Interview with Georgia Lee McGowen - Part 2


Monika: You hold many seminars with students. What kind of questions do you usually cover during those meetings?
Georgia: I usually take questions at the end of my presentation, by challenging the students to ask me a question that I will refuse to answer. So far I've not refused to answer any questions. The questions I normally get are like, "How does your family accept you?" "Are you attracted to men or women?" "Have you had GR surgery?" (to that question I always ask why they want to know) "Do you have any regrets?" Are you in a relationship now? There is usually one or two questions that have not been asked before but to be honest, I can't remember any right this minute.
Monika: You are quite open about your faith and how it affected your life. Is there a key point to that aspect of your life that you would like to share?
Georgia: Actually there is Monika. One of the things that struck me most as I became more and more involved in the LGBT community is the lopsided percentage of the community that is so anti-religion, anti-faith of any kind. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the cause was rooted in, what I call hyper-conservative Christian beliefs and dogma. For instance, taking Deuteronomy 22:5 literally is the main tool for rejection. I write about its effect on me. For me, the antidote is listening to God and not his self-appointed representatives.
I came to the conclusion that the primary message in the New Testament, aside from the general value of love is that of the message of looking on God as a father … a perfect father, something none of us has had and therefore find nearly impossible to comprehend. 
When I arrived at that way of looking at what Christianity is really saying I realized that a “perfect” father would never abandon one of his children because they were different and certainly not when He was responsible for creating that child, me, different. Coming to that understanding freed me in ways I could never have imagined and gives me immense pleasure.

Near family cabin in Montana, 2005.

Monika: Why is God so merciless towards transgender people, placing their minds in the opposite gender bodies?
Georgia: God isn't merciless toward transgender people. Societies are merciless toward transgender people. Hyper-conservative Christians are merciless toward transgender people. God isn't.
All of the 3 or 4 verses in the entire bible that are generally referred to by those who use them to condemn us are taken completely out of the context in which they were written. The context was an admonishment to abstain from participating in the perverted practices of pagans.
Each of us is entitled to accept or reject the form and mind that we were given.
When I eventually embraced the way I was created I found an amazing peace. For me, the solution was acceptance first and then allowing God to show me, by way of inspiration, why he made it this way and what he wanted me to do with it.
Monika: In one of my previous interviews, Lisa Salazar indicated that transgender persons are said to be some of the least likely to become involved in religious institutions (like church) since most have been rejected and judged by their Christian families, friends, and faith communities. Would you agree?
Georgia: Of course I agree. As I shared in Dear Mom and Dad, I myself was rejected by the leadership of the very church I (read that George) was baptized in the first time when they learned of my dual-gendered nature. But, again, it was people who rejected me, not God. I found first one church that welcomed me with open arms and then another and then another and so on.
And then I (read that Georgia) was baptized. Being able to worship with others was the most important goal for me, worshiping with people that accepted me was secondary icing on the cake. When I worship God in the form he created me in I can feel a palpable sense of His pleasure and that gives me pleasure. My next book is a parallel to my memoir about how my Christian faith developed in relation to my gender identity.

At Alpha Zeta chapter Christmas 2006 banquet.

Monika: What is the general attitude of the Christian religion to the transgender phenomenon?
Georgia: There really isn't a "general" attitude that I can detect. A large portion of mainstream Christianity is beginning to modify their attitudes toward us. I have to say something here about "appearances" and the effect they have on the very people we want to be accepted by.
It doesn't matter where a person is trying to "fit in" no one is going to really fit in with a scowl on their face. If you want to be accepted anywhere, especially at church ... SMILE! A smile says "I'm happy because I like myself and you will like me too, so let's get to know each other.
That's the way to overcome any negative attitude, especially that of Christian religiosity.
Monika: Is there any reference to transgenderism in the Bible?
Georgia: Deuteronomy 22:5 "Women shall not wear that which pertains to men and men shall not wear that which pertains to women. The Lord your God detests those who do this." Sounds pretty much to the point, doesn't it? The problem is that the context is totally ignored.
According to one translation, Moses was telling the Hebrews to refrain from participating in or approving of the pagan practices of temple cult prostitutes, male and female, switching roles in their temple ceremonies and practices; men dressing and performing sexually as women and women dressing and performing sexually as men.
The only other accepted interpretation was that women should not be expected to take up arms against Israel's enemies and the men should, in essence, "grow a set", leave the domestic duties to the women, and do the fighting ... Protect them.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Georgia: Oh geez … how I do love clothes. Unfortunately, up to now, I have been forced to shop the resale and bargain stores due to financial constraints. That tends to put me a year behind in the fashion field. I love casual in general, denim being my favorite, (another common trait I have in common with George) although as with any woman I do love to dress to the nines, as they say for a formal affair. Most of all I just want to look like any other woman with taste.

After her speech in Yucaipa CA, April 2016.

Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants? Some activists criticize their values, pointing out that they lead to the obsession with youth and beauty.
Georgia: So, with that criticism, I believe we are pretty much a part of the female society around us aren’t we. I personally have never had much appreciation for beauty contests because in spite of the fact that there are facets of them that aim at intellect and talent in addition to appearance, let’s face it … it’s the appearance of the individuals that is the predominant factor in the whole of it.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Georgia: Wow … how much space do I have here? Fully, sixty to seventy percent of “Dear Mom and Dad” has elements of “our” love life and how it affected the decisions that “we” made. So, indeed, love has been extremely important in my life. “We” spent an incredible amount of time and energy searching for love in our life and with one exception that search was in vain. But, that one exception, the love “we” found with Marilyn was worth all the disappointments.
When I was young I was unable to comprehend how our grandmother, “Granny” was never able to find another man she could love after Grandfather died at a very early age. When Marilyn took her leave of this world I thought I would soon find love again but I didn’t. I found myself comparing every woman I met with her … and the magic was just nowhere to be found. Eventually, I came to a point where I genuinely related to Granny and her inability to love another.
At this point in life, I’m content to be alone, though if God sees fit to place another woman in my life, one that I could genuinely love in the context of what I still feel for Marilyn … so be it.

Students who wanted a pic with Georgia after Yucaipa presentation.

Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Georgia: Oh gosh yes … I have one book half done, which is a companion to my memoir that traces the development of my Christian faith in parallel to the development of my gender identity.
In addition, I’m laying the groundwork for a sequel to “Dear Mom and Dad, You Don’t Know Me, But …” The title for that is, “Dear Mom and Dad, P.S.” which will chronicle all that’s happened since the point where “Dear Mom and Dad” ended.
In addition to those projects there are several; as many as eight or nine, motion picture producers considering “Dear Mom and Dad,” as a possible acquisition for film or television. 
I'm also working on a book based on the life of Regina Gazelle, one of the most inspiring trans-women I know and the founder of the first 5013C tax-exempt home for homeless and transitioning Trans people here in Phoenix.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Georgia: I have one main recommendation. It’s this. If you aren’t sure; if you’re contemplating transition, explore the options thoroughly and don’t rush into a major change until you are, without a doubt, unequivocally positive of your choice.
Lastly, as Jennifer Finney Boylan describes in her autobiography “She’s Not There” love is not the answer. Love of a woman will not supplant the woman within. She’s always been there and she’s not going away … ever! In short, figure out who you really are first, then get on with your life in that context.
Monika: Georgia, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Georgia Lee McGowen.
© 2016 - Monika Kowalska
 

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