THE BLOG

I'm Transgender-Masculine, a Lover of Men, and Living in Accordance With My Biblical Faith

09/28/2013 12:39 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

I am a transgender professor who has served full-time as, variously, a professor of theology, a professor of church history, a professor of ministry, department chair, and university diversity council co-chair at a Christian university for 15 years, most of which I spent in treatment with female hormones and psychiatric medications for gender dysphoria and related symptoms of mental illness. Recent changes in diagnosis and treatment of transgender persons, along with a lifetime of research on the theology and biblical understanding of gender, have helped me live as one who is clearly sane by ceasing to fight my transgender-masculine identity. However, this has caused what has become a very public conflict with my employer, one that is being mediated with outside help and cannot be addressed any further here.

I've publicly commented on my personal chastity at this specific season of my life only to help clarify for this conflicted community that gender and sexual behavior are different, since that is not clear to all involved. However, it is equally important to me that I never even implicitly contribute to homophobia in this community. Therefore, I want to affirm clearly that I am not embarrassed to be a lover of men. Rather, I have been embarrassed by having my gender identity publicly confused with my private sexual conduct, and by the silence of those who could help clarify that misunderstanding. The only reason that this even embarrasses me is that my current private personal experience includes the breakup of a fraudulent marriage, with children involved, as an ordained minister and a person who chooses to live in faithful covenant with a particular faith tradition (Christianity). Therefore, for me personally, it is most appropriate in this season of my life to live and witness to my young adult students and my children a singleness of devotion to what is healing and nourishing in my present life: parenting, prayer, teaching, preaching, and personal recovery.

However, I also affirm in my spiritual life and my teaching that faithful sexual partnership grounded in covenant with God and community is sacramental, regardless of the gender of the couple celebrating that grace-filled sacrament. From the perspective of my biblical faith, I believe very much that God pronounces in the creation account in the first biblical book (Genesis) that it is not good for the human (ha'adam, a being not yet divided into two binary genders) to be alone, and that God thus blesses covenantal partnership between human beings. As a transgender person myself, a person who has characteristics of both of the conventional binary genders, I cannot help but embrace this biblical teaching not as a principle that exclusively upholds heterosexuality but as an affirmation of the importance and blessedness of human partnership. The socially constructed category of heterosexuality (a word that does not appear in the Bible) is an especially challenging fit for one who is transgender. For a transgender person who is a lover of men, like me, a Christian prohibition of "homosexuality" as a description of same-sex attraction would only preclude my intimacy with those gendered like me -- in other words, those transgender persons who were wrongly assumed to be cisgender females at birth but now are clearly recognized as transgender-masculine, who account for less than 1 percent of the general population.

Since other biblical scholars and theologians have written at length to help interpret rightly the commonly misunderstood biblical passages (only about three) that are most often used to defend Christian homophobia, I will only briefly review the central ideas that they have explained: The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, according to the Bible's own explanations (in many of the books of the prophets, for example), was pride, idolatry, greed, and inhospitality. Indeed, because the Bible doesn't have a word for "homosexuality," nor did biblical people have a social construct equivalent to "sexual orientation," what biblical understanding of covenantal sexuality excluded was "unnatural acts." As a transgender person, it is clear to me that for the majority of people (who are cisgender and attracted to the opposite gender) that would include "a man lying with a man as with a woman" or women's equivalent, just as the Bible specifies. However, not having had a cultural category for queer identity and orientation at the time, the broader spiritual principle underlying this teaching wasn't made explicit in the Bible: We are not made for partnerships that are unnatural for us, in whatever way we are made. For example, we now know that many of us (though not the majority) are made neurologically, genetically, and hormonally "queer"; in other words, some of us are fearfully and wonderfully made with a gender and sexual orientation that falls somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum from birth. For those of us who are naturally trans* to live as cisgender, and/or for those of us who are only sexually compatible with others gendered most like us, to partner with those we simply can't would be an "unnatural act" for us, just as performing a homosexual act outside a heterosexual covenant would be "unnatural" for a straight person. Loving one another in the ways that are God-given and natural for each of one of us as we are is the only love that is sacramental.