Now don’t freak out. There are plenty of things in the world that aren’t normal. Being left-handed is not normal. Having red hair is not normal. Being double-jointed isn’t normal. And that’s ok. People may say “oh, I didn’t know you were left-handed” or “you’re double-jointed? Cool!” These are all common enough (and non-threatening) that most people just forget about it and never cared one way or the other.
Then there are those who perhaps were born with physical or mental disabilities, autism, down syndrome, stuttering. Others may later develop symptoms from MS or Parkinson’s. These can sometimes make people in the general population a little uncomfortable. Maybe they feel like they shouldn’t look or they don’t know what to do or say so they tend to avoid those people. But in none of these cases do they look down on those people as if they had done something wrong, nor do they blame those people for their condition. They understand that rare, abnormal medical conditions occur and may even feel empathy for those individuals – they can see it – they get it.
Being transgender is definitely NOT normal. You need to understand in addition to not being normal, no one can see the signs of it. People have to take your word for it. Another thing to take into consideration is that most people can’t begin to fathom what it’s like to be transgender, to have your body not match who you are. They can’t imagine themselves as the other gender, and they can’t imagine people they know becoming the other gender. It is about as abstract a concept as you can have. The only thing they DO know is your biological sex (if you tell them). And since they can’t wrap their head around it – they go to a concept they DO understand, SEX! They KNOW about sex and all they can figure is that you must be into something weird or it’s something they feel a strong religious objection to, like being gay. I’m not going to address the gay thing here. I’m not gay and there are plenty of Christian LGBT sites, though in truth they are mostly LGB you can go to for help addressing being Christian and gay.
So first, try to understand that this is a hard pill for people to swallow. They don’t get it and may not like it. Arguing won’t change their mind. Arguing won’t change anyone’s mind. When talking to people about this who are trying to understand, acknowledge that you know it’s hard to comprehend. Frankly I don’t know how a “normal” person wraps their head around this. It’s easy (relatively) for us who live it – it’s just how we are. I continue to be amazed when on the rare occasion I tell someone I know that I wasn’t born female, and they just go “oh (followed by about a 5 second pause), ok”. No big drama, no one running out the door like they are on fire, just a simple “oh, ok”. The day may come when it’s accepted without too much push-back within the general population, but my guess is that it’s a couple generations away for it to be no big deal, including perhaps the Christian church.
People within the Church tend to equate being transgender with being gay, because to them it’s a “sex” thing and because of the political alliance of the LGBT communities. I can promise you that this only makes your fight harder, not easier. I personally have never felt a part of the LGBT “community” and in particular the activist community. I don’t believe what “the community” believes, I don’t vote the way the “community” votes – and that’s ok. I never wanted anything but to just be a part of the mainstream world, after all isn’t that the world we were born into? Living in this world hard is enough for anyone. I have over 700 clients in my business and maybe 10 of them know my history, but that’s because we’ve become really good friends and I don’t think of them as clients any more. Aside from the senior pastors at my church, TWO people in the membership know my history – again because we’ve become very good friends. Nothing good comes from my making being transgender a part of my business practice or putting it out there with no concern for the feelings of others at my church. REAL change takes time, and I’m talking about more than politics and laws, I’m talking about the hearts and minds of people. When gay marriage was endorsed by the Supreme Court, no one changed how they felt about it, just the law change – that’s all. The same is true when it comes to abortion. Roe v. Wade in 1973 changed the law, but to this day hearts haven’t changed and the country is now more divided than ever.
If you’ve already transitioned, then be happy that you’ve made it – I know it wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish. Just remember that people aren’t comfortable with things they are unaccustomed to, forcing it won’t make it better. Take your time and be the best you that you can. It’s ok that you’re not normal (who among us truly is?) And remember just as you expect people to be considerate of you, you be sure to be considerate of them. You’re not a victim, don’t act like one.