Fearfully & Wonderfully Transgender: A Trans Woman's Reflections on Psalm 139

On the first Wednesday of the month, we publish a blog post written by a member of our community. In this article, Becca Hawkins, who connects with the GS community online from her home in the USA, shows us her love for reading scripture in its original languages, and how this can elicit beautiful queer-positive insights into the text!


 

It’s distressingly common for trans people to have Psalm 139 weaponized against them, particularly verses 13-16. You might find it strange that a portion of an ancient song that has been regarded as a comfort to so many is treated by some as though it’s a prescriptive text meant to police the personhood of another human being, but that is part of the strange way many evangelicals have learned to read and apply the Bible.


Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

I know because I grew up evangelical and used it the same way against myself. My own experience with the psalm is one of internalized transphobia. I used it against myself growing up. Even though when I was growing up, trans people like me didn’t seem to be on the radar of most cisgender, heterosexual evangelicals, I grew to hate this text because of how I would flog myself with it. The way I was reading it was flawed similarly because the way I was reading myself was flawed. Before I transitioned, I was used to seeing my trans nature—this weird sense I had that I was actually a girl—as at odds with who I was created to be. It never occurred to me to read the passage as affirming the trans part of me. I had always chalked that up to being in me “because of sin” or “because of the fall” in some sense, and that it wasn’t actually the real me, and that by embracing it and living as my authentic self, I would be rebelling against God’s intended creation of me.


Eventually, I came to accept myself