For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. – Romans 8:21
I can recall many moments as a very little girl when I felt totally secure, completely loved, and wonderfully happy, in blissful childlike innocence. As with all humans, it would only be later on that I would begin to learn some of the desperate truths of mankind’s present condition: that every descendant of our first human parents from Cain and Abel onward, myself included, was born into an imperfect and dying condition. Even the most well-intentioned of people, which certainly described my loving parents, were far from perfect, and would sometimes make painful, even hurtful mistakes. There would also be some in this world who are not so well-intentioned, inclined towards selfish motives, even deliberate hurtfulness of others, seemingly for hurtfulness sake alone.
As humans, we may struggle to greater or lesser degree against this overwhelming tide, but in the end, throughout history, the struggle has in a sense invariably proven futile. We have never overcome the inevitability of death, for ourselves or for those we love. We have never overcome the divided state of humans, nor stemmed the endless flood of selfishness and hurt. Human governments and leaders continue to come and go, and yet the Bible saying has only proven true of all: man has dominated man to his injury.
When my mother began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I used to sit in the kitchen with her for those studies. That was my first exposure to the Bible’s incredibly satisfying answers to so many questions and concerns: the reasons the world came to be in it’s present state; how and why a loving creator could ever have allowed such a period of tragic futility in the first place; and most importantly, that these things are truly temporary. Eventually, when I grew older, I studied the scriptures for myself, and for me the evidence soon became overwhelming. Today, I am convinced that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be: the inspired word of the true God, Jehovah. It’s promises are trustworthy, and so I know that there lies a time ahead when this captive condition will be overturned. We will all have the prospect to truly experience freedom, far beyond even the freedom I felt as that innocent little girl.
Certainly that is something to be longed for. What I did not know back then, however, was that for me, freedom was going to become an especially complicated issue over the years. It was some time before I began to realize that what I knew with simple clarity from my earliest recollections as a young child — that I was a girl — was not what everyone else around me thought. They all thought I was a boy. Without anything even being explicitly said, it gradually became clear that all the people I cared about, and who cared about me, were expecting some very different things of me. I wasn’t going to be able to look the way I would have expected, or dress the way I would have expected, or even play in some of the ways I would have expected.
And thus without a word began a kind of self-imprisonment that would last forty-some years.
There have never been easy answers for dealing with such a condition. Although societal acceptance as a whole of transgender persons seems to be gradually improving, at least in some parts of the world, a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation remains. For the transgender Christian Witness especially, there are extremely challenging decisions, none without their consequences. My experiences in this regard will be the focus of future articles.