Rosé (One of the Girls)

Us girls accompanied her to her hotel where she dropped off some stuff before heading to the last party on the last night of the conference. She brought a bottle of rosé from her room to the rooftop bar.

This was the third day that I’d been out in the world as myself—en femme. Reflecting upon those five airy days of delight being in Chicago for the 2017 Reformation Project conference, is difficult. Because I am home now. And I am caged. The lock and key are the burden of secrecy and Read More »

Y345: Memories of Makeup

I found my color.

Saturday I went to Sephora (for the first time in my life). It was dizzying. The number of brands and product. Nervous as hell, I wandered the entire store. There were plenty customers sitting in front of the many make up vanity mirrors with lights, set up throughout the store. There were lines. I came here for one simple thing: find my foundation color.

A quick question. In. Out.

I found an employee arranging something on the wall, not engaged with a customer. I approached her and asked if she could help me with my quest. She told me that she’d be happy to, but she’s the fragrance expert (that’s when I realized what she was doing—restocking fragrance sticks) so she cannot help me. She radioed for someone to assist me. I could look around the store and they’ll find me.

Once more I braved deeper into the store, this time better able to check out the products. As I wandered around a woman with the body radio approached me. “Did you need any help, dear?” (She didn’t call me “sir.” My anxiety began to dissipate at the way she welcomed me and addressed me in an inclusive way.) I told her I hoped that she was the one they flagged down to help me. She said she was. But to my consternation she steered me toward one of those makeup stations where most of the customers were congregating.

I wanted this experience to be as simple, quick, and private as possible. She introduced me to a man, whom she said was exactly the expert who could help me.

Victor was a middle-aged gay man of Latin descent. When I told him I simply needed to know what color foundation I should be using, he immediately began with a question that caught me off guard: Read More »

A Stream of Consciousness in Asphyxia

Thirty minutes of asphyxiation. Throat closing in. Dry heaving. The blade tip of suicide scraping my brain just behind the eye balls. Hands to throat. Breathe! Dry heave and fall sleep. Wake with a start. Gasp of air. Wasn’t breathing. Thirty minutes of fear, of absolute terror. What am I afraid of? That people are starting to recognize my gifts. That in my 34th year I’m coming into my own, a certain level of respect and gravitas given me by the community. That it’s tempting to decide not to derail my entire fucking life, and instead try to live a cishet life. After all, today’s recognition and signs of appreciation from people made it seem the more attractive option. Until gender dysphoria comes stabbing with a thousand knifes like a bitch. YOU. ARE. FUCKING. TRANS. Weaving in and out of asphyxiation and sleep (or is it simply loss of consciousness?) and waking. Feeling trapped in this hideous frame. This gross anatomy. Putrid. Feeling the weight of the universe sticking to my skin, crushing me like the waters of some deep abyss of the ocean. If I try to deny it, maybe my dysphoria will at long last have mercy on me and let me die. But I know. I’ve got a reason to live. Ladies and gentlemen I’ll say. Meet Sophia. I love you. Please don’t crucify me. There is One who already took those nails for me. There is One in whose arms I’ve been carried, born to new life. Free from the bonds of decay. One day. My tomb will be open. Please don’t let my body betray and kill me before then.

What is the Fear and the Presence and the Epiphany?

One of the things about coming into accepting myself as trans, is fear. Fear of the future. A future in which the moment I’ll have to come out will be emotionally draining with lots of bewildered tears and denial and disbelief and hugs and (perhaps even) loathing and the ground shifting beneath the feet of my family and friends, co-workers and church.

While I’ve been on this journey for years and I’ve experienced reaching this point as a long hike in the woods, the moment I come out, for the people I’m coming out to, they’ll experience it as a bullet train ride with no seatbelt or windshield. When I eventually come out, I’ll be asking them to make the journey that I’ve been on for years, in a matter of moments. (Of course, for my loved ones, it won’t be, it cannot be this way; they, too, will need time to arrive. They, too, will need to put on their boots and go on the hike, until they can meet me where I am.)

This fear of the future is also about:

How will I find a new faith community that is inclusive, that will welcome me as a pastor?

Will I be able to keep working in the same company and profession I am in now? Will they be willing to evolve with me? If they cannot, how will I find a new job?

Will I lose all my friends? Will I be severed from my family?

* * *

I’m  reading Rob Bell’s new book, What Is the Bible? And in reading, I’ve experienced a moment of epiphany that felt like…Read More »

Approaching Unity

Imagine: glistening snow blankets the mountain range, blinding your eyes, the cold air burning your lungs. You’re losing feeling in your extremities. You haven’t eaten in days. You thirst. And all you see is the whiteness of ice and snow. Not a single shrub. Not a single creature stirs.

This is how I felt when I first began to realize I’m trans. (Of course back then I wasn’t able to say that—only that I’m someone who experiences gender dysphoria.)

In that time of desperation I once visited Read More »

Future at a Wake

I went to a wake tonight. A beloved elder of the church died, leaving behind his wife, two adult children and two grandchildren.

As the service droned on in the stifling chapel filled to the brim with people clad in black, my mind began to wander…

What would it feel like when I’m not here in the pews, but up there in front as one who is bereaved? The day will come (of course not for a long, long time) when it’ll be my parents’ wake. And then also my older brother’s when we are both old and gray.

Then I thought about my own wake. This is the ultimate switching of places. From the pews, to the front of the chapel, to inside the casket.

In my imagination, I was Read More »

Tastes Like Bereavement

This week I’m getting my anti-depression med adjusted so that it’ll last longer throughout the day. And today a fresh wave of depression crashed over me with surprising force. I thought I had to leave work early. Luckily it passed. Nevertheless I’m looking forward to how the adjusted meds will better help. It turns out depression feels like bereavement. It digs down and pulls you under. And I’m glad my meds are helping me stay afloat above it. The reformer Martin Luther also suffered from depression. They didn’t have meds like we do. I’m thankful to be alive in the 21st century.

Then, Out of Nowhere: Mountaintop

Irony. It’s the connective tissue between the events of life that turn on a dime to change one’s entire world.

These past two weeks my bouts of depression and dysphoria have been breaking through the efficacy of my anti-depressants.

I take them in the morning. And without fail, in the early evening around five, the meds dip down and they crawl back over the wall into my mind.

Fear. Bereavement for a lost life in an alternate parallel universe. Pain. Longing. “I’m going to kill my self.” And I say to me: “No I’m not.”

But death seems an easy escape.

No need for the 24/7 constant vigilance of putting up a front to remain hidden from the world. No need to despair the prospect of leaving a career at a company whose become family to me. No need to think that many in the churches I’ve served in, and that I now serve in may feel betrayed should I ever live out.

But, no—I’ve a life to live. A future to walk into. Do I? Do I really? #faithfullyLGBT folk online say, Yes! There’s a future for me—Sophia.

What future?

Then. Out of nowhere, I’ve been shown the promised land. I’ve been shown a vision of having been on the mountaintop (to echo the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Matthew Vines retweeted an article saying that Denver Community Church led by Pastor Michael Hidalgo was making a move for full inclusion LGBTQ+ people in their 1,500-member evangelical church. I remembered this pastor. He was Read More »

As Veronica

She stood still, frozen in the middle of her stride, looking up into the sky. She could hear the commotion outside, yes. But, the air—the air felt different. Her young daughter came rushing out, sobbing, grabbing onto her skirt. “Don’t fret,” she said as she grabbed a towel and water jug. She and her daughter ventured out onto the street where a throng had gathered around another ghastly crucifixion. The first criminal came marching toward Veronica and her daughter. It was the Lord!

Jesus fell to the ground from exhaustion. Veronica gasped and she ran toward him as the rioting crowd seemed to make a path for her to pass through. When she reached the Lord he gratefully took the towel from her hand and dabbed his blood soaked face. Veronica knelt beside him and began to bring the water to his parched lips when a Roman solider kicked the water and forced the Lord to continue moving with his cross on his back.

Veronica stood there watching him pass on by, holding onto the blood-stained towel; she understood what the Lord had said to her without words. Don’t fret. The holy blood began to seep into the cloth forming an image of his face.

I drove home late from work listening to another wonderful episode of Read More »