Here’s a bit from Chapter 10 of the book (that comes out in THREE weeks!) This took place in the fall of 2000…
It was a cool fall morning when I got in my car for my meeting with Pastor Frank. It was a beautiful day. I was in a really good mood following last night’s vacation party, and I was going to meet with the pastor of the church I loved—life was good.
I go through the doors at the church and up the stairs to pastor’s office just like I had nine months earlier, and surprise, Beverly was there too. But this time I was a little caught off guard. The big smile I saw on her at that meeting months earlier was replaced with a much milder one. Suddenly I got the sense that this wasn’t a meeting to talk about the sound or the website or some other ministry at the church, but a meeting to talk TO me. The vibe was different, the loving and cheerful embrace was replaced with a more somber and reserved. “Hello, Laurie. Won’t you come in and sit down?”
Why did I feel like I had been called into the principal’s office? What did I do wrong? The feeling in the room totally mystified me.
Pastor then said, “Laurie, we love you” (uh oh, those are never good words when you’re the invitee to a meeting—those words sound like I’m at some kind of intervention). He continued, “When we first sat down months ago, you remember I had seen a different path for you than the one you’ve chosen.”
I nodded and said, “Yes, but that wasn’t something I was going to be able to do. I told you that.”
Pastor continued, “We feel that even though you’ve already had the surgery, that you technically are still male. You were born with a male body and you still have that DNA, and the fact that you’ve had surgery doesn’t change that.”
I’m sitting in my chair in stunned silence, wondering, “Where is all this going?” What is he trying to say? What does he expect me to say?
“We feel since you were born male, it’s not appropriate that you use the women’s restroom.”
My mind is beginning to spin, and my shocked and snarky attitude began to well up inside. Was I supposed to use the men’s room? “Oh, pardon me boys, don’t pay any attention to me. I’ve seen it all before, it’s just been several years that’s all. Excuse me while I lift my skirt and sit on the toilet.” I didn’t say those words because my body was paralyzed. I finally got out something profound like “Um…” followed by a confused look. “So exactly what am I supposed to do? You don’t expect me to use the men’s room?”
He said “No, downstairs there is a staff restroom. We’ll give you a key, and when you need to use it, you can.”
Stunned is the only way I can describe what I felt. All these months, the thank yous I was given, the responsibilities I was given, the trust that was shown me, the LOVE that was shown me—all of it now didn’t make any sense with what I was hearing. But this was my church, I loved this church. I loved my pastor. This place had become my family. I was too dazed to have much to say beyond a reluctant “okay.”
Then, he said something that in my stunned state didn’t register at that moment. “We’re on a collision course here.” If he thought that was true then why say it, and why prolong the inevitable “collision”? Did he think I’d even consider actually “changing”?
I just nodded and left.
My mind was buzzing on my way home. If this was what they needed to ensure peace and tranquility at the church, I guess I could go along with it. I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I wasn’t going to leave the church I love over a stupid bathroom issue. I was still being fed spiritually, I was serving, and I was (I thought) appreciated. What’s a little bathroom thing? I can do this.
At least I THOUGHT I could do it. Until about three weeks later I get called in for another “meeting.” I didn’t have any false optimism about this meeting. This time Beverly wasn’t there. It was Pastor John, the men’s pastor. I asked if Pastor Frank was going to be here and he said no, that it would just be the two of us. This was a strange twist, but I rolled with it as best I could.
Now, I didn’t expect him to say, “You know what, we made a mistake and we’re sorry.” This meeting was more like, “We’re not feeling that there’s a change in how you feel, so we need you to know that you can no longer be a part of the women’s ministry. And also, we strongly feel that it is inappropriate for you to spend time alone with Darla since it is our opinion that you are still male. If you would like to study the Bible with Jeff (Darla’s husband) that would be ok.”
If my head could have rotated a full 360 degrees, I’m sure it would have. I then was given the classic phrase that uninformed Christians (and yes, including pastors) say when they don’t have anything better to justify their discomfort… “God doesn’t make mistakes.”
Pastor John continued that my action by continuing to live as a woman (even though my surgery was seven years ago) constitutes sin, whether I thought so or not. Their position was that I was born male, and that’s how God intended it. Period—end of discussion. I was rather upset when I left. I was so confused, not about myself but about my church. I didn’t know what to do. These were people I not only loved but respected. My pastors were telling me that I was sinning, and continuing as Laurie was to do so in willing disobedience to God. Was my life a sin? Anything I “thought” I heard from God was wrong? Anything I thought about me being a woman inside was wrong? To them, it was black and white—or if you prefer male and female. And to them, I needed to change back.