BY BRYSON D
Almost daily, I see, hear, or read something put forward by a ‘Christian’, or ‘Christian’ group criticising the ‘gay agenda’, suggesting that educating kids about the diversity of sexuality and gender is harming them, likening us to pedophiles and Nazis, and other such harmful sentiments.
I use quotation marks, because I know that these people aren’t really Christian, because they’re not behaving in a loving way. Christianity as I see those close to me practise it looks very different. Even so, it can be hard to remember this at times.
Pretty soon after meeting Emma, she knew that I was queer, and I knew that she was Christian. Admittedly, at first I wasn’t sure how we could be friends. I had read and heard so many sad stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people feeling alienated and rejected by their friends and family due to a conflict between their identities and the beliefs of their loved ones. Although I’d never experienced this myself, I was still afraid.
However, it soon became clear that I had nothing to worry about with Emma. We had so much more in common than what we disagreed upon. We shared a love of music, junk food, coffee, and Disney movies. We still do. But we don’t just stick to the small stuff, or talk about the same old things. Emma and I have had many interesting conversations over the years, about politics, sexuality, religion, music, work, family, etc. Obviously, it’s this kind of friendship that you can count on in difficult times.
One of the most difficult times in my life occurred when I started to seriously consider that I might be transgender. There were a lot of other things I was struggling with, too, but the gradual realisation that I could no longer live as a girl was the most personal. I didn’t feel I could tell anyone, even my partner at the time.
Eventually, I did tell Emma. She responded with kindness and honesty, which is how she responds to most things (when she’s not being sarcastic, that is!). I don’t remember much about that time in my life, as there was a lot going on. However, suffice to say that if Emma hadn’t responded as she did, it would have taken a lot longer for me to begin telling others, and to get where I am today. She got the ball rolling, so to speak.
It’s difficult to overstate the imperative of transition for many trans people. Transitioning reduces, if not eliminates, depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, it’s very common for trans people to attempt suicide. Personally, I reached a point where I felt I would rather die than continue living as a girl.
Even so, I was afraid that others wouldn’t understand the need for me to transition, particularly Emma. Almost all my other friends were either part of the LGBT community themselves, or very old friends. In hindsight, my fears seem ridiculous, but that’s often the nature of fear. At one point, I asked Emma how she could support my transition. She answered that she would rather ‘an alive Bryson than a dead friend’. It was then that I understood that Emma knew how important this was, and I feel that only made our friendship stronger.
I’ve often thought about how, for some other friends, this kind of thing could be impossible to overcome. Unfortunately, there are Christians who fail to recognise what Emma did – that not to treat LGBT people as PEOPLE first, often whose identity is very closely tied to their sexuality and gender identity – is directly harmful, and serves to create the impression that Christians only see LGBT people as sinners whose agenda needs to be stopped.
Obviously, this is untrue, as Emma has shown me. I will always be grateful for her support and friendship, and hope she knows that she will always have mine.