Posted: February 24, 2011 in Words

This morning I watched a documentary about people who are “transgender.” Honestly, when the show started, I only had an idea of what that word meant. To clarify, it means someone who mentally and emotionally feels like the opposite gender of their body. They describe themselves as “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or vice versa.

It was really strange to watch. They documented five people of various ages and at various stages of their “journey.” There was a 50 year old, born Mitchell, now Michelle. Somehow his marriage survived his transformation from “him” to “her,” and Michelle is still married to Debbie. Then there was 6 year old Haley, who was born Harry. After arguments about not being a boy, lots of therapy, and lots of prayer (yeah- they’re devout Lutherans; Harry’s dad is a Sunday School teacher), Harry’s parents allowed him to become Haley. Not surgically, like Mitchell had done, but Haley wears dresses and has long hair and does all the things little girls do. It was one of the strangest shows I’ve ever watched.

As I sat in my recliner, watching these interviews, hearing about the struggles these families have gone through, trying to make it all make sense in my brain, I once again came to the conclusion that our world just refuses to be as simple as black and white. It’s a thousand shades of gray and a million different colors, and anybody who believes otherwise just hasn’t seen very much of it.

I’m definitely a conservative person- politically, morally, theologically, and in any other way you can be. And I know that I still haven’t seen very much of the world, but I’m starting to, and I’ve seen enough of it to know that it’s complex. It can’t be reduced to a two-party system, it can’t be summed up in a cute list of maxims. Our world is a really, really complicated place, and just because there are things that I haven’t seen, or things that I don’t like or agree with- that doesn’t mean those things don’t exist. They are real, and they are normal, everyday life experiences for some people, and for me to ignore that or forget it would be really stupid and narrow.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that there is a family in New England who let their little boy decide to be a little girl, but it happened. In fact, it’s probably happened a lot more than I would even believe. It’s a fact, and it won’t change by my ignoring it or scoffing at it. So what do I do with that information? I don’t know…

I guess my point is that I’m learning that the world is a lot bigger than I realize, and that’s an important lesson to learn if I’m going to try and reach the world for the sake of Christ. I just hate that it’s taken so long to start learning it, and I’m pretty sure it’s a lesson I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.

  1. Lori Rozas says:

    Jared, I love this… and I love you. You are right on with this insight.

  2. Edwin Christian says:

    This is a well thought out and written article. I applaud you, Jared, on your insight. I grew up with a young man, Terry, who fought for years thinking he was really a girl. Terry became Terri when we turned 15 and life was happier for her for awhile. In my day people were less understanding of things beyond the norm and unfortunately for Terri and her family she committed suicide.
    I cannot begin to tell you the horror of witnessing a suicide and the guilt I felt afterwards thinking I could have prevented it. I can tell you we do live in a very complex and intense world and I have seen a lot of it. I also know I have lots of lessons to learn and teach before I am called home. I only hope I teach my part well.

  3. Lisa says:

    Yes, our world is definitely complicated. My father was a licensed professional counselor for years, so we grew up knowing there is much weirdness in the world. So many of our answers just won’t be found on this side of heaven. Explaining this (to my then 6yr old) inquisitive daughter was a challenge (after standing in line at the store behind such a person). She needed an answer, but not every detail… and I was hoping to do so in a way that wasn’t judging and hopefully loving. I enjoyed your post!

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