Here’s what happened today. As my family and I walked into church, it came. The urge. I had to pee. And as anyone on medication would tell you, when the urge comes it’s a lot harder to hold it. We were already 20 minutes late for service. OCD brain feared that if they went in without me, I wouldn’t be able to find them amongst the audience. Then I would have to sit by myself, unable to focus on anything else but the worry over whether or not they were okay. But the urge was here and I knew I had to go. So as my family walked into the dimly lit sanctuary, I continued into the light on toward the bathroom. The bathroom which was clearly marked women’s. I reached for the handle of the door to the women’s bathroom and then for a second, I hesitated. Should I knock or just go in? Was it a single use bathroom or was it one that many people could use at a time? What if I walked in on someone and embarrassed both of us? I took a breath. Sometimes just one breath is enough to shut up OCD brain. As I twisted the handle and pushed open the door my decision was made, I would just walk in. But then I heard a voice. And by the context of what the person was saying, the person was talking to me.
“The men’s bathroom is over here.”
I continued walking into the women’s bathroom. As I grabbed the handle of the stall, I heard the door open again. The person had opened the door.
I turned around, as if caught in the act. Eye contact was a no, so I looked directly at the person’s chest, his chest. I assume his eyes looked directly at my chest too, at my breasts.
He closed the door.
I continued my business in the women’s bathroom. Then headed into the sanctuary, where I quickly found my family in the last row. Since we were late, it was already time for the message. The title screen came up on the projector.
“THE SHAME GAME”
How ironic. A lot of people think I should feel some type away about my encounter this morning. About being mistaken for a man. Some might think I should feel disturbed or angry or hurt, maybe even feel ashamed of myself. Ashamed for presenting myself in a way that made my gender at least ambiguous and at most the opposite of what it is “supposed” to be. But I didn’t feel any of these negative emotions. All I felt was the urge towards reflection.
For some my gender is a guessing game. I remember this summer being asked if I was a boy or a girl. When I said girl, I heard exclamations of yes and I knew it. For some my gender appears to be male. For some my gender appears to be female. It depends.
I look at myself in the mirror. I feel my body in the shower. I think, “How can anyone not think I am woman?” I see the bulging in my chest. I feel the weight of my breasts. I see the curvature in my hips and my thighs. I feel my hips somehow joining as my thighs rub together. I see the small bushel of black curly hair covering my vagina. It feels warm and coarse. I think, “I am a woman. This is what a woman looks like.” But is it?
For a few weeks, I was in a partial program. There I met two transgender males. I remember one day one of the patients coming up to both of them and saying, “You guys are transgender. I would have never been able to tell. You look like regular men.” The transgender males thanked the patient for his compliment, saying they appreciated it and it meant a lot to them. But something about this interaction “rubbed me the wrong way”.
What does a man look like? What does a woman look like? We are learning that it depends. A man can have breasts and a vagina. A woman could have a penis and facial hair. What matters most when it comes to gender is how a person feels and identifies. Gender is a construct and we have the right to choose how we fit into it.
Many disagree with what I am saying, especially as someone who identifies as a Christian. How can I say that trans is beautiful and Jesus is Lord at the same time? How can I agree that a man can be born biologically a woman and still believe with my heart and soul that God does not make mistakes? To be honest, I am still figuring it out. It is hard. One thing I do know is that God created the human mind and the human heart. He knows our pains and our sorrows. He died on the cross to save us from a life of darkness and despair. Did you know that members of the LGBTQ community are four times as likely to attempt or commit suicide? I can imagine that statistic is because they cannot express their true selves and feel accepted. That is a life of darkness and despair.
As for me, my name is Makayla LeAnne Williams, and I am a woman. I am a woman whether I am wearing tight leggings or baggy jeans. I am a woman whether I am growing my hair out or rocking my adorable teeny-weeny afro. I am woman whether I decide to have children or not. I am a woman whether I marry a man or not. I am a woman. I am not ashamed for how I choose to express or not express my femininity. I am not ashamed for how I choose to express myself as a human being. Whether I identifies myself with she/her/hers or he/him/his or they/them/theirs, I will not be ashamed. I will not allow the construct of gender to define me nor will allow any type of shame.
My name is Makayla LeAnne Williams. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a human of this earth.