Surgery is a game-changer

 

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Last Thursday, I wrote about health and happiness. Reaching my conclusion, I said that I would speak to what prompted the topic at this time.

Assuming I pass the pre-op physical this afternoon (required because I have two heart stents), on Thursday I undergo the first surgery in my transition. This will be on my vocal cords, with the goal to raise the pitch of my voice. On February 14 (moved back from my initial January 24 date), I will have sex reassignment surgery. I hope yet this spring to have plastic surgery on my face.

An interesting thing happened on my way to surgery. I have come a long way in transitioning. I have conversed with many people who either are not sure about all of this or who explicitly disagree. Reactions and opinions have greatly varied, but with everything I have done so far temperaments have been pretty steady.

However, everything changes when the talk turns to my having surgery. Folks’ reactions. Opinions. Demeanor. Concerns.

A common response, and the most explicit, has been, “How can you do that?” The sense I get is that my living as a woman, being on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and having my name legally changed were one thing, but to actually have surgery is quite another.

And I think I know why.

As for dressing as a woman, that is immediately and totally reversible. I still have my male clothes, packed neatly in tubs and stored in the basement. This ranks as the easiest to alter.

About as simple would be returning to Greg and male profiles and pictures online. This would be nothing more than a time-consuming nuisance.

While it took time and effort to have my name and sex marker legally changed, they could be reversed with the same amount of effort; more than changing my online presence and clothes, but totally doable.

Finally, HRT. I began taking estrogen and blocking my testosterone in September, 2013. I have experienced important affects both to my brain and to my body. If I were to stop HRT, eventually my testosterone would take over and my estrogen would reduce, returning me to a male hormone structure. Changes to my body would remain, but none are significant enough to impact living as a male.

Oh, and I would need a haircut. Quite the haircut.

Summarizing, everything I have done to this point is reversible. Surgery, however, is another matter.

When it is Christians who are the ones troubled with the talk of surgery, I am sometimes left with the impression that I can still be saved as far as I’ve gone but, if I have surgery, I will have gone too far. All bets would be off. I would have committed some sort of unredeemable sin. (I will spare you the theological arguments.)

Transitioning has been a phenomenal experience. No one could have told me how these things would have progressed. There is no book to follow, “Ten Steps to Freaking out Your World.”

I am not making fun of anyone, but I have been everything from befuddled to amused to enlightened as to the ways of my fellow humans.

Why do they react as they do? I believe I have the answer, and I located it in something Julie said very early after I told her how badly I was being crushed by my gender dysphoria: “I wish I could spend one day in your brain.” She has eloquently explained how those who have never experienced a conflict between their gender/brain and their sex/body have no ability to grasp what the gender dysphoric person lives through.

When it comes to Christians who retain a traditional doctrine, who are so immersed in “male and female He created them (Genesis 5:2),” a person’s being intersex is perhaps the highest hurdle to jump. And any surgery to alter one’s appearance for the purpose of changing sex is incomprehensible. Offensive. Sinful.

Returning to “How can you do that?” I have a question for you. You would never agree with a person’s cutting off his own arm, would you? Normally, of course not. But what if the person were trapped, with no one to hear his cries for help, and would die unless he freed himself by cutting off his arm?

Surely, you have heard of Aron Ralston. Already famous for his heroic 2003 deed, his story was made more widely known by the 2010 telling of it in the movie, “127 Hours.” Hiking the canyons of Utah by himself, a rock loosened above Ralston and trapped his right hand. He had not made anyone aware of his plans, so he was as alone as alone could be.

It was either lose his arm or lose his life. While “grueling” and “horrible” barely describe the act of cutting through one’s own flesh and bone, the decision to do so was a no-brainer.

If he wanted to live.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves—no pun intended—between a rock and a hard place. A spot where doing what was previously unthinkable not only becomes thinkable, it finally lands in the spot of necessary.

I understand that all of this intersex, gender dysphoria, transgender stuff is mysterious. Because of the media depictions through the years of trans folks, I grasp why many are offended. Why they might think I went off the deep end. How they can only find this sinful.

When I was a pastor, I dealt up close with people who suffered terribly with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction. I ministered to those whose crimes landed them in prison, whose affairs ruined their marriages, whose participating in an abortion left them with a huge burden of guilt.

I have never experienced any of these. I had little or zero experience with them. Before I became a pastor, I might have been prone to casting a quick judgment on folks in these spots.

I had to learn to clear the slate of my mind so that I could listen. So that I could care. So that I could be of service to them. So that I could be on their side to help them heal.

For the first time in my life, I have been the person who longs not to be judged, ridiculed, cast aside. My transitioning has vividly taught me never to say, “If I were in your position, I would never do that.”

I long for all people to honestly be able to recognize the same thing.

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17 thoughts on “Surgery is a game-changer

  1. it is so easy to fall into the trap of judging. to become so complacent in the plight of walking this earth, as a
    compassionate human. i do it all the time. sometimes i surprise myself with what i am judgy about and what i
    am not. mine tends to be around money — because i don’t have financial wealth and i just want a dang
    vacation. so when others post pics while sitting on the beach. i get all kinds of judgy. now back to you.

    i don’t like that you have to endure others making a clear choice to not hold you up. i can only hope that as
    you go through each surgery. as you take each new step that a naysayer makes a decision to choose
    kindness and understanding. that you see how much you are changing our world. i am sure that i doesn’t
    even feel like that many days, but you are. the last year, just following along over has been such a gift. you
    are always beyond fair. you look at both sides. and you sprinkle love around like its confetti.

    mr rogers always talked of “finding the helpers.” i think of that often. our world gets pretty crazy. so
    the next few months, look for those helpers and hold tight that you are doing what you must. and there isn’t
    one dang thing wrong with your decision.

    transitioning is blossoming, blossoming is life.

    xo my friend.

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    1. Thank you for being honest about the judging. I have been prone to the vacation thing, too. When I was a pastor, it bugged me that members went south for the winter, and I had to work hard not to be judgmental about it.

      Oh, gosh, but I love this: “You sprinkle love around like its confetti.” First, thank you for such a generous comment. Second, this is my goal, so for it to be recognized elates me so!

      Amen. Find the helpers. That Mr. Rogers was a gem.

      xoxo’s for this Monday!

      Like

    1. Nathan, that is completely unfair of you, to post this tiny “don’t do it” with nothing with it. Yes, I know you and your positions on things, so I know where you are coming from. But, for you to post this skimpy comment is totally unhelpful to me. Do you get that? It is unhelpful.

      This isn’t about you and how you feel about things, yet that is where so much comes back to. Using my birth name is the big example of that.

      I am doing it. I have committed myself to the Lord. My times are in His hands.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Nathan, i guess you never had to deal with Gender Dysphoria in your life, consider yourself blessed and lucky. Gender Dysphoria is a mismatch between the mind and body, more or less the feeling of a female trapped in a male body. Medical society can’t give us a new brain to match the body, so it is easier to change the body to match the brain. Our bodies are just a house for the soul. When it comes to Gender, we are either male or female and we don’t have a choice what gender we are.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the lovely assist, Sara. Nathan and I have conversed a lot. Despite all that I have said, he has not changed his view of anything – well, not anything of great substance anyway regarding this topic.

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      2. Greg,

        I am asking for your permission to post here (for Sara’s sake) my blog post about why Christians must resist the transgender revolution (which also contains the reasons you should not transition).

        +Nathan

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  2. What I am about to write, I do out of Christian love and concern.

    God did not give you your gender dysphoria, Satan did. Just like God did not give me my multiple sclerosis and trigeminal neuralgia, Satan did. And believe it or not, my faith is so much stronger and I am more content because of them for I know that my Lord and Savior will always be with me to help me through the hard and painful times that sometimes occur because no one else can!

    I remember in Bible class one time that you had made the comment about “sleeve” tattoos and that you felt it was wrong to mar our bodies that God gave us. How then can you take your God-given male body and make it female?

    I can only think of one thing to leave you with. Psalm 12:8 – The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.

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    1. Hi, Teresa~

      I trust that you wrote out of Christian love and concern.

      Of course, God did not give me my gender dysphoria. Neither did Satan. It was the result of my messed up hormone system that I inherited in the womb. And yours also is not from Satan but from the fallen nature that we all inherit which is prone to every sort of illness, disease, and ailment.

      My faith also is so much stronger than it ever was. I trust the Lord more deeply. I am in His Word every single day. I am a praying maniac. I don’t miss worship. I sing hymns with more gusto than ever.

      I also am content with where I am. I know, it seems so wacky. One can only know what all of this is like by living through it, as you would attest with your multiple sclerosis and trigeminal neuralgia.

      Tattoos and transitioning are not equal things to compare. I am not transitioning because it sounds like fun, as getting a tattoo generally is. I was suicidal, truly fearing I would lose my mind. My transitioning is the equivalent of any person’s getting appropriate medical treatment for her condition.

      I know mine is new, different, strange, offensive to many. Just this morning, I listened to former governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and his wife talk about her electro-shock therapy for her mental illness. Talk about a procedure which is rejected by many! They have experienced so much negative from so many. Yet, the procedure works for her. It brought her back from the brink of death. So, should she not receive the therapy because many reject it and or offended at the notion of it – people who don’t know squat about it? Am I supposed to react the same way to people who tell me what to do or not to do who have not studied my condition. In both cases, absolutely not.

      Teresa, I have researched the living daylights out of my condition, how I got it, what it entails, you name it. I have applied myself to the Lord at every stage. I always have confidence with every step I take, and after I have taken the step – for example starting hormone therapy and getting my name changed – and I am always content with having taken the step.

      I know that I am a child of God. The Holy Spirit has placed a strong faith in my heart and it comes out my lips as a profound profession of faith in the Lord Jesus.

      I reject Psalm 12:8 as applying to me. I work my tail off to live a highly ethical life, and to display that life to the world. My blog writings show this. My daily life shows it. People who consider vile my transitioning either have not learned about all of this or have a prejudice against it. (Oh, the prejudice! It is so horrible! I am a freak and queer to so many!)

      Do you know that pastors have condemned me, who know nothing about a person’s being intersex? The worst was a pastor who said, “I don’t know if intersex conditions exist,” and then declared me to be a male, period, and then quoted all kinds of Scripture – every word of which I agreed by the way, but every word which does not apply to a person who has aspects of both male and female. This has been the worst for me, to have pastors do exactly what they teach others not to do: Placing judgment upon a person when they do not know the situation of the person they are judging. It’s no different than judging a book by its cover, and it is sinful against me.

      I DO appreciate your concern, even as notes like this today feel like everything I have written and (if I remember right) how I thought you had reached a level of understanding regarding my transitioning have completely come undone. I KNOW it all is hard to digest, but my path has been measured and methodical, always placing myself under the Lord’s direction.

      I pray all is well in Port Hope. My heart remains there.

      The Lord be with you!

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      1. I read your reply and still so very concerned. When I said that we did not get our ailments from God but from Satan, you replied with it was not Satan but from messed up hormone system that you inherited in the womb and mine and others from fallen nature that we all inherit. Well, to inherit something, it comes from someone. I don’t understand what you are trying to tell me.

        Also, when I talked of tattoos and transitioning, you answered the tattoo part, but not about changing what God gave you to begin with.

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      2. When Gina talks about a hormonal imbalance, it could result from a male fetus not getting enough Testosterone at the six week hormone washing leaving the fetus with a female brain and a male body or a female fetus receiving to much testosterone. Back in the 50’s to 70’s, pregnant mothers where given a drug called DES to prevent miscarriages. They did not know the side affects it caused on the child like missing limbs and transgender feelings. This drug was taken off the market and most Physicians destroyed records to avoid lawsuits.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. First, Sara, thank you for adding the good and helpful explanation.

    Second, Teresa, I meant to say that ALL things are inherited because of Adam’s fall into sin. Mine, too. The point is that Original Sin means that 100% of us comes into the world with any number of things wrong with us, or that will go wrong with us during our lives, and we will eventually die from one of them.

    My point in the tattoo vs. transitioning part was to say that transitioning is not done for the same reason as one’s getting a tattoo. A person doesn’t get a tattoo to heal a terrible condition. Many people change what God gave them – rather, what they were born with. We don’t force a person to live with a cleft palate, or congenital heart defects, or a host of things I could name, and say, “Well, God gave it to you so you are stuck with it.” No, we do corrective surgery for the sake of the person’s life. That is what my surgeries are about – they are corrective for the sake of my life.

    I hope it all makes sense. I don’t want to belabor by writing too much, or by covering territory that I’ve written about many times, and those pieces can be found in the menu on my blog.

    Now, to get out there jogging because I enjoy it and it is good for my health!

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    1. Nathan: You may, but you show that you still do not hear me. Do you believe that I am on board with the transgender revolution? I loathe the term. You lump all of us into one, as if we all have the same ideology.

      I am off to the hospital now.

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      1. Greg,

        Thank you.

        Sara: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/justandsinner/satans-marketing-of-disorder-why-christians-should-shout-no-to-the-transgender-revolution/

        (please note that much discussion ensued there, but very little of it dealt seriously with the empirical and theological content of the article)

        (back to Greg)

        I know you don’t think I hear you. And it makes me sad, even as I continue to pray about it. Unless I fully agree with you, will I not keep hearing that from you? No, all of this makes me terribly sad. As best I can tell, you are just about ready to permanently change your uniform in this battle.

        Even given that your motivations are good, the practical effects of what you do will harm your neighbor. You are hurting, harming your neighbors. I refer to all the content in the article above. I don’t think any discussion we have can change that.

        Not happy to be the bur in the saddle friend.

        Best regards,

        +Nathan

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  4. This one ended it: “You are hurting, harming your neighbors.” I will waste no more time with you, Nathan. I wish you well. You are my brother in Christ, for which I am grateful. But you are stuck where you are (as I am where I am), and you simply offend me. I will be pleased if you would kindly cease communicating with me, unless you move off from “You are hurting, harming your neighbors.” The Lord be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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