“Why would anyone choose to be gay or trans? We’re hated and denied rights. It’s terrible.”
“Yes, I’m gay but I’m just like you! I want the same things.”
“I’m just a normal guy. Yes. I’m trans but I’m exactly the same as you.”
In the quest for equality; for access to medical care, for the right to get married, for laws to be passed ensuring our ability to rent and buy houses or to purchase wedding cakes many of us have used language like the statements above. We have created entire political campaigns based on “we’re your neighbors and we are just like you.”
It’s not that this sentiment is bad, per se, but it’s not enough. It’s not complete. And it dulls the light that queer and trans people have to give to the world.
Instead I say this:
“Your queerness and transness is a gift to you from God. And you are God’s gift to the world.”
Not because you can fit in. Not because you are just like everyone else. But because you see the world differently. Because you experience the world differently.
I am a pretty normal and boring guy. And also, I have experiences and ways of seeing the world that cisgender men don’t have. The ways that I have moved through the world as a transgender person, the work that I have had to do to come to terms with my own body, the fighting I have had to do to claim my faith and my place in the church means that I see the world different than cisgender men. And instead of that making me “less than” as a man, it makes me uniquely suited to build a healthy masculinity for myself, for the church, and for the world.
My queerness and transness isn’t something to “get over” or “move past” it’s something to claim with pride and with gratitude.
I’ve often said that if I were born a cisgender man into the environment that I was born into I would be an asshole today. Why? Because I had all of the gifts and desires and callings that were prized in that community. I am a leader. I am called to ministry. I am creative and innovative. Had I been born a cis male those gifts would have been lauded. I would have been mentored and given access to resources. And I would have never (or at least probably not as soon and as thoroughly as I did) questioned the theology and church I was raised in. I have no doubt that I would be leading a huge conservative evangelical church and preaching all sorts of bad theology. Being transgender saved me.
Being queer and/or transgender is a gift. It is a gift to see the world through different eyes. It is a gift to know who you true family and friends are. It is a gift to be able to build a family based on love and commitment. It is a gift to have to work to discover yourself, to learn to love yourself (because when you do your love is so much stronger and more deeply rooted).
Our theology is not cheap because we have worked for it. Our faith is not cheap because we have fought for it. There are no rote traditions here because we have worked for the ones that we have and we have kept the ones that give life.
We are a gift to the church because we see differently. We understand resurrection in ways that are intimate and profound. We read Scripture with eyes that are wide open and see hidden things. We infuse liturgy and worship with life because we know that none of it should be taken for granted.
We bring new understandings to what it means to be family, to what commitment looks like, to how to care for your community and neighbor. We bring new understanding to the fight for justice and how to get what you need when the government doesn’t care about you.
We are a gift to the church and the world and it’s time we start owning that. It’s time we start claiming that. Let’s banish “I’m just like you” from our vocabulary and instead build a movement that claims “We see with unique eyes and you need what we see.”
Because the world needs us. The world needs us to survive and to thrive and to reinvent how we do things. We can and we will.
Because our queer and/or trans identities are a gift.