When I was about ten years old I remember going to my mom and asking her why I didn’t have any friends who liked Nancy Drew. “They’re great books!” I told her. “Why don’t any of my friends want to read them?”
“Well,” I remember her saying, a little hesitantly, “Honey, most of your friends are boys, and sometimes boys don’t like to read books about girls.”
I thought that was dumb. After all, I didn’t think of myself as a girl, and I LOVED the stories about Nancy and her friends—especially her friend George, who had a boy name even though she was a girl. Who wouldn’t be into solving mysteries and going on adventures?
Eventually I met a girl who enjoyed the books as much as I did, and we bonded over that, even though I had a hard time connecting with her on other interests that I thought were “too girly.” Those stories brought us together and helped us explore ideas about who we were and who we wanted to be.
Sometimes being a gender-expansive person in Christian spaces can feel a bit like having an unusual hobby, or being into a lesser-known book series. There’s something about this Christian story you connect to, but very few of your LGBTQI2A friends are interested, or, inversely, there’s something about the stories of queer and trans folks that you connect to, but your Christian friends don’t want any part of it. The false binaries that we create and the lines we draw between Christian and LGBTQ+ or between men and women keeps us from connecting, and from seeing each other for who we are.
As an adult coming out as transgender, I drew strength from the stories of other gender-diverse people—from trans leaders like Marsha P. Johnson and Leslie Feinberg, to biblical characters like Deborah and Joseph, to new real-life friends who told me about their lives and experiences. I also grew more comfortable digging into the language used for and stories told about God, and asking questions about how God relates to our human ideas about gender. Is God like a loving father, like a wise mother, or both? What do our stories about God tell us about who we are, as image-bearers?
Stories can connect us horizontally to each other, vertically to God, backwards to our ancestors’ stories, and forward into the communities who will come after us. At this year’s Trans and Gender-Expansive group meeting at the Q Summer Retreat we’re going to bring our stories together and find ways to connect the dots.
You’re not the only one who’s into the stories of our faith, and you’re not the only person navigating the waters of this gender sea! You’re part of a legacy of bold and gentle adventurers, and we can’t wait to meet you.
Read more about the Trans and Gender Expansive Retreat from Laura Beth Buchleiter and don’t forget to register for the Summer Retreat!