[UPDATED] Ryan Broems Goes on transmisogynistic live tweet rant while attempting to make a joke out of dating a trans woman
February 13, 2014
Trans medical care = mutilation?
February 19, 2014

Trans medical treatment and faith

A reader writes:

I am trans but also religious. Although I live as a woman, I was born with boy parts. In my opinion, to have surgery would imply that God made a mistake. I do not believe that God is capable of making a mistake, which means that I have the body I was meant to have. I believe that God gave me a challenge and that I am playing the hand that I was dealt. I am trans and proud, but I will not second guess the Almighty. I hope there is room for that, and I love and respect those who believe differently. We are all in this together.

There is a story an old guy once told me. It’s corny, but here it is:

There’s this guy and there’s a flood. He climbs on top of his roof to be safe from the flood. He begins praying that god save him and his faith in prayer is unshakable. He KNOWS that god will save him.

His atheist neighbors come by in a boat an tell him to hop in. They tell him that god isn’t going to come down from the sky and save him because god doesn’t exist. He tells them that his faith is unshakable and refuses to get in the boat.

The water continues to rise and in a little while, his Muslim neighbors from down the street come by in a boat. They tell him that their god allah told them to check in on him. They tell him to get into the boat. The man tells them that his god is an awesome god and that allah is a false god. He refuses to get in the boat.

The flood waters continue to rise. He is eventually swept away and dies. He then finds himself standing before god. He asks, “God, why did you not save me? My faith in you was unshakable!” God replied,”I sent not one, but TWO boats to save you and you refused to get in!”

I think that a lot of religious trans people view the medical treatment of gender dysphoria as their “boat” sent to them by their god. From what I’ve seen, they thank god every day for giving them the tools they needed to live the life they felt their god had designed for them.

What I do know is that there is a ‘boat’ that people can choose to get in. I have no belief that a god programmed me with gender dysporia so that I’d learn how to suffer well. I’m an atheist.

At one time ALL diseases – pathogenic and genetically caused – was viewed as being part of a god’s design. If you got sick, it was god’s will. When humanity began unlocking the causes of the physical miladies we suffered, most viewed these achievements as a gift from god; a ‘medical miracle.’ Indeed, many religious people believe that god guides the hand of the surgeon.

Many folks nowadays see the ‘cross’ they’re bearing as both the physical malady and the treatment. Yes, a child may be very ill from both the cancer and the treatment, but folks view the treatment as a god-send. For them, the treatment is the window god opened when he closed a door. For them, surviving is an inspiration; they feel grateful that god showed them a healing path forward.

I wish you well in the path you’ve chosen. I encourage you to ensure that you have support (that doesn’t resort to fear or shame-based tactics). Depending upon the degree you may suffer dysphoria, I can believe that your cross is indeed heavy. Please ensure that you have – at the very least – experienced and qualified therapeutic support in your corner.


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Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams

Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.

  • Amaya

    God created man in his image. He then created woman. The only two God had a personal hand in creating was Adam and Eve. Once they were booted from the garden of eden, nature was allowed to take over.

  • Aderson Adekunle

    good day let me share a little testimony about a man that help me cure my HIV I was HIV positive for 13year and I’m from united kingdom the only man that help me cure my disease is Dr Healing this man take me as his son and take care of me I complain everything about me what my family take me for and how people hate me he promise to help me cure this virus luckily to me he keep his promise this man cure me when this man called me and told me that he is done with work my cure, I should go for test I was so confused and surprised about it when go for test I was negative what a great man earth if you need cure email now Hivhealinghome@live.com and get heal totally okay

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  • Nosa Jeffery

    HiV healer. agbadi has help me cure my disease, i am Mellisa Yvonne and I work in a communication company I want to share my testimony to the world, my name is maria katrina, i am from united kingdom in belfast north Ireland, I was a stripper in a club I got effected with HIV due to the nature of my job, In April 15 2013 i was tested positive to HIV, Believe it or not this is a true life experience. This is not design to convince you but its just a personal health experience . I never taught doctor Olorun could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, i have tried almost everything but I couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, i always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day i was just browsing on the internet when i came across a great post of !Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of this great powerful healing spell doctor ,I wonder why he is called the great Dr agbadi, i never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so I quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and so i did all the things he asked me to do, He never collected any money from me until I was finally cured, only to see that at the very day which he said i will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and i becomes very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so i went to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor said i am HIV negative, i am very amazed and happy about the healing doctor agbadi gave to me from the ancient part of africa, you can email him now for your own healing too on his email: dragbadilaguspelltemple@gmail.com, thank you doctor for healing me. or visit his website at http://dr-agbadi-home-of-solution.webs.com/

  • Nosa Jeffery

    HELLO, i want to share this wonderful testimony to the world as a whole in case there is some body in this same situation. i was diagnosed of HIV in the year 2009 until i meant testimony online by a woman with name Anita about a man called Dr Agbadi , i was not too sure if it was real until i contacted him my self . I thought that there was never a cure for my deadly ailment but Dr Agbadi told me that his herbs could cure me, and then i decided to give him a try, he then told me that once i start taking his herbs, that it will only take me some days to be cured, i believed him and took the herb with faith. after he gave me the medication, i took it and i was feeling some new signs in my body and i decided to go for a test and the result stated that i was HIV negative, i was very happy and even called my pastor and told him about it, i am very happy that i am now HIV negative and i am also happy that i will not be celebrating this Christmas as an HIV patient as i have did for the past 4 years, so help me say a very big thank you to Doctor Aluta for saving me from the hands of the deadly ailment. if you are also in this type of situation and you are seeking for solution, seek no more for you have received the right information you have been wanting for a very long time in this type of issues you are very free to contact Dr. Agbadi today through his private email: dragbadilaguspelltemple@gmail.com or call him on his mobile number : +2347067607812. i strongly believe that he will help you out just as he did mine, stay cool and God bless Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year in advance.

    email: dragbadilaguspelltemple@gmail.com

  • Nosa Jeffery

    I heard about this great man Dr Agbadi that healed a lot of disease with his different HERBAL REMEDY DRUGS it was BRONZE TV when he was interview on air, people started calling in about how this great man cured there various illness and also reunite broken relationship, marriage with is powerful spell, i quickly collected Dr Agbadi is email address via: dragbadilaguspelltemple@gmail.com i told how i contacted HERPES 2009 and also told him how i was diagnosed of Hiv/Aids in the same year, he told me not to worry and that is going to prepared ADURON C1 CYRUP HERBAL HEALING DRUGS to cure my HERPES and also he prepared INDI B1 HERBAL HEALING DRUGS and told what i will not eat when taking the drugs i did accordily to what he said 18 days later i started noticing great dirty urine rushing out from my body i knew is the power of ADURON C1 CYRUP HERBAL HEALING DRUGS and INDI B1 HERBAL HEALING DRUGS, I called Dr Agbadi and he said I’m heal I should go to any hospital I went to 4 different hospital and they re-diagnosed and said I’m Hiv/Aids NEGATIVE and no more HERPES virus in my body, all the doctors was amaze..Contact Dr Agbadi at he will cure your different sickness with his various remedy drugs, and you shall be the next to testify. call him now on +2347067607812 or email him on:
    ” sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir. or visit his website at http://dr-agbadi-home-of-solution.webs.com/

  • Dawn Simonds

    I am Trans and a Christian. That having been said I believe that my Dysphoria is a gift, that situates me uniquely to understand other people in a broad range. That having been said, while I respect the choice of other Trans persons to not Transition through surgery; for me it seems to be more of a necessity to Transition through surgery. While i do echo the sentiment that God does not make mistakes, my view of what that means is entirely different from that person referenced in the article. For me personally I believe that God created us, and does allow us to modify our bodies. My reasoning behind this is due to the fact that the Bible explicitly states: “God is a spirit”, another explicit statement is “Created in God’s image”. using deductive reasoning I can confidently assert that from a standpoint of the physical body; while there is a great similarity in the human body of all people, each person is completely unique. There are people of different heights, no one person is allergic to exactly the same things as another person. So therefore it is the soul/spirit that is explicitly created in God’s image. Some Christians will argue against this because, “the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit”. I counter they’re assumptions with the very scriptures they use to defend they’re position, by pointing out a few things in the bible. #1 The angels are neither male nore female, and the Angels were also created in God’s image. #2 There is no marrying or giving of marriage in Heaven. for those who have studied they’re bibles they will find it hard to argue against the logic i have presented here. So to sum it up, I can state that i believe that Transitioning one’s mind and body especially through the use of surgery and hormones is (A) Not sinful, (B) Not explicitly forbid in Scripture. The standard argument is that “well it’s just your cross to bear”; that argument and the logic behind it are flawed. because if we hold to that logic then doctors would not attempt to repair congenital defects: such as a cleft palette, a deviated septum or other significant birth defects. While it is true that a person can live with these issues, arguing that you are exactly as God intended you to be is simplistic logic at best and outright hostile at worst. Any person who claims Christianity will agree that God expects us to grow and evolve in our characted to become more like Jesus. An important distinction to remember here is that Jesus welcomed all who would welcome him. So for those who feel compelled to avoid a surgical or hormonal transition, i absolutely respect your right to decide what is right for yourself; however, I believe that in light of God’s Word, and considering advances and discoveries made in in science and the nature and inner workings of the human body, it is clear that LGBTQ is something that is completely normal and not aberrant, it is within the normal variety of the DNA and genes that make up all of us and for the majority of Trans persons especially it is absolutely vital to physically transition through hormonal therapy as well as surgery.

  • Kathy11

    Not being particularly religious I would ask – which religion? Some might say this path was your karma – you should embrace it.

    Others might say god has a plan for you – you may not understand it – but – you should accept it. And live the truth of who you are god has revealed to you. To deny that would be to say god has made a mistake.

    Other religions may value your being trans.

    • christian_transgender

      Isn’t that but the entire unadulterated USDA Dee-cerified truth! As adults step (1) acknowledge that we have been extremely-subjectively programmed by parents/others & so our hard drive needs a C:>scandisk>delete parental brainwashing (2) acknowledge that even a clock is right 2x/daily, so some of what they said bears truth (3) go on a personal quest to believe or not (4) my quest ended in belief but only from a personally irrefutable incident during high distress http://wp.me/p1hX86-gX which answered it for me, but mileage will vary (5) know that with 31,000 religious flavors, all can’t be “right”, whatever “right” might be (6) understand that religion is (my def. is man’s *failed* attempt to define a creator. It is failing now by believing it’s doing good persecuting LGBT children + adults.

      Know that (my strong belief), if the purpose of religion is to improve the lot of man now and “forever”, and if in fact there really exists an “adversary”, like all “battles”, the “good guys” will be infiltrated. This is why I refer to ’em as fake Christians—fake as in they don’t really “believe” their religion, just hide behind it like a cowboy approaching a bull hiding the lasso behind his/her back.

      Lastly, like love, belief isn’t belief it’s been coerced and truth is there probably isn’t one “true” religion because as unique as everyone is, a creator will probably consider this and customize them for “His children”. For me, I had become practically agnostic and then that happened (link above). It sounds crazy even for me to this day but it really did unfold as it did. My personal analysis is since we come in two gender flavors (sex), the creator is both…..two-spirited…….just a thought.

  • LizMarie

    John 9:1-11 and Matthew 19:11-12. Your Christian friend ought to read both those passages very carefully because they utterly destroy the basis of his argument and both of those passages are from Jesus Christ himself, assuming you accept the New Testament Gospels as accurate, which that person should.

    • crash2parties

      Matthew 19:12 is a reference to Isaiah 56:5, which is clearly a refute of the very early single sentence prohibition in Deut 23:1 against damaging one’s testicles. But then the message in Isaiah and Matthew is again repeatedly referenced and played out very clearly in Acts 26-40. All three time periods, cross referenced. To a Biblical scholar, those three passages stand out as a clear instruction to specifically accept by name, people with intersex conditions, transsexuals and male eunuchs. To a historian, it’s interesting to note that the Church was accepting of eunuchs for much of its early history, even after they were replaced with virtual eunuchs (ie , the vow of chastity) perhaps a thousand years later. Castration’s feminizing effects had been known since the technique was first used on livestock possibly thousands of years prior; it clearly would have been the best available hormone therapy and surgery of the time. Almost as important, though, is that documented ‘eunuchs’ in Rome and elsewhere were recorded as living with the other women, as women. I’m fairly certain they used the (translated) word ‘eunuch’ differently than we do in our post-Freud world.

      I’ve met several women who transitioned in the 70’s and 80’s who had their names successfully changed in their local parish Registry. However, that was before the late 1990’s / 2000 when anti-trans Paul McHugh was brought in as the Vatican’s “sex and science adviser”. And clearly before the Pope’s 2007 or 8 Xmas breakfast speech to the Curia regarding “protecting the human ecology”.
      Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back again:

      • LizMarie

        Thank you for the elaboration on my prior post! I really appreciate that and can pull that into my own discussions with my fundamentalist sons! Thank you!

  • Christine Holm

    I am a trans woman and a Christian. My goal of SRS in no way goes against God’s will any more than having surgery to correct any other birth defect. My birth defect is that one leg of my second X in the 23rd pairing of my chromosomes had a leg that broke off making it look like a Y resulting in a biological appearance of a male. One can only ask those who know me to realize that I AM female…the way God intended me to be.

  • Elizabeth Veldon

    surely one can see their suffering as a gift from god which does not have to be endured for the gift to be taken and used in a positive way; that the insights offered by suffering, the humanity learned, the partaking (if you wish to see it as such) in the suffering of christ in the form of your own pain and suffering are positive things and can help us be better people – even closer to god.

    one does not have to be a martyr to partake in grace.

  • Casey

    Yeah the “God doesn’t make mistakes” argument is a reallllly bad one. Tell that to kids born with all manner of crippling problems. Emphasis on crippling, because most Christians say it’s ok to fix a issue if it cripples or endangers the child. Being Transgender is just as crippling, as it cripples the mind and spirit of the person.

    I think what bothers Christians the most about us is it poses a very uncomfortable question that they don’t want to answer. “What defines ‘you’. Is it your body? Your Mind?’

    The future is going to smash this issue to bits when we further cybernetic technology. Just read any good scifi involving cyborgs or cybernetics (Ghost in the Shell, Battle Angel Alita, Blade Runner/Shadowrun, Matrix, ect). Us transgender people ‘mutilating our bodies’ is just the very tip of what people will be able to do in the future.

  • Metria Jones

    This is like saying that a person born with a cleft pallet should keep it because it’s gods will…

  • Sophia De Tricht

    *Sigh* this is a tough one for me, as I’m also religious. Here’s how I see it. It’s written that God knew you before you were in the womb. Which means that God knows your soul, since you clearly didn’t have a body at that point. It is undeniable that two people are responsible for the body of a person. To disagree with that isn’t religious, it’s just ignorant. God creates the soul, people create the body. However we people are imperfect by nature. It’s just who we are. At this point many people, my parents included, jump up and get defensive because they think I’m saying it’s the parents’ fault. I regret to say that I was so pissed off at my parents for their reaction that I did nothing to set their minds at ease, but I don’t think it’s the parents’ fault. Genetics is complicated and sometimes shit happens. If you can have a soul that is distinctly female but you can have an entire spectrum of genitalia that doctors would label as “ambiguous,” then it follows that you can have a distinctly female soul and in the genetic confusion and human imperfection you come up with dangly bits (if you’ll excuse the expression).

    As far as surgery goes, the objection I always hear is “Your body is a temple!” I can’t help but roll my eyes a little when I hear that as an objection. “So by that logic,” I counter, “the beautification or improvement of a temple is an affront to God?” Knowing that their church has a big planned renovation, the individual thinks for a moment and says “no, but…”

    Plastic surgery is controversial in the Christian community. Probably, it always will be. Fact is, in many cases, it is a lifesaving intervention. Even Christian Scientists have a provision for lifesaving surgical intervention (I’m pretty sure).

  • Tina

    As a religious trans woman myself, I have always felt that this “condition of birth” which we have to deal with is simply a natural variation of the human condition. I equate it to a person born with a cleft lip (which I feel is another natural variation of the human condition). Surgery is not generally required in order for the person with a cleft lip to get through life. surgery does however make social interaction much easier for these individuals.

    • christian_transgender

      Amen! I am not religiously a participant of a denomination but am a person of faith as well. Cristan is brilliant beyond belief and personally a very charming girl, me thinx. She demonstrates it in the opening piece here. The only difference is that she is atheist which doesn’t make a person good or bad, for too often much harm is done by persons who reportedly believe while very infrequently is harm done by persons who don’t believe. Most religious persons believe that faith & belief must be coerced, I am not one of them in the least.

      Christians view the bible as a reference at minimum and as holy scripture at maximum. For me it’s somewhere in between but is where I am currently. The bible story begins almost simultaneously with creation followed by pesky “sin”. Christians accept the story of creation as a given but in practice disregard the story about “sin” as credible. Allow me to explain:

      Assuming that creation and “sin” both happened as depicted, right there in front of us (to Christians such as I),is the cause of gender dysphoria and all physical ailments. Prior to “sin”, all was well with paradise…….no illness, no hunger, no physical defects, and no death! Everything “bad”, were the OT to be deemed as credible, stems springs forth from creation goe bad. We use our ability to rationalize, analyze and conclude to remedy physical ailments, including the ailment of non-harmonious hormonal balances. In short, we who transition are fixing our own “cleft lip.

  • Lauren Nicole

    Great question and commentary.
    As a trans person with an amalgam of beliefs pulled from Judeo-Christian, Buddhist,
    Hindu, and aboriginal cultures as mythologies to live by or with, I can
    understand the concepts shared by many that, essentially, “God doesn’t
    give us any more to bear than he things us capable of bearing.” I have
    asked myself this question about my trans (MtF) nature. However, upon due
    reflection, I believe that our existence in this world, in corporeal form, with
    our spirit bound for a period within this shell and with the circumstances in
    which we find ourselves, is simply a construct for that spirit to advance and
    grow through “lessons to be learned”, if you will. That does not necessarily
    imply a Great Teacher in the Sky, but rather a cycle of existence for all
    I happen to believe that we keep coming back in this form until we no longer need to
    come back, and that each of us is at a different point in our growth of spirit,
    not a point in time – which is not a spiritual concept but a corporeal one – but
    a matter of whether our enlightment cup is more toward empty or more toward
    full. It’s not a race (thankfully!). No one’s spirit (or karma) is better or
    worse than anyone else’s. (Comparisons are a uniquely human, corporeal
    construct.) For me, the idea that God (if you believe in a personal God, as
    many do) would curse any of us with afflictions as some sort of personal test,
    is not right. It does not ring true. Instead, WE (our spirit) have baggage we
    drag along from one incarnation to the next. This we call karma. It is not a
    penalty, it is a gift; a gift we typically have to learn to work through across
    many lifetimes, in order to become enlightened so that we no longer have to
    return to this form. All that said, consider that physical afflictions, whether
    your lot is as a bald short guy, a woman in a misogynist culture, a child with
    leukemia, a blind person in Africa, a poor person anywhere, or a trans person in a cruel society…,
    those are all outside of spirit.
    The manner in which we deal with challenges, whether afflictions or tough times or
    internal misalignments, by letting them go, taking them in stride, or using
    every means in our grasp to resolve them, and in doing so to resolve obstacles
    on our path to enlightenment that are worthy of working on, determines our
    progress on the karmic path. Being true to yourself is the key. Living in truth
    is the goal.
    Back to trans people, whether we seek hormones, seek electrolysis, seek various
    surgeries, whether we choose to be out of the closet or stay in, whether to be
    stealth or public, or even to be an advocate, that is our call as individuals.
    If you want to “take the boat”, take the boat – choose the one you want.
    If you want to “stay on the roof”, stay on the roof. But do it because
    you are living in truth, being true to yourself and your goals. Don’t make
    decisions based on what you think others would want you to do, even your God.
    Living for others, even God, is the heart of co-dependence and is not an ideal
    way to live in truth. Be you. Live for you. Such a life will invariably be a
    life worthwhile, and one that touches other lives in more positive, meaningful,
    and authentic ways than living for others.