Lisa Salazar is a woman of deep faith. That faith was to be strongly tested time and again because she wasn’t born as a woman.
Her new book, Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life, tracks her journey across three countries, two languages, and one faith. It’s a journey that’s worth following. It reveals a woman whose life was never an open book to anyone, but now is a book for everyone to peruse.
Though I’ve always had a deep appreciation and compassion for transgender people, I have always struggled with relating to the issues they face. Frankly, most of us in the LGB community don’t do enough to learn about transgender and transsexual people, often leaving the “T” to fend for themselves. With books like Transparently, we have a wonderful opportunity to get into the mind of one transgender woman who bares her very soul.
She does so with the heart of a teacher — taking us through every point in her life that brought her into the final step, gender reassignment surgery.
Lisa was born as Jim Salazar, into a family that would immigrate from Colombia to the United States, and later to Canada. Her father was a hands-on man who invested his life into a family business, and her mother was a strong woman who stood by her family at all times.
Jim was an average, insecure, red-blooded boy, whose quiet exterior would eventually hide a secret — a secret he didn’t understand. As he got older, he would discover a fascination with women’s clothing. It wasn’t a sexual curiosity; it just felt right. He couldn’t explain it, and he couldn’t put a finger on exactly why these clothes were such a draw for him.
As a young man, Jim was converted to a different brand of Christianity than he had known previously. While Catholicism was a staple in his family, he found himself suddenly born again. His new faith was one of passion, fire, and a deep love for Jesus Christ. It was a brand of religion that his friends resented and his family didn’t understand.
One thing he did know is that his faith was real. He couldn’t understand it fully, but it was as important and as central to his life as anything could be. And those women’s clothes would have to go.
I found myself relating to Jim’s journey more and more, realizing that his life was a mirror for my own. As he reached adulthood and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, he knew his struggles remained. So he did the one thing that many of us who are LGBT do when we realize that we don’t WANT to be LGBT— we throw ourselves into our faith, our work, and everything possible so that we don’t have time to think about it. And that’s exactly what Jim did.
He worked as a graphic designer and a waiter. He helped to lead the worship service for his church. He had little time for friends and family, and even less time to think about… that secret. He prayed for some kind of release, some kind of victory, and that prayer was never answered.
Until he met Rachel. She became his friend, his best friend, and eventually became his wife. Finally, he thought, he would have peace from his old struggle.
He thought wrong.
Jim Salazar was a man, a husband, a father, a designer, and a business owner, but as time would go on, he would eventually come to a clear, startling revelation. He wasn’t a man. He had done what so many of us do as LGBT Christians — spiritualized his struggle. He assumed that his fascination with women’s clothing was just a temptation from Satan. In reality, it was her soul crying out to be free — as a woman. It wasn’t a spiritual struggle; it was a matter of health, life, and freedom. Jim Salazar was, in fact, Lisa Salazar.
Scripture says that the three most important elements of life — that never fade away — are faith, hope, and love. Lisa Salazar had all three.
Transparently guides the reader through her final years as a man, and through the pain and wrestling of revealing her true self to her family, friends, and clients. She found support where she feared rejection, and through it all, found herself finally settling into her identity as a woman — a woman of integrity, family, and strength. It’s a book that is truly transparent. It’s a book that gives the reader, no matter their point of view, a clear insight into not just transgender life, but a life driven by deep, genuine faith in a God who guided her to a victory and a freedom that she never thought possible.