This is a Dialogue between Stephanie and Roxanne
I am including it because ALL of the exchange is well thought out and civil and I love the outcome. Understanding
From: "Stepha Ninnie"
Subject: Response to your website
I discovered your story on-line, and I want to thank you for sharing your story—openly, vulnerably, and honestly. I have read your story, and I see deep desire, honesty, and earnestness. Your feelings are valid and to be affirmed, but I must say, I believe the conclusion you have come to believe is flawed. Please let me explain.
Having been born and raised in a Christian home, with open, loving, evangelical Christian parents, I have been given a solid foundation from which to walk with Jesus. Certainly, the relationship is like any other—with its ups and downs, with trials, with failures. And each time, it is He that meets me in a deeper way, despite my human limitations, my Sin.
I say all this for you to know that I am a sister in Jesus, with more "issues" than I know what to do with. :)
Maybe I should start with a question. Should you deny your enjoyment of female clothing, of the feminine, of the beautiful, of the enjoyment of friendships with women--by no means! It is right and good and true and to be valued. You must have an amazing appreciation and understanding of women, of the image of God uniquely reflected in women. What a gift to women who so often feel undervalued and misunderstood by the men they love and are loved by. But does it mean you are to be LIKE a woman? I don’t believe so. I believe God’s desire is for you to discover exactly how He designed you—not the man you perceive other men to be, but the MAN He made you to be. Becoming LIKE a woman (which is not the same thing as BEING a woman) is not what I believe you even desire, Roxanne.
Roxanne, I don’t believe your feelings are wrong, but I also don’t believe that “being” a woman is giving you the freedom you seek. If you were to have been born a woman, as you seem to believe you should have been, you would not be the man God is asking you to be by having made you that way.
And He makes no mistakes in our creation. (Psalm 139). He foreknew your unformed body, knit you together in your mother’s womb, exactly as you are.
And though you might enjoy aspects of the famine—clothes, etc., those aspects do not make a woman. (And I would be offended if you were to tell me, a woman, that clothes and makeup bestow upon me my identity. Even I, as a woman, don’t know fully what it means to be a woman, but my clothing certainly does not endow my femininity, because if it were, then I must be lacking. I wear skirts and lipstick maybe twice a year. (*laughs*) Your desire for a woman, your wife, is what you were given in being designed as a man. Your outward physical markers are the proof of God’s beautiful maleness in you. And I do believe, in having told you to marry your wife (as I believe He must have when reading your story), God is asking you to be the husband she deserves to have. Your wife doesn’t need another female friend, she needs her husband. And to rob her of that is unfair, and to tell God He made a mistake in how He created you is absurd.
Please, instead of disregarding this email, would you consider what I have shared and ask Him if there might be other conclusions you could draw from these desires and interests you find in your heart other than the conclusion to become “like a woman,” which I believe you will not ever achieve by dressing as a woman would. And because truly BECOMING a woman would mean you would not desire your wife, but another man, that cannot be. I ask you to seek freedom in Truth, not in mere outward appearances, which is what becoming LIKE a woman is. We can never change our God-given identity, and my encouragement to you would be to discover and then freely embrace the man He uniquely created YOU to be, as I want to be challenged in discovering who I am as a woman, and let that blessing overflow onto the lives of many.
Roxanne’s first reply:
Dear Sister in Christ,
Thank you for your response to my life. I certainly see in your desire to counsel me the deep love of Christ. And don't suppose I have not considered all the aspects you have raised. Could I be wrong? Of course! I would be a complete fool to suppose I have all the answers as a flawed, but redeemed sinner. However, as a genetic woman, your viewpoint is through a lens that is much different than mine.
"In Christ, there is no male or female..."that is a pretty bottom line statement. Are any of us ready to deny our personality, our emotional fabric or our gender identity in this life as of NO consequence? Of course not. Gender issues are a complex mix of social and internal constructs.
What is most at issue is not clothing, it is relationships, as you say.
My desire to be a woman is not about clothing, but what the clothing opens up for me in my living my life. I fear that the answers to how we relate to others gets into areas of personal preferences, within the scope of Christian love and mercy.
Attraction of one person to another.
Being a 'beautiful' anyone, male or female.
Are these issues that you can accept are highly individual? As I work out my life in fear and trembling, I certainly want to remain open to correction. The standards you set for me are on the surface very traditional values seated within the commonly held versions of scriptural truth in the evangelical community. My take on it is this...I have tried my entire life to live within confines within those constructs that gave me no peace. Prayer, study and repentance brought no answers. I am trying to live based on seeking the grace and mercy of
God and living in light of a difference in me that has to this point remained unaltered.
God may choose to do a mighty work in me that I know of no other Christian TG person having found, but He is a God of miracles. I have done my pleading and tears. I am now at rest. It is up to Him to do what He will in my life.
Please know your email, unsolicited as it was, could have been a very negative thing. It was not. That it was obviously bathed in love and concern is a great blessing. Please pray for me if you are so led, but do not take me on as a "project". I am working to build a life that is
pleasing to God, and the work is a full time effort. My own ministry for understanding for my fellow travelers is my focus. I would ask you gently to release me from any further counsel via email. Your reply is welcome if you so desire, but I probably will not continue in the dialogue.
May God richly bless you,
I then sent you four emails from my sisters at TG Christians...and reopened our dialogue...
Here is your gracious reply and my answer follows.
From: "Stepha Ninnie"
Subject: RE: Response to your website
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2004 16:22:46 -0400
Wow! That was more than I had bargained for, but so good! Unsolicited advice certainly does solicit and elicit deep, visceral responses, and I should have expected that was the case when dealing with something as deep and precious as gender identity. I think in that sense, I want to apologize. Deeply. Because as much as I may or may not agree or not even know how to respond to certain arguments (from one or all of the responses you forwarded me), as one or more mentioned, I am dealing with a subject which is outside my realm of experience. And to simply "throw" a pat-answer (which I hadn't thought I was doing but now realize is ALL I could have been doing when I don't speak from personal experience) to your life was not my intent, but certainly the effect. So, I do want to ask your forgiveness.
I am reminded of mercy and grace that originated even before the Cross, in the triune God Himself. I am reminded of the subtleties, the beautiful and often painful grays, the "unsolved mysteries" in our lives that we all have to work out with Him (and maybe never fully answer until we see Him face to face). I am humbled. Am I thankful not to find deep confusion in my gender after reading through the myriad of responses? Yes, deeply grateful. Do I claim to know or understand that confusion from personal experience? No.
And yet is my gender identity and sexuality cut-and-dry? Of course not.
So, I am challenged and encouraged to search, listen, and learn...for myself and for the sake of others, and for the sake of knowing the heart of Jesus, who loves me and each of His children, imperfectly, as we are.
I guess my struggle really lies in the broad spectrum of "truths" of our generation...that horribly blurred line between dogmatic, judgmental Pharisee/Sadducee and boundless "truth" that our society passes off as "what's ok for you is ok for me is ok for everyone"--where our emotional experience and our conclusions are our god, where God is filtered through our experiences, not our experiences through God. I struggle to see that line where grace and mercy meets life-giving but often unpopular and hard-to-swallow Truth. And having received such open and honest, vulnerable responses from you as well as your friends, I am challenged even more--to both seek Truth as well as extend grace, receive humbly, respond honestly, knowing that in my "normative experience" I am not forced to face what others pass off as simply "freakish" or "abnormal." (And I'm sure you've heard it all.) Please extend my thanks to each of them for their patience, their insight, their time, and their openness.
Thank you, Roxanne, for taking my email in love and concern, as simple, ignorant, and lacking personal experience as it was. I will continue to consider the emails I have been sent and am thankful for this interchange.
And I will pray for you and for myself, Roxanne, for the God of Truth and Love to continue to find Himself at home (as He already is, alive and in Spirit within us) in our hearts.
With sincerest blessings,
My most recent reply:
I consider myself blessed to have your warm, loving spirit touch my life. I hope you realize I am neither a source of all truth about this topic, but also not a novice either. I seek the truth also, in fear and trembling. I know my God will correct and reprove me, bringing me to full knowledge of Him self when I finally see Him face to face. Until then it is a constant pilgrimage to become more conformed to His image, male AND female.
I too worry that any pioneering effort to include the "different" will be used by others to advocate behavior that is way outside the bounds of Godliness. Lumping together very diverse issues to gain approval for blatant sin is lazy thinking, but it is surely done with great regularity. I am not a wild libertarian, but have reached the point where generally I do see more freedom than sanction within authentic Christian living.
If you wish, try searching for "Jade Catherine Devlin". As a great advocate of understanding TG issues in the Christian context, her site can link you to my sisters and brothers in TG Christians, those whose answers I forwarded to you. Joining in the dialogue, given your pure heart and loving sprit would be welcome. There is great tender mercy, caring nurture and desire for truth in this group of marvelous saints and dear wounded souls, all striving to make sense of their very personal situations.
The more people within the body of Christ who will wrestle sincerely (sincerely means "without wax", literally defined) with these issues will help pioneer a liberation from prejudice. It could be compared to what the church finally did in the 1800's in the historic abolitionist movement against slavery and the 1950's and 60's in the civil rights movement for ending racism.
Keep in touch, sister