Ask the Anarchist Reverend is a weekly feature here on the site. If you have a question you’d like to ask, you can send me an email (anarchistreverend at gmail), find me on twitter, or submit your question using formspring.
I’m curious if you’re perception of Christ and/or the Trinity has changed as your gender identity has changed?
There are a couple of different answers to this question. On the one hand it is hard to tell if my gender transition has shifted my view of God, Christ, and the Trinity or if it’s simply my leaving the fundamentalist evangelical church of my childhood and deconstructing what I believed for so long. On the other hand there has been a continued shift in my thinking as I have transitioned. And it’s not so much a shift of how I understand God (although there is some of that), but it’s more a shift in the entire way that I approach my spiritual life and understanding of theology.
Growing up God was this being that was far away. A being who I believed loved me but who’s love was rather fickle. God was a Father who was waiting for me to screw up and when I did I would be swiftly punished. God was rather distant. Kind of standoffish most of the time (although there were some moments when I felt God drawing close to me).
When I came out as queer I had to do a lot of unpacking of what I believed, not necessarily what I believed about God but how I understood the Bible and theology. My Spiritual life became more of an intellectual problem to solve. I had to explain the verses that I thought condemned queer people, I had to grapple with historicity and a literal reading of the Bible. It was all education. And it was shortly after this first coming out that I enrolled in seminary where the intellectual education continued.
I was in seminary when I came out as trans* and in some ways it was easier than coming out as queer because I had already done a lot of the deconstruction work. I didn’t have the fears that I was condemning myself to Hell, I had long stopped believing in that kind of God and that brand of Christianity.
The biggest gift, though, of my transition was the way it united my head and my heart. In some ways this uniting echoed the uniting I was feel in a very real, concrete way in my body: I was no longer spirit disconnected from body, but I was a whole person for the first time in a very long time. My medical transition allowed me to reclaim my body and to feel like I was fully inhabiting it. I think this visceral experience has carried over into other areas of my life: I can’t stand feeling fragmented anymore because I lived fragmented for so long.
So in this physical space I have also shifted how I experience theology and God. The most visible change in how is how I understand Christ. Whereas before I couldn’t really grasp the crucifixion story or find meaning in the resurrection my transition changed that. Suddenly I saw my own transition experience written into the Gospels and it was indeed good news. (You can read more about that in the trans* passion narrative I have written.) Understanding my transition as a crucifixion and a resurrection has allowed me to no longer view my faith as either emotional or intellectual: now it is both. Not only that, this shift allowed me to reexamine the way I approach Scripture. It is no longer literal truth, nor is it just an historical puzzle to be solved instead it is a story that I find myself in. And it is a story that continues to illuminate and hopefully change how I live my life. I am both found in the story and challenged by it.
I enter into the story of Jesus more deeply now and understand God as someone who is intimately concerned with my wholeness and embodiment (and not just mine, but the wholeness and embodiment of all people). There is an interplay with head and heart and body now. Maybe it’s like the dance of the Trinity waltzing together into wholeness and new understanding. It is a gift I wasn’t expecting, but one for which I am so thankful.
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