Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

I am not a nuclear weapon

What’s great about identity is that even when people have things in common, they’re still very unique in their own way. For example, look at the differences between myself and my fellow junior, Audrey Johnsen: there are many, but there’s one in particular I want to focus on. She prefers to present as feminine, while I prefer to present as masculine. Yet we’re both still transgender. Though our experiences are different because she is a trans woman and I am a genderfluid individual who presents as a trans man, we both understand what it’s like to be transgender.
It’s an interesting experience. I grew up one way, expected to be female. And while coming out is a process that never truly ends, once the brunt of it was done, I was living a completely different life. It sometimes feels strange how quickly I adjusted, but at the same time, it makes sense.
It can get exhausting because people around me don’t adjust as quickly. As Johnsen said when I asked her, “There are still some people who deadname me, or use the wrong pronouns, especially on days when I’m not dressed up as much or trying so hard to pass or whatever, which is to be expected, and yeah it sucks and makes me feel awful but I’ve kind of gotten over it. Trans people develop a thick skin after a while, where that sort of thing, especially from strangers, doesn’t bother us so much.”
Deadnaming a person is when you use the person’s birth name instead of the name they go by in day to day life. To me, being deadnamed or hearing the wrong pronouns used for me feels like a knife wound to the heart. But as Johnsen said, like most trans people, I had to develop a thick skin. That doesn’t mean I don’t still feel the knife – it just means the knife feels smaller.
Being out is a relief, but it’s also a bit like being a walking education pamphlet on gender. Not all people understand what it means to be trans and have legitimate questions that they ask me because I can speak from experience. That’s fine, it’s actually really refreshing to be able to educate others. But it can also be tiring, because even walking pamphlets need to rest. Johnsen expressed the same feeling, saying “it’s kind of nice that people are making an effort to include my voice, but also sometimes I just want to sleep in and not worry about educating the entire Augie campus.”
However, not all people are willing to be educated. About two months ago, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church declared trans people to be an “annihilation of man as image of God” and compared gender theory to nuclear weapons. While I am not Roman Catholic, I am still concerned over this declaration because the Pope is a highly influential leader of a large religious community worldwide. I already deal with transphobia from various people, including non-Catholic Christians, so hearing the leader of a large religious sect condemn my identity made me even more fearful. I asked Johnsen, who was raised Roman Catholic but converted to Judaism, how she felt about the declaration and part of her response was “I think it’s insensitive of him to compare transgender people to nuclear weapons, obviously. The Catholic faith teaches that G-d doesn’t make mistakes, so I can’t see how it’s possible to believe that trans people aren’t valid (we’re all made in G-d’s image, after all, so trans people, as we are born trans, should be made exactly the way G-d wanted us to be)…. How can you look at the mystery of creation and believe that you’re knowledgeable enough to know that some teenager taking hormone pills is somehow against G-d? G-d, as Catholics believe, is an all-powerful, all-knowing entity, so how are we, measly mortal humans, able to overcome Their power with some basic chemistry and biology? It seems like the actual argument is flawed at its core, and a little flimsy of a way to disguise transphobia.”
When I first read about the declaration, I was stunned. Growing up, I was led to believe that “love thy neighbor” is the most important way to show our love of God. Yet this declaration was not of love. It was born of hatred, and it shocks me to see the leader of a large Christian sect not realizing that. I, like Johnsen, “believe G-d made me trans specifically, so I can overcome some level of challenge, and so I can learn and understand greater perspective in this world.” Transphobia is an obstacle I need to overcome to truly be who God wants me to be. Being trans, much like being disabled, is not a choice I made, and trying to deny that I’m trans is an insult to God, who created me this way for a reason.
I am not a nuclear weapon, nor an annihilation of man. I am a human being living as God planned for me to live.

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I am not a nuclear weapon