Sometimes I troll social media to see what is going on in my two stepson’s (S & C) lives. Eric, my husband, and I have been unable to obtain transparency from S & C or their mother through the years. It’s not the kids’ fault; they have learned by example. Their mother has taught them to keep many secrets from us. When S & C are stressed, run down, or acting out I check out the internet to see what sort of chaos is going on in their lives. I’m unapologetic about it. When we know what is going on in my stepsons’ lives, we are able to deploy our prayer, time and resources to help them cope.
Recently, on one such mission, I reported to my husband that the boys were just hanging out with their cousin Mike. Eric informed me that the boys do not have a cousin named Mike. “Well, there sure are a lot of photos with S & C and their cousin Mike on Facebook,” I replied. My husband was annoyed. He came to the computer to take a look. In shock and disbelief, he informed me that the male Mike in the photos was actually the boys’ female cousin Michelle.
Upon discussing this with S & C we learned that Michelle identified as trans-gendered and had started the process of transitioning from female to male about two years prior when our sons were 13 & 9. We asked the kids how this was presented to them and were saddened to learn that they were simply told to start calling Michelle by her chosen name of Mike and to start referring to her in the masculine. We asked the boys how they were feeling about this new reality (which they had been dealing with for almost two years before we found out). Our oldest expressed being uncomfortable with having to share the boys’ bedroom with Michelle while on family vacations (especially while she still had breasts). Our youngest asked Eric and me how they removed Michelle’s breasts. These were difficult conversations to have.
S & C were asked to hide what was going on with Michelle from Eric and me because we are “intolerant” Catholics. Somewhere in the last 50 years there has been a new definition of love. A large portion of society believes that love means affirming every choice made by your beloved. Christians believe this definition is flawed and are therefore accused of being intolerant. Catholics teaching assert that you can and should love people with whom you disagree. It’s easy to love those who you affirm, or who affirm you. It’s more difficult to love those with whom you differ; therefore, this love is more profound. You have to work harder for it and refer to Christ’s teaching and the Holy Spirit for guidance.
We did our very best to explain to the boys that we whole-heartedly disagree with Michelle’s decision to surgically and hormonally mutilate her body. While we acknowledge Michelle’s feelings (and believe them to be real), hormone replacements and surgical removal of her reproductive organs and breasts is not the correct response. Additionally, these actions don’t make her male. Despite changing her name to Mike, taking male hormones and surgical manipulation, she will always be genetically be a female. We are all born male or female; its scientific fact. Our feelings do not determine reality. No matter how much Michelle feels male, she will always be female. I believe Michelle when she states she is a man trapped in a woman’s body. Instead of mutilating the healthy body which was gifted to her from God, she needs to address the gender identity disorder. In spite of our disagreement with how Michelle moved forward; we pray for her. We grieve for her and her parents for whom this has been very difficult. We reiterated with our boys that they should always honor the dignity of every human person, even if they live a life which is contrary to God’s design and natural law. That is honesty. That is love. Tolerance is not being bullied into submission from the LGBTQ community. Tolerance is not affirmation. Tolerance is charity. Prayer is charitable.
When I saw Bruce Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair this week I was saddened. It stirred up all the pain in my own family. I feel bad for his children to whom he has a responsibility to provide fathering. I felt disappointment that we, as a society, have defined womanhood has breasts, make-up, long hair & nails and immodest lingerie. I felt grateful for my own father who would never hurt me in such a public way. Most of all, I felt sorrow for Bruce. It really hurt my heart when he admitted being remorseful post-surgery and his support person from the LGBTQ community told him it was just the pain medicine causing the remorse and anxiety. This is a man who needed strong counsel and instead is being used to move an agenda forward and create a profitable reality show. I have no hate, anger, or intolerance towards Bruce Jenner. I have thought of him every day since hearing of his plans and continue to pray for him. May the Lord bring peace to his family during this difficult time.
Tolerance is not affirmation. Tolerance is charity. Prayer is charitable. As always, I humbly request your prayers. Peace be with you!
- The names in this blog post have been changed to protect anonymity