Stick with me. Before you throw fire in my face, just stick with me. This isn’t another blog defending personal beliefs about the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner situation. This is a chance to have a different perspective.
Bruce Jenner came out as “transgender” in a 20/20 interview. Which, unless you’ve been shielding yourself from social media, TV, or life in general, you already know.
“…a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.”
Not surprisingly, there are few ways to know how many Americans actually identify as “transgender,” because there is no option on the CENSUS, and because no one wants to talk about it. One article says that there is an estimated 700,000 transgender Americans, or about 0.3% of adults. Another fun fact is that about 15,000 transgender people are currently serving our country in the military. Which may put a damper on all of those conservative posts about how the military is the only courageous bunch in the world.
I’m not here just to present statistics and give a school report on transgender facts. But I am here to explain how I think this situation will bring God the glory (as I believe all situations ultimately will). And…give a few more statistics while I’m at it:
In 2008, an organization called the “National Center for Transgender Equality” published a survey that included information from 6,450 participants. That’s actually a pretty small survey number, but whatever. OF THE transgender people surveyed, 41% of them had attempted suicide. The survey continued to show that 78% of transgender people that were forced to endure either physical or sexual violence attempted suicide. Attempted suicide. That means actually TRIED to kill themselves, but failed. They TRIED TO KILL THEMSELVES.
Why am I saying all of this? Is it to make you feel bad for the trash talk you’re spewing about Caitlyn Jenner? No, because I know you won’t feel bad about that. This isn’t about Caitlyn Jenner. This is about your friends, your family, and your neighbors.
Regardless of my personal views, your personal views, or an alien’s personal views about whether transgender people are mentally ill, suffer from dysphoria, are morons, hellbound sinners, etc., we know that these statistics are real. We know that hundreds of youth will either kill themselves or attempt suicide this year.
These youth (AND ADULTS) would rather die than come out to you. They would rather die than be ridiculed for being transgender.
There is a rather large debate on social media right now about whether or not Caitlyn Jenner deserves to win the ESPY Award for courage. People are convinced that the military is the only place to find people of courage (and 15,000 trans people, don’t forget).
Courage, to me, absolutely involves being able to stand before the world and admit that you are transgender. How is it not? In a world where you are less than accepted, being able to stand up and say those words, “I am transgender,” is a big deal. Whether it is a sin or not isn’t even the question here. Replace that word with anything:
I am gay.
I am an alcoholic.
I am straight.
I am judgmental.
I am anorexic.
I’m kind of an asshole.
I am bulimic.
I am batman.
I am flawed. I am human.
Let’s picture something in our heads, shall we?
You feel in your mind, heart, and soul that you are a man, but when you look in the mirror, you have the body of a woman. “Does anyone else feel this way,” probably goes through your mind on a daily basis. But how do you even ask a question like that? You get on the internet and look at your newsfeed. Conveniently enough, Caitlyn Jenner is popping up all over Facebook. But people from your church are the ones posting about it. “Freak of nature.” “This disgusting man-lady is not courageous.” “This sick and twisted person will rot in hell.” “I’ll never call him a woman, he’s a mentally ill freak.” The decision to stay in the closet starts to sound better and better. You choose to spend the rest of your life hiding this deep struggle. Your life gets darker and darker as you start putting all of your effort into protecting your secret. You close yourself off. You get into a marriage with someone you don’t love “that way” because that’s what you should do to show everyone you’re just another girl. You beg God to heal you, because you’re a freak. Or because you’re sick? But you cannot speak a word about it, because you’ll be called a man-lady psycho hellion.
How will you ever know how to deal with this? If it is a sin, how will you know how to find redemption? You are too scared to even think about it, though it’s slowly eating away at your soul. This practice of hiding yourself has become your complete identity. The moment that someone finds out, your life will be over. Your identity will be lost. You have officially replaced God with this obsessive idol of secrecy.
Is this what American Christianity wants for our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community? It is forcing people to hide in a closet, because the fear of the truth coming out is greater than experiencing freedom in Christ.
Bear with me and hear this bottom line: I am not saying that freedom in Christ = freedom to live in sin. But God wants our transparency. God wants our nasty, sinful, foolish hearts. We cannot be made clean if we are hiding our secrets in a closet.
Do I know what this spiritual cleansing looks like for every LGBT soul? No, no I do not. I don’t know what it looks like for every heterosexual soul either. I don’t know what that looks like for anyone. I barely know what that looks like for me!
Of the estimated 700,000 Americans who identify (probably in the closet) as transgender, how many of them live in your community? How many of them live in your home? What Caitlyn Jenner has done is open a door. She has opened a door to discussion. She has opened a door and turned on the light.
Transgender, homosexuality, bisexuality, and queer. These are real-life, modern-day, in-your-face experiences that need to be talked about. They need a response. Our youth, our adults, that may be experiencing these thoughts and struggles may have just realized it when they saw Bruce Jenner emerge as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vogue. This could even be you. Is it?
Caitlyn Jenner did not win the ESPY because she was a man who grew long hair and put on makeup. Jenner won the ESPY for having the courage to stand up and say something that not many people have the courage to say. She is paving a path for parents to talk to their kids, and kids to have the courage to talk to their parents. Any kid that can open up their mouth and tell their parents that they are struggling with REAL LIFE ISSUES deserves an ESPY, in my opinion. Bruce Jenner was someone’s kid.
Being transgender isn’t the problem. Being in the closet is the problem. Hiding who you are is the problem. The more we, as Christians, degrade and trash the LGBT community, the more your family and friends struggling through it will hide. The more we degrade and trash and dehumanize people for being people, the more we are forcing them into the closet. Keeping issues like this buried in the closet will lead to depression. It will lead to suicide.
The road to recovery, whatever you believe that looks like, begins with stepping into the light. And that requires courage. We are a community of broken people. We have a million and one different struggles and will continue to for the rest of our lives. The more people like Caitlyn Jenner show courage and come out with their struggles and issues, the more your friends and family will feel comfortable stepping out. Whether or not you disagree with what she did to her body, don’t let that stop you from loving your neighbors who may be going through the same thing.
We cannot live in the dark and experience the light. We cannot hide our secret struggles in the closet of our souls any longer. Healing begins where darkness ends. Step into the light. Come out of the closet. Experience freedom. Let Christ heal you, whatever that may look like. Just remember:
Spiritual freedom does not look like heterosexuality. Spiritual freedom looks like Jesus Christ.