The first time I met a transgender person, I wanted to take her home. I wanted to teach her how to walk in high-heeled boots, and I wanted to tell her that young women do not wear tank tops in Virginia winter.
I don’t remember this classmate’s name, but I do recall how others looked at her. I can only imagine how often she wished she were invisible. And yet, she persisted – with her hormone drugs, with her disheveled attempt at feminine beauty, and with her confidence.
In many ways, I envied the guts it took to live her life. But I always wondered, where was her safe place?
Of course, this first encounter was a decade before the controversial LGBT laws were passed in Mississippi and North Carolina, and certainly before many Christians decided to make this their latest crusade.
What about public restrooms?
What about my children’s safety?
And, most importantly, what about Target?
I have seen more articles than I care to read about these issues, and, yet, I have not come across one that discusses the love that believers should extend to transgender individuals. The question I would like to pose is this:
Where is our “safe place” in the Church for those who are transgender?
If others are to know us by our love, why do we only seem willing to acknowledge nontraditional groups when they challenge us with a different worldview on the national stage? To be honest, I think transgender people make us uncomfortable because there isn’t a perfect Sunday school answer that will allow us to transcend our own selves to embrace them. Too often, we bury our heads in the sand when scripture and prayer don’t directly offer a satisfying response. If we pretend it isn’t there, we don’t have to deal with it.
That is, until the media alters the narrative.
[Cue fear factor.]
It is easy to see flaws in others when we don’t know them, but it is harder to see our own weaknesses and insecurities – our own sin. I think God’s arms are big enough for all of us, even if that means we have to get up close and personal with people who unsettle us. In that discomfort, there is potential for incredible growth. And only in that vulnerable growing can we find Christ.
There will always be a bathroom in our hearts that holds fear. But maybe, just maybe, the battle we are fighting so hard to win can only be answered with an open door.