To Know Our Pain


Have you heard the word “appropriation”? It’s a common buzzword these days. Cultural appropriation is the idea by some that by eating certain foods or wearing certain clothes of another culture, you are taking advantage of that culture without being invested in that culture’s struggle. One time, a white girl who wore a Chinese-style dress to prom earned social media condemnation when someone responded, “my culture is not your prom dress.”

I tend not to use the term cultural appropriation because cultures are always in flux and they don’t have gatekeepers. However, the term appropriation can’t help pop into my head when I see transwomen discussing menstrual bleeding and period pain. (Transwomen are biological males who either present in feminine ways or who have gone through surgeries to be given female-resembling gentialia).

Males don’t have uteruses, so they cannot have a normal menstrual cycle which is the uterine lining every 28 days being shluffed off. I don’t know if “shluffing” is the medical term, but oh well. There are other hormonal things happening, which transwomen who are taking hormones may experience pains similar to those, but these are *not* due to menstrual cycles.

“I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman. There are experiences exclusive to me that you can never understand just because you chose to wear womanhood like it is a costume.”

Bethany Cherisse

For women who have dealt with menstrual pain and irregularities, it can feel like appropriation when males put on womanhood and then ask for sympathy as though they have dealt with our struggles.

And it is in this frustration that the power of the incarnation comes clear.


When Jesus Christ came to earth, he came as a baby so that he could experience humanity — manhood — from the very beginning of the process. When pastors say that the Christ lived lives like we do and experienced pain and hunger and friendship and grief, they are making a profoundly deep statement.

Christ did not come to earth and put on humanity like a prom dress or a costume that he could then discard when He was resurrected.

Our Immanuel decided that He would experience the ravages and symptoms of sin upon the human body before he would defeat sin forever. He needed to be human to take the sacrifice of our sin, but he chose the full experience of being born, living, and then dying.

Jesus did not appropriate humanity. He lived it.

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