Feb 01 2012
"I Found Out Today One of My Co-Workers is Transgender..."

 

Here's a question from an Air1 listener.  I forwarded it on to a friend of mine, who handles the questions often in his field of counseling.  Thanks for the great question (I changed the listener's name) and Ray, thanks for your willingness to answer.

Your honest questions, by the way, are always welcome. We have a terrific pastoral staff at Air1.  They can be reached at 888.YES.AIR1.

 

Hi Brant.

I found out today that one of my coworkers is transgender. We had a sensitivity training seminar talking about what terminology to use and how to act around this person. This is the first transgender person that I will have encountered. I want to be friendly and "normal" around this person, but I'm nervous. I believe that God chose gender for each person, so I don't agree with the lifestyle this person has chosen. How would you advise me to act? And, could you please pray for me?

Thanks.

Chelsea

-----

 

Hello Chelsea, 

Friendly and normal is great place to start. It's natural to feel nervous around a new person and if in the process of working together you make a mistake and do the opposite of what your sensitivity training has taught you, just apologize. From a Christian perspective my thought is this...you are responsible to love your neighbor and do unto others how you would have them do unto you right? That's it! We are free from the law of sin and death to love others and judge ourselves so that we live before them as a witness. Even if you disagree with your new coworkers way of life you don't need to say so. Instead find the common ground you can agree on. You might be really surprised what you come to like about this person. 

This is a great opportunity for you to practice valuing someone who needs it. Be a blessing! I know sometimes Christians feel that if we don't "represent" God by telling the pagans that they are living their lives wrong; then as Christians we are condoning the act of sin in a persons life and God is upset with us. But this untrue, in fact by befriending your coworker you are placing value on them. Which is what God did with the woman at the well and many other biblical examples. Jesus was the friend of sinners after all.

One of my favorite quotes by Sy Rogers says this: "People do things (sin) for reasons. This doesn't make their sin okay but it does make it understandable, forgivable, and correctable." You don't have to be a therapist or know why your coworker has made the choices they have. You are not responsible for their lifestyle you are just responsible to live your life before them as a witness as to how good of an advocate God is.

Who knows...maybe if your coworker gets to know you close enough perhaps he or she will ask why you are so different. You can say: God's love, grace, and mercy. You can let them know that God loves them too just like they are (when we come to God in relationship he always takes us further). The point - like in our own lives we needed to find Jesus first before any thing else could be addressed. 

Lastly, take the transgender issue out of the equation. In reality it doesn't matter if someone is gay or straight. It matters if that person is reconciled to God through Christ. Everything else is symptomatic of how surrendered one is.

We are all getting over something in our lives even with Jesus. I'll keep you in prayer that you have the courage to be a friend to this person that is new because being new at work is sometimes hard. 

In Christ,

Ray Sullivan

For more resources: 

www.syrogers.com

www.servingsouls.com

Comments (23) -

2/1/2012 12:44:43 PM
Joy United States
Joy
Brant, and Ray, thank you for this fantastic response!! I'm glad I'm first. . . I just want you to know that I think your answer is exactly the kind that might lead a lost soul to Christ here in America today. It's what led me, 9 years ago! Thank you again!! ~Joy~
2/1/2012 12:55:16 PM
Christina United States
Christina
Awesome response! And when you think about it, a life surrendered to Christ is the ULTIMATE 'sensitivity training'. We're here to love people and by that love point them to Jesus. How much more sensitive can you get? Smile
2/1/2012 1:13:32 PM
Beka United States
Beka
My husband works with a woman who is transgender, post-surgery. The way we look at it is very similar- My husband may be the only Christian person this woman ever encounters. She will face plenty of criticism, judgement, and hate. It is not his job to show her those things or judge decisions she has already made that cannot be feasibly reversed. It is his job to show her Christ-- and she may not ever see Christ's love from anyone but him.
2/1/2012 1:51:33 PM
Lora United States
Lora
"Transgender" doesn't always mean "I CHOOSE to live another gender than I am."  Sometimes people are born _physically_ in between genders.

I believe it usually happens to someone who's genetically male.  We all start out as female, but males' genetics start up the testosterone around the third month?, which forms their male parts.

I read an article forever ago about a person who always thought they were female, until puberty kicked up the testosterone, something started getting long, and their mom freaked seeing them stepping into the shower one day!  Turns out they were genetically male, but had been born with female genetalia.  They had a tough road ahead and choices to make.

All this to say...  Don't assume this is a choice for them.  If it's not something you should ask or know about, (I'm not going to ask about someone's genitals or sex life, EVER!!) it's not important in how you treat them or think of them.

People are people are people.  We all want to be loved and known.
2/1/2012 1:57:25 PM
Laurie United States
Laurie
Chelsea - if you would like to contact me directly through FB, please do.  I am the mother of a Transgender child and I would love to explain to you exactly what happens during the embryonic stage of development that results in the body and the brain being programmed differently. As for your interaction with this person, please call them by the name they choose and also by the correct pronouns.  And remember ... "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28)
2/2/2012 10:03:09 AM
Bree United States
Bree
Thank you so much for posting this. I'd been praying about a similar situation for a while now, and this was exactly what I needed to hear. You guys at Air1 are such a blessing. Thank you!
2/2/2012 10:54:46 AM
Kris United States
Kris
I've never met a transgender person before but I do remember the first time I met a homosexual person and I treat them the way I would want to be treated. No one wants to be treated poorly and everyone wants to feel loved as well as cared for. It is a very tough situation since we love our little bubbles and don't want to be uncomfortable. I don't support their decision but I support their well being and their happiness. Treat them the way you would treat a close friend or family member that were transgender. Everything happens for a reason, perhaps this person is here so you can be a light to them. Or they are here to enlighten you and to burst your bubble of comfort. Pray and have God guide you because no matter what we say on here he is always right Smile
2/2/2012 1:17:52 PM
Ken Hagerman Paraguay
Ken Hagerman
Brant you wrote "Everything else is symptomatic of how surrendered one is."

Fantastic. We are the ones who seem hell bent on classifying sin as bad, worse and the devils brother. Sin is sin and some sin seems more palatable to the Christian world.
2/2/2012 8:15:10 PM
Susan United States
Susan
Beautifully put!  Also, to Brant, I appreciate the simplicity you bring to things, in the sense that you often remind us that we are simply to remember #1. love God above all else, and #2. love our neighbors as ourselves.  Really LOVE them.  Sometimes I get so hung up on the legalism of religion that I have to remind myself that it really is that simple.  And pure.  I have found in my own life that really loving people, especially "strangers" with whom I have daily contact (the coffee shop, etc.) is life changing.  There is such a HUGE difference between loving someone and preaching to them (i.e. encouraging them to run as fast as they can!)...and LOVE WINS, big time.  

<3 you all!!
2/2/2012 8:23:41 PM
Olivia United States
Olivia
WOW!  

"Everything else is symptomatic of how surrendered one is."

It's like so......true.  Sometimes it gets confusing when someone you love is living a lifestyle that is "sinful" (aren't all of our lives sinful). They tell you...you still love them exactly the same way you did before, and other Christians (and family members) can actually make you feel guilty about that...about loving your loved one.  That quote says everything I've been thinking about or struggling with in my mind.  At any rate, I guess what I'm saying is that my gay cousin will always be welcome to my Thanksgiving table and can bring whoever he wants to bring with him.

Also why don't more Christians say simple true things and fewer complex opinions and strategies?  Good stuff...good stuff, indeed.
2/3/2012 5:24:26 PM
Ray Sullivan United States
Ray Sullivan
Hi Everyone! 

Thanks for the good posts! I wanted to follow-up to the comment that Lora posted and more. I understand what you said and I wanted to make myself a little more clear. 

Coming from a same-sex background myself and having friends that are homosexual and transgender...I totally get it! People do not choose to feel a certain way you are right! After all I did not wake up one day and say..."today I think I am going to be gay". In my personal story - I developed these same-sex feelings for a number of contributing reasons, external, and internal influences and I do not see myself as a gay man but a man that loves God and is walking in freedom from many life controlling problems. I think if someone wants to be gay then get on with it! It’s your right. I’ve been down that road and don’t like what I’ve experienced. 

For me it’s great to be free from religion and free from what secular culture would tell me I have to do or live like just because I may have same-sex feelings. In my development process though, I still had and have choices about behavior to make everyday (like any heterosexual man or women does too). I don’t want to hurt myself or others but would rather be a blessing and because of this sometimes I choose not to exercise some freedoms that I have for the sake of others & my betterment. 

I look at it this way - We all have three parts that make up our being: emotional, psychological, physical and/or genetic factors. These can powerfully play into our life drama. Ultimately it still comes back to the fact for me that I have to learn to manage all these elements of my life according to what it is I believe and before everyone. Sy Rogers has a good quote: "Sexuality is a powerful master but God is even more of a powerful master". So, if "mother nature" messes with me in any way i.e. genetically, etc. I still can run to God and he will walk with me and show me a way forward. 

Friends of mine who are transgender would also agree that even though they were born into the world with a male, female, or both parts that eventually they came to a place of asking God who they were and for help in becoming identified that way. Just like we all do in our growing up years. Some of us are still unsure of our sexuality. Just because you have a penis doesn’t make you a man.  

It really does matter who we all are listening to. A lot people tell me I was born gay. I have to say that even if this was the case and there was evidence for a gay gene my response would be the same. My thought is the same as for the case of the alcoholic gene. Even though there is such a gene; becoming an alcoholic doesn’t benefit anyone. The alcoholics behavior is inexcusable because it is destructive.

In the end I find that value is what God places on me and all my friends that are working out our present issues. He's not mad! It’s human to be messy but more important it matters what is going on in our hearts and how we perceive love. Why do we do the things we do. Are we angry, hurt, hungry for love, or lonely. Crying out to God and embracing life can be hard but exciting! It does beat the alternative which is living a life dedicated to the self. I just did not find that to be fulfilling. 

Blessing on you all and thanks for sharing on Brant’s blog he’s a good friend and great DJ. Before I go I will share one of my favorite author’s quotes. Enjoy!

“Wholeness is brokenness owned and thereby healed” 
  - Abba’s Child/Brennan Manning
2/3/2012 5:26:19 PM
Ray Sullivan United States
Ray Sullivan
Ray Sullivan
www.servingsouls.com

“Serving Souls” provides Christian resources for redemptive sexuality. For Pastors, churches, and those that struggle with their sexuality. We are training churches and standing with those in need. Check out: "Options for Churches and Pastors" plus “Individual Assistance” links at our website: www.servingsouls.org in a sexually broken culture.
2/3/2012 9:09:12 PM
Jeremy United States
Jeremy
Hello Everyone. I just wanted to express what God's word says about this issue. I do believe that we should not judge them due to the fact that we all fall short of the glory of God. That is found in Roman 3:23. Now God does tell us that "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" ~Jeremiah 1:5. So here is my statement, if God knew us BEFORE FORMING us in the womb which is clearly stated, then he knew whether we would be male or female on earth. God made us in his image! Why change it? I am not trying to argue with anyone on here but I am saying what God says on the issue.

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

That scripture states that if you have committed these acts then you will not enter into Heaven unless you believe in Jesus Christ and REPENT! That does not mean that this needs to be accepted into today's society and keep doing it. It means stop doing it and teach others not to do it.

I pray that this will touch hearts who read and will realize what the true Word of God says.

God Bless,

Jeremy
2/6/2012 5:04:30 PM
Patricia Thailand
Patricia
I wonder if there is a sensitivity class for approaching all people who have lifestyles we might consider 'sinful' or that we don't agree with. I would sign up for the sensitivity class for the greedy lifestyle co-worker, the fat life-style co-worker, the stingy lifestyle co-worker, the superior life-style co-worker. How sweet of you, Chelsea, to want to be so sensitive to the poor sinful transgender. It might be a surprise that not every christian views transgender as 'sinful'.
2/12/2012 11:34:42 AM
Jenny United States
Jenny
I agree right with Jeremy. I am no expert, and I'm still a teenager, but I humbly know that no one can live an unrepentant sinful lifestyle and glorify Christ at the same time (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). This is simply put in the Bible, and yet, we all seem to ignore it Frown

However, please don't assume that I hate everyone in the LGBT community because of their sin. I have known quit a few homosexuals in my life and I treated them lovingly. I think if you truly love someone, you're not going to try to avoid their sin and say, "oh, that's ok, you can live that way even though I don't agree with it." Instead, you would humbly care. God wants us to overcome evil with good, and that good includes love and care. God isn't just some big softy who only loves everyone but doesn't do anything about corruption. His love is very radical and can change (and has changed) the hearts of us humans. Isn't that why He died for us?

I wish the Church, could truly see this, and humbly live, love, and care for every person, all for the glory of Jesus. I pray we can surrender to Him daily.

with love and blessings,
Jenny Smile
2/20/2012 9:52:14 AM
Alaura United States
Alaura
I LOVE this response!  I haven't encountered transgender much but this speaks to homosexuality and any other "sin" that Christianity can often look down it's (often ugly) nose at.  Thank you so much.  This has been my life lesson lately, that I can love someone even if I don't like them or what they do.  Not so easy to do!!!  Love, that's what I'm responsible to give everyone around me.  The greatest of these is love.  Thank you!
4/1/2012 5:29:16 PM
Joanna Webster United States
Joanna Webster
To condemn a Transwoman of sin means that you don't understand the medical situation.  This is a congenital defect just like Down's Syndrome.  In a true transwoman, the brain is identical to any other woman's.  Here is the real meaning of the verse that Jeremy quoted.  When God sees the creation of a female brain in a male body then God places a female spirit in her.  That person is a female with a body that needs changing.  In John when Jesus encountered someone who had a congenital defect, blindness, He was asked who sinned, the man or his parents? Jesus tole them no one sinned but this condition was for the glory of God to be revealed.  A transwoman is a catalyst who reveals who is a legalist and who is saved by the grace of God.  The Legalist is the person getting the speck out of someone elses eye with the huge log in their eye.  Jesus healed the blind man and the now sighted man followed Jesus.  All the rest of the religous folks condemned Jesus for what he had done.  They called Jesus a sinner.  If you can not have compassion for a transwoman, then you are no better than the religious of that day.  Jesus told them in John 9:39: For Judgement I have come into this world.  That those who do not see may see (like the transwoman) and that those who see (like the legalist who wont believe that being a transwoan is just as real as being Down's Syndrome) might be made blind.  Shame on you if you use Jeremy's logic to condemn my sister with Down's Syndrome to Hell just because she has a congenital problem.  Shame on you for condemning the transwoman for being the woman that God created her to be.    
4/1/2012 6:09:41 PM
Heather United States
Heather
This person writing the letter sounds a lot like the way I felt with the first gay person I really knew (actually a lesbian/bi couple, & I lived with them!) I didn't really agree with the lifestyle but certainly considered it none of my business to tell them how to live unless they should somehow decide I was someone they wanted to ask for advice. (They didn't of course.) So I just didn't comment.

At the same time I was completely nervous, ironically, that they would find out. I didn't want to "come out" to them as one of "those people." I knew that enough meanness had been spewed around by people who held some version of the same opinion as me that if I expressed even the bare bones of that opinion it might easily be associated with all "that stuff" and literally be perceived as hate. That made me nervous. But it never happened. They never asked. I got to sympathize with them when they came home having had someone yell "dykes" at them, 'cause that's just wrong. One time they told me I was open-minded. But they never said, "So what do you really think?"

Looking back, I think "Well, of course they didn't ask." I think they knew. Someone who deals with that stuff all the time would have pretty finely tuned what-do-people-think-of-me detectors. I'm sure they knew what not talking about it meant. I kind of think they were going "Well, I guess someone who disagrees but isn't going to bother us about it is OK to have as a housemate." I suspect they didn't ask because really, why borrow trouble?

I hope that they did have an OK experience with me.
5/7/2012 9:19:36 AM
Jessica Bussert United States
Jessica Bussert

I accidently stumbled upon this blog post and was moved to comment.

I have been saved by the blood of Christ.  I know who my redeemer is.  I know that I am loved by God.  I also know that the greatest commandments of all are to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.

My neighbor is the homeless man sitting drunk on the park bench.  My neighbor is the thief sitting in jail.  My neighbor is the woman dying of AIDS.  My neighbor is the Hindu child going to sleep hungry.  My neighbor is the gay man persecuted by the haughty and self-righteous fundamentalist.  My neighbor is also the haughty and self-righteous fundamentalist.

I am called to love all of these people and more.  The funny thing is I am even called to love the people who would hate and discriminate against me because of the fact that I was born transgender.  This last is one of the toughest of all to do.  When I am denied jobs and housing and fair treatment and love it sets up fertile ground for the deceiver to plant his crop of weeds in my heart.  It is only through faith that I am able to fight back against his efforts to corrupt me.  Sadly, some of those same people who claim to be my Christian sisters and brothers are also the same ones discriminating against me.  There have been times when this treatment has led me to despair and question my faith.  Fortunately, I've always been able to turn back to Matthew 22:37 to realize that Christ's message was -all- about love.  Knowing this helps me look on my various haters with a somewhat more compassionate eye.  I realize that it is not my job to correct their sin.  It is only my job to love them as my neighbor.

Sincerely,
Jessica Bussert


12/21/2012 8:07:42 PM
Amy United States
Amy
You are not responsible for their lifestyle you are just responsible to live your life before them as a witness as to how good of an advocate God is.(...) Everything else is symptomatic of how surrendered one is.

We are all getting over something in our lives even with Jesus.


Thank you, Ray.  I was surfing the web tonight for some wholesome, Christian advice on this issue.  My cousin has come down for Christmas, and we're going to get together to visit, only he texted me to tell me that he no longer wishes to be reffered to in the female pronoun, and he's going to start taking testosterone soon, "to start passing as the man I know myself to be," he says.  I can't say this was entirely unexpected, he's always sort of ridden the fence when it came to gender: "bisexual," "gay," even told me once, "I date people of many genders."  I was going, "What the...?  What does that even MEAN?!"  It makes a little more sense now I guess, hindsight being 20/20 and all that...

The text reply I sent to him earlier said that ultimately, if he gets his hair cut or pierces his ears or gets an operation, it's all cosmetic, the thing that makes him who he is, the YOU that I know and love, will still be the same.  I told him if he wants to wear a blue shirt instead of a pink shirt, it's up to him.  I also told him that I don't necessarily agree with his ascertation that he's transgender, but it's not something we have to agree on, and I'm not the one who has to live in his skin.  It won't change the fact to me that's he's family and that I love him.

We were very close growing up, and I know that he's still the same person INSIDE...  It would be incredibly hard to live into your 30's, feeling that sense of "not fitting in" that usually passes when you grow out of your teens.  I'm sure this isn't something he's come to lightly, and I can't even begin to imagine what sort of thought processes go into reaching a... decision?... realization?... like this.  I’m afraid now that  I came off a little flippant with my text reply, maybe sounding more like, "Oh, it's just a physical thing, it doesn't matter."  I know he wouldn't have gone to all this if it didn't really, really matter to him.  It’s something I’ll have to clarify with him when we speak in person.


And as far as it goes for anything that anyone considers to be sin...   I was really torn myself initially, I felt seriously morally opposed to it all,  and the whole idea of "letting the heathens run amok without condemning them is the same as condoning it," was really making me unsettled.  After reading this though, I think I may have been taking the wrong view on it all.  

It's not my place to judge.  None of us sits high enough to look down on anybody else except for God, and as His children, we know He isn't like that.  I am called to "love the hell out of people," not beat it out of them.  I'm sure my cousin is going to be getting a lot of flak from the world at large, and it will be a comfort to him to know that there's still someone who loves him despite everything else.  I could be the only Jesus he sees, so I better make a good impression!  

If God feels that what someone is doing is sin, then it's between God and that person, up to Him to convict their heart and show them how to change their ways.  I know that people aren't usually cured of sin overnight.  I've come from a dark past myself, and so I know Jesus meets people where they are, and leads them one step at a time toward His plan for them.  I think that might look to a lot of people like living in sin, but maybe they need to realize that it’s a struggle for most to get out of it, and a journey, not a destination.

The idea of "everything else being symptomatic of how surrendered one is," that hits close to home for me.  There is nowhere so dark, no path so long, no life change so severe, that Christ can not find you and bring you to Him when you're ready.  Anyone who thinks that He can't, well, the God I follow is more powerful than some simple limitations like that.  

Part of it, I think, is in the "being ready."  Some people have to hit rock bottom and break a couple of shovels before they realize, that it's hard to stumble when you're on your knees.  But I think even THAT is part of the Lord's plan, because the sheep that stray the furthest are the ones who give the greatest testimonies, and are the ones who can do great work for the Lord in helping to lead back other lost ones from the distant places no one else has been.  And sometimes, as in my own case, you can hear something a million times, but it never hits home until you hear it in just the right time and place in your life, from just the right person, in just the right words.  That can make all the difference.

I guess I need to just sit back and trust in Him, and let myself be a reflection of His love, shining like a beacon to the world.

Merry Christmas everyone.
2/16/2013 7:37:53 AM
John United States
John
Agree with the response from air1 but i am concerned about the comments (some) . I am a christian that clinically Is transgendered male to female. Now
How ever I do not accept this judgement. Bc I believe the bible . We all must love and know there is a chemical makeup and biological things that affect us . But there is a greater power . A.W. Tozer says the most importan question a man can answer is what is God to him.  Acceptance seems to be the general theme in how to handle people that are like me that surrender to life change of transition . (if it was not for god I would be already transitioned) but love people but believe even if there is a logical reasoning for the condition of transgendered there is a healer . That heals emotionally physically and mentally ... All three need
Major healing in the transgendered person Christian or not but God is the only one that can reverse this. Bc even after surgery and if a person was fully passable as a
Woman most studies show that 10 years from now there's going to be a crash point that trans people won't admit bc that means in a sense there's apart of them that wishes either male or female they would just be at peace with themselves one cannot be at peace with one self outside of God or renewed fellowship with the father threw Jesus once again note that I am clinical trans but refuse like a paralyzed person told they would never walk again I am determined to do two things . One is not ignore the medical or the realities of my condition , but much like a person told they would never walk again I  determined to not let this physical mental or medical condition stop me from being active and living not in acceptance of the condition and yes mentally and physically want to change or transition but I am aware of my spirit man that says no to it all. Why are we as humans so Focused on it all. The apostles suffered great physical loss to further the kingdom you can take this how you want to but I am just speaking out of my own life
3/8/2013 11:05:54 AM
Fella-guy United States
Fella-guy
Why not just leave the transgender person alone? Just call them by whatever name/pronouns they want and get over it. Their personal life is no one else's business.
5/25/2013 5:14:16 AM
Hank United States
Hank
I always try to imagine what Jesus would have done. This always takes me back to the "cast the first stone" comment he made about the adultress. To me, this says it all. http://savethemarriagetoday.org
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