Some people know my past, some don’t. I don’t often talk about it, because, miraculously, it’s not an issue anymore. I tell people if I need to, or if it might help someone, but not everyone in my church family needs or wants to know the details. The Bible tells them who I am—a sinner with a shameful past and a glorious future, just like them. So they know me, and they love me, and that’s basically that. For years I longed for either victory or acceptance. In Christ, I got both.
This is the second part of an anonymous testimony published in conjunction with the release of Vaughan Roberts’ new book, Transgender.
In the first part, the author described how his desire to dress as a woman grew from childhood play into a guilty adolescent secret. While his college years brought acceptance from his peers, it failed to satisfy a desire he felt increasingly trapped by. But then something changed…
I started going to a Bible teaching church by accident. Despite the confusion of my private life, I had always thought of myself as a Christian, so it seemed right to find a church when I moved to London. I simply took the path of least resistance—other people from college were going, so I followed them. It was not exactly love at first sight. I went two or three times, but I don’t remember what I heard there, and, while people were friendly and welcoming, I didn’t feel as though I had much in common with anyone. In my eyes, it seemed to be a church full of sinless paragons, and I figured the warm welcome would evaporate pretty quickly if they knew what I was wearing under my jeans. I decided to find a church that was smaller, closer to where I lived, and maybe a little less straight-laced.
But London was an exciting place, and I was just beginning to get my first heady taste of acceptance. Church got pushed to the bottom of the list. It was over two years before I did anything about it.
In the end, I went back. I hadn’t planned to, but I had reached some sort of crisis point. I was deep into the cross-dressing trap and only getting deeper, but part of me knew I was miserable, and part of me knew I’d been ignoring God. I suddenly wanted some Christian company, and the only Christians in my circle of friends were still going to that church. I thought perhaps I could stay on the fringes, maybe join a friendly home group and avoid the church itself, but it wasn’t to be. I was welcomed back like the prodigal son, by people who had apparently remembered me and had been praying for me for over two years. And, for whatever reason, I started actually listening to the teaching. It was a powerful cocktail; my notion of staying on the fringe was miraculously short-lived. And once I was in, with my ears open, things began to change.
Putting the pieces together
But I was back in hiding, at least among church circles. I thought that if people found out about the cross-dressing, they’d just tell me I had to stop doing it, which would have been useless—I hadn’t been able to stop even when I’d wanted to. So, once again, I kept my “real self” hidden.
It meant that no one ever tackled the transvestitism head on. But, instead, every week I learned something. Startling pieces of knowledge about God, about myself, about the world… And gradually, that knowledge began to unpick the trap I was caught in.
I learned that our hearts are deceitful and our nature is sinful—so “be yourself” is terrible advice.
I learned that the world is broken and fallen and cursed—so we should be realistic about what we can and can’t fix.
I learned that everyone has something to hide, even the squeaky clean paragons of virtue I thought I was surrounded by—so I wasn’t there under false pretences, waiting to be expelled the minute people found out about my secret life.
I learned that God made men and women equal but with different roles—and I realized that I was fighting against the role he’d given me.