June 30

It’s a Struggle

(Message shared with Heather Hasch)

Genesis 32: 22-32

June 30, 2024

          It’s been Pride Month. We’re listening to stories from LGBTQ Persons. Last Sunday, my friend Em Norwood shared with us about being non-binary and we learned about non-binary pronouns. Next Sunday, I’ll be sharing stories from the lives of three gay men in this church: Mark Hewitt, Bill Swisher, and Sven Erickson.

Today Lori’s friend, Heather Hasch from Fort Wayne is with us to share about her experiences as a Trans Female.

We’ll start with a little refresher course on what Trans means:

First, we need to remember that Gender is different than Sexual Orientation. Sexual orientation is who we are attracted to. On the other hand, gender has to do with our identity. That identity might be female or male, but as we learned last week it also might be non-binary. Last week Em Norwood told their story of being non-binary.

Most people identify with the gender they are assigned at birth. But some people don’t identify with the gender assigned at birth. We use the term Trans or Transgender to talk about them. They transition to a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth.

Some people transition when they are youth or young adults. But others transition later in life.

Heather, thanks for coming all the way from my hometown in Fort Wayne, Indiana and sharing your story with us.

Heather share Transitioning and Coming Out story-5 minutes

          I recently read a book about a Transgender Man’s story. The Michigan UCC Conference used it for a Book Study this month. It’s called “In the Margins”. In that book, Shannon Kearns says, “The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel became a touchpoint for me. As my faith unraveled during college, there was something about Christianity I couldn’t let go of, even though I desperately wanted to. I was tired. Worn out. I’d been wrestling now for years. With God, with my identity, with my family, with the Bible. Couldn’t I just let go? Couldn’t I just walk away? And yet I continued to cling. There was something in me that was fighting for the blessing, believing that there was indeed one for me. Like Jacob, I wrestled all night for that blessing from God.”

          Listening to Heather’s story today also reminds me of Jacob’s wrestling. Heather has been wrestling for a lifetime with their identity. It’s like Heather has been wrestling for the blessing of becoming who God made her to be: Her authentic self.

          In Jacob’s case, the wrestling and the blessing led to the angel saying: “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and people, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.”

          Jacob received a new name. This often happens for Trans people as well. After they transition, they take a new name for themselves. This often reflects their gender identity.

Jacob and the angel wrestled almost until dawn. At that point Jacob was struck on the hip. This caused Jacob to limp for the rest of his life. This wounding is a part of the trans journey. To get to the blessing, there is a wounding. This wounding comes in so many forms for trans people.

          This wounding can be literally physical. This wounding can be a part of the inner struggle of becoming their authentic self. This wounding can also be caused by the hatred of others.

When Trans people transition, they often experience hostility and rejection both by strangers, but also by family and friends.

          This wounding often leaves a limp. We are never the same after a wounding. It may heal. But we will never be the same.

           In that book, Shannon writes, “When I was younger, I would pray God would fix me, make me normal so I could fit back into the world I came from. What I didn’t realize until reflecting on Jacob’s story is that my wounding meant that going home, going back to the way things were before, was impossible. I was going to be forever changed. Remade, even if not renamed.”

          Let’s hear more about Heather’s story and especially about the resistance they came up against after transitioning: the wounding they experienced that causes them to limp, even today.

Heather shares about the resistance to their coming out, especially at work and the resulting lawsuit. 5 minutes

          Thank you, Heather, for sharing a part of your story with us.

          There is a lot of resistance to trans people today in our country. My prayer is that God would lead us to find ways to be supportive and loving and caring and kind. It just seems that is the way of Jesus – caring for those who are oppressed and marginalized and demonized.

          What are ways we can do this?

          First, I think it begins with education. Learning and listening.

          Then, it continues with befriending and encouraging.

          It eventually leads to voting.

          What do you think Heather? How can we be most helpful?

Heather shares briefly what we can do to be helpful to trans people. 2 minutes

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