Thursday, November 15, 2012

CTW SLC Part VI- Bobbie's story

As some of you may remember, I've posted a few times about gender confusion.  The first was somewhat caustic and marginalized people who may be confused about their gender and the second was an admission of guilt for that attitude and an open call for more understanding on my part. I don't think I've ever been hateful towards those with gender confusion, but I think that too often, I viewed them with pity because they were so clearly damaged. (Sidebar: I did not know the difference between pity, sympathy and empathy until fairly recently.  Pity is a very negative emotion. Be wary of it Avoid it like the plague.)

Well, it's taken nearly a year, but I feel like that understanding is starting to open up a bit more. I read books on the subject, found blogs of people who were either considering or in the middle of gender reassignment and tried to find those who had experience with it, but usually, those witnesses I found were secondary and the books and blogs I read were impersonal. I still found myself faced with an initial gut reaction of confusion. I simply could not understand why a person would want to be a different gender.

As I stated in my first post on the subject, I am perfectly content being male.  I am no paragon of machismo or masculinity, but I have never felt that I should be a girl.  I am genuinely grateful to God that I was born a man for many reasons, including, among many other things, the ease with which we achieve sexual satisfaction, the fact that it doesn't hurt when our bodies expel gametes and the intrinsic social and professional advantages of being male, deserved or not.  While I consider myself a feminist, I am grateful that if the feminist movement doesn't pan out well, it won't necessarily affect me as much.  Not that I support it, but chauvinism works in my favor, so if that's what's common, I'm glad I'm on the easy side of it.

And, to add to that, I know women who are proud of their womanhood, of the grace with which women have become synonymous. Proud that they get to wear cuter shoes, proud that they get to bear and feed children with their own bodies, proud that, now at least, they can be taken seriously both in the home and in the professional world.  Both gender stereotypes have so much to be proud of.

With respect to all of the primary information I have about gender, I could not understand why someone could possibly feel uncomfortable in their skin that way.  Sure, it would be nice if crying or flirting got me out of speeding tickets, and I know women who wish they had a johnson while camping so peeing was easier, but by and large most people seem happy with their gender.

Enter Bobbie.
I'd rather not give much personal information about her, since her's really isn't my story to tell (in spite of the fact that she told it in a keynote), but Bobbie, whose name used to be Robert, has had a unique and interesting life.  

In her keynote, she talked about some of the various influences in her life from a very early age that may have contributed to her confusion, but she admitted that it was from day one that she felt different from the other boys.

As a young boy, Robert was gifted with mechanics and was able to fix things around the house, which included his mother's sewing machine. After fixing it once, he learned to sew on it and became handy with that as well. He also learned to cook and became adept in the kitchen.  Much of his LDS mission was spent teaching companions how to cook and clean and he often was called upon to do the cooking whenever the mission president and his wife were visiting.  

After returning home, Robert entered an apparently normal marriage with his wife and fathered a few children.  However, through all this, he never felt comfortable with himself and his marriage ended in bitter divorce.

After that, he began figuring out what it was that would make him feel at peace and at home inside his skin.  He found that answer on a vacation he took, in which he visited what I think might be termed a drag shop.  I have to admit, I still don't understand the appropriate terminology, so I really hope you'll pardon my ignorance.  In any case, while in this shop, he learned how to apply makeup, do his hair and nails and dress a bit more ladylike.  And so Robert began his metamorphosis into Bobbie.

To be certain, I do not agree with the morality of her choices. I don't believe that God makes mistakes when He decides which spirit should go in which body. But I have never felt pain like she said she'd felt in her life before. I do not know what it is like to look down and feel like something should be there that isn't, or something is there that shouldn't be. In spite of my own insecurities due to my less-than-masculine physique or strength, I have never felt like my identity as a man wasn't my own. I have always felt perfectly comfortable and grateful to be a boy.

To be uncomfortable with something as defining and ironclad as gender is frankly unfathomable to me. I cannot understand her pain, but now, that lack of understanding bears itself out not as discomfort or mistrust, but as something hopefully closer to Christlike love.

This experience has taught me two things, both of which I am extremely grateful for.

One, who the hell am I to add to her pain by calling her mean names, shunning her from my social circles or refusing to allow her to spend time with my kids? Who am I to give her more heartache by calling her perverted, or by offering her pity that is patronizing at best and wildly offensive at worst? Who am I not to offer her as much of my Christlike love as I can give?

Two, Christ can understand her pain. He knows more intimately than anyone exactly how she feels and the emotional trauma she has experienced. He sees her making the choices she is making and He loves her exactly as she is. 

I don't have any of the answers. I don't know why this phenomenon occurs biologically, spiritually or emotionally.  I don't know the morality of such decisions. I just don't know.  But what I do know is that my job is to love people like Bobbie as best I can and view them not with pity or disgust, but with genuine love and compassion.  Like me, Bobbie was born the way she was and like me, she is trying her best to find true happiness.  All I can do is encourage her to make the best choices she can make and love her no matter the outcome.  

As we heard yesterday, "Love. Only love. That is your only job."

1 comment:

  1. was not expecting that link shout out haha! thanks boo.

    ReplyDelete

Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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