This Body of Death

I could power an entire city. Or perhaps start a nuclear fusion reaction and give birth to a star. The amount of energy I’ve been exerting these past five years and continue to exert each day in order to fool the world into thinking I am what you see, into thinking that I’m doing okay, into thinking that I’m smiling on the inside as well as on the outside—I could charge a handsome fee to the energy companies.

I inhabit this body. Lug it around like dead weight. And scream, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?!” But my cries fall on deaf ears. Because I’ve been so good at fooling the world.

The days of Continue reading →

The Deep Magic of Aslan (or, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Me After I Came Out to My Friends)

Tonight, I drew a bath, not because I was depressed but because I was happy and I didn’t know how to handle it. 

Weird.

The previous night, over dinner, i came out to my closest friends. To my relief and delight they were supportive and accepted me for who I am.

And when my friend’s wife announced to the table, she was gonna steal me away from the boys cuz I’m on her team now, i was lifted.

And so tonight, in those baptismal bath waters I found myself singing, truly singing, for the first time in five years. Songs of worship came wafting out of my unchained heart. Turns out, all this time there was a stopper on my heart. And now this pathway of the heart to heaven was open, as it was before. The Holy Spirit like clarity. And I realized not only was I singing “I Love You Lord,” I was singing that God is good and trustworthy. Such relief to be able to believe again that God is good! To know that I know that I really do trust God.

And then came the waves of giddiness. Uncontrollable laughter. Smiling ear to ear like…who knows. The euphoria was overwhelming. I begged it to stop. Which of course it did. Which of course it came back for one more go on the Euphoria-Go-Round.

I am free.

Thank you, my magical friends.
Your unconditional love is the Deep Magic of Aslan.

💖 Sophia

Ugh: Aftermath of an Exorcism(ish)

PART 1

It was supposed to be an early morning. A day of trying to be productive. But the crushing wave of depression would keep me bedridden for the better part of the day. I had awoken from sleep with an emotion I could not put into words:

And I began to wonder if the events of the night before weren’t responsible for my nameless emotion—this feeling of having been spiritually violated.

I had gone to a monthly gathering of young pastors, most of us in our 30s.

During our free worship/prayer time I heard the Spirit say to me for the first time, “I made you, Sophia.” God made me trans and has plans for me. Then all through the prayer time the Spirit kept saying, “Do not be afraid.” Pertaining to my fears of losing friends and family when I come out; my fears of how to come out at work when I’m once again gainfully employed. And all the other processes of transitioning and facing life as a trans woman. “Do not be afraid.” God made me trans and God has a plan for me. God will be with me through the process of coming out and transitioning.

Afterwards, we took time praying for one another. We partnered up with the person closest to us. Steve (not his real name) went first. He started out praying for me quietly then became more passionate and started praying louder. I was afraid the other people near us might hear. Remember—I am not out to anyone in my life (excluding those who already know me as Sophia from conferences).

Steve prayed that God would re-wire me; that the confusion in my mind would leave by the power of Jesus; that any darkness would leave (his momentary hesitation to find the right words seemed to me, his fishing for a euphemism for “demon”). He prayed that I would reclaim my authority as a son of God.

I felt nothing leave me. But I was alarmed. As if I had somehow been outed by God.

Which makes no sense. Yet, I was left scratching my head asking, Which voice was God’s? The one allaying my fears and confirming that I was created as a trans woman? Or the one that echoed non-affirming theology that attributes being trans or gay or queer to something demonic?

After being in a state of panic, when things settled down in myself, I reached out to a dear friend who had the open ears and heart to hear me out. And together we worked out over the phone, a plausible theory as to what the hell may have happened that night (thank you, friend!)

For starters, it was Steve who was “praying for me” through the lens of his non-affirming theology. Second, it was improbable that the Spirit would betray my secret by giving a “word of knowledge” to him like that.

We arrived at the conclusion, that instead, Steve was probably picking up on some of the subtle cues of my gender expression and drawing them up to guess at the state of my eternal soul.

I knew his impromptu exorcism was an insult to the painful five-year journey that it took me to accept myself, the steady voice of the Spirit constant in my heart.

And yet, because it was a prayer, it had sway over me to cause anxiety and most of all, alarm. I remember sitting there with my eyes closed and my palms up in a gesture of openness to the Spirit, thinking, “Okay, God, this makes no sense whatsoever, but thy will be done. This goes against the entire trajectory of our incredible journey of discovery thus far, God… but, okay?”

And perhaps, my friend said to me over the phone, the Spirit telling you, “I made you, Sophia,” and, “Do not be afraid,” was God’s way of protecting you from what was to happen in that prayer.

Therein lies the abuse. Steve had guessed at something about me and turned it into his personal crusade to exorcise out of me the demons of his imagining. A genuine prayer should build up, not tear down. Instead, this prayer was only making me question the very voice of the Spirit who had guided me thus far.

That night I went home and finally picked up Austen Hartke’s book about what it means to be a Christian who is transgender.

(CONTINUE TO PART 2) Continue reading →

(Locker Room) Herding Behavior

Gender Dysphoria Canyon Park | There are canyons. Untraversed and therefore unknown. These canyons only emerge, however, as one experiences it. And in its knowing one looks up to find oneself suddenly walled in, the sky a mocking blue. Such is the landscape of living with untreated gender incongruence. Such is the scourge of gender dysphoria. And today was one of those discoveries, about myself.

Into the Maw of the Men’s Locker Room | The last time I had to enter a locker room was in high school. When my gender identity was long-buried since childhood, its every evidence erased (or so it would seem). And decades before gender incongruence would emerge and submerge me at the age of 30.

So earlier today, on this second day of job training, I find Continue reading →

Searching for Sophia as the Clock Strikes Twelve

On the convention premise there were whiteboards where anyone could write down anything to create community at the conference (for example, “Asian lunch!”) On our way out of Starbucks, Adrienne said she had responded to someone who needed a haircut, can anybody help? So off we went to make new friends, even as we bid Sydney good night.

Erin and Meghan greeted us and welcomed us in to their room for this zany haircut session. Being welcomed in to that space, I felt affirmed in my identity, safe, and loved. Yet, knowing this would be my last night here, I couldn’t fully be present in the sweetness of this moment. I didn’t want it to end. The feeling of meeting new friends. This moment of reverie.

In the hotel lobby, Adrienne and I made our final goodbyes. “The clock had struck twelve.” And I didn’t want to go. Because I knew I would miss my friend. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to shoulder the burden again of living in a constant state of ambush. As if one wrong move could betray me to the world before I was ready. The handshake would have to be stronger. My smile wider. Voice deeper, but just enough. Just enough to convince you I’m your everyday cishet man who’s signaling, “Good to meet’cha! I’ll be your friend, but you better not tread on me.”

I called a Lyft and Adrienne saw me off. She grew smaller out the car window as my Lyft vehicle sped away, me prisoner with it. And here, I would face an ambush of another kind. A baptism by fire, as it were. As if the Universe was saying, “Had fun at the little hair cut session with those other girls, did we? But, I’ve got one more souvenir of an experience for you. Before you go.”

Continue reading →

Clearly Opaque

I must’ve asked her—if she could paint my nails, too. I was little. Maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Mom acquiesced. But she chose to paint my nails not with the kind of pretty color that she was wearing, but with a clear coat. I was disappointed. You couldn’t tell.

Are my nails really painted? It was my way of expressing discontent. It was my round about way of asking for colored nail polish. As a child I never used to ask for things directly. Curled in on myself I was often scolded by my family for this round about way of asking for things by not asking for things.

I might’ve been too young to know how transgressive my asking mom to paint my nails was. Choosing the clear was perhaps my mom’s way of Continue reading →

Searching for Sophia at Starbucks

On the first night of the conference the leaders of GCN announced a new name for the organization to better reflect the evolving diversity of the LGBTQ Christian community. Q Christian Fellowship was born with a fresh, new and exciting logo.

If the Reformation Project conference last October felt like a coming home, QCF felt to me like the family had left home and was on a trip somewhere. It’s much more active and dizzying with sensory overload.

So by the end of the second day, I was exhausted and tired. As grateful as I was to have been at the Trans Retreat that day, I was missing my friends. The fact that I wasn’t able to share a meal with them, made me sad. Walking out of the main convention area toward the exit, I sat alone at a bench facing the exit. A wave of sadness overwhelmed me. I knew that my anti-depressant was wearing off. But there, in the dark hours of the night, inside the foyer of the Denver Convention Center, I felt especially alone. After a few minutes of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I… I sent off a message to Adrienne to see if she wanted to have coffee. Maybe I could catch them all at the end of dinner. I could meet them where they were. Continue reading →

Searching for Sophia in Dysphoria

Denver would be my third time being about in the world en femme. The process came together easier, if not quicker. It still took me two hours for my unpracticed hands.

I first met up with Marisa by the registration booths at the Denver Convention Center. (I met her at The Reformation Project and had kept in touch over Twitter.) It was a happy reunion. I was so grateful that unlike at TRP, I was not a stranger alone in the world. Ceri Anne was there, too. I was happy to see her. She had led us all strangers at TRP to lunch and dinner for her Pizza Quests, where we got to sample all the great pizza places in Chicago, which is how and where I made friends in the Fall of 2017.

Adrienne and her two girls joined us later due to a flight delay. As the first worship session was closing they found us at our table.

Afterwards we found ourselves at Yardhouse, a restaurant and brewery. A sweet little reunion. I was happy to be there. Happy to be reunited with my friends. The only friends in the world (as of this writing) who know me for who I am.

Adrienne had said that one of her daughters is an expert at painting nails and would be happy to do mine. Goodie! I thought. How fun that would be. Adrienne’s daughter (I won’t name them here, being they’re both minors) had brought with her two color choices. A pastel blue and classic red. Which one would I like? “You choose for me,” I said. She chose red. I smiled. I had never tried on such a bold color. But, I was glad for it. I was proud to be wearing it throughout my time in Denver.

I rode the elevator up to my room, aware of my freshly painted nails.

Continue reading →

Searching for Sophia Down the Colorado Highway

The blue Super Shuttle van cruised down the Colorado highway with ease. I was thankful to be the only passenger. I was anxious to get to my hotel as soon as possible. The sooner I can get checked in, the sooner I can explore the City of Denver en femme. The last time I did this was the first time I did this. I was in Chicago for The Reformation Project Conference. You could say, this time, it was the Gay Christian Network Conference that brought me to another metropolis in which I had never been.

In truth, it was not the conference at all, though I was fascinated to see what it would be like to visit a conference whose recorded live stream of Vicky Beeching was my first exposure to a world that I never knew existed.

I wouldn’t have booked my passage to Denver had it not been for my friend’s enthusiastic encouragement to make the trip. Austen Hartke was hosting the first ever Trans Retreat at GCN Conference. Adrienne insisted I should be there for it.

So at 11:55 PM, five minutes before the online ticket sales for the conference were to close, I clicked on Buy Tickets.


This is the first in a series of five about my trip to the Q Christian Fellowship Conference in January 2018