Briefly, my Journey of Faith is a tapestry in the making as all such stories are.
It has been forged through the knots of epilepsy, Bipolar Affective disorder and the beliefs imposed by School, friends, society and church. It is the growth of one born like woman into manhood, a slow growth into a new birth.
I was born in 1954 and Christened Anne, the girl that wasn’t. I was a tom boy they said. I was the leader of a pack of boys and didn’t realize that there was supposed to be a difference between me and them regarding my apparent gender.
You see, I am transsexual, someone born apparently as one sex and gender who is really of the opposite sex and Gender. Anne became Andrew, in 1997. More bout this process in a minute.
I thought the Gospel of John 11 appropriate though we wouldn’t want to take things out of context, would we?
That I am loved by God was for many years a puzzle since according to anything that was anything such things as Gay Lesbian or Transsexual people were not quite Kosher. At 11 I had begun the journey into adulthood, my body developed and became loathsome to me and I refused to accept that I was now capable of child bearing. We arrived in Australia in December 1966 in the process of settling in this new country the issues where pushed down into the depths. Resurfacing again at aged 14 when I began to self harm those parts of me I especially hated I could not accept myself as I was but didn’t know what I was. I believed I was very sick as in sinful.
That same year I had my first epileptic seizure, gave my life to Christ at an evangelical camp arranged by the Baptist church I then attended. Straight afterwards the whole dark business jumped right out of my subconscious and I railed at God. Walking backwards and forwards across our backyard wanting to know why He had decided to foist this onto me when I was supposed to be his child. My parents used to make comments as to why I was out there at night. O no! One did not speak to my parents about personal things, of any kind.
I had my first seizure that year, which confirmed my sinfulness.
“Lord, the one you love is sick.” Martha had said to Jesus,” did God love me? At this point in my life I became sick with fear of something which began to speak its name. How could my life glorify God if I went ahead and became what I knew I was? Of course, in the 1960s, little was known about Female to Male transsexuals so the closest thing I came to think I was, was a lesbian.
At the age of 17 I experienced my first major depression which lasted about two months I wasn’t suicidal but suddenly being dead seemed preferable to what I was trying to force back down into my Subconscious. I was also awaiting my HSC results and I don’t know which was worse.
Come August 28, 1972 I had done what many GLBT people my age did and that was marry, believing that if I acted out the way I thought God/ church wanted me to be I would be cured or healed. Well I wasn’t. We brought two sons into the world and I began to bring them up, one is now a teacher and father of 4 and the other is my Gay child, they have just had their 20th Anniversary.
I had a pretty miserable married life, when I wasn’t experiencing what we then called Grand Mal seizures I was absent without leave with the petit mal seizures. Life kept me sort of fuzzed out and not too aware of everything that went on around me.
We always attended church, I never ceased to be a believer and threw myself into Choir, teaching scripture and Sunday school, feeling that by being super ‘holy’ and giving myself to good works that God would forgive me for what I was. Sometime in the mid-eighties my husband had converted to Catholicism and I went with him to keep the family together Sunday wise.
Within me I had evolved an androgynous alter ego with whom I struggled to keep myself sane. No this isn’t the gospel of the demoniac and no pigs are going to fly off the cliff, though there were many times when I wanted too. Dialoguing with this androgynous one I managed to live in two worlds, the inner world where the struggle for selfhood continued and the outer one in which most of the time, at first anyway, I was able to forget what was going on with the evil thing I was. At this point I must have been well into the Bipolar Cycle, yet not diagnosed.
My coming out had commenced in 1989 in Chicago Illinois. My relatives in America wanted to send me to counselling, such things, the church believed, could be cured. In the early nineties I was given a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and was now on medication, but it didn’t stop the cycle, or the fear, just levelled the terror a little.
As a Catholic my Faith deepened as I began to develop my own conscience rather than the primitive one we are all born with. The Sacrament of Reconciliation became the place where I journeyed towards the light. There was the confusion of a Hierarchy and Catechism saying one thing, doom gloom and hell. Or time out in purgatory if I was lucky, and the good priests we were blessed with in Campbelltown walking with me into the light.
Of Lazarus’ illness Jesus had said, “This sickness will not end in death”. It must have been a devastating time for the family at Bethany and for Jesus who must have been torn apart by the death of his friend even though it was to bring him glory. The disciples of course didn’t realize the drama about to be enacted and remonstrated with Jesus, and Thomas became all theatrical and said let us go with him and die with him. Jesus said that he was glad he had not been in Bethany when Lazarus died because he wanted his own disciples to believe in him.
Reading of the many other miracles Jesus performed in the Gospels brought me to the conclusion that I must have very little faith since he did not heal me. Healing comes in many forms – mine was a spiritual healing.
With the assistance of my Psychiatrist I finally realized who I was, Andrew Brewer (my married name). I had already been crossdressing for 2 years so had fulfilled the first step in Transition. With the letter from my Psychiatrist I could begin gender reassignment and began injections of testosterone. I qualified for sex reassignment and got rid of those hated body parts. The hormone treatment aligns my external physical appearance with the inner me. It was not easy because most people; the world, the church did not understand that neither sex nor gender are binary; that appearances are deceiving.
Eventually I would understand that I was not sick ,sort of Jesus wasn’t properly there yet but would be and I would begin a deeper walk into Faith. Jesus comforted Lazarus’ sisters and he began to bring Martha around to the fact that her brother was about to see the light of day again, before the resurrection of the dead.
I believe this too and being transsexual isn’t a sin, I am part of God’s good creation and always have been. Jesus did not die for our sex or gender but for our sins against love.
I began my new life in July 1999 by divorcing my husband, then having completed both physical and legal requirements I had a legal document with my new name, Andrew James Blair, (Jessica’s surname, to keep the ever-distancing family happy) and Gender Male, it really was like walking out of a smelly dank cave to new life. In my minds eye I see myself following Lazarus out from his four days in death because I can see the light ahead of him and my new life reflecting from his grave clothes even in the gloom.
Jessica and I were married for the first time on 21st August 1999 at the wayside Chapel Potts Point and remarried legally 31 May 2003 after the Transgender Marriage act was passed in 2001.The Certificate has pride of place on a hall wall. I did not have my previous marriage annulled and according to the Catholic Church I am a bigamist, very big of them.
Andrew James Blair 26 August 2018