Napoleon and Caitlyn

I just read the most asinine post, written by a guy who compared gender disphoria with wanting to be Napoleon. Like, actually Napoleon, like it somehow is the same disorder, something to be repaired with intense therapy.

I’ll be honest. I don’t know what I think about people who come out when they are many years into marriage and families, I don’t know what happens to those vows, if they were somehow void in the first place. I don’t know what I think about men who say they are supposed to be women or vice versa, but stick with me here, I am not as ignorant as you may think; I am working through this.

We have a guest that we see quite often in a kitchen where I work. Sometimes this guest wears a sundress and a pony tail, sometimes jeans and a tee shirt. The first time I saw the dress, I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback (not my dyed in the wool Catholic mother in law, she asked him where he got his dress and complimented the fit!). For me, where I’ve come from, this isn’t the norm, it isn’t accepted.

But I do all kinds of things now that are not accepted.

I write columns that, I hope, challenge people.

I sing songs I never thought I could sing.

I try to love people, to see Christ in people.

Good lord is that an assignment.

I sometimes cross myself when the preacher says, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But only sometimes, because I’m not comfortable with that yet.

I know the people that I serve in that soup kitchen, I know the pushy ones, the ones who want more all the time, the ones who will complain, the ones who need one more can of soup, the ones who are sex offenders, and the ones who will take advantage of the system. And I know the ones who are so grateful that we care, that we are there, that we know their names. 

What my point is, is that these are people like you and me. Sit back for a minute and reflect. Who do you know who is pushy? Who always wants more? Who is the complainer? Who has done things that they regret, or maybe they don’t, but they need more help than I can give with leftover lasagna?

Who takes advantage of the system? The tax system, with it’s myriad loopholes that benefit the very wealthy.. The welfare system? Who?

See? We aren’t any different, our circle, our people. We are all the same deep down, we are all crying out for what we perceive to be our fair share, all of us crying into the deep and dripping dungeon, Not Guilty.

I remember reading Middlesex probably ten years ago, and being completely blown away. All these concepts I had never considered, points of view I’d never heard.

So to read someone state that they believe that being a man in a woman’s body is the same as being a man who wants to be Napoleon is crazy. It is worse than crazy. Who wants to be Napoleon? Some short dude who died in prison and fought basically his whole life. Sure, some of the things he fought for were good things, but he was, as history portrays him anyway, a nasty little man.

It just isn’t the same thing. It’s like me saying I was probably born to be Idina Menzel and walking around belting out songs. It just isn’t right. Because I was born to be me, singing songs to my children. I cannot claim Idina Menzel’s identity. I can only claim my own.

Our sexuality is such a private thing, isn’t it? What we like and what we don’t like, where the lines are drawn, whom we were made to be attracted to.

The main thing I feel for Caitlyn Jenner is a little sad, sad that she has allowed herself to be exploited this way when surely she could have purchased anonymity, when even a press release is not the same as a documentary about becoming a woman. I guess I have no choice but to assume the very best, to see Christ in a woman named Caitlyn. to see her with her hand out, telling me who she is, and that she wants to be loved no matter the form she takes.

People call Episcopals Catholic light. It isn’t though, because at least Catholics have some system of you’re in or you’re out. And we don’t. Everyone is most definitely IN.

And that’s hard, when someone is being demanding with you.

And that’s hard, when someone is pushing against what you thought was the right order of the universe.

The thing that is redemptive is that it isn’t up to you, or to me, it really is not. I don’t have to know everything about sexual orientation to love a person in a dress who happens to be a man.

I am called to love that person in all of that person’s different forms, no easy task, to be sure.

Because ignoring something you’re uncomfortable with isn’t the same as love.

Love is serving someone a meal and asking about their day.

Love is not reposting that terrible post comparing someone who is transgendered to somehow being associated with a long dead dictator.

So I am telling you that we are called to love.

Questions can come later, and they don’t come from me, or from you.

In other news my discernment committee has opened, and all of these people will ask me all of the hard questions as they try to discern whether or not I am called by God to lead His people out in service and in justice.

I know that I am, and even if they feel that I am not, I will not stop.

Justice, truth, the respect of the dignity of every human being; be they soup kitchen guest or celebrity, these are important things.

I am not scared of the community that I live in (much to the regret of some family members), I am not scared, really, of anything but snakes anymore.

My grandpa is the same, fearless. That came from standing watch over a barracks full of his comrades in the jungle with a gun that was not loaded during WWII. My fearless comes from trial and error and trial by fire, there is not anything to be afraid of, not anymore.

I am practicing to be a deacon, practicing to proclaim the need of the world to you; the church, the judgy ones, the ones who know better or more. And I am proclaiming that the world wants to be loved, and the joyous news that all you have to do is show that love.


I will leave you with the best words I read today, and they belong to Glennon of Momastery. She told a possibly transgender child that  we do not wait until it is fair to show up, we show up and we make it fair.

And so I will strive to make it fair.

What I think doesn’t matter, how I act does. Am I loving every person as I would love Christ if he showed on my doorstep wanting dinner?

It matters.

And I will show up.

The hardest to learn is the least complicated. 


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