Breath of the Spirit: The Easter Transition

The English prefix trans comes from the Latin where it indicates movement from one place to another, as in, transfer. The prefix can also indicate movement beyond a particular entity, thus, is an action is transnational, it goes beyond a single nation. In the Scriptures, the word transfiguration carries both of those meanings: Jesus moves from one state of being to another and also beyond what he was to a larger reality. The resurrection is a similar moment of transition: Jesus moves from death to life, but beyond human life to a glorious, resurrected existence. It seems such a natural and beautiful analogy for the movement trans people make when they move into a more authentic gender expression. It is trans in that there is movement, but it is also trans because the person has moved beyond what was into someone freer and truer. Today’s reflection draws this image out for all of us but not in a way that limits the power of resurrection only to some, but rather so that we recognize this miracle of eternal life applies to each of us more deeply than before. In that, we all share in trans-ness of resurrection!

 

April 17, 2022: Easter Sunday

Acts 10:34, 37-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

Colossians 3:1-4  

John 20:1-9

**This reflection is not specifically grounded in the readings but more of an exploration of the Resurrection narrative from a trans perspective.

The Easter Transition

A reflection by delfín bautista

Easter Sunday. A day of many questions and confusions within a hope-filled community.  We don’t know exactly what happened that night and early that morning.  We can’t begin to imagine the feelings of fear, loss, grief, anger, doubt mixed with hope, compassion, and solidarity experienced by Jesus’ family, friends, and followers.  Jesus’ followers did not know what was going to happen next, what to do or say next.

After many doubts, they began to celebrate the resurrection not only of the Risen Christ, but the resurrection that erupted within them as individuals and as an emerging community that would be known by their witness of love and solidarity, willing to disrupt power structures and widen their circle of concern.  Though the future was not clear and would never be clear, they began to understand the transfiguration of the moment and the calling to live into wholeness, adopt and reclaim language, and ultimately to embody the resurrection of their own being.

As a trans and queer person of color, as a person of faith and spirit, as a person who struggles with the challenges of living in a world enmeshed in, and divided by, binaries, the story of resurrection speaks to me on many different levels.

The story of resurrection is a story of transition.

The Resurrection is the beginning of a journey of living into wholeness, a journey of affirming who one always was, and a journey of discovering and/or rediscovering new aspects of who we are—a journey that parallels the many ways we transition as trans-identified folks.

Transition is not just about medical procedures, changing one’s name, adapting the way one dresses, or wrestling with the dynamics of what it means to “pass” – or whether one wants even to pass. These are just some of the possible aspects of transition.  To transition, to embrace affirmation, is ultimately about living into you. And that kind of living means different things to different people – it is filled with fear and questions, determination and doubts, hope and wholeness, risks and resilience.

As people wrestling with different understandings and embodiments of gender, we stare into the tombs of our pasts, we come to recognize that who we were, who we were forced to be, who the world expected us to be, is no longer there and perhaps never was.  Who we are was hidden, and it took the passion of struggles, blood, sweat, and tears to reveal ourselves to the world. The bandages that covered wounds of societal and even self-inflicted violence are discarded with humble fierceness to reveal us in our fullness, in our own dazzling light.

Resurrection is not about changing who we are. Like transition, it is about affirming who we are, who we have always been, and who we will always be. Just as Jesus revealed (and re-revealed and re-re-revealed) to the emerging Christians, we as trans folk, genderqueer folk, gender creative folk, gender non-conforming folk, agender folk, Two-Spirit folk, and the “various-expressions-of-gender-diversity” folk reveal who we are to our communities, families, and the world—we celebrate, affirm, and reveal our fierceness on our own terms and in our own time.

The Resurrection did not change Jesus into something new but simply affirmed who he always was. Jesus came out of the closet that was the tomb. We as trans people do the same – we affirm who we are, sometimes privately, sometimes publicly, and sometimes both, coming out of the tombs of closets, binaries, and imposed expectations.  After our journeys of crucifixion, mindful that each journey is different, we emerge as whole and resilient selves and souls.

Much like the apostles who ran into an empty tomb, we wrestle with many questions and doubts and disbeliefs that emerge from the body they expected to be there, but instead encounter a body that is sacred through its scars, a body that is whole despite several attempts by others to break it. But also like the apostles, we too have Mary Magdalenes in our lives who advocate for us to share our voices, even if they are not being acknowledged or listened to. We have trans accomplices who continue to rant with us as we share who we are, both to and with the world, in the sacred and sassy mystery of us.

The Resurrection is a transition—a transition that will never end, as living into our being-ness is a never-ending journey of claiming, reclaiming, and proclaiming our many intersecting selves. One does not complete transition, one does not finish resurrecting—both are ongoing adventures of struggle and resilience, of ups and downs, of tears of pain and tears of celebration.

The Resurrection that is transition is Biblically sparked and continues to spark the emergence and revealing of imperfectly fierce believers who affirm the good news of who they are in their messy wholeness.  Much like the Christian community grappling with the possibilities of the future, as trans people of faith and spirit we don’t always know what will come next.  But we are ready to take on the world with our scars as living badges of honor and resilience.

Emergence, affirmation, creation, resurrection, and transition are journeys of being: our is-ness, our I-am-ness – not our was-ness…journeys of both/and-ness mixed with either/or-ness and also neither-ness. Who we are – not only as trans people, but simply and revolutionarily as people – is dynamic and messy, deconstructive and reconstructive, struggle-filled and celebration-ful, confusing, inspiring, and raising up.

Amen. Resurrection blessings to all.

Questions for reflection:

  • How can a trans-centered interpretation of the Resurrection narrative spark wholeness in all people (trans and non-trans)? 
  • How do we ensure that our solidarity with the trans community and other minoritized communities not get stuck on the dynamics of the tomb but live into and live out the hope of Easter morning?
  • How is God resurrecting you?  How do you rejoice and how are you glad in God’s presence in your life, even when it is filled with uncertainty, fear, and pain?
 

mx. delfin w. bautista, MSW, MDiv. (they/them/elles) is a social worker, writer, activist theologian, and diversity educator.   A queer and trans Latinx diva of spirited sacred sass, delfin is passionate about intersectional justice and resilience, especially around the experiences of queer people of color. delfin currently serves as faculty for Campus Pride's Advisor Academy, is on the Vision Council for Call To Action, is a member of Soulforce's Board of Directors, and is a co-facilitator for Queer Christian Fellowship's community groups.

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