Becky's Home Page
"The Real Life Test" -
A True Autobiography
A List of Therapists Who Treat
State - By - State Instructions
For Changing Name And Sex
On Birth Certificate
Topics Related to
Lefty: A Short Story
Parallel Lines: A Tribute
1998: Christmas Remembered
1999: What's In A Date?
2000: Peace On Earth
2001: Dark Days
2002: The Little Things
2003: Shop Till You Drop
2005: What Are You Waiting For?
2006: Peace In Our Heart
2007: The Greatest Of These
Five Years Later
The Grace Letters
One Day At A Time
Strength Through Weakness
Play It As It Lays
The Way We Weren't
Share It Or Bear It
I'm Not One Of Them
What Have We To Fear?
God Don't Make No Junk
Work It Out!
What's In A Date?
Life In The Leper Colony
I Love You IF...
One Thing I Know
The Least Of These
Believing The Lie
The Greatest Of These
Facial Plastic Surgeons
"Feminization of the Transsexual"
Douglas K. Ousterhout,
M.D., D. D. S.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.
Just as the era in American history known as the 1960's did not begin until November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated, so the twenty-first century did not really begin at midnight of January 1, 2000. Remember? We were expecting technological catastrophes, but nothing happened. It was business as usual, twentieth century style - until September 11, 2001, the day everything changed.
The New Millennium is upon us in full force, and our lives will never be the same.
We are told not to worry: our government is doing all that needs to be done. A cabinet-level position of Homeland Security has been established. We simply need to give our unquestioning support and spend lots of money to keep the economy healthy. "Shut up and Shop."
At the same time, we are told that this war will last for many years, and that continuing threats to our safety are perhaps even greater than before. New enforcement tools are needed to make us secure. We feel some of the effects of the heightened security measures when we travel by air; we must allow much more time to be "cleared" before we board our aircraft. No one really minds this very much, because we feel safer.
At this time, the other "security measures" which are being enforced are noticed mostly by those Americans whose names are Middle Eastern - or who are mistaken for such by our protectors. One of my closest friends, a physician who was born in India, has been stopped in his own neighborhood by police and physically shoved into the back of a police car while the officers checked out his identity. My friend weighed perhaps 140 pounds and would never offer resistance, so he was terrified. Finally he was released, with no apology. Such is the treatment he and his friends of Hindu origin might receive for the crime of Driving While Brown.
Don't misunderstand: I love my country and I am a patriotic American. But my ancestors fought for the freedom to question anything and everything, including my government officials, and I worry that in the name of "security" we will suffer gradual and progressive loss of our basic freedoms. I am not alone in this view; it is shared by learned spokespersons on both ends of the political spectrum.
I suppose I take risks even by voicing such concerns, but I have learned some things over the last ten years about freedom and security which have influenced my life greatly, and I cannot be silent.
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: If you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth - only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
C. S. Lewis
The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, in How Should We Then Live?, described the latter decades of the twentieth century as the "Era of Personal Peace and Affluence." A generation - my generation - grew up enjoying an affluent lifestyle, made possible by the generous treatment of our parents by the government for their service in World War II. My generation saw the war in Vietnam on television, but generally we were immune to its horrors: the "fortunate sons" managed to avoid combat for the most part. So we grew soft, wealthy, and self-absorbed.
We loved our lives! We intended to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity", but we did not realize the need to maintain that liberty, and we became a land of sports and television addicts, enjoying our "bread and circuses" just as the Romans did. The McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s had been discredited, and we congratulated ourselves on our open-minded attitudes. Fires burned around the world, in Uganda and Somalia; Bosnia and Kosovo; Tienanmen Square and the Falun Gong; Israel and Lebanon; and in Afghanistan where the Russians bled and died. But these fires were not in our back yard.
Then on September 11, we entered the world of the twenty-first century, a world without secure borders, a world of uncertainty. And we panicked. Do whatever you must do! Just don't let "them" harm us any more!
"We just need to go over there and - wipe them out!" One of my friends anxiously voiced her fear in our conversation.
"Well, okay," I replied, "but which 'them' are we talking about?"
Fortunately, we happened to pursue the combat so far with careful strategies so that civilian loss of life was not great. But I am afraid many of our citizens really didn't care how many civilians perished halfway around the world to achieve our objectives.
Personal peace - comfort - affluence: just as the Pharisees and Sadducees enjoyed in Jesus's day. When Jesus arrived with his message of new life and new liberty, they saw their easy lives threatened. Jesus was a radical! He came to change the world! The powers that be - Jews and Romans alike - were not into world-changing, so they killed him, thinking they would destroy his message.
As followers of Christ, it is our legacy to live in this freedom.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Let's move beyond issues of our national security to think about personal peace and affluence as Christians.
The radical, risk-taking spirit of Jesus has, in some places, been morphed into a "saved and satisfied" attitude which promotes intolerance, suspicion, and hatred of those who are different from ourselves. It's not enough to know that I have said the right words, had the right baptism, joined the right church. I need a "control group" of infidels to whom I can compare myself favorably.
I'm in; they are out. It gives me a sense of security. Some of us even go so far as to interpret the doctrine of "Once saved, always saved," to imply I can act in any way I need to promote my own peace and affluence without worrying about the consequences.
Who are these infidels, this "control group"? Well, it depends on which religion you are considering. For our home-grown religious right, the list includes:
Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus (yep, even Gandhi!)
Gays, lesbians, transsexuals
But for the radical Islamic fundamentalists, the list was a little different, wasn't it?
Who is right and who is wrong? Is anyone right when it comes to hatred of groups of people because you don't share their experience? When the major thrust of your mission is to define which groups you believe are "going to hell", what does that say about the love of Christ in you?
I submit that it's time to be willing to give up our false sense of spiritual security. Let's admit there are questions we cannot answer about groups who are sincere who are not like us. Let's look to love as the highest law, not to a laundry list of specific, exclusive rules a la Pharisaism.
In my defenselessness my safety lies.
A Course In Miracles
Finally, let's bring this discussion home to see how it relates to us as transgender Christians.
Do you feel free in your present worship experiences? If not, why not? Do you live in fear that your pastor or Sunday School class will find out you crossdress, or you used to be a man? What would they do if they found out? If you don't know that they would still love and accept you, then perhaps you are in the wrong fellowship.
Some of us are in situations where we fear we cannot let our history be known. We see the reaction of our church towards others just like ourselves, and we remain silent, resolving to keep our secrets deep inside. This is hypocrisy, and it is definitely not security. Our security can be lost, or it can be voluntarily surrendered. I speak from personal experience here. I will never again be asked to teach a Sunday School class - at least not in the denomination in which I grew up. I was teaching when I made the decision to begin transition, and I knew what the repercussions would be. I had reached a point in my life where I was ready to give up that security for the realization of truth and freedom. When I knew that my gender conflict was no longer my little secret, I felt such a sense of relief. The road ahead was long and hard, but I would walk it in the light of truth.
Freedom doesn't mean wearing a button that says "Hi, I'm Becky, and I'm transsexual." It means feeling no anxiety over your history. It means no shame - for there is no shame in being the person you are. Freedom means living a life of love, not a life of fear. "In my defenselessness my safety lies." This does not mean allowing others to run over me. It means that I voluntarily break down the wall I've built around my true self, and allow the truth to be my guide.
If we are confident in our own freedom, we do not consider it a loss of security to grant liberty to others also. We will never say in effect, "I've got my freedom, but you can go ahead and go after those gays/Muslims/Jews/whatever." We will grant our respect and acceptance to all who seek the truth in love.
Bishop John Shelby Spong speaks of the "radical insecurity" which follows our acceptance of this new understanding of our freedom in Christ. The sense of security we formerly experienced is replaced by a mature freedom, a new relationship to God as the ground of Being who enlivens and empowers us, so we do not have to define ourselves in relation to anyone else. This is freedom indeed. I don't think I have reached that goal yet, but I'm ready to go down the road towards it.
Walk with me. "Let's roll."
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.