Authenticity

Did you hear the one about the woman who became a man but then gave birth to three kids and now wants a divorce? True story. Thomas Beatie was born a woman, Tracy Lagondino. He (she?) claims he always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, so Tracy began the process of transgendering into Thomas in 1997. By 2002, Tracy became Thomas. In 2003, Thomas married his partner, Nancy, in Hawaii and they now live in Arizona. Since Nancy is unable to conceive, Thomas became pregnant three times through artificial insemination.

What? It turns out, Thomas opted to keep his (her?) female reproductive organs. Since he didn’t remove his (her?) uterus, Thomas was able to become a pregnant “man” in 2008. Instantly he became a media darling, appearing on Oprah, publishing a book about his pregnancy, Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy, and in 2008, he had the dubious distinction of being one of Barbara Walters’ Ten Most Fascinating People. I watched the Oprah interview, where she gushed and oohed and aahed and I thought: how weird is that!

Three artificially inseminated kids later, he and Nancy are filing for divorce. The trouble is, in Arizona, there are no statutes for transgendered divorce. Added to that is the fact that men can’t have babies but Thomas gave birth to three of them. Which begs the question: is he Thomas or is she Tracy? Arizona doesn’t recognize same-sex unions. Nor does it recognize same-sex unions from other states so the not-so-happily “married” couple are not recognized as married by Arizona laws. Thomas and Nancy want validation that a marriage existed—for the sake of the kids, who, in my opinion, will grow up to be beyond confused. That’s why they want a divorce. Get it? If there’s a divorce, then there was a valid marriage.

Let’s move on…

Have you seen Suzanne Somers lately? If you’re a baby-boomer like I am, you’ll remember her as Chrissy, the bubbly but definitely not MENSA- eligible blonde on the hit comedy, Three’s Company. While most of us boomers moved on, it seems that Suzanne is still trying to hang on to her 70s body. She admits to taking a daily cocktail of over 60 different hormonal/vitamin/who-knows-what-else supplements, not to mention the injectables, slathering herself tip-to-toe with magical creams and potions and worshiping at the temple of plastic surgery.

I am a nurse. I have seen hundreds of people up close and personal. Real sixty-six-year-olds do not look like Suzanne. Real men do not have babies. Suzanne and Thomas are extreme examples of how God’s reality has been tampered and denied by man.

But hold on! Just because most of us don’t go to such lengths to alter the truth of ourselves, are we truly more real? It’s easy to criticize such ridiculous examples, but don’t we have to be careful of pointing fingers? When I point a finger at someone, three point right back at me.

I asked my spiritual director what it means to be real. How do I become authentic? How do I become who God wants me to be? He listed five things required to live as an authentic Catholic: have a life that is faith-filled, sacramental, charitable, prayerful, and transformative.

To be authentic, to be real, I have to centre my life around He who makes everything real. The fountain of authenticity is God. It is through Him, with Him, and in Him that we become who we are meant to be. In faith and through faith, I discover my real self first by constant prayer and the Sacraments, especially the frequent Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confession. Through prayer and a sacramental life, I am given graces, virtues, counsels, and gifts of the Holy Spirit so that I can look beyond myself and reach out to others in charity. In losing myself, I find myself—and that self is compassionate and striving for holiness. The whole process is ongoing and when undertaken in faith and humility, my life is continuously transformed. I become more and more real: the person God intended.

I can’t help but feel sorry for the Suzannes and Thomas/Tracys of the world. They have completely lost sight of who they are: reality tampered to the extreme. However, that doesn’t make me any better than they are. I can easily alter my God-given reality if I turn my gaze away from its source. To be authentic, I have to remain in the Truth—and the Truth shall set me free.

The season of Lent challenges us to deeper conversion through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is a good time to take inventory of our lives and ask the question: am I authentic? Am I becoming the person God wants me to be?

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