Through The Cracks Ministries

I Had Church last Night!
A letter by Jamie Lynn Ray
Copied by permission
minimal edits and page formatting applied

Swift in their dealings with me, the most recent Church I have been attending allowed three sessions each to the Single Adult Ministries and a "Home Care Group." Which is a Bible Study and Prayer Group.

I woke up this morning with something similar to a viscous hang over. I also had a nightmare dream about a boss who hated me and treated me like I was the lowest form of scum on earth.

I went out to correct a wrong last night and didn't lay down till 3AM this morning. Then a woman from the program was knocking at my front door to invite me to a dance this weekend.

I am watching all of this happen, and I feel like my life is so very rich with drama and I seem to be a walking catalyst for social change.

Beginning with the Church issue, I had come home on Wednesday evening and found a message on the machine. It was the Associate Pastor of Singles Ministries at the Church. He was asking me to return the call to set the all to familiar and customary meeting with himself and another general.

This guy was ruthless in his tactic setting aside his ethics by listing five or six other single adults I'd related to regarding issues like where are the meetings, what are the various ministries available and were there any opportunities for leadership through the Singles Program. Each of these persons obviously returned to him without approaching me and expressed their fears or concerns.

He said he was also aware of my attendance at the previous Church, and dropped the name of it's senior most Pastor whom he had a discussion with regarding my gender.

He went on in this message to state that the purpose of the meeting was to outline his Church's policy as he or others he'd spoken with, thought it would apply making it clear that this Church held similar values and practices as those of the other.

He called again the next afternoon, then I also received a call from the husband of the husband/wife team who lead the "Care Group." This second man was able to catch me and I had spoken to him on the phone for about a half hour or so about his concerns for his families safety and the safety of his group. He asked me not to attend any more of the care group meetings held at his home.

I didn't call the Singles Pastor back, I got that message, and I did not feel comfortable with him as a person anyway. He seems very insensitive in his behaviors and actions in the classroom with his students and has chosen an oppressive classroom and study format that caters to his own needs, which was the reason I had withdrawn from that group. However, I was still interested and had been quite impressed with the Home Care Group.

I did receive the cold shoulder and people did refuse to sit next to me or relate to me during the social time at this meeting, however, I was focused on the man leading the group. He seemed judicious and fair to everyone. When the other's refused to sit next to me, he made an obvious gesture to get up as the meeting was starting and leave the seat where he was accustomed to sitting and came to sit next to me. (Thankfully, I was successful with keeping my fangs inside my mouth and no one got hurt. Considering his kindness, it was the only polite thing to do.)

Unexpectedly, I came to find out that I knew the wife from the 12 step meetings and fortunately did not act on a strong urge to confront her in previous AA meetings about her practice of cross talking and preaching the Christian Gospel, which is a no, no in the program.

She suddenly terminated her attendance of the 12 step meetings I was attending where she had been a regular, once I began to attend the Care Group. In all, I had made it to three consecutive meetings of the Care Group.

In my conversation with the husband, I retraced the primary steps I had taken to arrive at my female status, including just enough drama to accurately portray or demonstrate the rational and results for the surgical procedures and the corresponding changes in social/sex roles.

I also provided an outline of my experience at the Church's I'd attended reflecting the impact on both myself and my family.

I went on to report to him the mishandling of my concerns or those of others, by the Singles Pastor when he identified his informants and presented himself supported and allied with them together with a previous Pastor from another Church of which I had made no mention to anyone from this current community. Therefore either the Senior Pastor had long ago broken my confidentiality while in some league with the current Pastor in some mutual association I am not aware of, or the woman who co-leads the Care Group had broken my confidentiality from having heard pieces of my story in 12 step groups. I kind of doubt that it was the woman though, for I had been very careful not to identify the Church or the Pastor when I had discussed that fiasco in one or two 12 step meetings where I shared how I was processing that mess and in light of my continued sobriety.

There were some people from that previous Church who did attend the 12 step meetings and now seem to have left those groups. So word may have spread, I don't know. The city where I live is not all that big so I'm rapidly becoming the, "Town Transsexual." This is a label and not how I identify. I see myself as a woman like any other, only I had came into it in a different way than most.

OK, I don't want to get side tracked.

By the end of our conversation, the man I was speaking to from the Care Group was stating that he had learned a lot more about the issue in general and me in specific while he maintained his position on my attendance adding only one disclaimer. In tears, he went on to express his desire to withdraw from the issue now so he could both separate from and yet reflect upon the issues in prayer. He asked me if in the case that he may have made a mistake, would I be willing to forgive him. I mumbled something affirmative as I moved more in the direction of addressing his strong emotions. I acknowledged his tears which he had made an attempt to conceal. I said to him, "Please don't take all this to heart. It's only a bible study and I've been through this before. I don't want you to take this all upon yourself and feel that you're in the middle as the representative leader of a personal affront upon myself."

He replied, "I am a leader in this, I direct the Care Group and if I am to uphold the policies of my Church, I must ask you not to return to that group."

I told him that I would respect or at least honor his request. The conversation ended and I later called my sponsor from the 12 step groups.

Debbie is a miracle for me. She has been there for the past three months and has been strongly in my support. I love her now like a best friend, even like a mother sort of. She listened as I told her all of this in more detail than is presented here.

She consoled my heart and mind. I was told I didn't sin and that there was a misunderstanding and ignorance that was the foundation of the Church's position. Had they been given or found an education and some practical experience dealing with this issue, they would have come to different interpretation and policy.

I can only thank my Sponsor for her graceful and delicate but direct approach. She made me to see that I am a good person all over again. I left my conversation with her in high hopes that I'd make it through this again without any major harm.

While we talked I share with her how I was going to go out that evening (which was last night) and "Right" a wrong. Since the Church has no clue on how to minister to someone like me and I've been given to some useful understanding of both the Faith and my condition and those who are also in it, I had decided to travel to the tenderloin section of the city and publicly reach out to an individual who was going through the transsexual process and had chosen to do so using prostitution and drug use as her vehicle and comfort to deal with all this pain and social projection, thus conforming to the myths and stereotypes of our society and occupying the only corridor of passage that is outwardly acknowledged by the unknowing masses.

This reality and drama is unfortunate reality for a very small percentage of transsexual women who have gotten some major piece of their own education or better, exposure to their issue through the same channels of popular media whom portray the transsexual as the product of a lost and broken lifestyle.

Here in lies the projection:

Our good Christian people are led to believe that transsexuals are inclined to a lifestyle of the worst variety including drugs, repulsive prostitution, thievery, filth and disease. Tragically there are many like myself who have faced the social ostrization and long term periods of unemployment coupled together with our desperate condition and had chosen to follow the available drama in the absence of understanding and support, even rejection opting live out the myth taking the place of the "idiot" and the "Condemned" in society, some of whom having done so to their final demise.

It was my habit when I had been shut out with those of which I now mention to join them but as a messenger of Jesus. Because I too felt pushed out and into the streets I looked for reasons not to follow the projection. I found them in the Saving Relationship I had found through a Loving God that Knows also what it is to be condemned and pushed out and away from the "Faithful."

I explained to my Sponsor that I was again going to turn my negative into a positive by reaching out to the hurting other's I'd come to know off the streets and offer them a moment of reprieve and comfort from an understanding friend.

I would go down to the sleaziest bar or maybe the upscale one where transsexual women sold themselves to the buying public and a life of pain and anguish leading to physical and spiritual deaths.

First I sat among them and joined them. Not as a fellow prostitute, but as a sister who is going through or has gone through many of the same things but will not conform to the myth. Like the "Angel" on the popular sitcom "Touched by an Angel" I accompanied one TS woman last night through the evening and when the opportunity had arisen in our conversation, I witnessed to her both as a Believer and also as a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I showed her my medallion or "Chip" from the program honoring my achievement and long term sobriety.

I expressed my fond appreciation of her intelligence and strength to withstand the adversity and find creative solutions to her dilemma. I invited her to accompany me to a nearby restaurant where I would continue to explore other options without discounting but possibly honestly weighing the risks and benefits of the two or more lifestyles.

I was out last night till 1:30AM when I started on my way home again.

As I said, I woke up feeling like I had been out drinking all night between the exhaustion and lack of sleep but also because of the wrenching emotional issues that face our Church and my personal or individual life as a member of that Church and one who Love's Jesus.

Last night I was supposed to be a member of a comfortable and sweet little Bible Study and Prayer Group. Something that would have been nurturing and appropriate for me to do as a person taking responsibility for my spiritual development and acknowledging my very real needs to fellowship in a group of other Believers.

I was unjustly and without warrant, thrown out of that group. I found a way to have Church though. Sometimes for me, it's in the street with the other unacceptable. Thank You Jesus.

He came to me on occasion when outside one of the Church's crying about my fate. He said to me:

"Jaime, it's going to be all right dear, on many occasions, they will not allow me inside either. You are mine, I love you Jaime. Come now dear and follow Me as we leave this place."