What Christmas Means to Me
Honestly? It's complicated.
I didn’t grow up in the Church.
Sometimes, I wish I had. I came to Christianity as a serious commitment during my senior year of high school. The love I felt from God in those first few days of my spiritual journey has not dissipated. It has only grown stronger.
I don’t know how exactly to explain it, but for the first time in my life, I felt safety and security. I felt like someone was watching over me, and I still feel that way. It has never gone away, and there are moments when I wonder what kind of person I would be if my childhood felt that safe and secure from the start.
Sometimes, I’m glad I didn’t grow up in the Church. Although I realize the Church is quite diverse, the odds are not great, to say the very least, that I would have been part of an LGBTQ-affirming congregation in Central Texas when I was a kid.
I can’t speak for anyone else who’s transgender, and so, I hope you’ll take all of this in the spirit it’s intended: as a personal insight into this intersection that doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the trans and non-binary community, many of which disagree with my own but are still valid and important.
There’s a lot of pain in the trans community, and the primary source of this pain, the enduring catalyst, is an American culture that centers the most rabidly conservative interpretations of Christ’s teachings—interpretations that are bereft of merit, let alone empathy—at the expense of marginalized communities.
That, sadly, is the Church most known to trans and non-binary people. It’s the Church that not only ignores the pain and suffering of our community but seeks to weaponize public policy against trans and non-binary people, specifically children.
In terms of legislation at the state level, this has been the most aggressively anti-trans year on record. It’s as though the Republican Party took a vote behind closed doors after being briefed by pollsters and decided that trans children would be the most effective enemy in the narrative of the Midterms.
Grown adults in positions of power, claiming to represent God, are viciously attacking children for an immutable characteristic that has been widely validated by every major and scientific organization around the world.
More than that, conservative Christian organizations continue to push for LGBTQ people in the United States and around the world to be excluded from the public square and denied protections from discrimination.
The parts of the Church that I call home aren’t like this. I attend a congregation that truly embodies what Christ preached: that our second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 39, et alia).
The home I found in the Church reminds me that Christ was a Brown-skinned, Jewish refugee and migrant, a major prophet in Islam, and a socialist who preached against the toxicity and destruction and exploitative nature of exorbitant wealth.
It’s the home that reminds me that Christ hung out with sex workers and was called a troublemaker for drawing attention to the hypocrisy of those in power and was murdered by corrupt law enforcement for doing so.
It’s the home that reminds me that Christ never condemned homosexuality or transgender people but sure spent a lot of his time on this earth talking about poverty, a teaching that is, it would seem, widely ignored by those in this country who have forgotten about the latter in their frenzied obsession with lying about the former.
The home I found in the Church reminds me that Christ loves me, every single part of me, having been made by God with a loving hand.
I am, therefore, caught between a series of two worlds: between the love of God that is so well known to me and the pain of trans and non-binary people who have been abused by the Church and taught that God is only to be feared, between the love of God that has sustained me and the hatred of those who so willfully misrepresent God’s love, between the authenticity of my existence carefully made by God and the destructive lies of people who deny God’s creation.
Friends, I admit I am exhausted, but I am also hopeful. It is impossible for me to not be at least a bit optimistic when I have reached an age that so many young trans people, open and closeted alike, never came close to reaching and so many older trans folks, open and closeted alike, never got to experience, for want of Christians who act like Christ.
Tomorrow, I’ll do all the holiday things I love with chosen family, but I’ll also observe and give thanks that God made me so lovingly and that Christ expressed that love toward me so fully.
Merry Christmas, friends. Wishing you and yours peace and happiness.
Hi, I’m Charlotte Clymer, and this is Charlotte’s Web Thoughts, my Substack. It’s completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my writing, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription: just $7/month or save money with the $70/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $210.