So I signed up to usher at my church yesterday. I didn't know the person I was doing it with, but had seen her at services before. It feels a little weird writing this, but I'll share my two reactions to it all and my lesson learned.
I'll start by saying she, let's call her G, is a transvestite. The first time I saw her at a service, I caught myself staring for a few seconds. It was as though my brain was expecting to see one thing, and saw another. I felt ashamed of myself, especially at church, where it is very much our thing to accept all comers who want to worship there. As I write that, it wasn't that I felt that she shouldn't be there, it was that she looked different.
I started thinking about how it seems that society is being forced to deal with (meaning be less judgmental about) people who don't fit cleanly into our notions of what a male or a female should look like. And then I thought about how I have what feels like enough social anxiety, thank you very much, about meeting new people, and I'm pretty average in dress and looks; nothing out of the ordinary. OK, let's not call it anxiety, but I make an assumption that the way I look is "normal", and that keeps people from staring, but meeting new people and interacting in social situations sometimes takes an effort.
I mean, most of us want to get along, we want to fit in and have positive social interactions with other people. And yet, we all have an image of ourselves. When we look in the mirror, we think, "Yes, this is what I want to look like", or at least, "This is what I look like". And if it's not working, we change our hair or our clothes or lipstick or whatever, until it feels right.
It was my impression that G wasn't dressing to attract attention. She didn't hang her head in shame, but she wasn't flaunting herself either. It felt to me like she was looking for acceptance. When we were counting the money after the offering, I introduced myself and shook her hand. A man's hand, no doubt about it. I also thought this: Who would "choose" this? Who would choose to dress in a way that attracts so much attention, unless the person felt they were being true to his or herself? I couldn't see it any other way. She dresses that way because that's the way she sees herself.
I think society is moving closer toward accepting people who don't fit into the neat categories. It seems to me that kids are less concerned about our definitions of what looks normal, and I think that is a good thing.