So here’s a thought. I know the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses believes that a transgender person — or at least one who cannot, or just won’t, keep outwardly living their lives in a manner completely contrary to their gender identity — is fundamentally, and very reprehensibly, doing something wrong. At least, to whatever extent is actually possible, I’m pretty sure I’m understanding that belief right, although the only concrete things I really have to go on are a few very old Watchtower Society publications that briefly touch specifically on the subject, and slightly more substantially, the actions of brothers whose job has been to represent the organization and its beliefs.
The thing is, I know more transgender Christians now, than when I first started writing this blog. I am one, of course, and I’ve since encountered some others. Some of us are men living as men. Some of us are women living as women (I’m one of these, by the way, if you weren’t quite catching that.)
And still a few others are men or women struggling as best as they can to live as the opposite, for as long as they can manage it, while navigating the immense emotional and psychological challenge of constantly putting forth an image of, and being continually treated as, something they absolutely are not. I believe those who do this, do so fundamentally for what they believe to be the sake of others whom they dearly care about, but whom they expect, probably rightly so, will have a tough time dealing with the actual truth. So tough a time, in fact, that these transgender Christians trying to carry on in such a way might worry that if they ever stop hiding the the truth about themselves, they might in fact soon find themselves ostracized and shunned by those very people, even as the misremembered, misunderstood (and by the way misgendered) memory of them is occasionally “mourned” in hush-hush tones by those same folks as having fallen victim to the wickedness of this system of things.
Now that I’ve voiced it, I confess, just one of those things actually does sound kind of really wrong. Not that I particularly can fault a transgender brother or sister who might try to live that way, mind you, but it’s hard to justify the latter sort of ongoing pretense as having anything to do with pleasing the God of truth, Jehovah.
Yes, for the sake of holding on to acceptance by other Christians who may be confused by us being transgender, perhaps, it’s understandable why some would give it a sincere try. To “avoid stumbling” others, is another phrase that some might offer to explain, or even commend, continuing in such a course, although I would argue that truth does not cause “stumbling.” Truth might be eye-opening, challenging even at times. Truth might take time to digest and become comfortable with, especially when that truth falls outside the scope of someone’s experience and expectations. Truth handled poorly, without tact or consideration for others can possibly cause some degree of stumbling, but even there, hiding truth is never a proper answer. Not for the sake of others comfort, not for the sake of their “faith”, not for the sake of “acceptance”, and surely not for thinking that hiding truth is somehow going to be pleasing to Jehovah.
Okay, to be entirely fair, I absolutely know what some of you are thinking — and to your own minds, compassionately so (you’re completely wrong about the compassionate bit, by the way, though I know you probably sincerely believe it): “Taryn, you are misguided. You are not a woman. And those transgender men you’re calling men are not men. There’s your problem, right there. You are the ones living as ‘something you are not’, and that’s what Jehovah hates. That’s why what you are doing is so wrong!”
I could go on and on and on-and-on about things like mounting bodies of evidence, and countless life experiences, example, after example, after example that all say otherwise. I could write at length, and sometimes I have, as to how there is no logical, scriptural reason to suggest that transgender folks are lying to you about this, or even that we’re mistaken about ourselves (whereas you believe you somehow know better and are not mistaken), nor that any of that whole growing body of highly credible scientific, medical, psychological and other worldly evidence out there about us can’t possibly be real, and isn’t true. (In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite, isn’t it? The scriptures absolutely support that all kinds of things now can and do happen when humans are born. There’s every reason to conclude that what all of the above is telling you happens with transgender persons, is actually the case for us.)
I could especially go on about how, regularly, with horrifying consistency, a transgender person living the only way that you would suggest to them is the “right” way, on an ongoing, life-long basis, ultimately has disastrous personal consequences, while finally giving up the pretense is life-saving, even spirit-saving — despite whatever challenges we may face from the world around us, including folks like yourselves, who don’t understand it, and often refuse to try.
Today, though, I just want to put a far simpler and more practical consideration to you.
We don’t think what you think about us.
No, it’s actually more than that we just don’t think that. We know the exact opposite to be true. We know our gender. Yes it doesn’t match parts of the bodies we were born with, but we still know who and what we really are — and we know that far better than you think you may. Therefore to do what is right we cannot do what you want, because to us — and therefore for us — the latter is the lie. It’s actually going against what we know ourselves to be, and once we have clarity about that, to continue to live that lie regardless, that is what would frankly be entirely wrong.
It’s only proper and completely in harmony with God’s Word to think that especially Jehovah, who more than anyone sees the whole person, completely understands that about us. For the rest of you Christian brothers and sisters who would still condemn us for living faithfully, to the best of our ability, in accord with the women and men we know ourselves to be — all I can say is that I think it would be truly wonderful if those among you who claim to absolutely love the truth, would open your eyes and work a little harder at actually understanding this bit of it.