Life Beyond My Body: A transgender journey to manhood in China was written on two continents. I was in China and Lura was in the U.S. In fact, until last week, our entire friendship has been conducted on two continents with the Internet carrying our letters, voices, and manuscript drafts back and forth.
As great as it has been, we have often talked about meeting in person one day. Then we found out Transgress Press was going to publish Life Beyond My Body and our casual talk became more earnest. Visiting the U.S. would be a great opportunity for me to help promote the book, but one can’t just hop on a plane to America.
Could I qualify for a travel visa? It seemed unlikely. When applying for a travel visa to the U.S., one is considered to be trying to immigrate until one can prove differently. For that reason, the U.S. prefers to grant visas to people who own a home or a business or have other significant reasons to return to their country of origin. I didn’t even have a steady job—I have been freelancing while writing the book.
Lura sent me a list of documents I could gather to prove I had ties to China that would bring me home after my trip to the U.S. I looked over her list and wrote back, “I don’t have any of those documents.”
So, Trystan from Transgress Press and Lura wrote letters explaining I was about to have a book published and it was important to the success of the project I be allowed to come to the U.S. for several months. I knew my chances were not good, but if my application was rejected, there was really nothing to be disappointed with, for God’s will is always good for me. Still, what if God had already cleared the road for me to follow? If I didn’t try, I would never know.
An Amazing Coincidence
At the U.S. embassy, the interviewer asked a couple of questions, looked over my letters, and then typed something into his computer. Then he turned back to me and I expected to be asked some more questions.
“Your application has been approved,” he said.
Before I could figure out how everything went so smoothly, I was passing the good news to Lura and had an email back saying, “Your plane ticket is booked!”
Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity in both countries. I had to do some shopping and decide what to pack. Lura had to clean out her guest room closets and make room for my arrival. Meanwhile, we were proofreading the book galley.
In Life Beyond My Body, I wrote about being arrested in one chapter, and in another, I wrote about getting top surgery:
In 2009, I took my first ride in a police car on 9/24, and was set free on 9/29.
In 2011, I visited a hospital and had my top surgery scheduled on 9/24, and the surgery was performed on 9/29.
While proofreading the part where I wrote about the significance of the dates 9/24 and 9/29, Lura noticed something interesting. She checked the dates to confirm what she suspected and then wrote to tell me:
In 2016, I submitted an online application for my visa on 9/24. It was approved and my plane tickets were purchased on 9/29.
I couldn’t help but be awed about how my times are in God`s hand.
This summer, knowing I might soon go abroad, I moved out of the city I had been living in for several years. During the months after my move, I felt like a boat cut adrift from its harbor—far from my familiar moorings and uncertain whether the port I hoped for could be reached. There was nothing to do but wait on the Lord. Or perhaps the Lord was waiting for me to make sure my heart was set right before him. But, with my travel visa approved, the clouds seemed to lift and I knew it was time to set out.
Several days later, I was sitting in an airplane for the first time. Lura’s partner, Tim, had purposely chosen a window seat for me, so I had a marvelous bird’s view of the world God created. As I looked across the wing into the distance, a Bible verse came to me:
. . .like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
Deuteronomy 32:11 [NIV]
I was the eagle`s young, who was once frightened by the outer world, hiding in my nest, without even knowing I was made to fly. Thinking of my past years, I saw a picture of how God trained me. Whenever I was falling, He carried me. Then He had to drop me–those times when He seemed to be absent–until I learned to fly.
Now I was flying across the ocean, a distance that I never thought I could cross. Overwhelmed, I prayed, “Let not this trip be in vain, but glorify God and do others good.”
And now I write this to you from the United States and I am looking forward to meeting you during upcoming readings and other events. Thank you for the good wishes you have already sent. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our mailing list and we will let you know when and where I will be speaking so you and I can meet in person.