I Am Transgender (Part 3: Section 2): What It Means to Be A Woman

In honor of National Coming Out Day, I will be giving my best personal defense of queerness and living as queer either in or outside of the closet. For greater context, please also see I Am Transgender and I Am Transgender (Part 2) in addition to Dear Christians.

Of all the insights I have gained in my quest for meaning, there are a few inevitable ‘truths’ I have come across. You might call these my “articles of faith”:

  1. “Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.” –Charles Sanders Peirce, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear
    1. In what most philosophers popularly refer to as “the maxim of pragmatism”, Peirce asserts that the only way we can make sense of the world is to consider what consequences our concepts have on our ability to make sense of it.
  2. Existence precedes essence.
    1. This is a common maxim among existentialists who argue that before there can be any meaning, before we can make any sense of the world, we must first exist in it.
  3. Because existence precedes essence, we are radically free.
    1. Radical freedom is the notion that because we exist and are in a situation where we must find meaning in the world (or make sense of it), we are not bound to others’ notions of who we are or why we are here. In other words, we always have a choice even in situations with countless variables that are beyond our control (this is called situatedness or facticity).
    2. This is inevitably true regardless of any kind of metaphysical debates about free will and determinism, the existence of God(s), etc.
  4. Because we are radically free, we bear radical responsibility for that freedom.
    1. We cannot blame anyone else for our choices. The responsibility lies solely on us for what we have control over.
  5. What we ultimately have control over is the attitude(s) we take toward the fact of our existence.
    1. We also have two ultimate choices as to what approach we take towards our attitudes:
      1. Death in the form of suicide or inauthenticity
      2. Life in the form of authenticity
  6. Authenticity entails realizing and acknowledging our radical freedom and responsibility while inauthenticity entails avoiding them.
    1. Authenticity also requires that we think for ourselves and take responsibility for the consequences.
    2. Though one may be ‘alive’ in a technical sense, they are not ‘living’ in any meaningful sense. To choose inauthenticity is to suffer a kind of ‘spiritual death’.

I can imagine that you would find my articles of faith agreeable, and I am sincere when I say they are my articles of faith. I do not believe it’s practical, or rationally defensible, to assert that reason and faith are distinct from one another. I believe that it is inevitably true that we live by faith. I won’t deny it because doing so would be inauthentic of me. Faith, therefore, comes first and is bound up with reason as reason is merely a tool we use to make sense of the world through our feelings (or our ‘passions’ as David Hume called them). Faith precedes any sense we can make or knowledge we can have. You may consider this my primary maxim that rules over all the others.

From these six maxims, there is one thing we must realize:

  1. We are all in the same boat.
    1. Some of us may have greater insights or gifts (you might consider these revelations or spiritual gifts) that we can use to answer these fundamental questions, but the fact of the matter remains: we are all in the same situation and each one of us has the ultimate responsibility to find meaning for ourselves. In other words, no one can tell us who we are and why we are here. We ultimately have the choice to determine what is true, and what is “true” is true insofar as it helps us make sense of things. To evade this is to be inauthentic.

I think you may not find this terribly disagreeable. We ultimately have very similar principles we rely on for our thinking and our respective worldviews. If you are not sure exactly what I mean by these maxims and what they imply for how I see the world, I will do my best to clarify, but before I do, I mean to make one thing perfectly clear:
I believe your faith is ultimately valid. I do not consider it bad or inauthentic. I do not seek to change it, and I certainly do not wish that you would abandon it. I think you need it and I am glad you have it.

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