My first few months of college were a rough time. I was struggling to find who I was and where I fit in. I dealt with loneliness and even cried myself to sleep on many occasions. This lasted throughout my entire first semester and even about a month into the second half of Freshman year. It was at this time that I found my comfort in God.
I remember one particular time praying with friends where God felt tangible and present in the session. It was at this time that I started to seek God more passionately. I attended campus worship services and church on a regular basis and, for once in my life, I enjoyed it. I had become a born-again Christian.
At first, the message was simple. I was loved just for being me. Then, along the way of exploring my faith, it became more complicated. My gender identity issues I dealt with through middle school and high school followed me to college.
I wanted to seek out a relationship with God, but in doing so I felt like I had to keep my silent battle I was fighting a secret.
I always feared that if I ever admitted to feeling like I was a woman it would mean rejection from the very community where I found solace. I always silently prayed for two things in those days: that I would meet the woman I was meant to marry and start a family and that God would take away my struggles with my gender identity. I felt like my options were either to fight my whole life to be a good Christian man or to transition and, in doing so, accept that I would be back to living a lonely life.
I looked for outs in my friends at the time. I found ways to ask if it was a sin to be transgender without making it obvious that I was having a hard time with that very question. I received all the stock answers: that it was a perversion, that it is going against God’s design and that God doesn’t make mistakes.
When I eventually did come out after college, it took me some time to reconcile my gender identity with my faith. I still had a hard time with the question about whether God makes mistakes. If the God I worship is perfect, how then did I end up as a woman born into a man’s body.
As I have gotten to know God better, I feel like my gender identity is no mistake.
I have questioned many times whether being transgender is a blessing or a curse. On one hand, I have seen how people can be marginalized and treated like something less than human just because of who they are. I have met many transgender people who have turned away from the church from being told that who they are is an abomination before God. On the other hand, I have also witnessed unconditional love and acceptance from a church where I had no expectations as to how my coming out would go over.
I remember my pastor telling me that perhaps the reason why I am who I am is so that I can show others how we are to love all of God’s children. In my journey to expressing my true self, I feel like I have developed a new understanding of God. I stopped seeing God as some distant being and started seeing that God truly is with us. I started to see that God works through people and was working in my life through the network of love and support I had through the difficult first few months of living openly as my self.
In a conversation, I was asked who Jesus is to me. The answer that immediately came out of my mouth was, “God with us.” In getting to know Jesus as God with us, I feel like I am starting to understand why I was given the life I have.
I found it remarkable the method in which God would choose to come be among us. He would have been an outcast in the time and society when he lived just based on how he was born.
I feel like Jesus would have known what it was like to be an outcast. Even still, he preached a message of love.
The calling for all Christians is to live a Christ-like life. As a transgender person, I know how it feels to be an outcast. I feel like I am living my calling by being my authentic self and modeling the love for all people that Jesus preached.
I do not believe that my gender identity is a mistake. As I have gotten to know God better through living the life I have set before me, I have come to understand that being transgender is truly something special. I have gotten to see our world in ways most people don’t see. I have seen both the good and the ugly side of human nature.
Most importantly, I have come to truly see that I, and everyone else that I will ever meet, is a beloved child of God.