The Tgirl the Catholic Church
For the transgendered community, it is often taken for granted that one of our major adversaries is the Church, in particular the most conservative of the major churches, the Roman Catholic Church. Whereas as we are modern, enlightened and liberal, the Church is seen as being reactionary and backward. I think this categorization is a bit unfair. I am not a believer myself, in the strictest sense of the word, but I fail to see the opposition between transgenderism and the Catholic Church. In fact, I think there is a very good reason to feel that feminine transgenderism and the Church are pulling in very much the same direction much of the time, and I would be happy if we could find some common ground to stand on.
Part of the reason is of course purely subjective, from my childhood, where serving as a choir boy in church allowed me to appear in what seemed to be a dress in public, with everybody's support and acceptance. But that is just a subjective experience, and has nothing to do with the Church in itself. But I still believe that we do have a lot in common. In fact, the more I become Anna, the more I recognize parallels between the Church and our feminine transgendered world. I find myself humming Church hymns as part of preparing my mind for the next step in moving towards open femininity. This is not a coinncidence, I think. I invite you, dear reader, to consider the following:
a) The Christian church sees a dualism between body and soul, two entities independent of each other. No tgirl who sees herself as a feminine soul trapped in a male body can possibly take issue with this view. It is what we all feel. The opposite, materialist, view that processes of the mind/soul are the result of the physical processes or our body, contradicts everything in the transgender experience. There may be tgirls out there who hold a materialistic view of personality, but they probably have severe problems in visualizing their own subjective experience. As far as our finding a metphor for what we are, a dualism of body and soul does the trick really nicely.
b) Our role models in the Catholic Church are decidely feminine. Obviously, the Virgin Mary as the essence of purity, is presented as being the perfect role model for humanity. She is human, and sacred. And female. Less obviously perhaps, Jesus himself is portrayed in ways which render him more feminine than masculine. He is of course defined as a man, physically. But how is he described? Epithets like "sweet Jesus" and "fairest Lord Jesus" come to mind. Hardly very masculine. He is often symbolized by a red heart (how many masculine men would accept this as their symbol?). The traits of his personality, as described by the Church, are clearly prototypically what society views as feminine. He preaches love and tolerance. He is described as being loving, kind, forgiving, willing to suffer and sacrifice himself for us. He does not resist when being crucified. This is of course not female behaviour. But it is behaviour which, on the surface, presents as effeminate or feminine in human patriarchal society. Put more simply, it is more like what I feel like as Anna than what I feel like as Peter.
c) Jesus is willing to forgive prostitutes and even tax collectors (!). He represents the ultimate of tolerance. The whole idea of Catholic doctrine as open to all sinners, regardless of background, opens it up to the transgender community. We are all sinners, not because we are transgendered, but because we maybe have refused to help a fellow human in need, or because we have condemned someone different from ourselves, or because we have despised someone else because of who they are. None are immune to sin, but we can become better by trying to more like Jesus and the Virgin Mary (in other words more feminine).
d) The Church preaches that there exists something larger and more important than ourselves. We as individuals are not the ultimate goal of our own, individual, lives. And indeed: when I am standing, dressed as Anna, in the forest, feeling the wind blowing my skirt against my legs, it is not just a boy in a dress. It is a moment when the world is whole. The air I breathe, the forest I am standing in, the birdsong, the green moss at my feet, they are all part of a unity which is infinitely greater than myself, and I feel the love radiating from everything around me. I feel the presence of God in a way that I do not do otherwise. It is, literally, a religious moment. When I am Peter, I can stand in the same forest, but I feel nothing. But when I am Anna, I feel everything.
e) The Church believes in an after-life. For me, as a tgirl, the present life I am living is not what I really am. Is this all there is to it? I want to believe in an after-life, where I would be reborn as a girl. I want to experience a heaven where I can be female. For Anna, dreaming of an after-life is a strategy for psychological survival.
f) Catholic morality entails the willingness to go beyond the limits of absurdity in our love for our fellow humans. Just consider the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
These are beautiful words. But honestly, how masculine are they? Could a masculine man really utter these words and really, really mean them, and intend to abide by them? I doubt it. For me as Peter, this just sounds corny. But as Anna, that is the Anna I want to be. This is the Anna I try to be, whenever I get the chance, regardless of how I happen to be dressed. And I recognize that it is only the feminine part of me that really subscribes to this prayer.
g) The Catholic Church (as opposed to several Protestant denominations that I know) recognizes chastity as a virtue. In my own tgirl experience, the only way to preserve a clean effeminate mind is by means of chastity. Orgasm may be undeniably pleasant in the short term, but leads to remorse, emptiness and a desire to purge myself of effeminacy. The only way to keep my soul focused on my inner feminine desires is chastity. Whether or not I can keep up chastity for the remainder of my life is a guess (the body has its own mechanisms which I can not control), but, as far as I am concerned, as long as I can remain in chastity, I feel certain that I will reach higher and higher levels of femininity in my soul. And that is, at the moment, my only desire.
h) The Catholic Church sometimes expects us to hold several conflicting beliefs at once. For instance, the Church claims that the Host is the Body of Christ, at the same time as we all know it is a piece of unleavened bread, and the Church does not deny this. God is omnipotent, so he could easily have reconciled humanity to himself without having to send his son to die for us. But he didn't. So God is simultaneously omnipotent and bound by other rules or restrictions. We are supposed to believe this, without understanding how, or even without trying to understand what it is we believe. This may sound like nonsense, but every tgirl goes through the same "mystery of faith" when she tries to understand who or what she is, discovering that there are several mutually exclusive explanations which all seem to hold true at the same time. So for a tgirl, the mysteries espoused by the Catholic Church are no stranger than what she knows from her own personal experience.
These eight reasons above make it natural for me to be humming hymns like "Take our bread" or "Gentle as silence" while I am dressing up, and not feeling anything odd about it. I was brought up a Catholic, and Anna seems to be bringing me closer to the fold again. It may well be the case that practising Catholics might find my comparisons between transgenderism and Catholicism offensive. But rest assured, there are probably just as many tgirls out there who find these parallels equally offensive, albeit for the opposite reasons. Be that as it may, I trust that God, who created me as I am, will have the tolerance also to accept me as I am.