Yesterday was the 8th anniversary of the last time I took off my “Steven Suit.” I came home from a meeting where I presented my male persona, never again to cover up the woman who had been hiding beneath. And in so doing, I stepped into the light.
Steven was never a real person. Just an actor on a stage. Socially-constructed layers of maleness applied throughout the years had hidden the real person, leaving her unable to experience life. Eight years ago I began to deconstruct the facade. To step away from the persona. To uncover the woman who had always been there.
Much has changed over the last eight years. For me, stepping into the sunlight meant stepping into the light of God’s love. Removing the male costume allowed my soul to experience the light, the life, and the love. Time has healed some of the scars. Love has reconstructed much of the pain into purpose and passion. Life hit the ground running. Light has become a place of familiarity, rather than an unimaginable dream.
To deny authenticity to a person whose gender does not align with their assigned sex is an act of violence; a crime against humanity. We have assigned binary rules to a non-binary world and when transgender human beings are denied the ability to embrace our authentic gender, all of humanity pays the price.
There would have been no way for me to completely understand that which had been stolen from me - not by the laws of nature, not by the laws of God, but by the rules and roles of an unknowing world - until I stepped out of the darkness and into the light.
I had no concept of living. I had no concept of light. I only knew that I was in pain. Suffering the emptiness of flesh without soul. Longing for something I could never have been truly able to imagine. I had no reference point for what living authentically would be like.
Today, authenticity is something I wake up to each morning. Many are the mornings that I break into tears as I realize that no force of this world can possibly place me back into the darkness. And the peace, truth, and correctness in my soul tells me that no force of God’s world ever had any intent for me to be in the darkness in the first place.
When people give breath to the notion that transgender human beings should not be able to embrace our authenticity, I have complete understanding of what this means to us. I have that understanding because I have lived in the darkness created by their ignorance, arrogance, and unfounded fears. I have that understanding because I have lived in the light where their fears are exposed for what they truly are - empty, heartless, lies.
In the final analysis, the question is not if you can wrap your head around a person whose gender doesn’t align with their assigned sex. The question is if you can wrap your head around the fact that denying us our authenticity is killing us - mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
So when I am asked about reconciling my faith with my gender, anticipate that I will ask in turn if you know how many transgender women of color have been murdered already in 2015. I will ask how do you reconcile your faith with the fact that nearly half of transgender teenagers will attempt to end their lives because they can’t live authentically.
Eight years ago, I walked into the light. My authenticity is no longer negotiable. I can no longer compromise my authenticity so that some people can continue to live in the comfort of an imaginary, binary world.
And if I get to ride this planet authentically for another eight trips around the sun, I hope I manage to help create a world in which more transgender people are able to peel away the layers of socially-constructed, forcibly-applied pretend. Or even better, a world where people who are transgender are never forced to pretend. Step into the light. l