When it comes to transgender issues (and queer issues more generally) and theology I get a lot of questions. I enjoy supporting people as they think through these issues and try to make sense of them (especially when the questions are coming from someone queer and/or trans who is trying to hold on to their faith).
But sometimes the questions arenâ€™t answerable. Not because they are too ambiguous (though that is itâ€™s own category) but because the question is such that any answer will be harmful.
If you start with the wrong question, most of the time youâ€™ll end up with the wrong answer.
If your question assumes something about God, about the nature of gender or sexuality, or even leads toward an answer before youâ€™ve even asked it then youâ€™ll probably not get a satisfactory answer.
That makes it difficult for me to walk you through it without completely deconstructing your entire theology. When you ask me a question that assumes as a given truth an aspect of God that I (and a large majority of the Christian tradition) donâ€™t believe in, how in the world am I going to give you a satisfying answer?
Take this for example: Someone believes that God doesnâ€™t make mistakes and then tries to understand transgender identities. Any way you answer that question is a mess. Either you end up equating being transgender with some kind of dreadful disease (like saying, well, cancer exists so how do you explain that? Or we see God working even when terrible things happenâ€¦) or by saying that transgender people shouldnâ€™t be allowed to medically transition (God doesnâ€™t make mistakes so your body shouldnâ€™t be altered).
There is no good way to answer that question because the theology behind it isnâ€™t helpful (or healthy). It shows a God who is a bit of a bully, who micromanages everything, and who potentially strikes people with disease in order to show â€œHis willâ€. Yuck.
Almost any time there is a â€œhow do you justifyâ€ question the conversation is already over.
If weâ€™re truly going to understand one another and find liberation we have to start asking better questions.
What has your transgender experience taught you about God? About faith? About the church? About yourself?
How does the transgender experience open us up to new ways of understanding God?
What can the experience of transition teach us about our bodies?
How has being transgender opened up the Scripture to you?
What has being transgender taught you about the work for justice in the world?
If you want the best answers about transgender and queer experiences, you have to start with some better questions.