Distorted Reality

Yard sales sound like they should be easy enough, right? Just put some prices to your stuff and set it out on the driveway. Hah! It was a lot of work. I think I’m five times more tired than after running a 5k. It was totally not worth the effort and I’m never doing one again. This time I mean it. But this isn’t the only distorted reality I want to address today.

MJ and I went to review her profiles last week. On the way to our appointment, MJ said she was fat. Now that is a distorted reality. She is so tall and skinny. We talked a bit about body image and I tried to get a sense of how she feels and what she understands. I asked if she gets that the way you look is not who you are. And I think this is a key distinction for all of us to make… that we are not defined by our physical bodies.

For MJ, her, appearance has so much to do with her gender identity. The way she looks causes more distress than I think most people, including myself, can comprehend. That’s what dysphoria is – a feeling of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and restlessness. So, yeah she’s bothered by her shape and wants the little bit of fat she has to be redistributed. And she is obsessed with removing body hair. Having to deal with shaving is a source of real pain. The discomfort that people with gender dysphoria experience can potentially interfere with their ability to function.

We are helping MJ manage her stress and anxiety with psychotherapy and medication. But, she wants hormones and has wanted them for a long time. If she is truly transgender, doctors say they will provide the relief she seeks. But we want her to take the lead on that. We’ve told her do the research and to make the calls. Are we wrong to not help her? Is it cruel? Maybe. But I am afraid. I want to wait and see how she works it out… how God works it out. But, she brought it up again so maybe she is getting closer to making a move. We’ve provided all the info she needs to find a provider and I took her to a transgender conference back in June, so she has access lots of resources for support. We figure that if it’s that important to her, she will find a way.

So, we reviewed the first draft of MJ’s profiles with our career navigator from the Pathways program. There were just a few minor inaccuracies, mostly technical things, to be corrected. But MJ had a hard time with the way they are written. It was explained to us that they need to be written matter of factly, without any commentary or emotion. So, it had to say, “MJ uses the computer to draw.” not “MJ enjoys using the computer to draw.” But she also felt that they made her sound pretty lame. I can certainly understand that she would want to sound better on paper. I reminded her that the reason we were in the program is because she has a disability, so the profiles have to show both strengths and weaknesses. She made notes on the profiles sent them back with her suggestions and comments. We understand that it’s hard to paint a real picture of her in the format the profiles are set up in.

So what is the reality? We are not merely what our profiles say. We are not our bodies. We are not our gender. I think we are a whole lot more than the capacity for human understanding permits.

You are defined by God and God alone. He identifies you as his own.
2 Corinthians 1:22

for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:27-28

If you’ve read this far, thank you for joining me on the journey. In the weeks to come I will get a little bit more into how I came to a place of peace with MJ and her dysphoria.


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