The Case of the Speedy Transitions, or, When Will God Be Honored, Too?

I underwent a pretty speedy makeover recently. Maybe two.

Jennifer McClellan
VA Delegate Jennifer McClellan

Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Markus Schmidt quoted me and Delegate Jennifer McClellan in the August 6 edition of the paper, calling GOP Lt. Governor nominee E.W. Jackson to task for more of his vitriol–this time calling Democrats “the anti-God party.”

I am always honored to have my name associated with Delegate McClellan. But imagine my surprise, and perhaps hers and certainly my husband’s, when the feminine pronoun was used in reference to me . . . . ‘saying she [Gorsline] believes Jackson owes an apology “to those who are not of his particular faith brand . . . .'” and “Gorsline added she was ‘disturbed’ that Jackson’s running-mates . . . had not disavowed Jackson’s remarks . . . ” (underline mine)

During the phone interview with Schmidt and other reporters I was, as far as I know, the male-bodied person I have been for almost 67 years.

But then something happened. I was not aware of it at the time–apparently it was so fast I felt nothing. I am sure some of my transgender friends would wish for such an easy time. I became Ms. Rev. Robin Gorsline (actually that is my daughter,without the Rev. part–imagine her surprise if there turned out to be two of us).

The Robins Gorsline--Robin Sr. on right
The Robins Gorsline–NOT Rev. Robin on right

Then, presto, due to the magic of online journalism, I was returned to my former, and historic, status, as a male-bodied person.

If you check the story at you will be reassured about this.

I know Jonathan is relieved.

I do not write this to pick on Markus Schmidt, who seems to be a good reporter, but I am beginning to sense a theme in my life these days. Just the other day, for example, my search for a new watch got me involved in gender examination, and now, a couple of days later, my own gender is on the move.

I think the theme might be this: gender is not as much as it is cracked up to be. Or is it that gender is less than people make it out to be? Or perhaps, it is a lot more, and a lot different, than many of us realize.

Male or female, I strenuously object to Bishop Jackson’s careless, hurtful, inaccurate, shockingly ill-prepared, sometimes vicious rhetoric. And I love my new watch–whatever gender it is, or isn’t,

But. and this is a big BUT, when men like Bishop Jackson, and his running mates–Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and State Senator Mark Obenshain, not to mention Governor Bob McDonnell and Delegate Robert Marshall, and other men of similar views–want to regulate women’s bodies in invasive and other medically unnecessary and morally intrusive and controlling ways, then gender counts for a lot. And when folks make fun of, or speak derisively about, folks in various stages of gender identity transformation and reclamation, then gender counts for a lot. And often, again depending on who is doing the talking and the rule-making and the like, gender carries a heavy and oppressive tone.

Gender Is Gender Is NotSo, I can speak lightly of my speedy transitions, and someone at the T-D can delete the “s’, and all is restored to order, but in reality this just signals how easy it is for some not to pay much attention to something that carries so much weight for so many others.  And even though all it takes is to drop a letter to “correct” my gender, in truth Markus Schmidt probably got it more right than he knows.

I am not just male, not just “he.” Oh, sure I have the parts and the hair on my chest and beard on my face, etc., but gender is a lot more complicated than it seems on the surface. A pronoun does not a gender make. Even when the Times-Dispatch says it.

As more than one writer has said, I am my own gender. It is particular to me. It is “male,” yes, but I have “female” aspects, too.

Which is why I did not make a fuss. I like it when my “female parts” get a little notice. I am proud to be “she.” I am in good company. I have some sadness about being edited back to ordinary maleness so quickly and easily.

Thanks, Markus, for reminding me of how wondrously made I am, and how all parts of me, all parts of each and all of us, reflect the image of God.

And that, of course, is why I so dissent from those who seek to deny the abundance of God’s creation. God is so much bigger than Bishop Jackson will allow. For example, I am quite sure the good bishop cannot abide anyone calling God anything other than “He.”

But I am sure God would enjoy being “She” even just once in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Now that I know how fun that is, how good it feels, I am praying for it to happen soon. God surely deserves it, even more than me.

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