Sunday, January 14, 2018

Being a trans pillar of respectability



I was reading the lesson in church today. It's something I love doing; I treat the bible passage as a script and perform it as if it were a part I was playing.

The role also involves doing the collection and standing at the door to greet people as they come in. I love doing this too. The people who come to my church - Augustine United on George IV Bridge [http://www.augustine.org.uk/] are so varied and so fascinating and so lovely it's the hugest pleasure to greet them.

And there is something incredibly liberating about being openly trans in a church. Because when I was forced to live as a boy, and then a man, I had to hide myself very firmly away. Because a church was somewhere where you were supposed to be good. And I knew I was terribly bad.

But this church is about becoming yourself.

I used to do the door in my first boarding school.

I certainly wasn't supposed to greet anybody. I had to stand in my school uniform with my hands behind my back and look solemn when everyone filed in. Then close the doors when the service began, and open them again when the service ended. And then stand in my grey shorts and blazer and shirt and tie, which I so hated wearing, while everyone filed out the door.

Services used to be such a torment when I was a child. You had to sit still and not fidget. Which was so hard, because everything was so unbearably dull.

And I couldn't join in the hymns, because I'd been told I couldn't sing, and was so profoundly ashamed of the sound of my voice.

And me not joining in while everyone else sang was somehow part of the profound isolation I felt in those days, me with my secret wish to be a girl that no-one must ever know about, and that made me, in my eyes, the most despicable creature ever to walk the earth.

Sometimes the vicar would tell us that God could see into our secret hearts and see all the sinfulness there, and that felt like a terrible threat.

We sang a psalm a bit like that this morning. But it was completely different. It was one of those passages that occur quite frequently even in the Old Testament that say it doesn't matter who we are, we are still known and accepted and loved.

And I joined in, because I could, and because this is somewhere I now belong.
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