Thursday, January 30, 2014

In search of the beloved community, a call for the transgender, queer persons to reclaim their divinity



“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

                                                                                                          Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

Historically there has been a mindset that the social order in the United States is synonymous with the divine order, this social order being heteronormative in fashion, that Christ Jesus is embodied in that order.  This order seemingly experiences itself as the light.  This becomes the root of a grand deception that seeks to deny the very presence of God in anyone or anything that is extraordinary to that witness. 

                                                                                                                         Anonymous

Coming out as a black transgender woman who identifies as queer I am faced with this reality, that the people I meet on the street live by a different light.  The light they follow illumines and makes legitimate violence, racism, war, poverty, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of hatred, too many to mention here.  This light they follow becomes a mode towards a profit of the flesh and thus any authenticity that does not reflect this light is considered a deception of grand import.  This light presents itself as the light for all, banishing any narrative that is extraordinary to its desire.   For a person such I who lives in communion with a different light I, like many of my transgender, queer sisters and brothers are faced with unemployment,  prison and suicide, all because we follow a different light.  

I suggest here that the transgender person doesn't just follow a different light but embodies that different light.  It is a light as bright as the sun and as such becomes harmful to the lesser false light, engendering in this lesser light a particular fear necessarily causing that light to become dim, dark and at times violent.  The transgender person embodies the light of the divine without pretense.  This becomes the blessing and the challenge that more than any other concern the transgender person embodies the great divine without pretense. And so, the transgender person, at least in the Christian context, becomes the light of Christ.  For those who read this post and think it too much, to be clear the transgender person does not have a spiritual or religious monopoly on Christ yet we know according to sacred text that Jesus was critically different, his very presence critiquing the societal and culture structures of the Jewish community and the Roman empire.  Jesus Christ, received as the ultimate critical difference, and one that queered the limitations of human imagination was the inbreaking of God.  And so it is for the transgender person, that they are also the inbreaking of God in the order of the Christ and a queer presence.

As I read about the epidemic of attempted suicides, unemployment, homelessness, the abuse even the poverty in the transgender community I reflect on a community that, like Christ, reveals the fallacy and deception of the lesser light and similar to the Christ they bare the burden of that deception.  This may be a hard teaching yet I suggest that when we look at Jesus we are actually looking at a similar journey.  Now critical difference interpreted as the Christ is the greatest gospel and the greatest revelation of God in the world.  Yet critical difference is not just for difference sake but for the salvation of our communities.  I guess in some sense critical difference and by this I mean authenticity leads to liberation and sameness, which is the image of the lesser light, leads, at least in my estimation, to colonization and enslavement and a life predicated on that lesser light.

I think at some point the one who identifies as transgender, queer or of critical difference must reclaim their divinity.  They must realize that, simply put, they are not of this world.  They must walk as Christ in a world that lives by a different light.  As the transgender, queer person reclaims their divinity I suggest here that the beloved community shall emerge as of Christ.  Why, you ask.  Because those of critical difference are actually the salvation and the healing of their community and even the world.