Is it okay to be a woman? Hi everyone, I’m Ara. Though I’m not anymore, I was a candidate for ordination in the RCA, and I’m currently a board member of Room for All. I grew up in the RCA, and I’d like to say that I remember the denomination being a wonderful influence on my life when I was a little girl. I can’t say that though, because I was never allowed to be a little girl.
I was however, certainly allowed to hate myself, and that’s what I did. I knew I wasn’t a boy from very young, and everything in my religious upbringing told me that that was very bad. I remember one time when I was 8 or 9, sitting in my room playing with a toy space shuttle and pretending I was one of the female astronauts I loved learning about. A feeling of guilt however, stopped me short, and I folded my hands and said: “God, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. ”
Well, I’m not sorry anymore. Throughout my life the RCA has called for me to confess to God the so-called sin of being myself, and I’ve now left the denomination because it’s what I needed to do to begin to be myself. I’m not a debate, I’m not a project, I’m neither mis-guided nor confused. I’ve simply resolved to follow the savior who has come to give full life, a journey which for me, has led out of a denomination that has entertained and enforced a pretty narrow conception of what full life can look like. And RCA, while you’ve been treating the LGBTQ folks in your midst like a topic of debate, transgender people have been getting murdered. As many as 20 reported in the U.S. this year, and most of them trans women of color. Many of us in the community know sisters, siblings, or brothers lost to homicide or suicide. The RCA, as a denominational body at least, has not shown itself to care about this.
This world is a bad place: racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, the list goes on. This world makes it hard to be many things, and makes it hard to be a woman. I asked if it is okay to be a woman, and the reality is if you are a certain kind of woman, there are structures in place that often do not allow it to be okay. I am a woman, and my whiteness insulates me from a lot of the most dire pains, but sometimes it still hurts, really hurts. For my sake, however, I’m done with hating me, and that’s the most important pushback I can ever give to the RCA. So, RCA, this is my word to you: This, my hair, this is good. I love it. This, my body, this is good. I love it. This, my heart, this is good. I love it. If the Bible is a true witness, I am confident that God loves these things too. I don’t need the RCA to tell me that, but I will say this: RCA, stop sacrificing your children, stop giving up on your future. I’m okay, but that very possibly might not have been my path, and there are many in much greater danger than me.