Devotion Through Dysphoria

Back in the middle school years, I used to worry that I didn’t look or act like everyone else. I spent a ton of time in front of the mirror trying to learn to change my face with makeup, and even though my personality didn’t suit it, I spent lots of my parent’s money on the clothes that were trendy at the time. When these attempts to blend in didn’t work, I got pretty upset sometimes.

My mom would just smile and hand me some makeup remover, softly reminding me that “God don’t make no junk.”

As I grew up, that phrase stuck with me. When my first girlfriend left, when I failed a geometry test, when I realized I wanted to study writing despite the barren field of jobs available to me, my mother made sure I remembered that I was exactly what God wanted me to be. But that got a little bit harder to believe when I first started becoming aware of my gender identity.

Even within the LGBT community, the T gets forgotten often. Transgender doesn’t just include Male to Female and Female to Male, but is actually an umbrella under which a whole world of gender identities is included. The more time spent in meditation and prayer as I’ve struggled to understand myself, the more I’ve continued to realize that I don’t feel strongly connected to either end of the spectrum.

My identity is genderqueer, as I feel I am neither male nor female, yet both all at the same time.

But there are no gender neutral pronouns in the Bible, or in the vocabularies of the people I’m closest to. It remains “Male” or “Female,” “Boy” or “Girl,” “Miss” or “Sir,” “Lady” or “Gentleman.” How does one express themselves the way they feel they are when they feel like they’re turning their backs on so much of the human experience if they do not pick a side?

The unhappiness with one’s sex as assigned at birth is called gender dysphoria. For most, it’s a strong call to begin transitioning to where they want to be. I have heard a lot of people talk about the transition process with disdain, saying that God makes us the way we are supposed to be; they do not understand the necessity of transition.

Rather, I think God makes us the way we need to be to go about our lives in the direction God has designed.

Each being has a purpose and a journey they must endure, and this unchartered territory of gender identity is part of mine, I know.

At a Reconciling Community event I attended, it was mentioned before we sang the Hymn of Promise that this was the unofficial transgender hymn. I didn’t understand right away, but the lyrics soon made the point clear:

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Transgender people are simply people whose bodies don’t reflect their hearts, and they’re working to grow into who they truly are. I believe they should be met with support and celebration, wherever on the spectrum they may sit, because Christ’s compassion has no borders.

For just as flowers, trees, and butterflies are forever different and diverse yet still all valuable parts of one creation, so are the people of the world.

As for me, I continue to consider the best course of action for myself without losing sight of my faith. God has loved and affirmed me just as I am, and despite my lack of a gender identity, I am not junk. For me, simply the reminder that I am a child of God is enough to know that I am going to be alright, whatever way I pursue peace with myself. 

Originally published on Reconciling Ministries Network; Photo via flickr user rkramer62

Comments (1)

Nicely written. I've struggled a lot myself with accepting my gender identity while being able to stay active in my faith community. It's interesting to learn that the hymn you mentioned is the unofficial transgender hymn since I've always felt a strong connection to the lyrics.

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