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Sunday, February 10, 2013

MY BISHOP-GAUNTLET OR PARADIGM SHIFT

I HAD THE MOST INCREDIBLE DAY TODAY, AND I WANT TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT!

I really have been thinking about, dreaming about, and dreading this day all my life. I have thought for over 24 years that my wife would have outed me to my Bishop as a cross-dresser by now. Every day I went to church I expected to be called in and interrogated about my transgender identity, for which I thought my wife would label it cross-dressing, or transvestism, or something else I know she would liken unto a disgusting perversion. I've lived my life in fear of this. I let my wife have all the power. Mostly I didn't care. I'm an extreme feminist and I would never ever belittle, disenfranchise, denigrate or subjegate any woman, let alone my wife. I always let her control things, to my own detriment. I have lived a cuckolded-like life. Everything is exactly the same but the boyfriend living upstairs. Today, everything changes.

Being forced to be celibate for 18 years can really make a person resort to extremes to stay sane. I tried to make things work for me as pretending to be a man. Running Campaigns, working on campaigns, being an organizer and activist, being on 5 different Board of Directors, being a youth baseball, soccer, football, t-ball, and hockey coach. Being a wilderness guide for YMCA Adventures. Working in Factories, Natural Gas Pipelines, a painter, a roofer, a businessman, a hockey player, an Army Man, and myriad other things. Much of this was compensation, or over compensation, for who I knew I really was. I was ashamed of who I was. I tried always to hide it. I kept it to my hidden places......buried wardrobes in forests, and abandon places.
I would only dress up as myself in secret, with few exceptions. I had paper routes from 10 years old. They were afternoon papers, but on Saturday Mornings I would dress as myself in the wee hours of the morning and do my papers as the girl I was.

This guileful life continued until just recently. I would only go for my "me" walks at 2-4 am, when there is the fewest people awake, and least chance to be caught. I was caught a couple of times resulting in significant events I will explain in a different post someday. I want to keep this mostly upbeat.

Today was just always going to be a big day. I really was ready for anything. When I got home I was exhausted, because I must admit I didn't get any sleep last night, and only 2 hours the night before. I quickly got on facebook and posted a "Life Event" so I wouldn't have to type my experience over and over 50 times. I spent several hours answering the comments and being inundated with a dozen people chatting with me at the same time. I love my friends and they were really anticipating this day with me. I count myself as the most fortunate girl in the world with all the friendship, kindness, and compassion I am shown by my friends, and "squish's". (You all Rock!).


The following is the Life Event Post I made.....for those of you who were so kind to read and comment there already, feel free to skip ahead. I will make additional remarks about today, and my Bishop-Gauntlet afterward:


MY MORMON/LDS BISHOP ACCEPTS, LOVES, AND WELCOMES ME AS A TRANSsEXUAL WOMAN: First Interview with New Bishop (I Couldn't Have Hoped for a Better Outcome)
Today in Akron, Ohio (2 photos)
I have been contemplating this day all my life. There are myriad ways this meeting with the lay leader, (Bishop, like a Pastor) of my local Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or to others, the Mormon Church. I anticipated any outcome, but the most likely were mostly dis-edifying and punitive in nature. I could have been set on a course for a disciplinary council that would dole out a dis-fellowship status or an ex-communication. I was not anticipating what happened. 

A few days ago I was unexpectedly overcome with feelings of happiness, brought on by hearing the song, "Off the Wall", by Michael Jackson. In it I kept hearing the words, "life aint so bad". The last couple days, in addition to the happiness I had overwhelming feelings of comfort to go along with my happiness. I could feel the effects and the frequencies of the many prayers said for my benefit. Some of you have fasted for me, and others have done and expressed great efforts for me. Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother have received these supplications, and have made me aware of them, and have answered them with effects of edification for my behalf. Miracles are happening!

I was met at Church at 8:15 am, by my best friend at Church and the exec. Secretary with, "there is an unexpected Stake Audit, and the Bishop can't see you today." This was upsetting because my wife surprised me with, "I need you to ask the Bishop for Rent assistance this Month", while we were driving to Church. Wow, thanks for the heads up on that honey. A Brand new Bishop and I have to beg for money and tell him I'm not "a Man". No pressure! So I was like, "can you squeeze me in for something during Sunday School, so I can get help with rent at least. He's a friend, so he did what I asked. He came back with a 1pm slot for 10 minutes. I thought all through Church, "oh my gosh, another week of anxiety".

1pm came and I went in. I set up a plan to work it off, I already work at the Bishops Storehouse 10-15 hours per month, plus evidence of my 40 hours per month of charitable volunteering and other work. I got the Check, but he then said, "It's going to me 20 minutes before it's ready, so why not start talking about what we need to talk about." I said okay.

I asked to start with prayer, and I'm glad I did. He offered. I then asked him what the former Bishop had told him. He said that I had told him I had some gender issues and that "You thought you were a woman 'trapped' in a mans body". I told him that's not how I put it. He said he studied up on the issue. I explained to him about more than my Transgender identity, I told him I was a Transsexual Woman, and that I have known this since 4 years old. That I have been celibate for 18 years. He asked me if this was forced or by choice, I told him by force, and he was shocked. I explained my history, which I wont go into detail here, but I will later in a further status or my blog....this is too much to type up separately for all my friends for whom I have so much love.

Suffice to say this Bishop is all I could ever ask for any leader of any Church, local group. He had all my core values, of love, empathy and compassion. His love for me was so obvious, and he wanted me to know that our Heavenly Parents love me, and that Jesus loves me. He expressed that he too was more feminine than his wife and that the former Bishop teased him that if his favorite color was pink , that he was crossing a spiritual line. No wonder this former Bishop chastised me so disedifyingly last month. 

My Bishop said he saw no problems whatsover with me presenting as the woman that I am. At Church or otherwise. He was familiar with the Handbook, even more than the former Bishop who had 6 years to study it. My Bishop new more in 2 weeks! He went right to the exact passages and said I was in violation of none of it. It would even allow me to have surgery if I had okays from a counselor and a doctor, as my health would not make it an "elective" surgery. He was very concerned for my health and well being. He does not want me to be suicidal. 

My Bishop was very concerned for my well being at Church, especially our rich and snooty, snobby Ward. he said, "Our doctrine is accompanying of the real you, but our culture is not. Our Ward especially will be really mean to you. I am ashamed of that. LDS in general are a very mean culture, and we need to work hard to fight that" My Bishop seems to be quite enlightened, and I asked him about it. He said he has several family members that are LGBT, and some of his family has married LGBT and they thought they could change them, but this is your identity and you can't be changed. I was so overwhelmed with heavenly emotion I broke down and sobbed. He returned that emotion with a warm loving hug.

Finally, he asked me how I felt about my Priesthood. Now my Feminist Mormon, Leah, kicked in (He kept calling me Roberta, Lol). I explained to him how I feel that all LDS Women hold the Priesthood or Priestesshood already, and that I, as a woman, have utilized it righteously and successfully. He agreed that he thought that some future time will have a new revelation establishing more likely a Priestesshood. I was blown away. My heart was so full of love, empathy and compassion for him. He is a feminist/LGBT welcoming Mormon Bishop. Could it be I may be lead my someone who is nearly as liberal as me. He totally treated me like his peer, and not his inferior. I am so tahnful for him. God saw to it My Bishop was changed at exactly the right time. I know my former Bishop would not be half as accepting. I have never been so proud to be a Mormon. Now off to the Stake President, some time later, and another 1 or 2 hour meeting next week with this same Bishop. No, No, No....Life Aint So Bad at All. In Fact Life is Pretty Dang Good. ;) :D ♥

Okay, so here is what I want to add to what I said earlier on the Life event:   Some other points my Bishop made were as follows. He said that he had inquired of a gender specialist about my situation. He said he wanted to know my sex, and since I had children that I must be a male. When the point was made that I had three daughters, the "specialist" had a caveat that there may be extenuating circumstances for my sex, perhaps a chromosomal differentiation. He clearly believes, like I do, that sex is between the legs and gender is between the ears. He was quite okay with me attending the Ward as "Roberta" (I didn't divulge the name I am going by now), and wearing a dress and a wig. I was taken aback that he so freely admitted that our Church is full of a bunch of intolerant, small-minded, holier than thou's, and that they would be mean to anybody different than them. He said if it were up to him there isn't even an issue we me attending as a woman. None whatever. He told me he didn't care what others would think that my rights to be my true self outweigh the intolerant sensibilities of any ward 
members. His only concern was for my health and my well being. He was worried that I would have my feelings so deeply hurt that I may quit coming to Church. I assured him I was strong, and that I was capable of being my true self and holding my own. Anyhoo, pasting this post from facebook here has caused the formatting of this post to go crazy, and it is not letting me make paragraphs or change the columns. I will just say that today really changed my life....again. Something happened today that I never thought was possible in my lifetime. I owe the people that chose to install him as my Bishop a big favor, because I truly have found an advocate. It doesn't hurt that we are exactly the same age, and both are feminine. I wanted to hug him and he said he wanted to hug me too. No Bishop has ever hugged me so hard and so warmly as this Bishop. He is so kind and understanding and I am truly blessed to have him there for me. I hope he can hold his own in advocating for me with the Stake President. I don't relish going through the opposite emotions next week. I truly feel anything is possible. The heavens have opened up and I can see inside them, and they are wonderful. I feel like the Bruno Mars song "Locked Out of Heaven". Although, instead of sex taking me there, it is Liberality, one of the Heavenly Virtues.  I see the makings of a paradigm shift coming. It gives me such hope and optimism. I will see the whole Ward on Friday night at our annual Chile Cook-Off. And my Bishop, the cook that he is, has won it for 7 years running. I want to go early to be a judge. I will get to eat till my hearts content. Amazing that my Bishop unlocked my heart, imprisoned in this basement for so long, and he's going to serve me heaping amounts of his award winning chili. Of course, no one else in my family will go, they all hate chili. 

14 comments:

  1. What an amazing story! I am so happy for you and so pleased to hear that you were treated so kindly by this wonderful bishop. I think you can be very influential in building a more welcoming LDS culture.

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    1. Catherine,
      Thank you so much for your kindness for me. I appreciate your belief in my abilities and determination to make LDS culture for inclusive and welcoming. I do have such a desire.
      Humbly Yours,
      Leah

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  2. OH MY GOSH AND I WAS WORKING SO HARD I MISSED IT!!! LEAH, I cannot believe this outcome. This washes away my little pains because the warmth is healing to everyone. Thank you for writing this up, and I thank God for your bishop and stake president!

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    1. Dear Kuato,
      I am so thankful you are my friend. My Bishop told me he received emails from my former Bishop vouching for me. He was impressed by that outreach, which was initiated by you. A good measure of this happiness is due to you, so I owe a lot to you. I don't know what my SP thin ks yet, but I really want to pour it on. This is no time to rest on this happy outcome. I need to have an all out PR campaign waged on my behalf. Letters, emails, handwritten messages and whatever else, sent to me to give to my Bishop and or Stake President, will be helpful My SP is far more conservative, and unlike my Bishop, who announced, "came out" to me as a "SISSY" (I doubt he's out to more than his wife), everyone else I come across will not so readily understand. My Bishop actually said, "it stands to reason that for every tomboy there is at least one sissy. I may be a male identifying sissy, but I can see, female identifying sissy's." This Bishop really gets it! Lets get this thing done.

      With much love and kindness,
      Leah

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  3. Your words here speak as if from a soldier back from winning a war with the best of outcomes possible from your efforts. I thank you for so many that will gain confidence from this selfless act that you did do for yourself, but then extended the glow to all of us around you to bask in and feed positive from. Positive is so hard to come by for most of us. Sharing like this helps us break down the self imposed walls that w put up to protect ourselves, and those around us with whom we love. Despite it being a one way love it is love none the less.
    Ali

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    1. Dear Alasandra,
      Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion for me. I appreciate your recognizing this sharing as being helpful for the greater LGBTQIAA and Transgender communities. I want desperately to do all I can for them, and If I can make but one other person happy than it is all worth it. How wonderful it would be if many can find some measure of love, empathy, compassion, hope, faith, charity, and determination to be their best true selves....then I am empowered to carry on in my endeavors. I so love being me now...I love being a Pollyanna, and making the world a better place for all humankind so that we actually can *be* Pollyanna's, is a fight worth fighting.

      In Humility and Love,
      Leah

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  4. still amazing and awesome! I'm so excited and happy for you. I was a little nervous for you [because there are some rather judgmental asshat's out there.] Kudos to your Bishop for NOT being one of them! And YIPPEE for you that you can be [more] authentic to who you are! <3

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    1. Linds,
      Thank you for your kindness and friendship. I'm so glad you gained some happiness from my sharing. I know many people were nervous for me, but I felt all the positive energy, thoughts, prayers and fasting coming my way. It was amazing, and is awesome. Yes, being more authentic is my goal, and I am reaching ever closer.

      Humbly Yours,
      Leah

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  5. What an amazing blessing to have such an awesome bishop! It gives me warm fuzzies all over reading this. So so so happy for you! Maybe having the bishop on your side will melt your families heart a little to see that he sees you as an equal member in every way.

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    1. Natalee,
      Thank you for your kindness. Yes, it is a blessing to have an awesome Bishop. I still don't know if I'm going to hang around long enough to take full advantage of the courtesies he has blessed me with. Or should I choose to take him up on his offer to attend a nearby Ward, would that Bishop be so liberal and enlightened. As for my families hearts being melted, I can only hope that this happens. That would truly melt my heart.

      Yours, Humbly,
      Leah

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  6. What a beautiful outcome Leah! (For such a beautiful woman!) I'm so happy for you!

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    1. Charmaine,
      Thank you very much. I am appreciative and grateful for your kindness...and...(((((Blush-Blush-blush)))).

      Always,
      Leah

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  7. Leah, I'm really happy that your bishop has treated you so kindly. I find that how bishops treat us depends entirely on their personal opinions OR their willingness to listen to the Spirit. I've seen several bishops and stake presidents about my situation and they have all presented very different opinions. I'm really glad you've had a good experience with yours... though the extreme inconsistency of how we are generally treated in the church bothers me.

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    1. Danielle, I agree with you fully about being subject to the political ideological whims of a local Bishop or Stake President. That is beyond just bothersome. It is downright wrong. There needs to be a position where we know where we stand in the Church. Are we going to be a Church of inclusion and welcoming embraces, or a Church of exclusionary walls and bouncers, where we are considered only 3/5ths of a human being, with 3/5ths of the rights of a member of the church, or even far less, or none altogether.

      I am heading to an accepting Ward in Portland, so I may be safe for a while. In the meantime I intend to take up the mantle of being a Transsexual Mormon Activist/Organizer/Advocate, and Heed the Clarion Call, to "Be my best true self", to "Bring souls unto thee", and "No unclean thing can dwell with thee...". Being a fake human being is the filthiest thing imaginable. No God I will ever recognize, or ever care to worship would require me to deny who I am, and "act on" being a fake human being...no Church should ever ask such a thing of us.

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