Andy and the mystery of God’s creation
Judith Schönsteiner, Territorio Abierto. Today with Ignatian seal (Chile), June 5, 2015. Translated by the author
I would really love to see that we learn to admire and to be marvelled at the mysteries of creation. That we could respect the dignity of that call to happiness that is different for you and for me. Only God knows. Let’s allow God to surprise us, and let’s call transsexual persons by the name that they say they have.
God’s creation is marvellous. That’s what we proclaim in the Easter Vigil when we repeat “and God saw that all was very good” (Genesis 1). The creation overwhelms us. Overwhelms our imagination and our understanding of the creature. It is a mystery.
Despite all our research, despite knowing how to calculate the speed of the stars, despite understanding the movements of bacteria and cells, creation is a mystery. We are blessed that it is that way, that we do not know how to explain everything. We are blessed that in the end, Creation resists our intellect. Like that, there is no other way than watching and admiring with our hearts.
A couple of weeks ago, in Chile, we knew of Andy, a five-year old transsexual girl. Through a report in the channel Contacto, we heard that she was not allowed to continue attending her (private) school after the summer holidays. Until last year, Andy was called Baltazar, a name she never could identify with. According to the international criteria established by doctors and psychologists, Andy is a transsexual girl. She has the body of a boy, but she feels, dreams and has preferences like a girl.
Andy invites us to watch with our hearts what happens to her and what we do not understand, what doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists cannot explain. The theologians either. She has the body of a boy. But since she can express herself, she has not felt or identified as a boy. Being treated as a boy, made her feel sadder and sadder. She dreamt of dressing as she felt: as a girl. She dreamt of having a girl’s name. She dreamt of having a girl’s room. She asked her mum why God had made her look outside like a boy if inside, she was a girl.
Her parents listened with anxiousness and fear. They heard her desire: that what is outside looked like her inside, as this inside never managed to adjust to the outside.
As a family, they set off on an unknown journey, which questions all the concepts that we have used to define who we are, obviously man, or obviously woman. They had to deal with their own dreams and sadness in relation to their son Baltazar. Considering the very high risk of suicide in transsexual persons, and the visible and durable unhappiness of their child, they decided that they would accompany her in this process, and would help her to live her dream.
After a long period of diagnosis with doctors and psychologists, they organized a welcome celebration for Andy. They decided that they preferred to confront society rather than see their child unhappy. As the school did not allow Andy to attend dressed as a girl, nor that the child be called Andy (a girl’s name in Chile), they registered their three children in another school.
I see a father and a mother who put the happiness of their daughter above social expectations, above the society who resists watching the diversity of creation with a child’s eyes: marvelled, astonished, expectant. I see in them the courage of those at work who are moved by love towards the gift of creation, and not by social expectations or the anxiety of needing to put content or concepts to what they do not understand. I can see a father’s and a mother’s love who, first of all, allow her child to be a mystery, searching for her happiness, which is laid down in her deepest and most durable desires.
Dreams that do not harm anybody, but simply do not fit the expectations they had.
When Andy will be grown-up, she will be able to tell us what she thinks about her story and which words she would like to use to describe her story. She will tell us whether the only way to be happy at the age of five, proved to be the one that makes her happy during all her life. I would really like that she could tell us, so that doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and theologians could compare the concepts, explications and hypotheses that we all have about transsexual people. Some of these concepts will be confirmed, others not. But the development of those concepts never must go against the lived experience of persons.
Why do a feel that some theological concepts impede us to be marvelled before the mysteries of creation? I recall a contemplation the German biblical scholar Fridolin Stier – inquisitive, great admirer of Creation, priest in small countryside village – described in his diary. He imagined Thomas Aquinus after his death. The great theologian was sitting before a huge octopus, awfully beautiful, too big to be analysed, too beautiful in its inexplicable forms to not be marvelled and to feel deep reverence before the creation and its Creator. Stier imagined that Thomas Aquinus remained without words, he who had written the Summa Theologiae, admiring, astonished in the fear of his Creator.
Andy will find her way with God’s help. Hopefully, her parents will be supported by friends and families when accompanying her with the wisdom that does not force her into moulds.
I would really love to see that we learn to admire and to be marvelled at the mysteries of creation. That we could respect the dignity of that call to happiness that is different for you and for me. Only God knows. If we cannot “cure” transsexual persons – for those who think it is an illness – what reason would we have to prohibit them to be happy their way, if they do not harm anybody? And if it is not an illness – as others think – less reason would we have to prohibit them.
Right now, there is no consensus among psychologists and doctors in which categories we should best talk about transsexuality. Considering that a pathologizing attitude towards a characteristic that cannot be changed, tends to be harmful to the full development of the human person – why do we not allow ourselves to be invited to love what we do not know? Just starting from the openness to the mystery, and the humanity of the Other, not starting from abstract theories. Let us allow God to surprise us.
Published in June 2015 in www.territorioabierto.jesuitas.cl. Translated by the author . Footnotes omitted.
Texto original: Andy y el misterio de la creación de Dios