In some ways, this magazine cover and the responses to it shows that we're still a long way away from full acceptance of everyone. If you're famous, if you have money, you will face a much smoother road. You'll be insulated from many of the literal assaults--but perhaps not from the assaults that come from inside.
I've also been thinking about theology and issues of gender--I've been thinking about theology and issues of gender for decades now. Does my thinking change as I've learned more about transgender issues?
I'm still deeply uneasy about the patriarchal structure of churches, both individual churches and The Church. The patriarchal nature--and the privilege structure that comes from a patriarchal hierarchical structure--will make it hard for The Church to be on the cutting edge of these issues.
Our churches mirror our societies. If we lived in a society that celebrated the wide variety of humans along the gender spectrum (and the sexuality spectrum and the racial spectrum and the religious spectrum, on and on I could go), I'd be less uneasy about the time in history where we find ourselves.
I wonder if future sociologists will shake their heads at how eagerly some of us embraced the knife to make our insides match our outsides.
And before everyone writes me angry comments about how I just don't understand how it feels to be trapped in the wrong body, I would say that I'm a female in a culture saturated with messages that tell me I'm doing femaleness wrong. I've been overweight--50 pounds more than I am now, and I'm not skinny now. I have had a glimpse into how it feels when one's outside doesn't match one's inside.
I want to be able to say, "If you have the money, great, transform yourself." But I also know that many vultures are out there, feeding on our discontent, making lots of money, selling us solutions that will not work. The harder work must be done by each and every one of us, and there's really no shortcut towards self-acceptance and fierce self-love and self-protection.
Here's where The Church can be its best self, with its reminder that God's economy is different from the human economy. We can proclaim the Good News that God loves humanity so much that God goes to ridiculous/breathtaking lengths to be in community with us.
If we really believed in God's love for us, could we be easier in our human skins? I am not the perfect one to answer this. I have tried to alter my body in the traditional ways that humans do: weight loss plans, exercise programs, hair color, a bit of make up, the idea that perhaps a perfect, transforming outfit is out there. Clearly I do not believe that God loves me just the way I am.
I'm afraid that I worship the god of self-improvement plans. It's the idol worship that seems to be running amok in our society.
But it's not the Creator proclaimed across religious faiths, across a variety of religious texts--and hopefully not the Creator we proclaim in our sanctuaries.
I go back to that very first creation story in Genesis, the one that's older than Adam and Eve. I love the vision of that Creator, who proclaims each creation to be good--and at the end, it's all very good. It gives me a sense of the Creator who is exuberantly in love with creation.
This very first picture of God does not show us a creator who says, "Hmm. If only you weighed less/more, if only you sang differently, if only I had chosen a different color for you, if only, if only, if only." The very first picture of God doesn't show us a God who throws away the rough draft in search of perfection.
The first creation story declares perfection just the way we are.
I'm eager for our societies to match that declaration. We are not there yet. Some days, I feel us drawing closer. Some days I despair about how far away we are from embracing that perfection--not a perfection that comes to me because of my striving, but my inherent perfection, no matter what I do or do not do.
God has already declared us perfect. Would that we all had ears to hear that message.