Hey Readers I start this post with a trigger warning. This warning is given to all those who believe that Scotland is an accepting country whose people are all embracing liberal minded humanitarians who live by the manta of live and let live or as some of my younger friends would say Yolo (You Only Live Once)
My evidence for this statement comes from an experience in the early part of the evening on the first Saturday of the month as I made my way home from a Saturday afternoon meeting of T-Time a trans social group which meets on the first Saturday of the month.
It was around quarter past six when I made my way down Buchanan Street in what I thought would be the direction of George Square to get the bus back home after an excellent afternoon at the group where I enjoyed a tutorial session on how to make the most of make up and as we were given tips on how to apply it properly. The session which covered all aspects of make up from foundation and blusher from eye shadow to mascara was both enjoyable and inclusive and a world away from the prejudice I was about to face in my local city centre just a couple of hours later.
As I walked down the precinct at around 6.15 on an otherwise pleasant if unremarkable Saturday evening, I heard someone shouting and saw a crowd of my fellow Glaswegians gathered round listening to them. Being a nosey wee madam I thought I had better check it out to as we say in Glasgow see what the deal was. This resulted in hearing some of the most vile and abusive hate speech I have ever been unfortunate enough to witness and his attack on trans woman showed a cold hearted lack of compassion which defied both description and belief. Yet the man who was spouting this drivel had the nerve to tell those of us who were listening that he was a Christian preaching the good news of the Bible.
As he preached from what I can only suggest was the gospel of hate this man of god sounded more like UKIP at prayer and some of his comments were so outrageous I couldn’t make then up even if I wanted to. As I stood to listen to what in the words of one young girl present must qualify as hate speech, I was seriously conflicted as to how I should be reacting to so this so-called Christian whose view of cultural enlightenment must have been shaped in the dark ages. On one hand, the compassionate side of me wanted to take the Voltaire approach of I disagree with what you say but will defend until death your right to say it, whilst the other less tolerant side of my nature wanted to get him locked up or potentially even strung up and hung from the nearest lamppost for spouting such vile abuse on his fellow citizens of our city and our country.
In the end though reason won through as it always tends to do with me as my five second flirtation with death penalty died as my temper which was at boiling point began to return to somewhere approaching normal. This by the way, is the reason why we should never consider bringing back this punitive punishment under any circumstances.
As a Christian myself I loathe the idea that people like this man and his ilk can cherry pick the bible for their own intolerant agenda as they always like to do. Though I have to say that they are in their own way entertaining, these people are also dangerous as if they have viewed which if they are unchallenged could seriously influence the gullible and do a major disservice to Christianity as they spread the only gospel they know which is that of hate and fear. This to me sums up perfectly the warnings Jesus gave to the early Christian church to beware false prophets as many deceivers will claim to come in his name .
Feeling the need to do a bit of a PR job for Christianity I remarked to the girl standing next to me that not all Christians were as narrow minded as this manic street preacher who in my opinion wasn’t so much manic as clueless and confused. The girl who attends a Roman Catholic secondary in the city said that in her opinion the church wasn’t doing enough to support the LGBT community and faced a stark choice to modernise or die.
I told her that as a trans woman I was a regular attender at my local church of Scotland but I could fully understand where she was coming from as the church is in danger of dying from irrelevance. This highly articulate teenager said that it was good that I felt at home in my local parish but wondered if I might be the exception rather than the rule.
To her the church wasn’t doing enough on social issues. It was she said too full of the old testament fire and brimstone and lacking in compassion in the way it views difference.
I have to say I think this is not an issue for one faith in the Christian community but instead is something which needs addressed by us all. Indeed as I said to one of my closest friends in my parish we in the church of Scotland need to remember we are a reformed church and we need to keep reforming or slowly but surely we will cease to exist.
Now this news may frighten some of the church’s more traditional old guard but it is my view that they to be frightened out of their complacency or the kirk will die when they do. The fact that I as a trans woman can attend church service and not be made feel to like an outsider except perhaps during the independence referendum (the church of Scotland is still too unionist for my liking) may not say too much to the parishioners but it does to me it offers hope the church that it can still be socially and culturally relevant in the 21st century. So challenging times as they are for Christian church there is still hope but we as Christians need to act on it now before we miss this golden opportunity to spread the real good news of our story and slip back to the bad old days. Believe me the last thing Christianity needs at this time in our history is our own version of project fear. Trust me I have heard from too many people that if there is one thing which puts them off attending church it’s the fact that there are or at least there are perceived to be too many thou shalt nots in the average Sunday morning script.
This to me and others like me is a wee bit unfair but it is unquestionably how God and faith are represented in the press and media both in this country and globally. The fact that God loves everyone is a fact which is beyond dispute and whether some people like or not he loves me as the trans woman he knows me to be. Well let’s have a look at the facts shall we. In my pre transformation days you couldn’t get me anywhere near a church now I’m a regular in the pews. This proves to me that God will grant you the desires of your heart but he’ll do it on his terms and in unique way. Well we shouldn’t forget in the lords prayer it says thy will be done not my will be done and that is the terms and conditions.
Maybe that’s the reason why on what could have been a difficult night to be a Christian he used a transsexual woman to reassure the younger girls in the crowd and to let them know he is working on the equality stuff they are so keen to see progressed both in the church and the wider society at large.
As for the girls themselves they said they would have had no problem whatsoever, if I had been their uncle and decided to become their aunt. Indeed they said they would taken me round the shops to style me up and to make sure my first dress was classy and sophisticated.
To me it was these teenage girls who showed what real Christianity is all about with their positive attitudes when it came to accepting others. This is faith as it should be served with compassion hope and love and not with selective tolerance found in the book of prejudice. Now I don’t know about you but whilst Scotland may not quite be the perfect accepting inclusive nation we sometimes tell ourselves we are, it is heartening to see that attitudes are changing for the better with regards to the equalities agenda and as far as I’m concerned and that really is good news.
Love And Best Wishes