“Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives … to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.” (Luke 4:18-19)
All mankind, of course, was — and still is — in need of release from the conditions described in the prophecy of Isaiah from which Jesus was quoting. But as a transgender Christian, I feel a special affinity with this verse. The common experience of nearly all persons born transgender, namely that of being pressured into living for some (and often very, very many) years as what for us is absolutely the wrong gender, is devastatingly crushing in ways that are difficult for those who have not experienced it to understand.
Yes, I said “born transgender.” More and more readily accessible evidence points to this as the reality. If you’re here because you’re a trans person searching for answers, then you are likely already aware of this growing body of evidence, but you also likely don’t need science to confirm what your own experience has already taught you. If you’re here because you know someone else who is transgender and are wondering what is true and what is false then the unbiased research is out there for you to find — I don’t intend to belabor it here — but I will simply tell you quite frankly that so very many of our stories as trans persons share this same common thread of simply knowing our own gender, quite innocently from the earliest age we can remember, pretty much just as everyone else does — the only difference being that as trans persons, we eventually realized at some point that our parents and others generally seemed oddly convinced (for reasons that wouldn’t really make much sense to us for years to come) that we were that other gender. And then we invariably tried living up to the expectations of others in that regard for some period of time, but the longer we remained in denial of the simple, inborn truth we already knew about ourselves deep inside from the beginning, the more problems that invariably caused us: growing problems such as overwhelming anxiety, deep depression (often reaching a point of developing suicidal thoughts or tendencies), and as in my case, frequent and eventually debilitating dissociation.
For me, as for so many of my transgender brothers and sisters, “coming out” — first coming to grips with and really accepting what I’d essentially known about myself all along, and then transitioning, and especially finally achieving a better hormonal balance for my real gender (namely the one that aligns with that inner sense of self that I was born with) — has truly been a liberating release. Yes, the physical relief we experience from that is still limited — just as Jesus’ restoration of literal sight to the man who was born blind was also limited. The ultimate solution for every one of our ills lies in the new system, and the rule of God’s kingdom over this earth. But I can also tell you, the relief and joy is so very much akin to what that blind man must have felt.
Now, if you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, then you also know what the organization bearing that name is essentially telling you: while the latter man’s relief and joy at gaining sight was surely well-founded, and a gift from God, any comparable joy and relief I may feel today as a transitioned transgender person is just wrong. Never mind that all my symptoms of depression, anxiety and dissociation are vastly diminished. Never mind that my physical health is better, and my body is finally beginning to feel, not perfect of course (only Jehovah can ever make that happen), but at least far more right than ever before.
So what is the truth here? My “release”, as it were, has certainly come at a cost. In fact that would sadly be true regardless of whether I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or not. Transgender folks unfortunately still often face a good deal in the way of discrimination, and some people can get downright ugly when they learn we are transgender. So if you’re thinking that transitioning doesn’t solve all of a transgender person’s problems, or even that some feelings of depression, anxiety and the like could well remain, especially given the way the world, and perhaps even some former friends, might be inclined to treat us, you’d be right. But then the same was true of that blind man that Jesus cured on the Sabbath, wasn’t it? You may recall that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day threw him out — disfellowshipped him, as it were — and so his temporary, physical release also came at what may have seemed to many a steep price. It is also clear it was a price he was joyfully willing to pay, because he knew from whence his relief came, despite the Pharisees hypocritically claiming it to be somehow evil and wrong.
I can honestly say that I feel the same way. I have discussed at some length in other posts here why I am firmly convinced there is no scriptural basis for concluding a transgender person living honestly in accordance with their gender identity is violating Christian principles or disrespecting Jehovah in any way. (And if your mind leaps to Deuteronomy 22:5, before you doubt either my integrity or the sincerity of my concern for Bible principles as a Witness and Christian, I would ask that you please first seriously consider this and this.)
This is also why, despite the cost, and in particular, despite the pain of being separated from some of those whom I dearly love, but who in accord with the decision of the modern-day counterparts to those religious leaders of Jesus’ day, will no longer associate with me, I can be genuinely happy. Happy — but at the same time (just as I’m sure was the case with that formerly blind man), unable to remain entirely silent on this matter. Because yes, I am grateful for the release and relief that my transition has brought — but I am even more grateful for the knowledge of Bible truth — the Good News that has given me the ultimate hope of the “real life” in the future.
Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization are largely doing a wonderful and faithful job spreading the truth of that Good News. I speak up from time to time, however, as I do here, because the organization’s wrong, and frankly baseless viewpoint concerning transgender persons — which is essentially that the only way we can be pleasing to Jehovah is to remain seriously damaged and “blind”, and that any relief we might otherwise be able to experience by transitioning is just wrong and evil — absolutely works against that Good News, and in fact it places a needless and harmful obstacle in front of all sincere transgender persons whose hearts may well be favorably inclined to the truth.