The LCMS and transgender acceptance

I selected what I find is the worst possible word for the title because for many LCMS Christians “acceptance” evokes this reaction: “I will never accept transgender people as God-fearing Christians.”

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My chief complaint with the LCMS is that, overall as a synod, gender dysphoria has been judged as either a mental illness or a sinful proclivity, and transitioning a sinful response to it. While there are pastors and lay folks who are open to learning, even to recognizing gender dysphoria as arising from a real, physical condition, and transitioning as a medically viable option, the general sense in the LCMS is that those who transition willfully sin and thus are found ineligible for membership in LCMS congregations.

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“Acceptance” is commonly heard from LGBTQ folks and their allies.  It is synonymous with tolerance. The sense of its usage is that one consents to, is tolerant to, whatever a person says about himself, however he lives, whatever his take is on his situation in life, and no judgment will be taken in opposition to the person’s actions.

Because LCMS Christians hold a traditional understanding of God’s Word, and with how “acceptance” is used, it is largely rejected. I am reminded of the term, “born again Christian,” which is also largely unused by LCMS Christians. The term is correct—there is no such thing as a Christian who is not “born again”—yet, because of the wrong theology attached to it by evangelicals, it is mostly unheard in the LCMS. So it goes with “acceptance” in the transgender conversation.

For many in the LCMS, acceptance with transgender issues feels like support, which feels like caving in and giving up one’s theology. My best example is when Julie and I were received into membership in a LCMS congregation in 2016. The uproar among LCMS pastors was swift and vicious, and taken right to the top of the synod.

None of these, who called for our congregation and pastors to be kicked out of the LCMS, sat in on any of the meetings I had with the pastors. They did not inquire of the pastors as to these discussions, as to my answers, as to the pastors’ stance. They simply judged each person and the situation as sinful.  I know; I read their comments on several websites.

They made assumptions about things which were in violation of the Eighth Commandment, that we shall not bear false witness against our neighbor. Martin Luther explains this command wonderfully: “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.” The reputation of our pastors, the congregation, and Julie and I, all were hurt. From the outcry, it seemed that no one was interested in learning anything from us, but only condemning us. Few of our fellow Christians defended us, or spoke well of us, or explained anything about this situation in the kindest way.

There are many unfair assumptions about transgender persons, including:

  • their actions are sexually motivated;
  • they live a lifestyle unfit for a Christian;
  • they all are part of a movement to impose their beliefs on others.

None of these assumptions are true about me.

Speaking only for myself, yet having had other Christians express similar things about their experience,

  • I have poured out my heart to many pastors, expressing how difficult is this malady;
  • how strongly I fought it;
  • how deeply I longed to remain living as a male;
  • how the last thing I wanted was to sin against the Lord or offend my fellow Christians, yet how weak I was against my gender dysphoria;
  • how thoughts of suicide constantly visited me;
  • how I truly thought I was going to lose my mind;
  • how I struggled to live a God-pleasing life because this led me to hate everything;
  • and how I feared that I would have to go on medication which, because it would be very strong in order to address my anguish, would leave me in a stupor, which would leave me a shell of a person and unable to fulfill any of my vocations.

I have explained how my studying has led me to be all but convinced that my gender dysphoria—and, I suspect, most cases of gender dysphoria—was caused by disruption to my endocrine system when I formed in the womb, which explains why talk therapy and repentance does not address it. I have provided all of the evidence I have accumulated, to demonstrate the science of this.

While I realize that this is challenging stuff, I do not understand the replies I have received from so many. Some simply dismissed what I said. Some were highly skeptical. Some returned to the various Scriptures which they had already quoted, such as “male and female He created them,” as if there have been no maladies of our sinful nature which could attack the uniqueness of the two sexes.

I have continued to demonstrate that I hold to all LCMS doctrine, and that my desire is to love the Lord with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. Because I cannot undeniably prove anything regarding my malady—and, my experience informs me, I am up against misinformation and prejudice—I am left on the outside looking in, as are others in the LCMS who share my situation.

Instead of being helped, we are shunned.

Instead of being heard, we are ignored.

Instead of being fed with the nourishing Word and Sacraments of Jesus Christ, we are starved.

Is this how Christians are supposed to act toward their brothers and sisters in Christ?

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My experience informs me that most LCMS pastors find that gender dysphoria is a mental illness. I will now take them up on that assumption. One pastor said to me, “You wouldn’t tell a woman, who is anorexic, not to eat,” making that the correlative to my transitioning. Indeed, no one would encourage the anorexic to starve herself. However, if she were not able to conquer her malady, and she did, indeed, eat so little as to continue to worsen, even to hasten her death, no respectable pastor would kick her out of the church!

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Here is what I do NOT want from the LCMS:

  • I do not want the LCMS to accept one’s being transgender as normal, the “God made me this way” which is argued by some.
  • I do not want the LCMS to cave in to the secular LGBTQ agenda.
  • I do not want the LCMS to alter one word of its doctrine.

Here is what I DO want from the LCMS:

  • I want the LCMS to recognize that gender dysphoria is a real, physical condition, suffered by Christians just as believers are prone to experience any aspect of our fallen and fractured nature.
  • I want the LCMS to accept that it has members who strive in right doctrine, who struggle with gender dysphoria, who long to be healed, to remain in their birth sex.
  • I want the LCMS to see that it is possible for a Christian to transition, to hate that transitioning was found to be the only solution to quelling suicidal thoughts and fears of insanity.
  • I want the LCMS to acknowledge and treat us as the equals we are in the Lord’s sight, every last one of us humans a fallen and fractured person, all of us unworthy of the Lord’s grace.
  • I want the LCMS to speak and act compassionately toward we who are burdened and heavy-laden, whom the Lord Jesus encourages to come to Him for rest.

This is how acceptance looks to me. It looks like Christians commiserating with their fellow Christians. It looks like working to understand, not judging and discarding. It looks like longsuffering. It looks like compassion. It looks like 1 Corinthians 13’s definition of love.

It looks like how God the Father looks at us—at ALL of us—through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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“I don’t understand”

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A couple of weeks after undergoing sex reassignment surgery (SRS), I had a long, profitable, wonderful conversation with a man who is dear to me. I’ve not interacted much with this man since I transitioned, and have longed to have a meaningful conversation.

He had not rejected me; he didn’t know what to do with me. He didn’t know how to talk with me. He didn’t know what to call me, and admitted that he could not bring himself to use “Gina” for me. He didn’t know what to make of my being transgender.

We had very briefly seen each other, only one time since I transitioned, and he now admitted that he struggled with seeing me dressed as a woman.

It was easier simply to keep some distance between us.

How did we get reconnected? He gets all of the credit. He texted me, to tell me that he had been praying for me. He knew that I had just undergone SRS. I used this to seek a phone call. He was hesitant. He owned up to not being ready. I asked how a person gets ready for this, to take this step.

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NOTE: Soon after I posted this, Rick Cruse made some insightful comments.  I commend you to read them, below.  Rick’s comments reminded me that I neglected an important point: I had vowed to be patient with everyone in my life, grasping that I had surprised them with the revelation of my gender dysphoria, then compounding it when I transitioned.  In each one’s own way, my being transgender is as hard on them as on me.

As with the person in question in this piece, I have given everyone space, never pestering them or acting out to them.  It has been very hard, in many instances, to leave people be and give them time.  I continue to wait on many, am resigned to the worst with some and, thankfully, have had lovely success with others.

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I hope I wrote gently, but I continued to press him to call me. I told him that being disconnected was very hard on me, that it felt like rejection. I assured him that I spoke the same as always—well, my voice would sound hoarse because I was still recovering from surgery to my vocal cords—that I talked and acted exactly as he always knew me. I told him that he could call me whatever was comfortable for him, either Greg or one of the nicknames that he’d used over the years.

He said he would call. Seconds later, we were saying our hellos. We immediately fell into talking with each other in the same manner as we had so many times before.

As we got into discussing my transitioning, and what that means for me being a Christian, a familiar pattern emerged. With his every comment after concern after question, he began, “I don’t understand.”

He asked me about everything. How I got to the point of transitioning. What it meant for my marriage to Julie. How I understood it as a Christian. What will happen when I die, and when we are resurrected from the dead. And more.

Everything was now on the table that had been left unsaid, unasked over the past few years since I first told him about my gender dysphoria.

It wasn’t long before I noted and addressed how he kept beginning a new thought, “But, I don’t understand . . .” I said, “Have you heard yourself? You have been saying how you don’t understand, and then you ask me an excellent question, a question for which I need to have an answer, and I’ve had good answers for all of your questions. Because you’ve never asked your questions, you have never given yourself a chance to understand. You’ve never given me a chance to explain. Now that we are talking, you finally have a fighting chance to understand.”

“Yeah. You’re right.”

We talked for ninety minutes. Eventually, we caught up on happenings in our families and shared interests. We made our goodbyes with promises to stay connected.

As I make the next statement, I do not mean it to sound judgmental, but simply as what the situation was: he let this situation become worse than it was and harder than it needed to be.

What happened with him is terribly common. When something is very foreign, really challenging, tremendously troubling, we all can be prone to avoiding it. I know that I’ve sure been that way plenty of times. We make the thing bigger than it is, harder than it needs to be, and it finally becomes virtually impossible to tackle.

We let “I don’t understand” tumble around in our head so long and so often that coming to an understanding seems so unlikely that we give up on trying to tackle it.

Relationships should be too important to allow “I don’t understand” to win the day. Whether it is parent and child, sibling and sibling, friend and friend, church and member, teammates or coworkers or fellow Americans, people who are important to us should be—no, need to be those for whom we will not allow unknown, troubling, and foreign things to keep us apart.

Love perseveres. Well, it’s supposed to, anyway.

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I don’t begin to imagine that one conversation removed every struggle for the man regarding me, and those concerns he has involving the entirety of the topic of transgender. It didn’t have to. The first step has been taken. We are once again walking together.

The bear trap

This is dedicated to all who suffer from gender dysphoria, to give hope to all who endure in silence, who cannot give voice to their pain, who do not dare to speak, who attempt to take their lives, who see no way out, and to demonstrate to everyone else how terrible it can be for we who live through this extreme conflict of self.

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I once again found the bear trap had snapped firmly onto me.

It was one year ago, today. I had my first ever appointment with an endocrinologist. I bawled through the entire appointment. My new doctor gave me time so she could get to know me. She patiently listened to me tell her how I worked so hard not to transition, how I still did not want to transition, and how I saw no other way out of my mess but transitioning.

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I have written about the suffering that crushed me in 2013, the result of the extreme internal turmoil that left me constantly lamenting, “You hate being a man. You can’t be a woman. Just kill yourself.” I have not explained all of this thoroughly enough.

You might recall the statistic: 41% of people on the transgender spectrum will attempt suicide—from those who have a gender identity question, to those for whom it develops into gender dysphoria, to those who attempt transitioning, to those who transition. This, alone, should speak to how difficult it is to live through the incongruence, the extreme conflict which it is to have a body and brain that do not match; to be seen as one sex but feel like another.

It is far from only the internal struggle. Indeed, if not for the outer forces—the potential for being rejected and misunderstood; of losing a job or a home or both; the risk to one’s emotional life, economic life, the loves in one’s life; rejection by one’s church; every last sphere of life—if not for all of these, the internal struggle would be so much smaller, the attempted suicide rate way easier to stomach.

As much as I pondered killing myself, I was not going to do it. As a Christian, I would not test my Lord that He would give me eternal life; it’s His call, not mine, when I die. As a human, I would not do that to my family and everyone else, who would be left with the worst of emotions, and especially to my Julie, who would have to make it in life on her own. And, frankly, I could not bear to hurt myself.

Even more than killing myself, I thought about running away from home. Sundays came to be the hardest day of the week. I loved leading worship, proclaiming Christ, and teaching Bible class. When I came home at noon, I crashed horribly. I hated myself the worst. Outside of church, I could not sustain the good feeling I had when leading the Lord’s people. Often, during worship, my mind slipped away to the coming gloom, and I felt like a sham of a person.

So, Sunday afternoons were spent planning my getaway. On Monday, whenever Julie might leave the house, I would quickly throw together some things and take off. I would drive to who-knows-where. I would only check in with Julie after I got far enough away, and only so that she knew I was safe.

Several things kept me from running away. I’m so stinking practical that I could not bear the thought of wasting money on hotels and dining out all of the time. Besides, I knew that, eventually, I would have to come home and face my life. Thus, I was able to conclude that running away, like suicide, was no answer.

What did I have left? Since transitioning was an impossibility—this was the mind-set I worked so hard to retain, that my becoming a woman was the stupidest idea on the face of the earth, and even when I would decide that I would have to transition I would work so hard to change my mind—the only other option I could fathom was to enter a psych ward of a hospital.

Here is what I want you to know about how horrible my life was in 2013, and that what I experienced was what thousands of precious people go through who have gender dysphoria.

My mind was on fire.

I have never had a tumor growing in me, so I don’t know how that feels. I have never delivered a baby, so I don’t know how that feels. I have not experienced many of the things which bring the worst pain to the lives of people, so I don’t know how they feel.

But what I know about delivering a baby is that after hours of pain one has a gift of joy. And what I know about tumors is that there are plans for addressing them. And what I know about every other malady under the sun—even the ones which become lifelong plagues, and those which end in death sentences—is that people can tell their families about them, and they won’t be shunned or hated or misunderstood for having them, and even when there isn’t a cure there are many and various ways to treat them, to ease them, and they will be respected for having the surgery or taking the medicine.

Forgive my presumptive arrogance: Because of its uniqueness, my pain was worse.

My pain took me into the wilderness. And feeling like there was no one on earth who could understand, no minister who would think me anything but a sinner, that I had a condition which my family and friends might not/would not respect for its seriousness, in this wilderness I found myself tightly ensnared in a bear trap.

And so I suffered. I hurt the same each new day as I did the day before, yet I wouldn’t die. I just kept on suffering. I bled, but the blood would not run out. There was no end in sight, no expectation of help, no hope that death would come. And there was nothing I could do about it.

That’s how the world looked to me: I was lost in the wilderness, tightly ensnared in a bear trap.

Thankfully, I had Julie, but I feared wearing her out. I undertook therapy, to see if I could learn some skills to abide in my male life. I regularly spoke with a pastor, for spiritual strength. I would wind up speaking with many pastors, and placed myself under the care of several of them.

I took refuge in my work. I still loved being a pastor, and I adored the people of my congregation and the village in which I lived. I did not want to leave there until I retired at a good old age or, as I came to joke, when my friends at Ramsey Funeral Home would have to come and pry my dead fingers from the pulpit.

But I could not work twenty-four-hours-a-day.

I cried constantly. I would finally tell my congregation that I cried more in 2013 than in the first fifty-six years of my life, combined. That is no exaggeration.

I cried when I got up in the morning. I cried when I got dressed for work. I cried when I came home from work. I cried when I prayed. I cried when I was driving my car. I cried in my therapy sessions. I cried when I tried to go to sleep at night.

My mind was on fire. The bear trap tightened.

Before I had begun telling pastors about myself, the thought of telling them crushed me. Then, the pastors I had come to tell, who had influence over my professional life, completely did not get me. They were sympathetic, but they didn’t get me. In the end, to them I was struggling with a sinful situation and I had to get my healing from Christ. Their answer to my plea, “What am I supposed to do with myself? If I can’t transition, how am I supposed to ease my pain?” was always, “I don’t know.”

I would rather be told that I have a terminal illness than to hear “I don’t know.” At least with that I would know where I stand.

Every two or three days, especially from winter of 2013 through that autumn, before they became less frequent, I would fall into a complete meltdown. The bear trap was at its tightest. I was filled with pain. With anger. With rage. I had nowhere to go with everything that was inside of me. I couldn’t transition. I had to transition. I had to figure out how to be a male. I couldn’t figure out how to be a male. I couldn’t kill myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about killing myself. I wouldn’t run away. I kept planning my escape.

There was no end in sight for my pain. In my mid-fifties, I was still young, still wanted to be a pastor, still wanted to be a husband and father and grandfather and brother. I didn’t know how I was going to be that person. I hated myself, and then I hated myself for hating myself, sniveling ingrate that I was.

I came to say that I suffered a nervous breakdown right in front of everyone, and no one saw it.

In April, I started therapy. I had a marvelous therapist. I felt like I exasperated him with my bawling, pain-filled sermons about myself. He worked hard for me, but he could not remove the bear trap.

He taught me that only I could remove the bear trap. Only I could walk back from the wilderness.

At times, I had a meltdown on my bed. I would kick, and scream, and pound my pillow. I would holler my prayers to Christ, begging His mercy. After an hour, I would collapse in exhaustion and fall asleep.

At times, I had meltdowns when Julie was home. These usually took place in the living room. I would either pound away at the arms of my chair, or I would fall to the floor and writhe in pain. I put my pain into screaming words, as if blowing it out of me would finally get rid of it.

I never put myself into physical danger, so Julie would sit by, observe me, and wait. When I had exhausted myself, she finally spoke. Then we talked. Always an hour. Often two. The same stuff, over and over. New stuff, as it arose. We addressed it all. The profound love and respect we already had for each other grew in a way that cannot occur unless a couple does the hard work of suffering together.

I would beg her to commit me to a mental hospital. Many times, I pondered driving to one and committing myself. I saw it as a reasonable form of running away. And if I wound up in the hospital and I came to tell my world what landed me there, then maybe, just maybe, they would have sympathy for me. Maybe, just maybe, if I were hospitalized for a good, long time, they would feel sorry for me. Then, maybe, just maybe, because I was this completely screwed up person—this man who was their minister in the stead of Jesus Christ, who led them with integrity, who spoke by the Spirit as one who had authority, to whom they looked in tragedy after tragedy which continued to befall our congregation and community—maybe, just maybe, they would have sympathy for me. Maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t hate me.

But Julie would not do it. Julie would not commit me. And when I was tempted to drive myself to Bay City or Port Huron—to the psych wards where I had ministered to some of my members—when I thought of placing myself in one of these places her reason for not doing it rang in my ears and kept me at home.

We were convinced that they would so heavily medicate me that I would basically be left in a stupor, that it would take the most serious sedatives to douse the fire in my brain so that I could relax

But the drugs would not cure anything. They would only delay any decisions I had to make. They would leave me in a spot where I was useful to no one—only a blithering idiot, one who could do no more than watch TV.

Drugs. Mental hospital. Suicide. They’re all just other forms of running away.

Another form of running away: One evening, I tried to get drunk. It was during tax season, when Julie was not getting home till 11:00 p.m. or so. We had a bottle of wine. I drank the first glass very quickly. I poured a second. I began to sip it. The alcohol hit my brain. I’ve never been drunk and that first feeling always makes me stop. I started crying so hard that I flipped my La-Z-Boy onto its back, and I spilled onto the floor. I lay there and bawled. I couldn’t even ease my pain with alcohol.

By summer 2013, I finally agreed that I possessed the keys to the bear trap. That’s keys, plural. It would take me two years to finally grab onto these to where they did not slip out of my grasp.

Doc, my exceptional therapist, then Julie’s echoing him, encouraged me that I was the only one who could decide about my life, so the first key was that I could not make decisions based on who would be hurt or by whom I might be hated.

Another key was educating myself, learning that I had a real, physical condition. Once I knew that the origin of my suffering was not some nebulous mental illness, I was able to take control of it.

Another key was Julie and I talking through every last detail as to how we would proceed, figuring out my retirement and our future, how we would tell people and the order in which we would do it, striving to know how each would react so that we were ready for this largest hurdle (and after we got the first few under our belt, we were 100% correct as to the reactions of everyone).

The final, most important key was the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence, His always holding my Lord Jesus Christ before my face, and the excellent theology in which I had been trained, which I had proclaimed and taught, which I believed. I found myself trusting in Christ more deeply than ever, that He loved me and that I was proceeding under His good and gracious will.

I continued to suffer, but it gradually eased. Even at the three year mark, this past winter, I would feel the grip of the bear trap; old wounds would bleed. When they have, I’ve used the keys to free myself.

Through it all, I have taken refuge in Christ and in many of His promises, including this one: “God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13b).”

I love you, but…

It seems to me that “I love you” should never be followed by a “but,” um, but, at times, it is.
• Humorously: I love you, but you can’t take my seat on the couch.
• Frivolously: I love you, but I also love hamburgers, and naps, and sunsets.
• Seriously: I love you, but I can no longer be married to you.

This love “but” tag is on my mind because of the cumulative effect it has been having on me, from both my personal experience and that of some of my trans friends.

In 2013 and 2014, I visited with dozens of people, beginning with pastors and church officials, then family members and my closest friends, in the months when I decided I had to retire, telling them about my history with gender dysphoria and how I was going back and forth as to whether I would attempt transitioning. I kept track, recording whom I told and when. Over that period, I gave the talk thirty times, with about double that number of people. I received every reaction in the book, from speechless to stumped to supportive. A few times, the reaction was, “I love you, but . . .” One will serve as the best example.

“Greg, I see how badly you’re hurting, but I don’t know how I am going to feel if you transition. I’ll always love you, but I don’t know if I could ever see you as a woman.”

So as not to reveal this person, I will use the genderless name, Pat, and the non-gendered pronoun, they/them.

Pat is a person who is very important to me. We have had a good relationship, and most of the time a great relationship. I want them in my life.

I’ve not talked to Pat since you can guess when. As long as I strived to remain male, Pat could deal with me. We could not talk about it—except that one time they brought it up, but not to discuss the hell I was going through but something about me that was affecting them.

When Pat insisted they loved me, I affirmed it. The last time I talked with Pat on the phone, I asked if I could stop by but they did not want to see me even though I was in the period when I briefly returned to living as a male. At the end of that chat, they repeated their love for me. I replied with my love for them.

That was over a year ago, in the spring of 2015.

I understand about difficult things erecting walls for people. I sat with my dad the last hours of his life. My siblings and others visited, but a few people said, “I just can’t see him like this.” I replied, “But he’s going to be gone soon.” They insisted, “I’m sorry. I just can’t do hospitals.”

I did not challenge the love of the ones who said that. Now I wish I had done so. Gently, but I wish I had done it.

When I was a pastor, I witnessed plenty of folks who would not visit nursing homes or go to funerals. Them: “I can’t look at a dead person.” Me: “You don’t have to look into the casket. The spouse/kids/family would be strengthened by your presence.” Them: “I don’t know. I get so creeped out.”

I did not challenge the love of the ones who said that. Now I wish I had done so. Gently, but I wish I had done it.

You’ve probably heard of the “love chapter” of the Bible. It’s often read at weddings, though it is not specifically about marriage. Here it is, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

God the Holy Spirit had this recorded so that we might know what it means to love; what we should mean when we say “I love you.”

When I think of the rejection which many of us trans women and -men experience from family and friends, these attributes from love’s definition stand out:
• Patience
• Kindness
• Honoring
• Selfless
• Protecting
• Persevering
• Unfailing

Whew. As I typed that, it exhausted me. Love is a big job.

And that’s my point. When people are hurting, when people are in need, when people just told you the hardest news they never wanted to ever have to tell you, they need your love. They need you to be patient, and kind, and to honor them, and not to think of yourself, and to protect them, and to hang in there with them, and to do all of this without fail.

I never challenged the love of the ones who said, “I love you, but . . .” Now I wish I had done so. Gently, but I wish I had done it.

For my part, I made it my number one job to demonstrate these love attributes to all people. Toward those who have not been able to get off their “but,” I have been patient and kind, realizing the tough spot in which they were finding themselves, seeking to honor them.

I have had chances to press Pat, to see Pat. I have not taken them. I will not put Pat on the spot. I will remain patient.

To love means you suck it up and make that hospital visit. To love means you don’t look into the casket but you go to the funeral home and give the hug which provides so much to the mourning. To love means when your loved one just told you the hardest news they never wanted to ever have to tell you, you find a way to remain in their life. To love means when someone needs time, needs space, you give it to them.

That wall begins erecting itself, but you tell yourself, “This is going to be a challenge, yet I have to do this for this person’s sake and mine, because I love this person and this person loves me. This is not about me. If I were in this spot, I would not be happy if this person rejected me, so I need to find a way to get over my lack of understanding, my misunderstanding, my never being able to truly understand, my being bothered by this situation.”

Yup. That’s what love does.

If you are transgender, and it helps for you to send this to one of your loved ones in order to open their eyes to see things better, I will be very pleased. If you have a relative for whom hospitals, funeral homes, nursing homes, or wherever is too much for them, I hope this helps.

We can do this! Together, when we all remember the Golden Rule, to treat others the way we want them to treat us, we can live out the lofty list of love’s length. When we do, all of us will benefit.

All of us.

Note:  I wrote this in 2016, when I was living as a transgender woman.  In the piece, where I write, “the hardest news they never wanted to ever have to tell you,” I am referring to telling loved ones about having gender dysphoria.