Growing up in an evangelical Christian home, my family was invested in maintaining certain Judeo-Christian holiday traditions. Easter Sunday was no exception; it was a day rooted in chocolate pastels, family dinner, and most notably for me: new accessories.
Regardless of my gender assigned at birth, I've always loved accessories.
I went through a time early in my transition where you would not find me without a bow tie, suspenders, and socks that matched some part of my outfit—just ask any of my law school cohort. (For the record, I am still committed to the sock component of this style.) As my parents were frugal spenders, the one time during the year that I received a new outfit, besides the beginning of a new school year or Christmas, was Easter.
Each year, my sister and I received a new dress, socks, and, most exciting to me, an Easter hat to match; some years we even received gloves. We also received fresh flowers to wear on our wrists, or in my case, on my lapel, which I began requesting as soon as I saw that my Dad and brother did not wear wrist flowers.
I think that these gifts were often provided or at least supplemented by my grandparents. Without fail, until I was a teenager and resisted all markers of femininity, I was pleased and proud to emerge from the house each Easter Sunday in fresh, new clothes and some crisp accessories. There was something about attending Easter Sunday service with my whole family, decked out in a new outfit, that made me feel more connected to the story of Resurrection.
Together, my family rose again from the old ways and into new, truer and committed versions of ourselves, or at least newer outfits.
The concept of resurrection as an overnight-new-clothes-hanging-on-the-door phenomenon began to change as my identity as an LGBT young person emerged. Eventually, I stopped receiving new clothes for Easter because I refused to wear clothes typically recognized as “feminine,” and that’s all my grandmothers were interested in buying for me.
Later on during high school, getting me to attend church services at all, let alone in any formal attire, became a struggle that often resulted in gender-neutral clothing compromises like slacks and a button-down shirt. My family would sometimes lament my attire, in comparison to the gender conforming attire of my siblings, who continued to receive new clothes and accessories each Easter.
As a young adult pursuing my sense of self both separately and simultaneously within Christian and LGBTQ communities, I began connecting more to the practice of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, where we are invited to reflect with honesty about our lives and to struggle for meaningful truths in our faith.
I thought a lot about Jesus’ fasting in the desert, and his temptations to deny what he knew to be true.
Jesus, like myself and many other trans people, knew who he was from the start. I like to think of Easter as a time for Jesus to celebrate others coming into that knowledge as well.
Perhaps it’s obvious, but these ideas resonated with me deeply as a young person who was wrestling with the truths of who I loved, who I was, and people’s reaction to those realties.
In college and after graduation, I took time away from the communities of faith that tried to strip me of my identity as a queer, gender non-conforming person. Later, during law school, I had to step away from family members, friendships, and relationships that were unaccepting when I owned my identity as a trans man.
As an adult, I have resurrected my own practice of a new accessory (or two) to mark the Easter season.
I have also come to view Easter as a time to celebrate my struggle to accept and resurrect my own trans life, year after year, letting go of the old and welcoming the truth.
Photo by Jill M