Content notes/TW: spiritual abuse, anti-trans prejudice, transmisogyny, family rejection
I make an effort to consider many perspectives in my writing, but that’s no substitute for people telling their own stories. This is part of why I’m so excited to have Kiri on board as a contributor to AWH. Kiri will be writing about growing up trans in conservative evangelicalism (and any other topics she wants to discuss!). There’s so little acknowledgement of trans women in most discussions of gender in the church, must less inclusion or centering of trans women’s voices, so I’m really thrilled that Kiri has agreed to share some of her story here. Please give her a warm welcome! – G
Hi, all. My name is Alyssa, but the Internet calls me Kiri. I am a trans woman, born and raised evangelical (but now atheist). Grace has welcomed me here to write about the topic of evangelical gender roles and expectations as they relate to transness, and about my own experiences in evangelical culture.
My earliest memories are of Springfield, MO, where my parents were attending Bible school in hopes of becoming missionaries. A few years later, Dad became a pastor in a rural church, and that was when I learned what it meant to be a preacher’s kid: every word, every thought, every desire and personality quirk was ruthlessly scrutinized by Mom and Dad, and attacked if, in their sole determination, it hurt their
image “ministry”. This included holding me to a standard of masculinity which, as a girl, I could obviously never meet (though I sure did my darnedest). Though I did my best to talk the talk, as we went overseas and as I came to resent being drafted into the cause of evangelical imperialism, I mentally grew further and further away from the whole business.
To make a long story a little more bearable, my dysphoria literally almost killed me, and I made one last-ditch attempt to “fix myself” by going into a somewhat cult-like “discipleship program” called Master’s Commission (I have plently to say about that, and I’m sure I will at some point here); as you can see, it didn’t work, and I dropped out after a year. Even so, it took me almost a full decade to deprogram myself to the point where I was able to start transition — which resulted in, uhh, strained relations (to put it mildly) with my family, who refuse to accept me as a daughter/sister (of course, given my dad’s attitudes towards women in general, I sometimes wonder if that’s an entirely bad thing…).
So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I Have a Lot of Feelings regarding evangelicalism and its ideas about gender. Hence, I’m grateful for the chance to talk about growing up trans in an evangelical context here, and will be delving into this stuff during my stay here.