The Sex Education of a Baptist Minister: Confessions of a Former Transgenderphobic Heterosexual

True story.  A Wedgewoodian who is now deceased loved to tell the story of going to Catholic confession.  He confessed a particular sin and the priest said, “Are you sorry?”  Jose replied, “Hell no I’m not sorry.  And I plan to do the sin again.”

I’ve heard more than one Baptist criticize the practice of confession.  They reason, why confess something if you are going to keep it doing the sin over and over?

I see the point; however, I agree with the Scottish proverb “open confession is good for the soul.”

In my last blog entry on “The Sex Education of a Baptist Minister” I confessed sins I had committed while I was a homophobic heterosexual, sins I deeply regret.  In today’s blog entry I need to confess that I formerly was a transgenderphobic heterosexual.

When I arrived at Wedgewood Baptist Church in 1989 I had figured out that homosexuality was not a sin.  My theology, however, had not accounted for transgendered, intersexed, and bisexual individuals.  My thinking, even as a non-homophobic  heterosexual, was binary.  The earth’s God-created diversity was more than my mind could imagine.

In 2007 I received an email from a transgendered person.  He was a she.  She felt like she had been born in the wrong body.  She had wanted to have an operation but due to health concerns was not able to do so.  She inquired if she would be welcome at Wedgewood.

I must confess, my first reaction was “Oh shit.”  I must confess, my second reaction was “Oh shit.”  I must confess, my third reaction was “Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?  What have I gotten Wedgewood Baptist Church into?”

What a difference getting to know people makes!  I now have several close friends who are transgendered.  It took time, but I no longer think of transgendered people as the freakiest of all the freaks.

When I wrote an article for The Charlotte Observer in 2004 I titled it “Homosexuality is not a sin:  The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.”  In choosing that title, in referring only to homosexuals, I wrote as if transgendered, intersexed and bisexual people did not exist.  Or put another way, I left out of the conversation the most marginalized of the marginalized.  I can think of very few sins worse than not recognizing someone’s existence.  If I could write the piece again I would title it “One’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Not A Sin:  The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.”

There are sins I will keep on committing until the day I die, but I will not ever commit the sin of transgenderphobia again.

Chaz Bono (Dancing with the Stars)

The Problem With Same Sex Marriage (and Heterosexual Marriage)

I will be performing a same sex marriage this Saturday but there is a problem with same sex marriage.  And it’s a big one.

The problem is not that same sex marriage is sinful. It is not.

The problem is not that same sex marriage will harm heterosexual marriages.  I’ve been hanging out with GLBT folk now for some time and they have not harmed my marriage, only enhanced it.  And for the record, my attraction for attractive heterosexual women has not diminished one bit and attraction for males simply does not exist.

The problem is allowing heterosexual homophobics to frame the debate as same sex marriage distorts the truth of our reality and ignores some human beings, acting as if they do no even exist.  I am referring to intersexed people, hermaphrodites, bisexual and bigendered human beings.  Such people simply don’t fit the spiritual, legal, gender, and marriage categories of the heterosexual homophobics who greatly reduce the world with their theologies and laws.

Heterosexual homophobic thought is binary in nature:  gays and straights, male and female.  Life is not that way for many people.

Our theologies and law must take into account all the evidence.  And part of the evidence is one’s gender is not always male or female.  There also are some folk who are bi-gendered and/or bisexual.

These statistics about intersex people are approximations.

Not XX and not XY one in 1,666 births
Klinefelter (XXY) one in 1,000 births
Androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 13,000 births
Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 130,000 births
Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia one in 13,000 births
Late onset adrenal hyperplasia one in 66 individuals
Vaginal agenesis one in 6,000 births
Ovotestes one in 83,000 births
Idiopathic (no discernable medical cause) one in 110,000 births
Iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment, for instance progestin administered to pregnant mother) no estimate
5 alpha reductase deficiency no estimate
Mixed gonadal dysgenesis no estimate
Complete gonadal dysgenesis one in 150,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening in perineum or along penile shaft) one in 2,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening between corona and tip of glans penis) one in 770 births
Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female one in 100 births
Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance one or two in 1,000 births

 

Do Ask and Please Tell (America's First Gay War Hero)

Baron Friedrich von Steuben

I’m doing my best to get the Republican party back to sense and sensibility.  A good dose of honesty wouldn’t hurt either.  For all their talk about values the Republicans have become damm liars, especially when it comes to American history.  Republican conservative Christians are so blinded by their supposed certainty they – forgive me – they would mess up a wet dream.  They – they couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag.  It’s that bad folks.  I wish I were making this stuff up, but I’m not.  And I/we’ve got to get the elephant herd up and running because the Democrats are going to mess it up.  They always do.  Obama is about as good of a Democrat as we’ve seen in a long time, but he’s getting a little distracted, to say the least.  If we can just find one good Republican, we could be saved.  Maybe we could find a place to rent one.  If we can find one honest Republican, then maybe that Republican could lead us out of this morass.  God help us too.

Anyway, today is Memorial Day and a big liberalbaptistrev thank you to the military.  No, this is not the usual use the military for political purposes speech.  I’m tired of those speeches which have been made since eternity.  Democrats and Republicans are both guilty as war hell of making the stars and stripes war speech.  Today I’d just like to say thank you to all military personnel.  Thank you for protecting our country from crazies.  And I’d like to add:  forgive us for asking you to fight wrong wars.  You know as well as I do our country has fought good wars and we have fought wrong wars.  Precious lives should never be lost in wrong wars (like what George Bush did in Iraq, for example). 

The greatest loss is always the loss of lives, and loss of lives in bad wars is something that is hard to fess up about.

Another cost to unnecessary wars is you mess up the bank account.  How ironic that my Republican friends are talking about deficits and the bad shape of our economy.  You nitwits, you – you spent our country into this mess with your wrong war.  Confess your sins this very moment and quit blaming the Democrats.  (There are plenty of other things to blame them for.)

While you are confessing, please confess your sin about the ridiculous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  Can we get Bill Clinton in the confessional booth too? (Only for this sin of his, mind you.  We don’t have a year to listen to all sins.)  Clinton, in response to my indictment, will probably bring up incrementalism. You’ve got to meet people where they are, kind of politics.  You’ve got to get re-elected kind of politics.  That’s the best we could do at the time, he would probably argue.  I’m not listening, Bill, to your justifications.  (Hillary hasn’t listened to your sorry rationalizatons either.  Good for her!) My GLBTI friends are sick of tired of your incrementalism.

Please change Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to Do Ask and Please Tell.  Feel free to ask.  I’m so comfortable with who I am I am willing to share with the world who I am.  Please tell.  Please tell me who you are so I can learn from you and not be such a provincial idiot.

I wish Baron Friedrich von Steuben had been able to tell who he was.  Evidently the word now has leaked out.  He was gay.   To be specific, he was America’s first gay war hero.  Google his name and learn his story.

Alert:  You better do this before the Texas Board of Education takes over Google.

Please don’t let the Texas Board of Education know about this.  They’ll write von Steuben out of the history books.

Sex Ed of Baptist Minister 2nd Draft of Intro (need your feedback)

I want your opinion. I would be honored and educated if you would read this and give me critical feedback.  See comment section below.  This is just a second draft.

The Sex Education of a Baptist Minister

by Rev. Dr. Chris Ayers

(husband of one of the world’s greatest teachers, Vicky Ayers)

Some of you just picked this book up and are reading it, trying to figure out if it is worth reading and worth buying.  You don’t really want to buy this book, but you are going to buy it.  You are going to buy it not so you can make the author happy and put a little change in my pocket.  No, you will pick this book up and buy it and read it cover to cover for any number of reasons.

You suspect a loved one or relative is gay.  You may not have even considered that he or she might be transgendered or bisexual or asexual or any other part of what I call “the zoo.”

Perhaps you are a member of, or attend, a conservative church and your preacher keeps preaching that homosexuality is an abomination.  Your loving people just like him and only like him pastor does not yet know the world is not binary, but one day she or he will learn.  Even you right now suspect he or she is wrong.  More importantly, than is a crack in your cement mind.

I know you.  You are a King James Version red letter edition Bible believing Christian, but you are starting to suspect parts of the Bible are wrong.  And admit it, the King’s English is starting to wear thin on you.

Someone taught you to be honest, somewhere along the way you learned the importance of honesty, and now honesty will finally win the day.  You are going to buy this book and study it like you have never studied a book before, except for the Bible, perhaps.

Some of  you have lied to you self for much of your life.  Sadly, maybe even all of your life.  Happily, the lies no longer are working for you.  You no longer can live various shades of invisibility.  You are not only out of the closet you are out, out, out.  And it feels good.  Liberation. Authenticity.  Really living. Finally really living, even if it means suffering great consequences.  Even if living comes at a high cost.  Better to live than die.  You are so right.

Some of you have incorrectly believed you are oversexed, or other believe you are undersexed.  You have thought something is wrong with you in this regard, because nobody has taught you better, or you have listened to others and not to yourself.  You need to hear the good news that there’s “nothing” wrong with you.

Some of you are part of the sexual orientation and gender identity minority community.  Yes, you have become a community in order to survive the ignorance of the rest of us. You, the marginalized of the marginalized, are r sick and tired of being left out of the debate, as if you don’t even exist.  You have yelled to the high heavens to get noticed with little success getting their attention.  They do not know just how smart and wonderful you are.  Their loss.

Some of you are asexual, and even you – you who are weary of our sex obsessed American society –  you too are going to read this book because you already know that life is about love and relationships, but it’s going to be nice for you to read a heterosexual Baptist minister (prayer tell, Jesus must be coming back) with a healthy sex drive tell you what you already know.

Some of you are parents, or relatives of GLBTI folk, and you are going to learn that people are just people, and that at the end of the day we just really need each other.  While reading this book you will admit that life is too short not to have fun.   And you it will finally get through your thick skin and dense head that we, including the church, should not, must not, mess up life and sexuality and gender identity for others.

As we say in the south (as y’all read the book,) pull up a chair. Sit down and stay a while. 

I’m serious, try to have some fun as you read.  I know it’s going to be rough going for some of you, especially in a few spots. It is going to be like climbing a mountain for some of you.  For others of you it’s not going to be like climbing a mountain, but it will be like a long, long trip on a bumpy, pothole saturated highway that should have been repaved decades ago.  If you find the going rough, put the book down, slow down, pray, think, listen to the “teachers” around you.  Catch your breath.  When you are ready – you will know when you are ready – your body, mind and/or soul will tell you when you are ready, pick this what can be for you the most difficult of books back up and read the dang book to its end.  And then you hop in your car and go see the person or persons you need to hug and to whom a I love you is long overdue.  Say:  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, but I didn’t know.  Now I know.