Many in the Trans* community often don’t have much to be thankful for. There are many, who in making the choice to live authentically, lose much that we knew before. Some of us lose nearly everything, but gain our life. We all transition from one reality or state to another spiritually, psychologically and, for some, physically. Early on there doesn’t seem to be much at all to be thankful for. Life is hard and very difficult in the midst of life’s transitions. But eventually we all come to realize that we can be thankful for our life lived authentically. This is certainly true in my case.
Nearly one year ago to the day was the last time I celebrated the Eucharist as a priest in the Diocese of Arkansas. The evening before I celebrated at the altar that last time I snapped this photo through the door of the church at dusk. I placed my iPhone camera directly against the window and snapped the picture. A few days later I looked at the photos I had taken and much to my surprise, my reflection also somehow appeared in the top of the photo. A friend of mine commented on it and called it "The Trans Christ. "As the conversation continued I felt "Outside Looking In" was a better fit. At the time I reflected and wrote; “For me it defines my unique status in the church, not only as a trans woman, but also as a priest. It is funny how the church doesn’t know what to do with a priest who is trans and the trans community doesn’t know what to do with a trans woman who is a priest. So here I stand, for now, outside looking in.” The sense of loss and grief is present in every transition in life.
In that pilgrimage through and out of transitions we begin to see and appreciate the unexpected generosity and compassion in our unencumbered new life. I think of the friendship that is created and the true caring and compassion they show when you least expect it; Joining you in an otherwise empty pew so you will not be alone. There is the unexpected dinner from a neighbor because “you look tired after a long day. Take this spaghetti and meat sauce. You don’t worry ‘bout cooking tonight.” There is the sack of fresh produce sitting on your doorstep when you arrive home after a long day of cleaning houses. There is the laying on of hands at the healing service by your priest. And the telephone call on Father’s Day.
Nearly a year after that photograph was taken I realize I had it all wrong. I wasn’t “Outside Looking In.” Looking back at it again I was really “Inside Looking Out.” And I give thanks.