Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Truly Remarkable Story....

...that's, remarkably, True!

Of the many challenges Transgenders must face in their transition, the
last - and for some most important - is The Surgery. For those that need
to fully bring mind and body into harmony, this fulfills the lifelong
dream. One has already negotiated the outing process. One has already
negotiated the transition into the Real World. One has spent this last
year, or more, waiting for permission from their therapist and
psychologist to finally become congruent. And one has had to figure out
how to finance this life saving and life fulfilling journey - insurance is
of no help. Surgeons demand "cash on the barrel head" before performing
the task.

Some are fortunate enough to have resources to fund this outright. Most
scrimp and save, and max out credit cards, incurring a debt that can
sometimes linger for many years. Some have no means of ever being able to
afford it - and it is they who become at risk for self mutilation or self
destruction. Payment is a challenge usually borne alone.

Her name is Gayle. She had been in a very conservative part of her fairly
conservative faith denomination. I'm sure she had heard the voices of
condemnation, until she heard another voice. Her voice. "It's time."
You see Gayle wasn't always Gayle, she is transgender. And she has heard
the voice we all hear. "It's time."

Gayle is married with six children who range from elementary school to
college. She is a nurse. A steady, but not spectacular income. One that
provides for the family, but also offer no luxuries either. Gayle is
blessed with a loving spouse who is determined to remain with her. The
children, to her blessing, are also committed to their unique parent.
Gayle transitioned a year or so ago. Her Last Challenge, the surgery, is
scheduled in early June in Bangkok.

It is here, that this story begins.

Realizing the congregation to which she and her family belonged would
not be supportive, would certainly ostracize her and might even oust
her and her family, she reached out and was able to locate a more
inclusive congregation still within her faith denomination which is
Community of Christ. Community of Christ accepts the Book of Mormon,
though they clearly distinguish themselves from the LDS church based
in Salt Lake. Most of the distinction is in polity, but there are some
theological variances as well.

For the most part, Gayle and her family have been well received at the
new congregation. A few knew Gayle prior to her transition. Most are
aware of their first transgender constituent. And it is through these
friends in fellowship that an act of kindness and love - a miracle if
you will - has been nurtured.

Knowing the financial strain facing Gayle and her family that will ensue
following the journey to Bangkok, several members of her congregation
have banded together with others from different congregations and
different faiths to raise gifts to help defray the costs of surgery,
travel, housing and lost income. The goal is $10,000. To date, $4,000
has already been collected, largely from the core members of the Friends.
I am sincerely honored to be one of the Friends.

In my seven years as a member of the transgender community, I've never
encountered such an effort for one of us. That this has been nurtured by
people of Faith, as an expression of their Fellowship, demonstrates not
only the Spirit of their Souls, but must be the work of the Spirit we call

This is Truly Remarkable.

Blessings to these Friends.
Blessings to Gayle and her family.
And Blessings to You today....

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