I was given permission by Claire to share her letter. Her wisdom is beyond reproach and we could all learn from her wise words. Please read and think about this.
I received a letter from somebody close to me. The author wanted me to know that Jesus spoke to him and he needed to share the news. Jesus, he said, loves me and so does he. Jesus would die on the cross for me, even if I were the only one who needed saving. Jesus, it seems, loves me and is filled with concern for me, but suggests that this person watch me because there are great things in store for me. I am very precious to Jesus.
I mused about this letter for some time. I shared this letter with a couple close friends and my wife to varying levels of mystification. I will never respond more than the Thank You I have already written, as I very much believe that it will do no good. However, I do want to respond in my own way. So without further ado, an open letter.
Dear Loving Follower of Jesus,
I want to thank you for your words. I believe your words come from your heart and are firmly lodged in a positive and hopeful place. I believe that you are very honest and, given that you expressed a bit of fear regarding my reaction to sharing Jesus's words to you, you were truly scared to open up to me in the way you did.
I don't know if you know this about me, but I do not believe in Jesus as a divine being. For that matter, I do not believe in God at all. I am an atheist. Perhaps this is why you felt that fear when you shared such a deep and personal experience with me.
However, I respect your devotion. Part of me envies your ability to live by a set of principles higher than yourself and devote yourself so completely to something that you cannot prove exists. That's the nature of Faith, isn't it? You know within yourself that Jesus exists even though you cannot point to him. Or show anybody else how you know. Or prove he exists at all. But you know, and that is the basis for everything you do.
I have read and reread your letter and weighed it against past conversations between us. You think I'm making a mistake and that I am to be loved by you and Jesus despite my actions. You think that it hurts Jesus to love me, but he loves me anyway; you think that Jesus would prefer I not do this, but would save me by dying even if I do. You think that Jesus's greatest lesson is the lesson that love must be expressed even when that love is difficult and the loving causes you pain in return.
In the past, you have told me "God does not make mistakes" and this, my friend, is where you truly go wrong. I am not a mistake. We can agree that God does not make mistakes, and yet he made me. He made me as I am - a girl who looks and sounds like a boy. This is me and this is not who I chose to be. Nobody would ever choose this capriciously. Nobody would ever lightly undertake the journey I am on. I have jokingly said to several people in the past, "Bit of advice: Don't be trans". As if I had a choice in the matter! Would that I could go back in time, find the moment when my gender identity settled, go back a little further, and avert that moment.
I had no choice, and neither did anybody else. To use your language: God made us as we are. God does not make mistakes.
You mentioned that Jesus told you he has plans for me. Is it so hard for you to conceive that those plans might be to transition as I am now doing? To teach those around me just a little more about gender? Society? Humanity? Transness? Might Jesus's plans for me be to challenge you? If you believe in divine plans, as I know you do, what about this one?
I came out reasonably late in life, after I had the chance to develop a wild outspokenness and strength to put myself out there. Could Jesus's plan for me go that far back? Could it be that Jesus spent 30 years prepping me for this before giving chance to take the hard road and change one small piece of our society?
Later in your letter you mentioned regret that some months ago I referred to myself as a "freak show". I, too, regret this language. Unfortunately, I often fall prey to the greater societal view of myself now that I am out as a trans woman and mid-transition. I am and am becoming many things of which I want no part. To many, I am a sexual fetish. I am mentally ill. I am deluded. I am a pedophile. I am rapist. I am fake. I will never be more than a man dressed as a woman. I am, sadly, a freak show. (As a friend puts it, a "Fetish of the Patriarchy")
I think we can agree that I am none of these things, and neither are so many other trans people just trying to live their lives. Can we also agree that most of these assumptions are based in fear? Fear of the unknown? Fear of change? Fear of the other? Do you have any of these fears? Is that why you chose to love me despite this one thing? Is that why you choose to ignore this thing during our rare conversations?
I too, have a fear that I would like to share with you. The list of societal negatives about me - cross every one out. Every one, that is, except for one: I am fake. This strikes at my core in ways none of the others can even come close to doing. When we talk directly, or you speak about me to others, you purposely ignore my identity and use masculine pronouns. You are telling me that I am fake. When you engage me in conversation about guy stuff not because I like it, but because you think I should like it, you tell me I am fake.
One day, I hope you realise how much pain and anxiety this causes. One day, I hope you weep for the tears I have shed on account of you and others who do this to me. I hope you weep for tears other trans people have shed for the same reason. You think you do it out of love and support - to help us not be trans - but you are transparent. You do it because you cannot face that which you do not understand and fear. You do not do it to support us even in your own corrupt way, but to soothe your own mind and faith that cannot accept the challenge we present. You soothe yourself at my expense. Weep for that, friend. Weep for that.
We share something in common, you and I, and you touched on it in your letter. You mentioned that you are also a freak show. You consider yourself a "Freak Show for Jesus" I think I know what you mean as we have had discussions about this in the past. Such is your devotion that you know you are marginalized as "Crazy" in society. Hey - I get that.
How do you feel when people dismiss your views because of your love of Jesus? I bet it's not dissimilar to how I feel when you purposely call me "he". How do you feel when people assume you couldn't possibly be rational, or knowledgeable, or accepting of differences because of your love of Jesus? I bet you feel alone and misunderstood, just like I do when you pretend I'm exactly the same as I was 8 months ago.
When we do see each other, you often want to pray over dinner. I suspect you've always known that I'm an atheist even though I've never admitted it to you. Yet I pray anyway, right along with you. I pray out of respect for you. When I receive a note from you, or see a Facebook post, asking for prayer support, I send energy your way if I believe in the cause. I participate in your life because your life is important to me, even this aspect that I do not share with you and do not fully understand. I do not do these things to mock you, or be a charlatan, but because if they are important to you then they are also important to me. I do not profess to be more than I am, but I do my part and join in with you.
I too believe and know something to be true. It is not cosmic in nature, but highly individual. It saddens me greatly that you choose not to see it.
I am a girl.
Until you see this, you cannot say that you love me, for you do not know me. Until you see this, you are no friend of mine.
Thank you Claire for sharing and giving permission to share. Peace to you.