Hi, my name is Jaclyn. I’m about to write a very personal blog in the hopes of trying to explain who I am to people. There’s a point to this blog, and it is that people cannot be categorized in simplistic ways, or at least they should not be. I want to bring the Founding Fathers of the United States into this. They did not want political parties. They thought it would divide people, rather than unite them, and one of the things these men were most concerned about when they were creating their new country was everyone in that new country being united. Hence the name of the country. It’s not called The Divided States for a reason. Even though I’m Canadian, and that is part of my identity, I think the States is the greatest country on earth. I think the Founding Fathers were inspired by God to do what they did, and I think even current policy agendas should be set with these noble men in mind. With regard to political parties, they thought that factions would develop. They were so right! Nowadays, if a liberal says something, conservatives snark. If a conservative says something, liberals criticize. And poor Ron Paul can’t even get covered in the mainstream media because he might upset the status quo. You guessed it. I’m a libertarian!
But guess what? I’m also a Christian conservative. I’m a complex, nuanced person. Well, I’m a lot more than just a person. Here goes…I was born with the wrong genitals. But I refuse to call myself a transgendered person…partly because I haven’t had surgery for a variety of reasons, and partly because when you call yourself that, people don’t allow you to be anything else. You have become one thing, and no more.
This is the crux of one of the most traumatic experiences in my life, perhaps the most traumatic. In 1991, I joined a church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I stayed with it until around 2001 so almost 10 years, a full decade. In many ways, it was the best decade of my life. I have nothing against organized religion, even now, and definitely I am not anti-Mormon. I admire people like Mitch Mayne who are part of the LGBT community and also Mormon. I identify with such people. I don’t have the courage that Brother Mayne has, but I think I probably have some of the same feelings. I follow him on Twitter, and I know he is simultaneously Mormon, and an openly gay man. I admire people with nuance, and he obviously fits that category.
What I find difficult is being both ‘transgender’ and yet not totally supporting everything about the LGBT community. Remember, I’m also a Christian conservative. I believe in tradition, particularly traditions like marriage, which I think was meant to be between a man and a woman. That might offend my readers who are gay or lesbian, but I don’t mean to be offensive. I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from. A person isn’t just liberal or just conservative, or just transgender, or just Christian, etc. There are nuances. I can’t change how I feel any more than a gay person can change how they feel. I think gay people are born that way. If we can change how we feel so easily, then why aren’t straight people always in a good mood? If we can change our tastes, why don’t we all like broccoli more than chocolate? If we can change how we feel through merely wishing it so, if we are not around food, why do we not stop ourselves from feeling hunger?
My answer is we are born this way. But I do not like some of the changes that have been occurring in modern society. I believe in old-fashioned values. I actually don’t disagree with the Mormon church’s stand on gay marriage. I believe everyone should live the law of chastity. I believe that sex outside of marriage complicates life. I think gay and lesbian people are born that way, like the Lady Gaga song, and I also can see where church leaders are coming from. However, I’d like to add that when it comes to leaving property and money, hospital visits, etc., people have the right to make their own decisions. I can’t even imagine why this is an issue in the first place.
In the Mormon church, they have what is called a disciplinary handbook. They said having the kind of surgery I’m talking about could be grounds for a disciplinary council. The words ‘could be’ made me think I was an exception. And I still believe that but my Church leaders profoundly disagreed. They did not excommunicate me, but they reversed the good news of the church for me. This is what I mean. When Mormon missionaries visit people, in order to interest them in the Church, they tell people that God talks to everyone. He loves everyone. They have something called patriarchal blessings, where the Patriarch lays his hands on your head, and becomes a mouthpiece for God, telling you about your life. I didn’t tell the Patriarch about my physical situation because he is a mouthpiece of God. In a way, I tested the Church without meaning to. I believe God spoke to me in that blessing and comforted me. He knows me as an individual, as a woman, and loves me. He gives me revelation. But for me alone, this is not true according to Mormon leaders. In my case, I had to tell the Patriarch everything or else the blessing was not valid. This is the opposite of ‘the good news or the gospel.’ What’s worse than hearing originally that the Patriarch is a mouthpiece of God, and then being told that is actually not the case? It does something to you. And it’s not good.
I wrote this all in a book, called He Talks To Me, Too. I didn’t have the courage to make it a non-fiction account. I fictionalized it. But maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I have always wanted to write fiction, and in fact, I’m finishing up another novel soon. Like in a couple of weeks or so. So writing a novel is natural for me, and maybe that is the main reason I converted my real-life story into a novel. Also, other people are involved, and I wanted to protect their identities. Anyway, just like the Mormon church has a disciplinary handbook, my fictional book has a Handbook of Policies and Procedures. On page 29, it says that a person’s head has to be a certain diameter in order to remain on the ‘island,’ or they could be banished forever. In my book, the Patriarch becomes the Grand Pere. The church is an island. There are obviously a lot of metaphors in the book. It was easier to write that way.
Recently, missionaries came back into my life. They started visiting my mother and me. They wanted us to come back to church. My initial reaction was to think that instead of talking to me, they should go to the leaders and ask them to allow me to be a full, functioning member of the church. But I guess they started asking around about me, because suddenly they no longer visit us. This seems so shocking to me. Missionaries discuss matters of life and death. They talk about God, and how much He loves us. Then they discover something they don’t like, and they send the message very clearly that they are no longer interested in sharing that message with you. It hurts their credibility, to say the least.
Now I’m back at square one…trying to find a church to be a part of, because I think we achieve a lot of great blessings from being part of a spiritual community. There are tons of good things about the Mormon church. They worship God. They revere Jesus Christ. They do a lot of humanitarian work. But they do not care about me, and they have proven that on many occasions. Of course there are individual members in the church who have proven they do care. But I need to be part of an organized religion where I feel that it is true. And that I am a valued, welcome member of the community. I’m not sure if I should become Muslim (they do not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God), Catholic, Baptist, etc. I feel like we are spiritually stronger if we’re part of a community. As my book details pretty clearly at the end, the Mormon church almost destroyed me. But I’m battling my way back to being a somewhat good person.
If my story sounds like something you can relate to on any level, please click on this link and buy my book, a fictionalized account of what happened to me with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please keep in mind that I might be ex-Mormon, but I’m not anti-Mormon! 🙂
Click on the picture to buy my book on Amazon for about a dollar!