In case you missed it, the Super Bowl occurred last week. And let me tell you, my interest in the Super Bowl is about as high or as frequent as my interest in castration: only in extreme situations.
However, my wife is a fan of football. She does prefer college, but it just so happens one of the teams this Super Bowl had a guy who once played on her favorite college team; therefore, we sat down to watch the game together last week.
To be honest, I didn’t mind that much. It was an excuse to eat junk food, drink hard cider, watch funny commercials, and spend quality time with my wife — that last one is always a good reason to do something.
While the parade of culturally forced masculinity crossed our TV screen, I couldn’t help but notice the contradictory nature of the scene:
I, the man, checked my phone, ate snacks, played on my laptop, and only paused when a commercial I liked came on; meanwhile, my wife, the woman, commentated on the game, reacted strongly to every call, called the refs “idiots” and “morons,” and enveloped herself in all the details of the action of the game.
Culture would dictate that our gender roles should be switched. I should be the football maniac with beer cans on my head and paint on my exposed chest; my wife should be rolling her eyes at my cheers and jeers while she ignores each first down and field goal.
Since that’s not how we work, culture offers another “helpful” hint. Growing up, culture dictated who I should be based on my interests or lack thereof. It tried to do the same to my wife, but she flat-out refused to be influenced by anything other than her own stubbornness.
I, however, was more susceptible.
Because my interests were not in line with the epitome of masculinity as defined by my surrounding world, I was labeled gay, effeminate, and weak. I was told that I was a girl, that I should be treated as one — and that I should just accept I was one.
Honestly, I was swayed heavily by this voice and thought about gender reassignment. As a naive teen, I wasn’t sure it was possible. When the power of the Internet revealed it was, I strongly considered gender reassignment. I was overwhelmed by the voice of my culture that I just wanted to give in to make it all stop.
In a modern setting where transgender men and women are being trampled by every side of the argument, I want to make one thing clear: I don’t judge anyone’s decision to undergo gender reassignment.
As a man who strongly considered becoming a woman, I have a unique perspective that most Christians cannot fathom. And because of this perspective, I can promise you I do not judge anyone’s decision to embrace a different gender.
For me, though, I knew what I truly wanted: I wanted to be a man.
I knew that a man was what I was, and I knew a man was what God had called me to be. My desire to become a woman was based on what others thought of me, not on what God thought of me.
Ultimately, that is what I wanted — to embrace all that God had planned for me.
I probably could have changed my gender and still walked with God. I also could have stayed a man and not walked with God. In the end, what mattered was simply that I did what I felt God calling me to do based on my walk with Him.
No matter where you stand on the issue, shouldn’t we agree to let each person start there?
And also: I think we can all agree that Lady Gaga should sing the National Anthem at every Super Bowl from now on.
Have you ever been pulled in different directions by the voices of culture and God? Have you ever felt conflicted about your gender?
* Photo courtesy ashleyrosex, Creative Commons.
that´s interesting. I don´t think I´ve ever heard anyone talk about it like that. I used to have that same feeling when I was younger – I knew I was a woman and more than anything else I wanted to be a woman but for some reason it just seemed like I´d be better at being a guy. I didn´t feel like I was a guy, but that I wasn´t good at being a woman because of what everyone says we as women are “supposed to be.” Thanks for sharing this
Thank you for sharing, Ashley. And I’m glad I was able to share a new perspective on this with you. I think a lot of people have wrestled with not feeling that they measure up to their gender’s “standards”. I wish that these standards were more like the spectrum that Stephen mentioned in his comment. It would help so many I’m sure.
Even as a gay man, I’ve never wanted to be a woman. I am very, very male, and very cisgender. I’m very drawn to androgeny and gender bending, but beneath it all I’ve always been very male. I also love my trans siblings, and there has been a definite learning curve for me in understanding them. I have learned a great deal from them.
There are two things that I appreciate deeply about this post – first, that you speak as someone who considered the surgery, and second, that you cast no blame on those who do go through the process. Too often, when I hear stories like this, they become prescriptive for all other trans people. They try to define the narrative for everyone. You resist this, and I appreciate that.
I personally embrace the concept of masculinity as a spectrum. I’ve struggled with how I’m not traditionally masculine, but I find masculinity as a spectrum a powerful tool in overcoming that angst. There are many different kinds of masculinity – a vast scale of all sorts of colors and atttitudes and approaches. I personally love exploring the vast diversity within the masculine spectrum.
Thanks for this thoughtful post,
I like your concept of masculinity as a spectrum- that it’s not a strict checklist that requires a certain number of points but that it is simply a range. And I love that you are embracing all of the varying degrees of gender identities and learning from each individual as a person with their own story rather than a stereotype with a checklist. I wish more people would embrace this as you have- it would allow an actual connecting point between the church and transgender community, I believe.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, Stephen! They are greatly appreciated!
Welcome to our little community, Stephen! Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts, stories, and link to your blog. Will be checking it out!
Dean, you continue to inspire me with your openness and story of struggle/redemption alike. You don’t have everything solved or figured out, but you’re clearly further along today than you once were, and that’s super encouraging to me, pointing me to a supernatural source of your growth. Keep growing and keep sharing your stories with us here! We need you.
Thank you so much, Tom- your encouraging words are deeply appreciated! And thank you for walking this journey with me, brother.
From your experience, do you think society’s gender norms are influencing people to change their gender identity?
That might be the case for some. As Stephen pointed out, one person’s story doesn’t define an entire group of individuals. I honestly believe there are those who were meant to be one gender but were born another. I also believe there are individuals who do not wish to identify with any gender and are right in doing so. I believe that gender is not a simple male/female divide, not anymore. I know I have a very different belief in this than most other Christians, but I have also been where most Christians haven’t concerning gender identity.
At the end of the day, every person is different with a different story. My story ended with me remaining a man. Not everyone will have the same story or same ending because every person and situation is different. If I seem to be “talking around” the question, it’s simply because gender identity is far bigger than one question. There are so many more questions that will require a great number of people to answer so we can actually begin to understand the topic of gender identity. But I do appreciate the question, Jackson! All great conversations begin with a single question.
Thank you so much for this comment.
From what I have seen, some Christians use stories like yours and assume that they are true of everyone else. They might say that all transgender people just feel forced to assume the identity opposite to the sex they were assigned at birth because they are a little more masculine or feminine than is “traditional” or “conventional”. Or they might use false scientific claims to back up their views that transitioning only brings unhappiness.
I love that you are being honest with your views in the comments and that your story doesn’t shape others. Although you were being pressured by external forces, it’s amazing to see someone finally admit that stories like these are perhaps not so similar to someone who has battled people trying to force them into the sex they were assigned at birth and yet still need to transition. Lots of other Christian writers and bloggers I have read tend to say that they are open to questions and thinking about this topic but then refuse to consider anything but non-affirming views, even for people who feel dysphoria to the point of suicide.
[…] my decision to remain a man, I began to feel more equipped to decide what I wanted to do based on what I believed, not what […]
I’m trying not to comment on every post, but I guess I have been bottling up a lot of my life because of fear of what others will think. Now, I’m not afraid of that anymore so I’m letting it all out. Although I’ve never considered becoming a woman, (I have strangely always loved being a man because it seems easier, that is less maintenance, cheaper, less time consuming etc.) but also hated who I thought I was as a man. I let the voices of other people, including my mother who was discouraging of my effeminate tastes, affect my self-esteem and sense of value as a man. It really tore me apart and I hid a lot of my proclivities towards creativity, the arts (including crafts and my ability to crochet), interior decorating, doilies, etc.; you get the point. Now I let my effeminate colors show and I’m not ashamed. I don’t even consider them effeminate, but that is a label other’s understand. I have about $12,000 worth of Christmas decorations, and obviously, I love Christmas. Every year I would host a party and display them in my apartment with 7 trees. I loved this but always felt a little embarrassed, especially when people would comment on how overwhelming it was. Since a few years ago, I lost my apartment and all of my possessions as a result of two nervous breakdowns and a hospitalization. I gave all of my decorations to my church and now every year I decorate my church for Christmas. Last year I used over 30,000 lights, and despite how overwhelming it is, people celebrate me and now I invite the Church to help me decorate and we have a blast. This isn’t something I could have done before 2 years ago because I felt ashamed of my tastes. Now people ask me to decorate for businesses and they are marveled at my abilities, and I have never felt more like a man than ever in my life. I define who and what a man is about because no one can be a man like I can.
I like that. Your wounds became your gifts. This is ressurection. Very christian!
More power to people like you, man!
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