Transgender Day 2014

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed, and
the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen. --Reinhold Niebuhr

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a secular event held every year on 20 Nov. It is a day to remember the violence, rejection and terrible discrimnation suffered by the transgender community. Much of these terrible harm has been done in the name of Christianity in Singapore. It should be a time of collective reflection on the role of the church. We can do better.

The prayer by Niebuhr of having the serenity to accept what we cannot change ie whether born straight, gay or transgender is pertinent and having peace in accepting the reality and enduring the hardship as a pathway to peace. Indeed, Transgenders have suffered the most hardship. We remember the many that have died.

Transgenders are the modern day outcasts who unlike gays can be easily visible hence harshly treated. The harm caused is deep seated and suicidal. In the US, the LA times article Jan 28, 14 titled "Transgender study looks at 'exceptionally high' suicide-attempt rate", 41% had attempted to commit suicide. When we speak rejection to people, we are speaking death.

What is the role as Christians to give support the transgender community? as precious people made in the image of God. Can we chose to walk with them as Christ would have. The church has destined them to go to hell, but our final destination is determined by our assurance of salvation faith in Jesus. For the transgender themselves, there is peace in surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ and receive the "grace to accept with serenity things that cannot be changed".

The OT Law (of loving God and others) does not help because the holiness of God is transgressed for the imperfect, the Eunuch who has been castrated, cannot come into the inner and outer court let alone the Holies of holies to see God. Indeed, the Transgender is cut off from the tabernacle of Israel. Religion does not help, or even a spiritual faith for it demands comformance. By the Law, the transgender is cut off from God. Indeed, all of us - gentiles are cut off from God.

  When we do "drag", we put on different personna and perhaps wigs and outlandish dressing. Christianity is putting on Christ, made possible by Jesus death and resurrection at the Cross of Calvary. Without putting on Christ, we are sinners, imperfect, no greater or lesser sinner than transgenders. ie we are all sinners needing grace whether straight, gay or transgender.

In Singapore, my first experience of a transgender was at City Harvest Church, more than a decade ago, I had a transgender in my cell group but it was a 'Do not ask, do not tell" apporach. Transgenders are of course very different from Gays who are comfortable with the sex they are born with. For gays, it is a matter of sexual orientation.

 There was also confusion in City Harvest between gays and transgenders not helped by the fact that Sy Rogers considered himself ex-gay even though he is a transgender. Pastor Sun once shared about her hair stylist going for a sex change even though she had advised against it.

Incomprehensibly, CHC had tried to reach out to gays with the ex-transgender pastor Sy Rogers cast as an "ex-gay", and Pastor Kong Hee had asked the congregation to be "welcoming" and not to reject new comers to these "Choices" seminars for their unusual disposition and dressing! The outreach was of course a failure.

What should be offered by the Christian church instead of converting transgenders to make them straight:-

  • Friendship - There is a need to give grace, to give space and to stand beside the outcast in their difficult journey.

  • No Condemnation - we can never walk in their footsteps to give any advise on their transitioning or their lives.

Our Christian living reminds us:-

  • To affirm Life as sacred - Life comes first, the value and preciousness of life and not our sexual orientation or desires. When we don't have a shelter, a good job, health, and food on the table, there is no life or dignity.

  • To see ourselves as crucified in Christ - Being straight, gay, lesbian, or transgender is part of our identity but is not our entire identity. Our surpassing identity is found also in Jesus Christ.

I am reminded of a spiritual, "Down by the Riverside" where it says "Down by the riverside, Gonna lay down by burden", and goes on "Down by the riverside, Gonna lay down my sword and shield".... and after we lay down our burderns and warring with others and ourselves, we gonna try on the white rob, the starry crown, the golden shoes, and talk with the Prince of Peace. The riverside is the Jordan river of old, the river of God with the cleansing stream of Jesus blood when we are baptised.

We can't live with the incredible angst within. It is peace that we all seeking for, peace with ourselves, peace with God through Jesus Christ, and peace with the other. When we walk with the Prince of Peace, we have peace indeed.

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