An excerpt from

Pride, Not Prejudice

Edited by Helen Belcher

Matti Colley writes about their experience as a non-binary trans person in the Christian faith.


...I accept it may not sound very Christian to so willingly lampoon one's critics. Numerous Biblical verses refer to the need to respect differences: Matthew 5:39 tells us: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also”.

I once had a discussion with a self-defined “conservative” Christian who denied my right to exist as a trans Christian, apparently, because I was breaking a rule from Deuteronomy 22:5 which forbade Christians from wearing clothing that wasn't “appropriate” to their gender. Never mind that if the Deuteronomy rule applies in its most rigid form, women should be denied the right to wear trousers.

When does “respecting difference” mean accepting a person’s right to discriminate?

This point might seem trivial but it demonstrates the sheer resolve those who call themselves “protectors of the faith” have when trying to discredit Christians who are trans, non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer and agender. Sigh.

James 2:20 tells us that “faith without works is dead”. I’ve seen first-hand the work trans and non-binary Christians are doing to break down stereotypes and to encourage the creation of more inclusive denominations and local church congregations, and I’m inspired by it.

I am a Lutheran who prefers to address God directly through praying at home nowadays, but whilst at university, I attended the wonderful Anglican church of St Lawrence, where I regularly chatted with the friendly congregation.

My flatmate Jenny, with whom I would bake chocolate cakes after coming back from a Wednesday night at the notoriously sticky nightclub, Ziggy's (renamed since my graduation to the “Mansion”—disappointingly un-Bowie-esque!), first invited me to the church where I came to feel so welcome and respected, where I never once felt I had to alter my attire or pretend to be someone I'm not.

I want every trans and non-binary Christian to feel the same way when at Church, but that can only happen if the congregation and its leader create a welcoming and inclusive environment.

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[excerpt from E H Young]

“Boy or girl... Boy or girl.”

I’m standing in line at JFK airport, waiting for pizza (of course). The two guys behind the counter don’t phrase it as a question, nor do they direct their words at me. All I know about New York I learned from Seinfeld, so a part of me isn't surprised that the first two people I meet here should be extremely rude. They speak to each other as if I can’t hear, as if I’m an object of some confusion, a creepy-crawly they’ve seen on the sidewalk, or a precariously balanced piece of masonry likely to fall on a passer-by, but not on them.

Despite the barricade of metal, glass and desiccated Italian food separating us, I feel an animal kind of fear start to creep up in me, as deeply familiar as the question being asked;

"Boy or girl?"

…If I revel in the idea of confusing people, it comes down to control: I began taking hormones, for example, in what I now think of as a rather desperate grab for control. I thought (rather, decided after years of consideration) that if I could just present myself ambiguously, I could finally control how others saw me, I could gain myself some breathing room, as it were, to figure things out, free of the day-to-day trauma of being gendered.

But ‘dancing on the edge’ in this way constantly is quite tiring: when I’m not feeling myself (when I haven't slept well, when I travel and when I meet people I don’t know) I default to one or the other, an unambiguous presentation that, I find, greases the wheels of social interaction.

It gets people over their initial confusion quicker if I reassure them that they’ve understood me correctly. Then we can move on to the important business of printing my boarding pass or ordering my appetiser or getting my teeth cleaned.