The Transgender and “cross” dressing.

The predicament of Fatine Young facing deportation from Britain highlights the struggles of the Transgender Community. Born Mohammed Fazdil Bin Min Bahari, she was married to Ian Young in June 2009, three years after they had met in Kuala Lumpur in Aug 2006. Fatine is 36 and a pre-op transgender. She had earlier entered Britain in Dec 2008 on a tourist visa. Her application for a permanent visa was rejected because her visa had expired. The Malaysia Authorities warns strong action if she returns to Malaysia.

Fatine Young also known as Fatine Marissa, was a makeup artist. She had appeared in match making sites in a search for a better life, willing to relocate and identified herself as female, 10 years younger and flexible in her expectations – Male – 20 to 60. Ian, a straight lad was attracted to Fatine because of her good looks. Feminine beauty can be maintained through hormone treatment but it gets less effective over age and the facial become manly over time. It is difficult to find a straight man falling in love with a transgender past a certain age. We can therefore sympathize with her desperate plans to leave Malaysia, even changing her age.

The term “Transgender” concerns a gender identity different from his or her birth sex, where as Gays have to do with the innate same sex sexual orientation. Both are very different in their identities with the transgender being much more visible hence openly despised and discriminated. The debate surrounding Fatine Young highlights how badly the transgender are persecuted in Malaysia and Singapore. Perhaps, the thought of the removal of one’s sexual organs would send a disturbing sensation up the spine of men in general who would respond in great horror and disgust at this “grave” sin and insult to their manhood.

The notion of a Transgender Christian is rare with the Christian Church seldom talking about this subject and often conveniently associating it with being gay to avoid this issue. If being a Transgender is a women “trapped” inside a man’s body, is it still a “sin” for them to have sex with straight men especially after their sex change operation. The MTF Transgender is essentially a heterosexual woman within. The Christian Right considers the transgender as a “He” rather than a “She” even though the Laws in Singapore recognized them to be women after the sex change. The church has shown very little empathy nor understanding and appears less reasonable than even a secular Government.

Gay men can hide in a closet, but the transgender cannot, hence their deep sense of rejection resulting in a desire for belonging even rationalizing how society can accept them better than gay men. This delusion is a form of denial of the difficult lives they have had to endure even finding work difficult. Many end up in prostitution servicing straight men. In Changi Village in Singapore, one can observe a vehicle convoy of straight men encircling transgender prostitution hot spots causing traffic in an otherwise empty street. The care and support for the elderly transgender virtually do not exist once they grow older, and less desired.

The Christian Right, has intentionally associate the Transgender to homosexuality, even though it is fundamentally different to avoid any discussion. Therefore, Trans Christian Pastors such as Sy Rogers and Leslie Lung considers themselves as “ex-gays”. This is irrational since gay men are fully accepting their body and their sex organs unlike these pastors. Aggravating this misconception is the Trans who consider their gay friends as sisters, and as women, causing some gay men to distance themselves. Gays have a strong feeling and inclination of being a man whereas the Transgender feels being a woman and is a more comfortable being around women than around men. To consider the Transgender as Gays is insulting to both gays and the Transgender.

Listening in the late 90s, to a sermon by Pastor Sy Rogers on being ex-gay made me realized how deceptive and insulting their ex-gay theology was when a feminine transgender Christian could claim to be an ex-gay and how she almost had the sex change operation when gay men are accepting of their body and sexual organs. Gay men are not even attracted to the Transgender because they consider them as women, whereas gays are attracted to men.

What does the bible say about the Transgender?

(Deu 22:4 NIV) If you see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help him get it to its feet.

(Deu 22:5 NIV) A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

(Deu 22:6 NIV) If you come across a bird's nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young.

The Christian Right identifies the transgender with men cross dressing, hence they consider it a sin based on Deu 22:5. They seldom however apply this verse to themselves. When the bible mentions about “a man wearing a woman’s clothing”, the “man” here is by default a straight heterosexual man making up 95% of the male population. For straight heterosexual men, cross dressing is rare. However, a woman wearing man’s clothing is common in our day and culture. If literally interpreted, women can only wear a dress and head scarf. “Men’s” clothing such as suits, jeans, trousers, shorts, and shirts would be considered as sinful dressing for women unduly exposing themselves to straight men. If we had interpreted this verse literally based on the NIV (as we do when we condemned the Transgender), then Christian women would be living in a lifestyle of sin! by their dressing.

From a closer reading of the original text, context, and culture, it can be better interpreted that Deut 22:5 was not referring to men’s clothing or women linen fashion. Consider the following:-

  • the literal translation of the word used for man is a “strong man” or “Warrior”, not just any man nor a feminine transgender.
  • The verse is between Deut 22:4, and Deut 22:6, asking us to show a heart of compassion and mercy to the extent of helping ox that was injured, to the smallest of creatures - not to take away the mother bird from the young, for who will care for the young if this was to occur.
  • The Aramaic literal translation could be read as “The armor (pl. ma-ne) of a strong man shall not be upon a woman; and a strong man (gaw-ra) shall not be clothed with the armor (pl. ma-ne) of a woman. The LORD your God abhors all those doing these things.”

Therefore, Deut 22:5 has nothing to do with cross dressing in woman’s clothing rather the clothing here refers to the amour worn by a warrior and relates to the gender roles, duties, and responsibilities. The woman considered as the physically weaker gender, should not be clothed in the heavy armor of the strong men to go to war, nor the strong men take on the lighter woman’s armor or apparel and not take up his responsibilities. In the context of Deut 22:4, and 6, it Is about the moral responsibilities of the man as the physically stronger gender to mount up with armor rather than letting the woman, the weaker party do so in his stead. Our conscience should be provoked when we see others struggling to do our work. Therefore, the strong making use and abusing the weak is detested to God.

When Bishop Chew, Pastor Rony Tan and Pastor Derek Hong claimed that Gays are causing family breakdown, they are like men wearing women’s clothing because they are making use of gays to bear the sins of the straight community – namely the straight divorces, prostitution, and abortions. We can wrap our straight clothing around the gay men and blame them for our sins, but it would be detestable to the Lord. Gays are weak and can be abused by us the “moral majority”. The message of Deut 22:4-6, Is that we who are stronger and more able, should take up our own responsibility and not to make use of the weak to do our bidding. Letting the weak suffer on our account for our sole advantage and to their detriment is an abomination to the Lord

The transgender are the least of the least in our community, and there is a profound need to minister Christ’s love and acceptance to them as people God created with dignity, sacred worth and value. They are the last letter in the “GLBT” and probably the last in society, easily recognizable, openly condemned, despised, and mocked at. Sadly when the transgender enters the mainstream churches, rather than be accepted as who they are, they will be asked to change which is not physically possible. I believe that Jesus would have accepted the transgender, and so should we. The extent of Grace, Mercy and compassion that we show in Jesus Christ cannot be fully realized by attending week in and out in the Church at Suntec, but being the hand of God’s Grace, Mercy and compassion to the least in society, for Jesus came to the very least that even they too can come to a saving knowledge of God’s love in Christ Jesus.


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