My mom asked me last week what I thought about the new laws forcing transgender people to use the restrooms corresponding with their birth gender, not their identified gender. And I honestly had a hard time answering because it’s difficult for me to imagine on what planet people would feel threatened by trans women, who face more discrimination than almost any other people group.
(This planet, obviously. Duh, Trish.)
But this view of reality is so far from my realm of thinking I’ve had to do some digging. Why? Why are people I know posting condescending or fear-mongering Facebook updates about transgender people? What ideas or assumptions do they have that makes this behavior make sense?
I can’t read minds, but I think I may have an idea, and it’s this:
They believe in the gender binary. They not only believe that there are two, and only two, genders, but they believe in the gender binary, believe it’s the correct system and simply the way we are made.
If the above statement describes how you see gender, I have to tell you – that is not the Kingdom. That is not living in the power of the risen Christ.
Remember when an argument for racial segregation was “separate, but equal”? That we were simply “made differently” from other races?
Do you know where I heard that a lot growing up? Church. But instead of talking about race, they were talking about gender. The roles of men and women in marriage. In life.
Guys, it’s just as much a lie about gender as it was about race. We were not meant to live separate lives and need pastors and comedians to translate “what men want” or “what women want”.
We’re meant to live and work together.
Separated, we struggle for power. One of us has to rule over the other. That’s what the patriarchy is, how it works. When people talk about “the way things are”, they are right – that is exactly the way the patriarchy is.
But as Christians, to submit to that system, to live our lives around it, is to deny the power of the risen Christ. It’s to deny the power of the of the Kingdom he established on earth overthrowing the patriarchy.
But that’s exactly what we do. We preach the patriarchy in our churches, we practice it in our homes, we digest and assimilate it into our worldview.
And that’s where the condescending and fear mongering comes in. Transgender people deny the authority of the gender binary, thereby denying the authority of the patriarchy to separate us and decide who is in power.
We’ve adopted the patriarchy instead of the Kingdom as our system of relating to one another, therefore we use patriarchy approved reactions to those outside the system: fear, hate, and othering. The Kingdom’s response to those outside its system? Love and inclusivity.
Ok, Trish, you may be thinking. I may want to live in the Kingdom, but everybody else still lives in the patriarchy, where men rule over women and sometimes prove their power through sexual assault. That’s why we have separate restrooms. How do we know some perv won’t dress up like a woman to get into the women’s restrooms and rape someone?
I get that, and that’s why I’ll be exploring rape culture in the next post – what it is, how the evangelical church is steeped in it, and what you can do to change it.
For now, I want you to ask yourself: why? If you’re outraged or offended by transgender people, why is that? Why does it matter? If there’s no male or female in the Kingdom, what on earth is the big deal?