Gender transition. The phrase seems to speak of a very specific type of change: a transition from one gender to another. Yet that transition was, and for me still is, not so narrowly focused.
For me, there have been different types of transition:
- Identity: involved me coming to better understand my gender identity and began sometime between March 2008 and March 2010. This was completed in January 2011 when I chose the name Constance Anne.
- Social: began shortly after my Identity Transition ended and was complete by 16 September 2011, when I went “full time,” presenting as the real me all day every day.
- Medical: began when I started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on 5 June 2011 and is still in progress.
- Legal: began November 2012 when I filed the paperwork and was completed when my legal name and gender change was granted in January 2013, leading to me updating my driver’s license, SSA account, and birth certificate.
The list above makes it seem as if the identity transition was completed by January 2011. In a way, Yes. But in other ways, No.
On Sunday 24 November 2013, four days after the Transgender Day of Remembrance, I was rebaptized. The minister who I’d originally asked to perform this sacrament politely declined on the grounds that it was unnecessary. I’d already been baptized as an infant and, therefore, to do so again was theologically incorrect. But as an infant, I had been baptized with the name my parents had given me and in a faith tradition of my parents’ choosing. It was important to me to have this sacrament happen when I would be aware of it. I wasn’t really able to articulate why at that time, but something that Rev. Dr. Laura Barnes said at the Congregational Church of San Mateo a short while back really explains why rebaptisms are appropriate:
“Baptism is an outward sign of what is already true.“
And that’s why a rebaptism is so important, especially for those of us who were never confirmed. These outward signs can have powerful effects.
After Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon asked me the baptismal promises she then asked, “What is your chosen name?”
To reply, “My name is Constance Anne McEntee,” was a powerful thing for me. I, with the help of Rev. Dr. Nixon, was making my chosen name become my Christian name in a faith tradition of my choosing.
I didn’t need to be baptized, as an infant or as an adult. These sacraments are for us, not GOD. This is something that I need to bear in mind as I begin my seminary process. Turning someone away for a sacrament? Why would we do this, especially in the UCC where we say all are welcome and we deny Communion to no one. Why would baptism be held to a different standard?
GOD, grant that should I be deemed a worth candidate for ordination, that I never turn someone away from a sacrament when they truly desire the connection that is granted with it.
Amen, and Blessed Be.