Love The Sinner

“Love the sinner hate the sin” not much can get my blood boiling faster than this phrase. It is only a reminder of how far we have to go in order to breakdown the barriers between the church and the LGBT community. I think that generally, the church is still pretty lost in its stance with the LGBT community. There has been some progress and there are churches that welcome LGBT people with open arms… but then there are those who are still confused. They find themselves questioning how to love. Which seems pretty strange for a religion that follows Jesus; the most loving and accepting  man to have ever walked this earth.

The biggest problem with the phrase “love the sinner hate the sin” is that it was created without people ever really learning how to love. It takes out any personal connection, it’s vague, distant, and hurtful. Just because your view of theology doesn’t agree with someone else’s, doesn’t mean you can’t see the good in someone and fully embrace them with love first, just as Christ embraces you first. He doesn’t wait until you get your get your act together. He embraces you just as you are. Broken, and a sinner. You do not have to agree with the way someone lives their life in order to completely embrace and show that same love. Focus less on how to “live right” and more on how to love right.

There is a very specific type of venom that Christians spew when they feel they are defending God. Unfortunately the LGBT community has fallen victim to this venom for many years now, and it has led to a lot of pain, hurt, and anger. So how do we fix this? What is the anti-venom?

Love, empathy, and respect.

I think one of the biggest fears that Christians have is that fully embracing someone who is LGBT will create this image that they condone their “lifestyle” ( this word makes me cringe. ) Or that it is doing the other person a disservice by not keeping them in line with God. But, here is the thing. That is not your job. Other people’s salvation, is not your responsibility, nor is it in your hands. God is always doing his work in you, do you not have faith that God is also doing his work in others? Embrace with love before anything else.

I think it is pretty easy to enforce your convictions on someone else if you don’t personally know someone who is gay, or transgender. I feel like many people in the church hold certain assumptions about the LGBT community because they have never really had a personal encounter or experience with it. Believe it or not, but we do more than just frequent the local gay bars and parade through the streets with rainbow flags. Our community is more than just one big gay pride parade. We are your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. Most importantly, we are human beings. Just. like. you. We are human beings that need and deserve love and respect. How would it make you feel if people just made assumptions about you without truly knowing who you were as a person?

I think people have gotten so caught up in their own fears , assumptions and insecurities. Barriers that seem impossible to break down have been built off of a lot of misunderstanding…but I don’t think it is too late. So how do we break down the barriers?

It may seem too simple, but remember when you were little and you did something that hurt someone else? Your mother, teacher, or etc would hold you by the shoulders, bring you face to face with that other person, have you look them in the eyes and tell you to apologize.  ( twice if it didn’t sound like you meant it ) It was never a pleasant experience but necessary to move on.  Unfortunately apologies don’t get any easier in adulthood…but they are just as meaningful. Perhaps, this could be the best way to start.

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Realize

IMG_6907Today marks seven years since my wedding day. Although it seems like a blur there are specific moments that continue to flash through my mind. I remember coming through the doors to walk down the aisle and not knowing what emotions I was supposed to be feeling. Was I supposed to cry? What did I feel? Physically I felt naked and hungry, but emotionally I felt numb. It was the kind of life I had watched unfold in movies, but it was not the life I had imagined for myself. I never imagined myself as a wife. It all makes a little more sense now.

I don’t remember much of the reception afterwards, but I remember dancing to the song “Realize”. by Colbie Caillat for our first dance. That song will forever remind me of this day, the first dance, and the moment I realized the man I was dancing with had no idea who I was.

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I have realized a few things since this day seven years ago….

1. Life is short. Live it for yourself. No one is going to live your life for you, so don’t live like that is even a possibility. Don’t let other people’s opinions hijack your life.

2. Shame can kill. The less secrets you have, the less it allows for room for shame in your life. Being vulnerable is hard, but secrecy, silence, and judgement are breeding grounds for shame. Everyone always says “I’m only human.” Show people just how human you are. Empathy is key.

3. If it scares you, do it. Doing the very thing you are afraid of, can set you free. Fuck fear.

4. Failure is your greatest teacher. We learn some of our biggest life lessons from mistakes or failure. As long as you learn from it, failure doesn’t exist. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….

5. Follow your passion, dream big, and never give up. Persevere.

6. Never follow blindly. Ignorance is not bliss. Ask questions, do your research, keep your mind open and never stop learning.

7. Surround yourself with good people who support you, encourage you, have your back, and always push you to better yourself and call you on your shit.

8. It’s okay to say no. Know your limits. If you don’t want to do something. Don’t do it. There is a difference between being selfish, and self preservation.

9. Patience. You can’t always get what you want WHEN you want it. Things you want to achieve may seem impossible… but it may just take some time. I feel like transitioning has been a huge test of patience. Life is such a weird balance between being patient and taking action.

10. Love yourself. It sounds cliche but I didn’t realize how important this one was until now. Not loving yourself first is a sure way to find your way into a bad relationship of any sorts. Relationships are not meant to feed an emotional hunger. It is like feeding your body empty calories. It may satisfy you for a short time, but in the long run it doesn’t nourish you, and is bad for your health. If you are not okay alone, you can’t be okay in a relationship.

All of these realizations are an everyday work in progress for me. I am definitely not patient, I am still driven by fear, but I am learning how to use it as a motivator, instead of letting it debilitate me. I still hate being vulnerable and let feelings of shame creep up on me, but I am taking back my life and living it for myself. I am slowly learning to love myself, and will not allow for my life to be hijacked ever again.

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Life looks a little different than it did 7 years ago.

 

 

 

The Journey

It has been awhile since I have posted. The last time I posted I wrote of My Truth. I have been trying to decide how much truth is too much, I am a pretty private person but in this case I want to be as transparent as possible. I have nothing to hide, and maybe it will help someone else. This is my life, and my journey. I am proud of it, and I will continue to share it openly. Since my last blog post I have started another phase of my medical transition. I started taking hormones in order for my outside appearance to match who I feel on the inside. On December 11th 2014 I received my first shot of testosterone.

I wasn’t sure that I would ever medically transition, or that I would even have the means to do so… but  having been on testosterone for a little over 3 months now, I know that medically transitioning was the best decision I’ve ever made.

If you have heard my voice lately, you may have thought I was sick. Nope, that is just me going through my second puberty. Although testosterone will help me match more of who I feel on the inside, it also brings along with it the awesomeness that is puberty. Voice squeaks, body hair, acne… moodiness. Oh to be 16 again. Despite the not so pleasant second puberty, I am finally starting to see myself. Someone asked me if the extra body hair was weird for me. Surprisingly no. I feel pretty comfortable with all of the changes that are happening to my body. This is how it always should have been. This is how everything should have happened in the first place.

I have been asked if I am mad at God for being transgender. I have definitely gone through my stages of anger and sadness, but I can firmly say that I am not mad. Every person has their own unique journey on this earth. Maybe God meant to make being transgender a part of mine. I don’t know why I wasn’t born male and didn’t get the chance to always be in the right body, but I am thankful for the things that I have learned from it and how much stronger it has made me. Being transgender has taught me acceptance, kindness, resilience, and gratefulness. I can get angry for how hard this journey has been, how much shame I have had to overcome, or how much it has cost me (money-wise)  so far just to feel more comfortable in my own skin… but the perspective I have gained is priceless.

My beliefs are something that had me toggling with the idea of medically transitioning for awhile. To change your body so drastically is a pretty big no no. I was created in God’s image. I didn’t forget this. Nor did I forget that God does not have a gender. The God I was taught to believe in valued our souls over anything else. My soul was created in his image… and it remains unchanged

My transition has not only  been a transition for me, but those around me as well.  I know that name and pronoun changes are no easy task and I am so thankful for those around me that have been so supportive. I couldn’t do it without you. ( Special shout out to my Crossfit community ). I am excited to see where else this journey takes me, and continue to live as my authentic self.

 

Note: If you ever have any questions, I am an open book. Don’t hesitate to ask. I like questions 🙂

My Truth

It is transgender awareness month, and today specifically marks the 16th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day to memorialize and honor transgender persons who have lost their lives to murder, or suicide.

226 transgender people were murdered this year. All because of their gender identity. It is hard to believe the hatred that exists in this world. Many have fought long and hard in an effort to beat homophobia. While we are making great strides in ending homophobia and working towards equality, people are failing to realize that transphobia is real, and strides to overcome it are much shorter.

There are many transgender people that live among you. Although they are not as visible of a community… they are there. Transgender people often struggle just to make it through a day. Maybe they are fearing that someone will find out their secret, perhaps they may be unsafe, or fear that they may face ridicule. In some cases they face so much hardship that they opt out of life all together.

Being transgender is not easy. I feel so sad for those that have lost their lives. It is unfair that their lives were ended prematurely. Life is short..and because of this I am choosing to live mine more honest, open, and true. I feel the only way we can bring change and progress is to be proud, tell our stories, and share with people in order to help educate them.

To my co-workers, I am Amber. I am a quiet twenty-something lesbian. To my close friends, I am Codi. A twenty-something female to male transgender. I have always been a boy, but somewhere along the lines nature betrayed me.

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I’m the boy on the right…

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The boy on the right of the soccer ball.

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Bottem left. I don’t know what I am looking at…

 

I thought I was a boy most of my life. I passed as a boy… and no one knew any different unless my parents told them. I hated the usual girly things like wearing a dress.( I hated going to church on Sunday because of this! )  I played with G.I. Joe’s and wanted to do everything my brother did. Puberty was an incredibly hard and confusing time.

Long story short, because of my religious beliefs somewhere around my second year of college I tried fitting into what I thought I had to be. I started to try and dress a little more feminine… and dated a guy who I ended up marrying and then divorcing three years later. I soon came out as gay but shortly after started realizing that there was something else going on. I wasn’t gay… I was transgender. I was born in the wrong body. This is only a very short version of my story, but the most important part is that this is my truth. 226 people lost their lives this year for living their truth. I am grateful to still be living a life on this earth, and I am going to live it proudly as my authentic self. I am Codi. And I am transgender.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

The key to happiness is an unachievable pursuit. This is something that has been playing out in my mind for a few weeks now. My life has changed a lot within the past few years, and lately I have been getting a little frustrated with myself. I always seem to be reaching for something. Whether it is something that has to do with me, my job, relationships, or etc… ultimately I am just reaching for happiness. But when will I be happy? Will I ever be happy?

Happiness has no finish line. It is not a race, nor is there a path to it. Happiness is more like the pretty flowers along a path. You have to stop and smell the roses. I am not saying that I am not happy right now. I feel pretty fortunate and blessed for where I am at in my life, but I may always have that need for pursuit. I always have this sense of urgency that tells me that I need to push myself to the next step, or the next path in life. Feeling stagnant makes me a little crazy.

Architectural Signage, Way finding Systems, stamped out of metal with lettering embossed or printed,

When I think about what it would be like if happiness did have an end… I think of how boring life would be. It is all about the pursuit, and your state of mind. The end of anything is rarely a happy occasion, ( unless it is after a massage, but hey…those are illegal. ) Lets face it, happy endings in movies are not realistic. Life does not just end after you win over the person you love, after you get the dream job you always wanted, or after surviving the apocalypse. We write our own story but we don’t get to decide when to roll the credits. ( let’s not weigh suicide as an option here. )

I am realizing that happiness relies a lot on your state of mind. There is a lot that we can do to help our state of mind, ( like therapy, exercise, relationships, reaching life goals.. etc ) this is to the extent that we can control the feeling of being happy. I feel more at peace letting go of the fact that there is not ONE simple thing that is going to lead me to my permanent state of happiness. Being happy is a lot like exercise. You have to keep up with it and continue to do the work. You can’t just reach your fitness goal and then stop working out. You have to work to maintain it. Nothing good in life comes without work, not even happiness. People who claim to be happy without trying are not truly happy…they are just truly great at lying, or perhaps did too may damn drugs. ( or are currently on drugs ).

I still have a sense of urgency to find my next path in life, but I am feeling more at peace acknowledging the fact that I am not searching for a finish line to happiness. Life is all about the journey, and you only get one. Enjoy.

Never Stop Dreaming

Here I am, looking out the window of my new apartment while drinking my morning coffee. It feels a bit surreal. I know… moving out into a small apartment in downtown Auburn hardly seems like a dream come true but to me, this small 70’s style apartment feels like a mansion. Okay, maybe not a mansion… but it feels like the coolest tree house on the block. Complete with tire swing and a secret entrance. ( and you are so not getting in without the secret password ). I have waited a long time for this moment, and it feels just as good as I imagined.

Unpacking things is never a fun venture, but as I started to unpack I felt like I was rummaging through remnants of a past life.  I hadn’t touched any of my belongings since I left Germany. As I pulled things out of their boxes I was transported back to some dark times in my life. There were so many memories being unlocked as I continued to go through the boxes filled with previous belongings. My chest felt heavy.  The feeling of being trapped became real again. What would life be like if I would have stayed in my marriage? Where would I be? Who would I be? Life would certainly be different. I have come a long way. Living life honestly is a very powerful thing.

Unpacking the kitchen was probably the strangest room to unpack. I was unpacking the very items that kept me dreaming. My chef knife, my cutting board, pots and pans, etc. I created both meals and dreams with these items.

Same pots and pans, new reflection.

Same pots and pans, new reflection.

I dreamt about going to culinary school, being independent, having a job I enjoyed, living life honestly, and being free.  It is amazing to look back and see how these dreams have come true. It just shows that all you really need to make a dream happen is a little action and a little patience. I still have much more to accomplish within these dreams, but dreams are a journey. They don’t just happen all at once.  Dreams are not wishes. There is a difference between wishful thinking and dreaming. Wishes are things you don’t want to work for. Dreams are thoughts you can put action and effort into making come true.

I know it is important to “be present and live in the moment” but it is okay to dream too. I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember and have always had high expectations of life. There were times when I started to feel impatient and wondered if my dreams were just childish, unrealistic, and a waste of energy.  I realize now that life is so much more meaningful as long as you allow yourself to dream. I feel lost without them. If you want something go get it. Make it happen. Never settle for anything less than what you deserve. Chase your dreams, and don’t let anyone, or anything stop you.

Undercover Rebel

I never really rebelled as a kid. Well, I rebelled a little but I rebelled in different ways. I have always been one to write things out.. one of those things being a “rap” about one of my high school teachers that I was not very fond of. He was kind of a creeper and flirted with the high school cheerleaders. He taught our physical science class but we learned a lot less about science, and a lot more about how music with a beat was a product of Satan. Well, then thanks Satan for creating some serious ear candy.

One day freshman year I decided I had had enough of his mindless banter so I decided to write a rap about him. I wish I still had it lying around somewhere. If I ever find it… watch out Macklemore. I believe the rap addressed girls getting their letter grades based on their bra sizes… and the fact that his pants were so tight that when he sat down on his lecture stool with legs wide open you could see much more of him than you wanted to. I don’t know how he ever expected us to be able to pay attention when his electrons were hanging out. If I ever need something to blame being gay on, I can just blame it on my high school science teachers male camel toe. That was some scary shit.

I had shown my new found talent for insulting teachers with rhythmic charm to a few friends. We had a good laugh and that was that…until a year later. One day my sophomore year of high school I was sitting in my math class. Algebra 1b to be exact. One of the office assistants walked in the classroom and handed me one of the prized pink office slips. Lucky me. I never got these things… but hey, if it meant getting out of class, it was a good day. The slip read that I should go see the vice principle. Hm. Strange. Perhaps there was some sort of confusion… Off to the office I went. As soon as I stepped into the vice principles office and had a seat I looked over at her. She had a concerned look on her face. What in the world was going on? Finally she started talking and told me that on her way to a woman’s retreat apparently my mom had found my rap as funny as I did and decided to bring it along to show it to the other ladies from the school. The vice principle being one of them. Part of me was proud that my mom found it funny, the other part of me was mad that she didn’t realize that showing the vice principle my outlet of frustration that I made a year ago wouldn’t get me in trouble. I was in the principles office for something I had done a year ago… because my mom found it funny and showed the vice principle. Thanks Mom. I must say though, I am quite happy that at least my mom has a good sense of humor.

The principle instructed me to bring my notebook containing the lyrics that won me my first office visit to school so we could “destroy it together.” I assured her I had retired from songwriting and agreed without hesitation. I was the good, awkward, quiet kid. I wasn’t asking for trouble. Except, I never returned to destroy that notebook. Everyday I saw her I expected her to come after me for it but strangely she never did. Maybe because she knew the lyrics were true, or perhaps she may have found it at least a little bit funny herself. The notebook containing the prized science teacher camel toe lyrics still exist… yet to be found. I didn’t get in trouble a whole lot in school, but it seems towards the end of my high school career I ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kind of like my accidental involvement in the “sex tape” scandal that happened on one of the buses. That story…coming soon.