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IS CROSSDRESSING OR BEING TRANSGENDERED A SIN?

 "Hmph! When I was a boy I used to have to walk through six-foot snowdrifts to get to school! When I was young we RESPECTED our elders! When I was your age we appreciated what little we had. And, especially...when I was a boy we didnít have the Internet to answer why I loved wearing girlís clothes so much!" Yep, thatís right, I wondered about that. I wondered about that quite a bit actually. Now, I canít say that I understand the complete answer to that just yet, but there are other questions to which I think I have found answers. When I was young I was brought up in a fairly religious environment. In Catholic grade school, God is never very far out of the picture, no matter what youíre doing. We were always told exactly what God expected of us by the good Sisters who served Him. There seemed to be few issues that the Church didnít have an immediate and final answer to; but nowhere could I find an answer to the one single question I most wanted answered. I wanted to know if my being a crossdresser was sinful. Actually I didnít wonder much. Somehow society made me realize that what I felt was not really normal. Somehow I learned that people ridiculed guys like me, made jokes and seemed disgusted. So I worked under the assumption that it was sinful. It just seemed if that many people thought it was, then it pretty much had to be. And I kept that general mind set until I was thirty-two years old.

 So, IS being transgendered or crossdressing sinful? Well, hereís the best answer I can come up with. Itís taken months of hard study, prayer and reflection. Ready? You sure? OK, hold on, here it comes. The answer to the question "Is crossdressing sinful?"...is...is...is...I donít know. WAIT! Donít go, donít go! I said I donít know, I didnít say we couldnít find out! So letís get to the bottom of this OK?

 First, I guess we should come up with a definition of sin. So what is sin anyway? Well, thatís not always so easy to say. (You didnít think figuring this out would be simple did you?) Sin, generally, can be thought of as any activity or perhaps even mindsets, that separates us from God. Now, as for mindsets that separate us from God, how about needless guilt; how about unwarranted shame? What do you think that unjustified self-hatred and the denial of oneís self do to us? Do any of them bring us CLOSER to God? No. They are mindsets or emotions that most everyone who has ever struggled with gender issues may have experienced. These are very destructive frames of mind.

 It is these mindsets that separate us from God, not the fact of being transgendered or crossdressing. But for right now, letís talk about sin. There are, of course, fairly obvious sins out there. Stealing, murder, taking the Lordís name in vain, lying, and more. You get the idea? The Ten Commandments sort of spell it out for us. Notice, by the way, that being transgendered or crossdressing is not included in the list.

Some sins are not quite so obvious, however. An example. Suppose you like to play baseball. Nothing particularly sinful about that is there? Of course not. But letís change the situation a bit now. Suppose you love to play baseball so much that it begins to negatively affect your life. Maybe to improve your game you practice right through the time you need to get your homework done. Now because of that, suppose your grades suffer. And what if you spend so much time in the batting cage that you never see your family or loved ones anymore. In other words, because of baseball, your relationships suffer and you alienate those closest to you. Suppose on top of that, you just HAVE to have those new cleats at the sports store and you steal money from your parents to help get them. Is baseball sinful then? Hmmm, could be. Do you have to stop playing? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. If, whenever youíre involved with baseball, you find you simply CANNOT avoid messing up your grades, your relationships or stealing to get what you want, then stopping baseball may be the ONLY way to stop the sinning. Itís not so much the playing the game thatís sinful, itís the other "junk" it brings into your life.

 The same can be said of crossdressing. It may be that itís not the crossdressing that is inherently sinful, itís what sometimes can go with it that can be. Do you find yourself stealing clothes to crossdress? Do you find it dominates your life and minimizes the relationships with those you love, or that it causes you to do things you know are wrong or to take silly risks or visit the wrong kind of web sites? Then maybe...no definitely, things should be re-evaluated. If you find that these obviously sinful things simply cannot be separated from your crossdressing then maybe the crossdressing is causing you to sin and therefore dangerous in itself. But (and this is critical) what if you learn, in time and with prayer, to eliminate the "junk" while still continuing to crossdress? Then maybe the crossdressing isnít separating you from God any longer and is not sinful. Maybe itís OK now. But now think about this idea. What if you took what youíve learned from being a crossdresser and use it to try to help other people who might be going through the same "junk" you were going through. Suppose you found a crossdresser whoís still struggling with this and showed him that he too can "get rid of the junk" and that he is truly loved by God just the way he is. Now youíre using your crossdressing for God's purposes. Therefore it canít be sinful and might even be holy in nature. Bet you never imagined that God might have a use for your crossdressing did ya? Pretty powerful idea, huh?

 Thereís a lot of debate today whether we crossdressers are born this way, meaning "nature" has something to do with it, or if weíre influenced to this by some external circumstances in our young childhood, meaning "nurture". Some believe one way, some believe the other. Some even believe itís a little bit of both. I honestly have no more answer on that than you do, but I tend to lean toward the idea that we are born this way. Science may some day prove me right or prove me wrong, who knows? But if we are indeed created by God (and we are), and if we are created transgendered, then being transgendered cannot be, in and of itself, sinful, because God simply does not make mistakes. If we are born this way it is for a REASON. Itís then up to each one of us to figure out what that reason is and to ACT on it.

Some may say the Bible says itís sinful for a man to wear a womenís clothes. Well...theyíre right, it does. Up until a year ago I thought that was the end of the issue. HA! It's not even close to the end of it! Deuteronomy 22:5 seems to be the verse that most directly deals with this. "A woman must not wear that which pertaineth to a man and a man must not wear that which pertaineth to a woman; for all those that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God." For those of the Jewish faith a man named Rabbi Tilsen has written a wonderful paper on this very verse. In it he examines how this might apply to what we typically consider crossdressers today. First, he brings up the point that in most Biblical verses where rules are applied to men and women separately, the man (as the most important) is usually listed first. Not so here. Rabbi Tilsen wonders if it might have been listed in that order (woman most important first?) quite intentionally. Remember, in the age when Deuteronomy was written most women had the status of property. Among other things, they were not permitted to participate in Sabbath worship in any meaningful way. Rabbi Tilsen raises the idea that perhaps this verse was meant to prevent women from gaining increased access to worship by prohibiting their masquerading as men. He also wonders that since many or most men were required to perform mandatory military service whether it might not also be meant to prevent men from "dodging the draft." He also puts forth another possibility. If you recall, in Exodus, during the forty years the Hebrews roamed the desert, they conquered many nations. Some of these nations indulged in pagan orgies that involved crossdressing and sex in their worship. Rabbi Tilsen guesses that this could simply be a warning not to do as the pagans do.

 Happily, Rabbi Tilsenís entire paper can be found on the web at : http://www.beki.org/crossdress.html He does a much better job of explaining the verse as it relates to Judaism than I can do.

From the Christian perspective, with which I am more familiar, there are several things that convince me that this verse does not condemn us. First of all is its location in the Bible, the Old Testament. It is a part of what is known as the Law of Moses. These were laws handed by God to Moses and intended for the

Hebrews. There are many, many rules in the Law of Moses. Some involve commands and procedures to be followed in animal sacrifices and conditions when people are commanded by God to be put to death. Others are rules concerning who and what you can and cannot touch and even how your clothes are to be made. In fact, these God-given laws regulated nearly every aspect of Jewish life. Read Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers and Leviticus if you want to see the full story of what it was like to be Jewish in those days. It was quite an eye opener for me. But right now weíre dealing with Deuteronomy. Today most Christians believe we do not need to keep kosher. We can eat pork, or shellfish or whatever we like. Jesus told His disciples "Donít you see that nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him? Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean." (Mark 7:15 NIV) Jesus meant by this lies, greed, hate and evil coming from our hearts and lips. This verse wipes away the idea of keeping kosher if one believes in Jesus Christ.

 In the Gospels, Christ violates the Law of Moses several times. It is a violation when He saves Mary Magdelaine from stoning . According to the law she had sinned and it was required by God-given law that she be stoned to death. When Jesus healed people on the Sabbath it was seen as a violation by the Pharisees. Paul preaches in Acts 15 that believers do not need to be circumcised as the Jews do because we are no longer under the law. We are no longer under the law. We were but we are not now. Those are Paulís words, not mine. If you look at the whole of Deuteronomy 22 you will see a list of rules. Some seem strange to say the least. Almost laughable in fact. But they shouldnít be laughed at, of course. They ARE Godís laws for the ancient Hebrews. Yes, Godís laws...but we are not the ancient Hebrews.

 Now we need to be absolutely clear about this part. This is the most important point I have to make. If one verse from the Law of Moses is going to be applied to crossdressers (meaning Deuteronomy 22:5) then it stands to reason that the ENTIRE law must still be valid and so the ENTIRE LAW MUST BE APPLIED TO EVERYONE. Therefore, those condemning crossdressing based on Deuteronomy 22:5 had better get ready because they have some major studying to do as well as a heck of a lot of life changes to make. They had better start building fences around their roofs. (Deut. 22:8) They need to sew four tassels on their clothes. (Deut 22:12) Theyíd better never plant two different kinds of seed in their vineyard. (Deut 22:9) And any clothing they own of wool and linen blends (or poly-cotton) have to go, they canít wear them.(Deut. 22:11). In addition, they have to get busy stoning to death any bride who is not a virgin when she marries or any woman who is raped in a city and does not scream for help. (Deut. 22:24) Of course thatís all ridiculous and God does not want us doing these things. We are not bound by these rules because Christ relieved us of the burden of the old law and left us primarily with "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt.22: 34-39) If you think about it of course, those two "new commandments" cover every single one of the original ten. If you follow those two commandments given by Christ you CANNOT violate any one of the ten. My point is, how can people strictly apply one verse of the law to a group of people they may be uncomfortable with, while willingly ignoring every other verse of the same law? A very complete examination of Deuteronomy 22:5, as it applies to Christians, has been posted by Sandra Stewart on the Gender Tree at http://www.gendertree.com/Christian%20View.htm  She includes both an examination of the verse and possible alternate translations. There are many. So remember, if we crossdressers are to be held to Deuteronomy 22:5, then the people holding us to it must also hold themselves (and us) to the whole law, not just a single verse. Of course, we Christians donít do that. WE DONíT NEED TO. Have you ever seen a man without a beard? Ever seen a woman in a police uniform or a female soldier in fatigues? How about a Christian woman in slacks eating pork? These are all sins if we (or God) applied the Law of Moses. The reason they are not sins is because, exactly as Paul tells us in Acts, we are no longer under the law. Then why, you might ask, are we, as crossdressers, persecuted by society? Oh, thatís a tough one. My best guess is that when people see a behavior they donít yet understand they sometimes try to justify it or condemn it with scripture, sometimes without thinking about the context in which the scripture was originally written. One thing is clear though, if they hate us, they are exercising a right they have not been given. "Love your neighbor as yourself," remember? And that certainly goes for us toward them too. In other words, WE CHRISTIANS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO HATE EACH OTHER, or anyone else for that matter. We have to let go of any bitterness we may harbor over how the world treats us or weíll have much more to worry about than whether this is sinful or not. If you look at the facts, without letting guilt, self-hatred, shame, denial or any other of those mindsets that keep us from letting God into our lives in any meaningful way, i.e. mindsets that cloud the truth of a matter, then I think youíll find that biblically, itís tough to argue that crossdressing or being transgendered is, by itself, sinful. Of course, like everything else in the world, it can BECOME sinful. It all depends on what you do with it. Use it strictly for self-gratification and you run the risk of itís degenerating into something at the very least shameful and quite possibly something much worse. But use it as a gift from God to help others on the same journey and it can be a glorious blessing as well as one heck of an adventure. 

So, I guess in the end whether crossdressing is sinful or not is really up to you. Read about it, pray on it, thank God for your special gender gift and use it for His purposes. Thatís the answer as far as I can tell. Sinful or sacred, what is YOUR crossdressing going to be? God Bless.

Your Sister in Christ,

Jennifer McCrennaugh

 
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Last modified: 02/09/09