Just Another Human

Two years ago I wrote this post when I came out publicly as transgender. Hard to believe that was two years ago. I thought of that post as my first and last coming out. I did it. My heart was pounding as I hit that post button but it was done and I felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. Everyone knew my business so it was no longer something people would question. But… as time goes on you meet new people. People at work or etc that don’t know your past.. and therefore the process starts all over again.

One of my biggest fears is that when other people find out I’m trans is that they will see me differently. As something other than just another guy. People seem to look at you differently once they find out. It is almost as if they look at you longer, trying to think of what you used to look like, or what is in your pants… or maybe it is genuine curiosity. I get that, humans are curious beings.

I’m just another guy, just another human who has a different than average past. I’ve seen two different worlds without having to travel a mile but, just like you I go to work, I live, breathe, and bleed the same. I can be fun, hard working, loving, and let’s be real…I can be an asshole, but don’t make that judgement just based on me being transgender.

I struggle daily thinking about attending church or just meeting random people that if they knew of my transition perhaps they would not accept me or want me to be there.  Which also leads me to wonder… for those of which transitioning is against their beliefs what would be your hope for me today? If you were to pray for my soul and salvation, what would that prayer look like?

I can’t help but wonder.

All in all, what matters most is that I accept myself and I am finally in a place where I can say that I do. It is transgender awareness month, but ironically I found myself doing something I never thought that I would. I started deleting old photos of myself from Facebook so that new people from my life wouldn’t find out I was trans. The truth is that my past has made me who I am today and I will continue to be proud of that. Being trans has made me a more accepting and compassionate person. It has taught me that you cannot judge someone based on their past or ever know what someone is truly going through on the inside.

me.jpg

I knew who I was when I was little, but somewhere down the road I let fear of what others thought of me get in the way.

IMG_0878.JPG

This is a pretty drastic comparison photo… but it just shows that you really can not ever know what someone is going through just by looking at them.

On the left: My wedding day. The day I completely lost myself.

The right: My first bodybuilding competition. The day I stepped on stage completely exposed in order to heal from all those days of hiding.

Advertisements

Igniting The Fire

No matter what I do, I don’t think I will ever forget this date. May 17th 2008. Eight years ago today, I got married. Eight years ago. Perhaps I should think about moving on with my life. There is a certain sadness that revolves around this date, but it isn’t the loss of a marriage that brings the sadness… It reminds me of a time that I surrendered the fire that I once had in me for something I thought I had to do. Never again will I surrender my life.

It is kind of a trip when I look back at the old photos or video of that day. It seems like a whole other life ago. It doesn’t even feel like that is me walking down that aisle. I want to simultaneously slap and hug myself. I had no idea who I was, nor did I have any idea that I was letting fear lead my life.

At the time, I thought that the life I was leading was what God wanted for me. I was a devout Christian. I went to church every Sunday, I tried to be a living example, I saved myself for marriage and I found someone who I thought also shared the same faith and morals. Life seemed to be going as it should… but what I didn’t realize at the time was that I wasn’t following God with love, I was following with fear.

There are a couple of things in life that are powerful at bringing people together. Those things are love, and fear.

I felt the fear of God’s wrath way stronger than I felt God’s love. I think that often many churches or relationships are built more on fear than they are on love. Fear of consequence, fear of judgement, fear of hell, fear of abandonment.

After my divorce, and at the beginning of my coming out process the only way that I was able to move away from fear was when I asked myself. “What if there is no God?” What if this is all for nothing and I am just creating my own personal hell on earth? The only way that I could get rid of my fear, was by abandoning God.

There is something wrong here.

I was taught God’s “love” in a way that it was all or nothing. You follow him, or you don’t. It is hell or heaven, right or wrong. Have you heard the good news? Sounds more like an abusive relationship to me.

I had an abusive relationship with God and I broke up with them. I stormed out the door middle finger in the air and never looked back until I realized that my relationship with God was built off of fear.

I no longer hold onto anger when thinking about God. People often ask how I can be trans and believe in God. My simplest answer to that is that although I believe in God, I still don’t believe in the God I did when I got married.

So what do I believe in now?

I think I am still on a path at discovering who God is to me, but so far I do know that God is love.

God is those moments where you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of love, joy, gratefulness and peace. Maybe you find God in the sunsets, or the sunrise, the moments in nature where you stop, take a deep breath and are overwhelmed with sense of being completely present in that moment. Maybe you find God at a concert, or during worship. The music overrides your body and that sense of presence brings warmth to your life. God is in those moments when you share love, compassion, and joy with others. God can feel and mean something different to everyone. That is why it is a “personal relationship”.

As I walked down that aisle eight years ago…I never would have guessed I would be where I am at in my life today. May 17th, 2008 doesn’t exactly carry the same meaning with it that I thought it would. It is not an anniversary to celebrate, but instead it is a life marker to look back on and see how far I have come.  May 17th 2008 is perhaps a record of one of the poorest decisions in my life… ( lucky you if you were there to witness it! ) but what has come out of it has opened my eyes, helped me grow, and help me become a more resilient and appreciative person. This date is now a reminder to always live with fire and follow what I am most passionate about and do what makes makes me feel most alive.

If nothing else, at least I can say that I have been married, divorced, gay, and transitioned from female to male all under the age of 30. Imagine what I can say by the time I am 40.

“God is the absence of fear, for there is no fear in love.”

IMG_7832

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_6688

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter

It was brought to my attention that there is a local church here doing a sermon series called “Battle for the Black & White Choosing Christ Over Culture.” I was curious so I decided to check it out. Here is a video preview about the sermon series.

You can listen to the sermons here. or through iTunes.

I have listend to all of the sermons in the series so far, but I can no longer keep quiet. I have decided to write an open letter to the pastor. Here it is:

Dear Pastor Phil,

I am writing to you today regarding your recent sermon series called “The Battle For The Black and White. Choosing Christ Over Culture.” First off I wanted to thank you for teaching love and compassion. Often times these things are over-looked and forgotten but they are some of the greatest reflections of Christ. I admire you for standing up for what you believe is God’s voice.

In your sermons you speak about all humans being broken, and focus on those who may have been born with certain bad inclinations or that are “walking through the waters of same sex attraction”. I am one of these people. I am transgender.

I know that I am broken, but I don’t believe that being transgender is what makes me broken. I grew up in the church and went to a Christian school. I believed the same things that you teach about in your sermons. I spent years of my life trying to fight these “inclinations”. I did everything that I thought God would have wanted me to do. I went to church, I prayed, I read my Bible, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, and I saved myself for marriage. I fought this “battle” as hard as I could only to find that it left me feeling empty, depressed, and incredibly angry at God. I can guarantee you that the years of my life I spent fighting and trying to do what I thought was right, was the time in my life that I hurt the most people and was the most destructive.
I thought that I had to make a choice. I either had to choose God or to be Gay or to transition. Since coming out, medically transitioning, being transparent, and living as authentically as I can, I am seeing clearer now more than ever how God has worked in my life and that I don’t have to choose. 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. I know in my heart that God cares for me, he loves me, and he supports me. I know that your concern for other people’s salvation and morality is coming from a place of love but battling for the black and the white doesn’t get rid of the gray areas. It only creates secrecy and shame. I spent so many years of my life hiding due to shame. It was some of the darkest times in my life and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

I am not writing you this letter to argue Biblical interpretation or science. All I have is my own story and life experiences to share. You spoke about caring for those of us who are homosexual or transgender. You prayed for us, you encouraged your congregation to get rid of any prejudices, to invite us over for dinner, to have compassion, and to love us. You shared your message, and your beliefs. I challenge you to listen. Let us share with you our stories, and our journeys. Get to know us on a more personal level, immerse yourself in our community and practice empathy. We are all human. God gave us all a soul, and each soul has its own unique journey.

 

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 🙂

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I had my first Facebook unfriending as a result of this blog. Although I expected the possibility of losing friends, I guess I wasn’t really prepared for it, nor could I have been. I have no regrets about anything I have posted, but it still hurts, and it frustrates me. No one likes to be rejected, no matter what the circumstances. I think the most frustrating part of all is the fact that this person is a “Christian”. I have had them in my home, I have cooked them dinner. Yet now, they want nothing to do with me. How does that even fit into the Christian principles they have been taught? If Jesus had Facebook he would definitely still be my friend…along with his 12 disciples.

It is Christians like this that make it so hard for the gay community to trust them. So many have been hurt that they want nothing to do with God or the church. I have learned to separate people from God and know that he still loves me, and is always there for me, even when his people are not. I also want to point out that I am incredibly grateful for those who have remained my friend, who have read my blog, who have listened, and although may not understand…have tried. It means more to me than you could imagine.

I can’t deny that I am still frustrated. I am frustrated with the Christian community, and even with the gay community. There is ignorance on both sides. The Christian community is overly focused on the idea of love the sinner hate the sin… or that being gay is an abomination that they fail to see that we are human beings just like them that pray to the same God. The gay community has been so hurt by the Christian community that they automatically assume that all Christians hate them and don’t give them a second chance. Not all Christians are against gay people. Not all Christians think it is a sin. There are plenty of them out there that are the most empathetic, understanding, loving, and Christ like people. There are churches out there that are accepting of Gay people… but why are there only certain churches? We are creating a sense of segregation and it is pathetic. We are all people. We are all sinners, and no matter what, in the end– love wins. There shouldn’t be gay churches and regular churches. If there is only one God, then why are we creating such a spiritual battle which in the end only leads to people being hurt?

There are so many different sins out there.. and lets say being gay was in fact a sin… why is the church so focused on this one issue? There are liars, thieves, murderers, adulterers…etc. all of these labels/sins have a negative affect on other people around them, however, being gay does not. We still contribute positively to the people around us. We are good people. We are not out to recruit, or corrupt your children. Nor are we contagious. We are simply just different, but not that different. We want to be accepted, acknowledged, and loved, just like everyone else.

Know My Heart

I was driving home from work the other night, trying to be careful to keep an eye out for deer or any other furry road bumps that could lead to my premature death, when a thought popped into my head. What if I were to crash and die right now? What would God say to me? How would he judge me? Would I go to hell like I have been told I would because I’m gay? I got nervous and began to think of what I would say to defend myself from the fiery pits of hell. Then suddenly a sense of calm came over me and the words “God knows your heart.” came to mind. God knows my heart. It is that simple. I don’t have to defend myself to God, I don’t have to explain myself, or try to convince him that I am still a good person. He created me, he knows me. He gets me. We’re tight like that.

I admit, there was a long period of time where I was very angry with God, and sometimes even questioned his existence. I have reached a point where the anger is no longer there and I am more much more open to his presence. I know he is there. I know he exists. But I don’t entirely know what it means.

I am finding that my views of God don’t exactly align with the faith that I was brought up with. I don’t think I should have to choose between gay or God. I used to think that this was my only option, which is what made me so angry and resentful towards Him in the first place. According to what I was taught, I would either have to choose a life alone, or go through some sort of magical conversion therapy to turn me straight. I feel like conversion therapy should be called denial enforcement therapy. Denial definitely didn’t make me straight, it made me a liar, and it made me miserable.

In one of my last therapy sessions with my therapist that was trying to get me into conversion therapy I told her how I didn’t think that someone who was an “ex gay” that married someone of the opposite sex would be able to be fair to themselves or their partners. I asked her. “Would you marry an ex gay man?” She hesitated and thought about it for a minute and then went on to tell me that some people have done it and now have families with kids. Hate to break it to her but that means absolutely nothing. Procreation, or a legally binding document stating you are married to someone of the opposite sex does not mean that you are cured of homosexuality. I may know this from experience.

I think one of the things that people don’t get about homosexuality is that it isn’t all about sex. ( So get your mind out of the gutter ). It’s about love. Sex and love are two different things. I can NOT fall in love with someone of the opposite sex. It just isn’t there. There are no butterflies, no excitement, no emotional connection or yearning for affection. I feel nothing. Absolutely nothing. People have sex with people they don’t love all the time. It is called meaningless sex. I happen to be someone who can’t do this. I am just not wired that way.

If there is one belief I have that I find still aligns with the faith that I was brought up with it is having a personal relationship with God. I still feel I have that, and sometimes it is the only thing I have left to comfort me when I am exhausted with trying to show that I am still me. I am still a person that just wants to love and be loved.