Have you ever been to an amusement park? Come on a journey with me for just a moment. Think back to your favorite day at an amusement park or carnival. Remember what it was like as if you’re about to go on that trip. You’ve been anticipating it for weeks. The date on the calendar is circled and every day the excitement grows as the day draws nearer. What wonderful experiences will that day hold? If you grew up in a small town like I did, this day is likely a rare treat. The car ride there seems extra-long. You stare out the window at the passing countryside. Surely you should have been there by now.
Off in the distance, you see a glorious sight peeking over the horizon – you can just make out the tip of the Ferris wheel towering above the park. Your heart begins to beat faster as you can almost feel yourself on the rides: whirring down a rollercoaster at breakneck speed or being hurled into the air by a giant swing. Certainly, you can taste the promise of indulging in delectable treats that your mother would have never allowed to grace the shelves of your home kitchen.
It’s taking Dad forever to put the car in park, you can hardly stand it. Just pick one! You want to scream. Finally, the car sputters to a stop and you fling the door open and nearly drag your parents to the line. Your eyes fill with wonder as the greeter stamps your ticket. You’re official, you’re in! Forgetting your loving parents who are so excited to spend this day with you, you grab the hand of your friend and go running for your favorite ride. Unless you’ve gotten extremely lucky, you will likely be waiting for quite some time to ride. How unfair that all those other people get to go before you. Eight or so at a time they go. You hear their squeals of delight as you watch them swinging, spinning, and zooming about above you.
Finally, my turn! You think excitedly - only to realize you miscounted and the ride operator puts his arm out in front of your chest and refastens the rope. One more time. Finally, freedom! The previous riders hop out with smiles splashed across their faces. Their chatter nearly matches the speed of the rollercoaster as they jabber about their experience. The rope drops to the side and you’re released. You and your friend head for your favorite spot and buckle in. You don’t need the operator’s help; you are well-learned in how to ride a rollercoaster. You ignore all safety instructions as the excitement continues to build. The loading of the passengers seems endless.
Finally, the attendant latches the last bar and walks slowly back to his post at the lever: the magic lever that releases the coaster to absolute freedom! You hear the clatter of the coaster on the track. The anticipation builds as it nears the summit of the first hill. Then just before it descends, a moment of complete silence as if the world stood still. Slowly, you hear the faintest click as gravity inches it forwards and tips the nose of the coaster just over the peak. All the riders prepare with bated breath: 1…2…3!
Whoosh! The rollercoaster thunders down the track as the wind beats your face and stings your eyes. You squeal with delight. It jerks you around the corner and rockets you up another hill only to hurl you down again. Fear grips you for a moment as you feel it throw you upside down and the thought crosses your mind – what if it the bar isn’t latched properly? But no sooner have you had the thought then it makes a full circle and you’re now right-side-up zooming around the last curve. With a hard, sudden slam of the brakes, you’re once again sitting where you started.
You and your pal hop out of the car as the others before you had done, now you are the ones chattering excitedly as the experience you’ve just had is almost more than you could handle. The thrill of it all worth every moment standing in line. You survey the map of the park quickly to find the next ride and with a sprint, you take off in its direction.
As you stand in line, the excitement of the previous ride begins to wear off. Your mind wanders as you find yourself now bored, weary already of waiting in line. The tantalizing aromas of funnel cakes and popcorn fill your nostrils. The decision of whether to get a snack or ride another ride first seems excruciatingly painful. How can one decide between such delights?
But now it is late into the evening. You have spent the day filling your belly with greasy, sugary treats and your face has been beaten to a pulp by the force of the rushing air. But it was a wonderful day! As exhausted as you now are, you are saddened as the rides begin to shut down, the ropes close off the lines, the food vendors close their windows, and finally, the lights are shut off. Time to go home.
But if you were able to stay there overnight, it would be a most lonely place to be indeed. Imagine the eeriness of hearing the exciting sounds of the day in your head clashing with the complete and utter silence in the park. It would be almost a haunting, ghostly experience. The enchanting scents of the carnival food have turned to the stench of garbage all around you. There is no one to cheer with, no one to laugh with. There is no more excitement, just utter loneliness, and darkness. Disappointment sets in as you realize that as fun as the day was, it wasn’t really life. When the rides stop and the lights are turned off, reality sets in. Back to normal life. There is always a depression that follows such an exciting event and either one of two things happens: you either find something else exciting or you stay in depression.
The transgender life is a lot like this example. At first, the anticipation of it is almost more than you can stand. The more you think about it, the more desperate you are to do it. You can almost picture it all in your head and you have an idea of what it will be like. Imagine having it all planned out and then your parents canceled the trip. The disappointment would be unbearable. But let’s say that your parents know something you don’t. Last week there was a report that there were some serious safety concerns at this particular amusement park. An expert had warned that the rides weren’t properly inspected and needed repairs. The complaint, however, had fallen on deaf ears and the park was not shut down for maintenance as it should have been.
Your parents try to explain the danger to you, but you think they’re just being unfair; they don’t want you to have fun. You and your buddy sneak out and catch a bus to go anyway. What an adventure! You figure you might get in trouble with your parents, but it will be worth it. At first, you have the time of your life. The excitement of the park is so thrilling you can hardly believe it. You are so glad you and your friend got on the bus to do this. It’s so worth it, you tell yourself. The morning snack is sweet and pleasurable and satisfying to your belly.
You shove aside the ringing reminder in your head of your parent's warning. You stifle the guilt over disobeying and now worrying them. You think it will all be worth it. For most of the day, everything goes fine. But toward mid-afternoon, you notice a little extra shakiness in the coaster. You push the thought of your mind. I’ll be fine, you tell yourself to calm your fears.
Every time another ride ends, the disappointment worsens. As the sun sets lower and lower in the distant horizon you realize that this wonderful day is drawing to a close. At some point, you will have to go home and face the music. Your friend is telling you how fun and wonderful it all is. You never told them why your parents canceled the trip. They don’t know the danger. Guilt is beginning to eat you up. While the food at the beginning of the day was delicious and satisfying, now it is almost sour in your stomach and the excitement of the trip has worn off. This hasn’t been so much fun after all.
One more ride and then it will be over. You and your friend are standing in line, waiting your turn. While your friend is anxious for the next ride with excitement, you are suddenly more afraid than ever. What if something does go wrong? You almost confess the truth and beg to leave, but you don’t want to disappoint your friend. You don’t want to admit you’ve made a horrible mistake, you don’t want to admit you didn’t tell them the truth. You decide to press on. It’s your turn now. The operator holds back the rope and motions with his arm for you to load into the first row of the coaster. With a lump in your throat, you trudge behind your friend.
You’re relieved when it takes off and you know it will be over in less than a minute. You push the fear out of your mind. It climbs to the top of the hill as before. Click, click, click…whoosh! You forget all the fear and the adrenaline kicks in, pumping through your body, sending waves of euphoria throughout your brain. But then a horrible crack splits the wonderful sounds of the riders’ cheers and squeals wide open as the track breaks and the coaster is careening towards the ground. It sounds as if a bomb has gone off as it crashes, leaving many injured and maimed. You’re alive, but you go into shock as you realize part of your leg is missing. You look over and realize with horror that your friend is dead.
The one consistent message I have heard over and over from former transgenders, and sometimes even before they leave the lifestyle is that transgenderism isn’t real. It’s like being at an amusement park: it’s exciting and fun and no one can tell you otherwise. You are compelled to do it. But one day the park is going to close, the rides will stop, and you will be left profoundly disappointed. But worse, this isn’t something you can experience for a time like a normal amusement park. This is the amusement park from hell. It will leave you maimed and scarred, with permanent consequences to your body. Those who have tried to warn you are not trying to keep you from “being who you are” - they love you too much to see you find out what so many of us already know, it isn’t real and it will never satisfy the longings of your heart to be free.
There are many who never made it out. Don’t let the devil deceive you. The media is telling you that you will commit suicide if you don’t transition. But the reality is that many commit suicide after they transition. At the very least, they live with much regret. If you want the truth, it’s out there. Ask God to reveal the truth about transition regret to you. The internet is full of these stories. Check out Trans Life Survivors by Walt Heyer for a collection of these stories.
True freedom is only found in Christ, in allowing Him to heal all of the brokenness inside. It isn’t about an intellectual belief in God or in “praying it away” – it is by faith and trust in Him alone. When I left the lifestyle, I didn’t know if He would ever take away those feelings. But if I had to suffer with the feelings for the rest of my life and feel like a freak in a body I hated, I was willing to endure it to serve Jesus Christ. It was in that complete surrender and submission to Him that I found true healing. My identity was no longer in my feelings, but in the life that He prepared for me.