want to talk about the radical message of jesus and move past conversations where trans folks have to defend their right to exist. (travis (my interviewer) did not make me defend myself, he was great! but it’s still the larger purpose of doing trans education especially in churches).
i realize and understand how important trans 101 is for folks. but what is also important is for folks to do their own work and to realize that we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. churches have been grappling with these issues for years and trans people of faith have been sharing their stories for years. we need to tap in to some of that collective wisdom. again, this isn’t a critique of this podcast, just a general reflection.
i wrestle, sometimes, with how and if to answer people’s questions. earlier this week i once again explained to an old friend that i had transitioned. and once again i got asked “so are you male now, like with all of the parts?” and i understand where this person was coming from. i understand people are curious/ignorant and don’t know what’s appropriate. but i wonder sometimes if i am enabling people’s ignorance when i answer these types of questions. i answer them because i would rather they ask me then have them ask someone else who might be triggered by that question, or who would be really hurt or offended. i answer questions because i want people to have information, because i believe that acceptance comes when people know someone who is trans, etc. but at the same time, when i agree to answer these questions do i keep people from doing their own necessary work?
at the same time i want to speak for myself and for my own experience. i don’t want cisgender folks to speak for me (not even gay and lesbian cisgender folks). i am capable of sharing my own experience. and when there are people in the world like andrew marin (who i refuse to link to) who puts himself out there as an authority on speaking about gay and lesbian issues (even though he’s straight) and the church (even though privately he still thinks being gay is a sin, while refusing to answer the question publicly) then i know that i need to be able to speak for myself and to speak for myself as a person of faith.
if you really want to be an ally; do your homework. if you really want to include trans voices in the emergent (or any) conversation; do your homework. and then allow trans people to speak for themselves. allow trans people to speak about their experiences while not also having to do gender 101 for you. allow trans people to speak about things other than being trans! because, believe it or not, our lives are more than just our gender identities (just like yours).
let’s educate ourselves and move the conversation forward.
i am really glad that i had the opportunity to be interviewed tonight, even as i worry about sounding inarticulate. even as i know that i didn’t say enough and that i am only one voice. even as i know that in a lot of ways my being interviewed is problematic because i am yet another white dude speaking. but i hope that it opens doors; that it does more good than harm, that it adds to a larger conversation in some way.