by Davin Franklin-Hicks
Sigh. North Carolina. What a painful month for our trans sisters and brothers that reside there. It is so disheartening and fear-inducing to witness.
In the midst of this prejudice, bias, and discrimination, I’d like to draw us back to the humanity and dignity of transgender folks everywhere and remind us that we are loved by a still speaking God.
I lived in this world for 30 years being perceived as a girl and then a woman. I am transgender. My body was that of a female and my mind that of a male. Hard stuff when there isn’t room for such things in your understanding of the world. The flip side of that, though, is amazing gifts when there IS room for such things.
Transition is a radical act of love. My transition is a radical act of love for me, but it is also a radical act of love for you. I am saying, “Hey! I want to be all in with the care and connection we have, but I need something to be made visible in order for me to be authentic with you.” To share honestly is loving.
North Carolina is going through some stuff like a sullen teenager. It’s dressing in black and playing death metal through its headphones. It’s so over you, America, what with your equality and loving kindness in allowing queer folk to marry. It’s pretty insolent and sulky, but that turns quickly to being mean and a bully. It’s akin to a thirteen-year old that is sent to her room and she trashes it, not realizing that she just hurt herself more than anyone else since she now has to clean that up and lost some valuables while throwing a fit. Teenagers, am I right?
North Carolina is hurting itself by bullying and harming its own who are vulnerable and beautiful and, often, alone. I keep getting this image of the school bully hanging out in the bathroom between classes to grab the first person it sees and give that person a swirly. Poor unsuspecting kid trying to take care of his most basic needs, going to the bathroom, and the bully makes him wet his pants instead.
Do you see the indignity? Can you feel the undercurrent? “You are not human in the way we understand humans so you cannot exist. Your pee-pee and doo-doo are no good here. Move along.” Imagine going to work and trying to find the nearest non-gender specific bathroom so you can void your toxins while avoiding arrest. Or worse, attending school that legally locks you inside its walls during school hours and refuses you access to the bathroom. This is insane.
I have fantasies of asking Paul McCartney to remake “Let it Be” to “Let Us Pee”. Anyone know him? Let me know. Could be a hit. Another one of my fantasies is Kit Kat doing a commercial and changing up that jingle, “Give me a break. Give me a break. No, really, I could totally use a bathroom break. Seriously. Please. I really gotta pee.”
Did you know that I, along with many others, see being transgender as a gift? We are quite literally living Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”. I know what it is like to walk this world being perceived as a girl and a woman. I know what it is like to try and be what the world demands of a woman. I know what it’s like to suffer rejection after rejection as girls and women harm each other so they can feel better about the ridiculous demands placed on femininity. I had this lived experience for thirty years.
My transition wasn’t because I didn’t like being a woman. I transitioned because I wasn’t a woman. My transition into manhood is affirming and gives me a sense of congruence where I had none before.
I want you to work on something for me if you can. It will help, I promise you that:
- If someone you previously thought to be a woman tells you that he is actually a man and requests you use male pronouns (he/him/his), rather than thinking this is a woman who wants to be a man, think this is a man who is revealing more about himself to me. He is already a man.
- If someone you previously thought to be a man tells you she is actually a woman and requests you use female pronouns (she/her/hers) rather than thinking this is a man who wants to be a woman, think this is a woman who is revealing more about herself to me. She is already a woman.
- If someone you know is fluid in gender expression and identity, think this is a person who is revealing more about themselves to me. Ask which pronoun would be best and prepare to learn other pronouns that may be unfamiliar. It’ll be clunky at times, but it will also be okay.
The reason this will assist us all in transition or expanding our awareness of gender is because we are saying to the person who is revealing their gender identity, “You know more about yourself than I know about you. I believe you. I see you.”
The work of our reconciling church is very much in the midst of all of this. That radical act of love I do believe is what was meant when we were invited to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s the work. That’s the call. Oh, and, by the way… This call for us to love extends to the bully lurking in the bathroom. If there is one thing I know about bullies, they are the ones that often have the most need for love and the smallest amount of capacity to create that in their own lives.
To the bullying powers that be in North Carolina: this Trans guy sees your fear, your uncertainty, and your anger. I see it. This is hard stuff for you, all this change and uncertainty. Gender is so foundational in your thoughts about life and God and country. This is upending a lot for you. You have fear. I have amazing news for you, though. Ready? Love drives out fear. Give it a go, this choosing of love over fear. I think you might really like it. It may even allow for you to emerge from that dark, dingy bathroom and into the sun.
Let us pee…