The public debating over bathrooms has been hot and heavy this week. Inside the debate, that thing that sounds to a transgender person like fingernails on a chalkboard has been repeated often enough that it needs addressing: “I don’t agree with that lifestyle.”
I know what is meant, but still I must ask: What “lifestyle?”
Let me tell you about my lifestyle.
1. I am a Christian. My lifestyle is to worship the Lord every Sunday morning. My lifestyle is to attend Bible class, to be on church committees, and generally to try to be a blessing where I am planted. My lifestyle is to read from the Bible every day, the first thing I do, and to listen to a podcast devotion, and to read from two devotion booklets, and to pray throughout the day.
2. I am a husband, and father, and a grandfather. My lifestyle changed a bit since retiring from the ministry to where I now take care of my beloved Julie by being the house-spouse. My lifestyle is to cook and do the laundry and you name it, to make her life at home comfortable because she works hard five and six days a week bringing home the bacon for us. We also have one of our children and two of our grandchildren with us these days, and I have supper on the table for them every evening, and work to make a good home for them. And when I can I visit my other three children and other five grandchildren, and live the lifestyle of a typical parent and grandparent.
3. I am an active person. My lifestyle is to garden, to make good use of the variety of vegetables the Lord gives me through the earth each year. I have been a runner since I was in my early twenties—this is my thirty-seventh year of jogging. My lifestyle is to work to stay healthy so that I can live well and long and take care of my family and enjoy the gifts with which the Lord blesses me. My lifestyle is to write and to speak, to educate what it means to be transgender and a Christian and a spouse and so forth.
4. I am frugal. My lifestyle is not to be wasteful. I will not hesitate spending money on groceries or nice restaurants, but I’ll drive my car till it no longer pays to drive it (I drive a 2001 Chevy Impala that still gets great gas mileage), and gladly shop at thrift stores for clothes (the top and jeans I’m wearing right now came from one at a total cost of less than $10), and watch movies on Netflix than go to the theater.
5. I am about as common and boring as the most common or boring person around. My lifestyle is that I drink coffee and water, and that’s about it. I rarely drink alcohol. I’ve never gotten drunk. I’ve never smoked. I’ve never tried pot or any illicit drug. I don’t gamble. I have no tattoos. I set my cruise control so that I don’t speed. I mow my own lawn, and not on a riding mower. I can the tomatoes I grow so that I have them all year. I compost my kitchen and yard waste. I recycle. Yawnnnnnn.
I pray that I’ve made my point what my lifestyle is. Being transgender has nothing to do with it. Indeed, here is the number of things that have changed in my lifestyle since I transitioned:
Nothing. Nada. Nil. Zip. Zilch. The big goose egg.
So, if you don’t like, approve of, or otherwise dig my lifestyle now, you didn’t like, approve of, or otherwise dig my lifestyle before.
My being transgender is, well, I said it in the word before transgender, my being. It is who I am, as another person’s being a cisgender female or male is their being; as a person’s being Caucasian or African American or Asian is their being; as being a lefthander is my being.
A great stigma is placed on people when “lifestyle” is thrown about. It seems to me it is always used as a pejorative. Derogatory. Belittling. Looking down one’s nose at another. Disapproving.
I, too, can talk about lifestyles which I disrespect. I point to my fellow Christians because they are my spiritual family and the ones who most abuse the use of “lifestyle.”
• Drunkenness—and I know a lot of cisgender Christians who regularly get drunk.
• Gossiping, lying, backbiting, and trouble-making—and I know a lot of cisgender Christians who excel at these sinful traits.
• Sex outside of marriage and unbiblical divorce—and I know a lot of cisgender Christians who fall into these two categories.
I could go on for awhile. That’s enough. The point is made. One’s “being” has nothing to do with one’s “lifestyle.”
Let’s debate everything that is worthy of debate. As we do, let us do so wisely, kindly, and correctly.