“Can I Create A Balance?” A Grace-filled Perspective of a Male to Female Transgender

Q: Can I create an emotional balance through cross dressing?

Those who cross-dress due to gender identity, typically try to present a believable image. For a male trying to look female, this usual involves padding (and padding some more), shaving (and then shaving again), plucking, pulling, tweezing, cinching, taping, and applying lots of carefully chosen make-up. Then comes the struggle into an outfit which emphasizes certain curves, and de-emphasizes others. The results can be very convincing, but they only last a few hours before the beard starts to appear, and the tape loosens. This presentation is temporary and the more permanent solution of surgery including sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) is one that only a few transgendered people will ever pursue.

The idea of the magic pill that would just change how you look is commonly shared. Medical science now can create a fairly believable presentation, if the individual is willing to commit to the process.

How many surgeries might it take to change a male body into a permanent believable female form? What would it cost to re-sculpt a male into a female presentation achieved now through make-up and forms? Plenty!! All that fat in the midsection would have to be moved down to the butt and thighs. Electrolysis, breast implants, more electrolysis, eyelid-lifts, rib removal, voice box surgery, lip enhancement, face-lift, hair implants, diet, hormones, and years of counseling before and after. Even after all that, the hands would still be large, and so would the feet.

The term “SRS” makes it sound so neat and easy. However, the process takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the job properly. (For those who have dedicated themselves to this route, it is no easy journey!)

Most transgender will have to be content with the occasional cross-dressing experience. Since SRS is not a workable option where does that leave us? The non-op transgendered person usually feels caught between two worlds. Not able to escape one gender, or really able to embrace the other.

Do we really have to choose one gender over the other?

Even though we live in a largely polarized gender society, everyone has within them a male and female persona. The transgendered individual is acutely aware of this. Many in our mainstream communities, have declared a cross-dressing expression “wrong,” or in Christian circles, “sinful.” For the person born outwardly male, but who inwardly feels female, expressing the female side, in our western culture, is difficult. These people learn to repress their female tendencies at an early age. By the time they are adults, their ignored female self has become twisted and scared like a child locked in a closet. A boy who tries to share in the female experience, is ridiculed by his peers for the attempt: “Boys don’t play with dolls!” “You throw like a girl!” “Don’t be such a sissy!” “Boys don’t cry!” Our society declares males to be strong and females to be weak. So the male who demonstrates female attributes is viewed as defective, weak or wrong.

Why do most people feel repelled by those who wish to change gender, even for a time? One reason this issue conjures up such intense emotion is because everyone’s identity, or place in society, is determined by comparisons. We need to compare ourselves, one to another, in order to define who we are. (ie: male vs female – rich vs poor – etc.) When we cross-dress, we not only change the way the world views us, but how it views itself. As a result, the man who says it’s “OK” to act like a woman rocks the societal boat in such a way that all of us in the boat start to lose our balance. Our western culture NEEDS to polarize the genders to keep woman and men in their places!

I do NOT believe that this view of gender is consistent with the teachings of Christ. This view is especially harmful for those of us who feel that we are both male and female, or occupy a different niche on the gender spectrum.

For many transgendered, the two voices inside are equally loud. Trying to give heed to both the female and male voice is difficult. Unfortunately, for the Christian, there is often a lethal and powerful third voice. It is the voice of self-condemnation. This voice gets its authority from a warped societal view of gender polarity and some Biblical scripture taken out of context. This voice I call, “the religious impostor”.

This religious imposter has taken the concept of polarized gender in a dangerous direction. Not only is the desire to cross-dress viewed as wrong, but also as against God’s law. In fact, this third voice believes that cross-dressing is so bad, if exposed or even mentioned, all it holds dear will be lost not only in this life now, but in the life to come. It is the role of this third voice to make sure the closet door stays closed. This “religious imposter” is arrogant, self-inflated, legalistic, depressed, confused, and above all else, scared.

The religious imposter is not without historical peers. He has been with us for thousands of years. He appears in every encounter throughout scripture between Jesus Christ and the Pharisees. What does Jesus have to say about this imposter? In Matthew 23, Jesus says, “You tie up heavy loads and lay them on men’s shoulders . . . you shut off the kingdom of Heaven . . . for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. You blind guides . . . How often I wanted to gather you . . . the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”

We need to break free from this religious imposter. He is the one who would keep us from a loving relationship with our God. “God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we where yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans: 5) Jesus calls us as we are. He desires nothing on our part other than acceptance of his grace and his righteousness. Is this hard to understand? Jesus wants us to come to him as little children. He wants to gather us up. No strings attached.

The female inside you wishes for this with all of her heart. Because you have repressed her for so many years, she is still very much a child. She has no real history, no job and no bills to pay. She is truly free from any responsibility. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it feels so good when you cross-dress? Your male-self, on the other hand, has a long history, but now feels frustrated and hollow. However, the good news is it does not have to be this way!

Its time to start to undo some of the damage caused by polarized gender.

First. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you are like me, then you never meant to be legalistic or unloving. You truly thought that by fighting your transgendered nature you were doing the right thing. Move past that! Accept who you are right now, and embrace the grace that God has freely given you. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest, . . . my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew: 11)

Second. Let the little girl out to play. She really needs some clean fresh air. Do not try and justify it; just know that this is who you are inside and accept it. Take lots of deep breaths!!! She is still a child and has yet to experience the world. Your male self has already been down this path and can help her along, like a father helps guide a daughter.

Third. Realize it is the Lord’s will for you to be whole. Jesus prayed on behalf of his followers to his father for this very thing. One such prayer was “that we would all be one; even as the Father and Jesus are one.” (John: 17) Jesus knows the importance of unity. He knows the importance of being honest with yourself. Jesus wants you to be a whole and honest child of God.

Fourth. Reject your “religious imposter.” Your relationship with God is what has saved you, but your imposter needs to somehow add to the work of the cross. Realize that you will never be “good enough” to earn God’s favor, it is a FREE gift, and cannot be purchased by you. The religious imposter inside is a neurotic perfectionist that never feels he can be right with God. His compulsion to feel safe with God fuels an unhealthy desire for perfection. His endless compulsive legalistic moralistic self-evaluation makes it impossible to feel accepted before God. His perception of personal failure leads to a loss of self-esteem and triggers anxiety, fear and depression. Call him to account. Don’t be ruled by fear any longer.

Fifth. Don’t be afraid to discover your true self. Integrate your male and female selves whenever possible. Don’t try and hide from either of them. As you are able, integrate. This can be done in little ways.

Sixth. Resist the temptation to self-annihilate. Write a letter from your male self to your female self, and let her know what he likes about her. Write a letter from your female self to your male self and let him know what she likes about him.

Seventh. Surrender control of your life and trust in God’s grace. You have condemned yourself under the rule of harsh law. Realize, however, that the price was already paid by Jesus. Trust that God’s purpose for you is not to be destroyed, but to experience fellowship and joy.

Eighth. Realize that this is a roller coaster ride. It will make you feel sick to your stomach if you try and fight the turns and twists. So try to relax and enjoy the ride for what it is.

May I suggest a book for you? It is Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning (Navpress). The author puts forth a compelling argument for “grace living.” Enjoy.