In August 2013, wondering if there was another transgender Christian in the whole world who was struggling spiritually as I did, I turned to the Internet and found news of a transgender minister who had come out of the closet. In the video, the minister and his wife sat side by side holding hands. A transgender pastor and he was married! His name was Reverend David Weekley. Immediately, I tracked down his website, and I later sent an email, listing the questions I had always wanted to ask:
A few days ago, I searched online to see if there were any organizations for transgender Christians and I found you. How I wish I could meet you and talk to you face to face to get some emotional support. In fact, I’m far away in China, a country where transsexualism is rarely understood. Especially since I am from the countryside, my parents will never acknowledge me as a son—I’m FTM.
After I became a Christian in 2005, my spiritual mother kept telling me that God created me a girl and I was just living a lie. I was struggling so much I wanted to give up my faith, even my life. I survived these years and now I live in Guangzhou, where nobody knows my past. I work as a teacher in a Christian school where everybody calls me Mr. Ray, but still the loneliness and pressure of being transgender sometimes breaks me down. To hide my secrets, I can’t have a close relationship with anybody.
I have only had breast surgery, two years ago, so according to the law, I can’t have my gender changed on my ID. I have some questions echoing in my head all the time:
1. Is it a sin when people cannot accept their physical body, but try to change it to fit their inner self? I’m dying to know the reason transsexuals exist. How I wish I could just be normal like everyone else. I also want to love God as others do, but I have to hide myself.
2. Am I asking the right thing if I pray to God to change my body or make a way for me to have surgeries, which I am not able to afford?
3. Is God pleased with the marriage of someone who is transgender? Can I marry a sister? Will God bless our union?
If you can reply and share your opinions, I would appreciate it very much!
God bless you!
Though there was no reply, it was comforting to know that there was someone in the world who had so much in common with me, and he had gone far in life.
To my surprise, a strange, yet warmly written letter found me months later—in November of the same year. It was the admin of Reverend Weekley’s website, writing to explain my e-mail had never been delivered because of a technical problem that had just been discovered. This is how I came to know Lura Frazey and we struck up a correspondence.
Soon I received a reply from Reverend Weekley. He answered my questions and also made a suggestion: “Perhaps you might keep a journal or write your story for publication later. It may help other people in China to know your story when it is safe for you to share it.”
The idea of writing a book was raised a second time, by Lura, in a conversation about the issue of my identification card. That was when I learned Lura was a writer. Believing her profession and her empathy for people who are transgender would make it possible for us to cooperate on this project, I decided to do it.
This book was first written in Mandarin, and then I translated it to English so Lura could help me edit it. Writing in a foreign language is like walking a tightrope. One is never sure of the steps to take. I had to resort to the dictionary every minute and would often get stuck on the translation of a phrase. In addition to the technical challenges, this book required some emotional wrestling. It took some courage to muse over my memories and my shame.
Writing my story meant opening up about vulnerabilities and private matters I’d never shared with anyone before. Now, my story is no longer simply my own. It is my gift to my LGBT family around the world.