Friday, September 13, 2013

The Gift of Not Knowing

Bat n' Rouge Portland
Photo credit: Marty Davis
Matthew 28:20b "[Jesus said,] 'And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"
As many of you saw in my previous blog post, I shared that I identify as transgender, as more male than female, and that I go by either Laura or Leo.  I am so incredibly grateful for the messages of support, love and encouragement I received.  Words cannot fully express how much this has meant to me. Thank you.

Life is an interesting journey, and we never really have a full picture of where we should go or the decisions we should make. We do our best to hear wisdom in our own hearts and the words of our friends, to listen for the voice of God. But sometimes life is just a muddle. Maybe we don't know who we are or what to do with our lives. Maybe we feel lost.

I am in the middle of a journey of discovering who I am and how I can live most fully and true to myself. But I don't have all the answers. I don't know if I prefer to be called "Laura" or "Leo" - I like them both.  I don't know yet if I will do more than cut my hair and wear men's clothes. But that's ok. I don't have to know right now. It can be stressful to be in an in-between place, but I'm working on resting in ambiguity, on letting answers unfold in their own time. I don't want to rush, and I don't want to drag my feet. Surprisingly, I'm feeling pretty peaceful (most of the time) about this place of unknowing.

Life is not about knowing all the answers, or about finding out the end of the movie before it begins. I want to view life as an adventure! Thankfully this is not something we have to do alone. Many of you have expressed your willingness to come along on this adventure with me, even when it is mysterious or scary, and I do not take that for granted. I hope I am willing to go beside you in your adventure too.

And because this is a devotional blog at heart, I want to add that God is also always with us in this. No matter how dark or confusing life may seem, you are never alone. Sometimes that's hard to remember - I had it tattooed on my arm so I wouldn't forget. I am working on being ok with not knowing how things will turn out; I am working on trusting that God is always with me on this journey, no matter what.
God of mystery, Sometimes we just want life to be simple, but this world is so complex! Give us strength and courage when we are in stressful or in-between places, or when we are just plain frustrated by not knowing what to do next. Remind us that we are never alone, and give us the motivation and passion to be there for others. Thanks for being with us always. Amen.

PS - Speaking of life as an adventure, I added links to a few more of the YouTube videos by Andrew Shayde of the adventures of our friends.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Finding Leo

Killer croquet. Photo by Andrew Shayde
Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”

I have only posted a few times on this blog since the end of March and there is a very particular reason for this. I felt that I could not write publicly about what was really on my mind.

At the end of March, I had the startling, frightening, and liberating realization that I just might be transgender.  That was the beginning of a journey of questioning that has brought me to this place now – where I want to share more publicly about who I am.

I now identify as transgender: more male than female, one of the guys, in my men’s clothes and men’s haircut. Over the years, there were several clues I gave myself before my moment of realization, even the title of this blog.

Please feel free to ask me any question that you like. I can’t speak for the whole transgender community, just as I can’t speak for all Lutherans or all Oregonians. I’m on a journey where I am still figuring out who I am, so there is a lot I am learning too. But I don’t want to do so in private any more.

You can call me either Laura or Leo, the name I picked for myself.  I like both and am fine with either male or female pronouns (he/him or she/her). At this point, I appreciate the fluidity of having either option, so you don’t have to apologize if you say Laura or her, and you don't need to feel compelled to use Leo.

I am still attracted to men.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are different, so I can have a gender identity of male and still be attracted to men.  Here is an FAQ on transgender:

Here are a few of the reasons that I want to come out publicly as transgender:

1)      I want to be seen as who I am and feel that I can be authentic. I want to be myself in public as well as with my closest friends. I just want to be me.
2)      I am grateful for the LGBT people who are out and role models for the rest of us, giving us hope, and I want to be the same.
3)      I want to be able to blog and post more freely, without worrying that I will out myself.

I don’t know why I am transgender or why I didn't realize this sooner.  I know some people know from a young age, but that is not my story.  But I do believe that God is with me in this process and that nothing can separate us from the love of God, as I have tattooed on my arm.

I am so grateful for the words of support and encouragement I received from those I have already shared this with.  I am especially grateful for my friends whose love and humor ground me in this tumultuous and exciting journey.

It may be foolish to come out publicly right now, but I choose strength and bravery over being timid.  I am who I am – a child of God, a friend, an activist, an advocate, a goofball, and me – still me.

Thank you for listening.  Many blessings to you and yours.