Anyone who keeps up with current events must be aware of a disturbing new trend for people to identify as something or someone other than who they were since birth. They seem to think they know, deep down inside, what it is like to be born as someone else and, if only they can change their physical body to match this imagined being, they will finally become who they were meant to be.
Putting aside the biological, moral and ethical problems with this mindset, this idea is fundamentally wrong.
Everyone’s life experience is unique. No one on this earth knows what it is like to be someone else. You can’t learn what it’s like to be another gender or race by changing yourself physically to match the outward appearance of the group you are trying to join. Your experience is already too different from one born into that condition.
In the sixties there was a book and movie called “Black Like Me” which told the story of a man who wanted to understand what it was like to be born black. He changed the pigment of his skin and altered his appearance to more closely match the characteristics of African Americans. He changed his home, his work and his friends to join the black culture. He went to all this trouble attempting to do the impossible. No matter how much effort he made, he was still a white man. He was born Caucasian, raised Caucasian and his exploration of the Black culture could never erase his prior life experiences.
It’s admirable to try to understand other people, all other people, to have empathy and affection for them and offer assistance in times of struggle, but we can never become them.
Many of us have had the experience during times of duress of either saying, “I understand just how you feel.” We are sometimes surprised to be told, “Oh, no you don’t!” In truth, no one knows just how someone else feels in any situation. We can guess and try to share in their feelings, but we simply cannot know.
When his new friends discovered the man’s pretense in “Black Like Me” they were angry. Angry at his lies and deception, of course, but also angry at his presumption. His visit into their culture in no way shared their own experience.
A man who thinks he would be happier as a woman has no real idea of what that means. He can’t because he wasn’t born a female. He only imagines what it must be like.
When we are unhappy with our own lives it is tempting to look at others and think they must be happier or superior in some way. The grass seems to be greener on the other side of the fence, but that is simply a trick of perspective.
As the Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” He knew the secret to being happy in one’s own skin. That secret is to be grateful to God for every good thing.