Monika: Today’s interview is with Meggan Sommerville, a transgender advocate and activist from the USA. Hello Meggan!
I also currently write a blog called Trans Girl at the Cross for ChicagoNow.com. I am the only transgender blogger out of over 400 bloggers we have writing for ChicagoNow. I discuss issues that the transgender community is facing. I try to share my life, my faith and what it is like to be a Christian transgender woman in today’s world.
|Heading up my church's community|
Easter Egg Hunt - 2013.
So in that regard I was very much alone in the whole process. Even though I had been reading and researching transgender issues since I was 16, I had no one to go to with the practical questions about paperwork, hormones, etc.
Unfortunately, those who have never experienced discrimination and prejudice don’t understand how important it is that we pass laws to enforce equal treatment. The United States Congress and every Presidential administration have dragged their feet when it comes to fair treatment of the transgender community. If they had passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, I and many others may not have suffered the blatant discrimination that we have.
Feminine Facial surgery has never been an option for me. I have had two surgeries on my head, one to correct an over developed lower jaw and another to remove infection on the mastoid process due to bacterial meningitis. I never again want to go through that sort of thing. The pain and numb areas took forever to heal on me. But that is not to say I don’t totally understand why many trans women go through the surgery. It is a much needed step in the transition process.
If it means anything to anyone and I know this is much, MUCH easier said than done, but just be yourself and what others think is irrelevant. Have confidence in who you are. Let the beauty inside show. Surround yourself with people that love you for who you are, not what you look like. And remember even many cis women struggle with their appearance. As trans women, we are no different. I use to be concerned about the little bit of facial hair I still have until I saw a cis woman with enough facial hair to have a pretty nice beard if she wanted. We each have to deal with it in our own way.
|Before and after is pretty explanatory;|
before was in 2004 - after 2011.
In over half the country, a transgender person could be fired just for being transgender. Over 20% of transgender women have been incarcerated at sometime in their life – a percentage much higher compared to the general population. There are far too many cases of violence against transgender women in the US. We ranked third in the world for murders of transgender individuals in the last year, three just recently.
Now what does that say about us as a country? Don’t get me wrong. There are some wonderful and hard working transgender women in this country that are making advancements that I could only dream of. Toni D’orsay, Jen Richards, Christina Kahrl, Lana Moore, Janet Mock just to name a few. But these women need help. It is not the job of just a few individuals. It is up to all of us in our community to work for the betterment of the entire community.
I think anyone person can make a difference, whether transgender or not. But the more voices that are in unison, the message carries a lot further. We need, desperately need, more transgender individuals stepping forward and that may be more transgender individuals that run for public office or in positions in the media.
For example, the LGB community is not being denied access to the gender appropriate restrooms. The LGB individuals can now openly serve this country in the military where transgender individuals must continue to hide or be discharged. As I have said before, we need more transgender individuals and allies to speak out.
|Performing for at the Laugh Factory|
in Chicago, Illinois - 2013.
What I mean by that is I have a one on one relationship with my savior Jesus Christ. Christ gave me his Word, the Bible, and I have the Holy Spirit living inside me to guide me through every part of my life. Anyone can go to church, but a relationship requires so much more. It requires an investment of time and energy. When you want to get to know someone better, you spend time with that person. God already knows everything about me and still wants to spend time with me so that I get to know Him.
To answer your question whether or not my church supports the transgender community, the answer is no. The leadership of my church is not yet ready to make that step. I will say that I have been an active participant in the church now for over three years and have many people in this body of believers that support me.
A while back, the Holy Spirit really changed my heart and has opened up a huge mission field right here. There needs to be individuals that are willing to stand in the huge gap that exists between the transgender community and the church. God has called me to be one of those people. It is one of the most emotionally difficult jobs God has ever asked me to do and I often feel extremely unequipped for the task, but I must have faith that God will use me to do what needs to be done.
There are a lot of possible explanations for why our bodies are so flawed, but for me, I don’t focus on the why. That was my sole focus for most of my life until I understood that it is not about the why things happen, but how can God use those things that happen to me for His glory. In the book of John in the New Testament, there is a man that comes to Jesus and the disciples ask Jesus who had sinned for this man to be born blind. Christ answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Being transgender is not something God did to me, it just happened. God has never left my side. He never abandoned me. God has brought me out of some pretty dark times and for that I give Him all the glory and praise. God didn’t do this to me. He’s been there to help me get through it and be the person He planned for me to be.
|June 2013 - Me and my kids.|
Would I like to share my life with someone – certainly. Do I miss being able to snuggle with some one, share intimate secrets with some one, laugh at the stupidest things with someone – all the time. But love and a relationship with someone is going to be something I will leave up to God. I just have to be patient for the right guy to come along.
A project that I hope to begin working on and developing is the Transgender Faith Project. It has been on my heart for sometime now and this is the first I have really made it public. My desire is to begin working on a mentor project for transgender individuals along with a database of churches around the country that are open and affirming for the trans community.
My hope is to have a volunteer pastoral staff that will be able to counsel transgender women and men and answer questions from others in church leadership. I continue to pray that God will show me how all this will come about. It is a huge project and will take a lot of time, energy, money and volunteers to make it happen.