It is appropriate that this year's Transgender Day of Visibility is also Holy Saturday in the Western Christian tradition. For Holy Saturday is easily passed over, sitting awkwardly as it does between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, between pain and joy, shame and liberation, death and new life. Yet those themes are central to the experiences and journeys of so many gender diverse people, and of course others. Indeed, reading and experiencing the Passiontide narrative and Paschal mysteries 'with transgender eyes' can shed positive new light on the Christian Gospel, as well as strengthening and deepening life for many of us. Like Holy Saturday, gender diverse people are easily regarded as awkward and passed over. However our own border crossing, interstitial, and boundary transforming existences are essential parts of the whole and powerful reminders that profound transformation typically appears in the threshold times, parts and people of our lives and world. This involves much, even deep, pain, but also tremendous hope and vitality...
In her song 'The Mind fought the Mystery' singer-songwriter and trans woman Namoli Brenett relates the mystery of faith as something which takes us deeper than our minds ever can. Reflecting on some of the great biblical stories, including the Resurrection of Jesus, she reminds us how true life is indeed much more than we often imagine: full of surprise and the overcoming of seeming impossibility. For 'the mind fought the mystery: the mystery won'. When I first heard this song about two years ago, it went straight to my heart and soul. The theme summed up my own journey. In my life I had done a huge amount of fighting the mystery of my gender identity with my mind. Practically speaking, I told myself, it was impossible to be and live into what and who I am. How wrong I was. For losing the fight was actually winning my soul. Defeat was victory. As Jesus said, what is the point of gaining the whole world if we lose our souls. In losing our lives we actually gain true life. I am so happy no longer to be a combatant against the Spirit in that way. It is simply too exhausting. soulless, and life-denying..
I wonder how widespread this fighting the Mystery with Mind is. Perhaps, on a wider scale, this is what is happening today in our churches and world. As, for example, the battle over gender becomes more intense, the powers of the Mind are working harder than ever to suppress the Mystery. No wonder there is stress and strife. Denial of deep-down truth is destructive on all sides. When we human beings try to control or safeguard our lives and world with religion, or with ideas we derive or underpin with religion, it does not ever really work. The Mystery that is God has this wonderful tendency to break through. It may not be today, or even next year. In some cases longed-for transformation may never seem to come. Yet it will. Human minds and structures cannot resist divine mystery for ever. Soul-making is irresistible.
The Revd Dr Jo Inkpin: