An Open Pastoral Letter To The Trans Community

by Rev . Kim Sorrells

Brothers, Sisters and Siblings,

I see the posts. I see the words of hate people scrawl through the comments section, through the tweets and Facebooks status updates. I see the pictures of trans celebrities that get attacked and misgendered. I see the people standing outside of buildings with picket signs. I see the petitions and the calls for boycotts.

I see you. I see that you are beautiful.  

I see that you are strong, that you move through each day facing a world of fears and struggles that most people will never know. I see that you are exactly who you are supposed to be.

More importantly, God sees you. Our scripture says: “People look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). God sees your heart and sees you for who you truly are, regardless of weather people accept it or not.

I feel it too. I feel that sting of hurt from the words of hatred. I feel the frustration by the way people just can’t understand or totally misrepresent us. I feel that newly added extra fear that comes when you walk into a bathroom—will today be the day? Are people more vigilant now?

More importantly, God feels it too. I imagine Jesus wondered “will today be the day?” “Have I challenged the status quo too much?”

God grieves for each hurt we suffer, each wound we have to heal. 

I can’t change any of those things, but I can tell you that you are loved. I can tell you that I believe that we as transgender, genderqueer and gender non-conforming people reflect something profoundly wonderful about the Image of God, Imago Dei, who is beyond male or female.

I can tell you that there are faith communities that will welcome you, and let you use whatever bathroom you please. In fact there are even those with all-gender bathrooms.

I can tell you that this is true not just in my congregation, or even just in Christian churches. There are synagogues, ashrams, Unitarian congregations, mosques, and a whole variety of spiritual communities that will welcome you and celebrate you.

We will hold you in prayer.

We will celebrate moments along your journey with you. We will break bread with you. And frankly, we will show you are truly welcome by asking you to serve on some random committee or teach Sunday school—you know we love you when we put you to work!

One of my deepest beliefs is that we, as a people, are moving toward justice. I echo the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Deep in my heart I believe that it will get better. I believe that we will some day be able to not just “pee in peace,” but to find gainful employment, to find adequate and affordable healthcare, to find support from our neighbor, to have the pure joy of being just “boring.”

Friends, I hear you. I see you. I know it’s hard.

And yet I ask you to hear me tell you—the world needs your light.

I need your light. You are beloved. Keep fighting the good fight with me.

With Gratitude for Each of You,

Are you a transgender, genderqueer, or gender nonconforming person in crisis? In the U.S., call 877-565-8860 to reach the Trans Lifeline. In Canada, call 877-330-6366. You can also visit The Trevor Project or call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.

Click here to support the Trans Lifeline to continue their life-saving work.

Photo via flickr user शशांक म्हसवडे

Originally published by Believe Out Loud on May 19, 2016

Comments (5)

Marilyn E. Lloyd

I would like to thank
I would like to thank everyone for you kind thoughts and words. I am an authorized minister in the UCC and a transgender woman. I would like to point out that the bathroom issue was not really an issue until N.C. past the anti-transgender law. Now there are stories cropping up all over the country about the bigotry associated with bathrooms. This fear of transgender people using bathrooms will reach ridiculous proportions if we don’t stand together right from the start. Though I hesitate to compare the anti-transgender rhetoric and laws to the anti-black laws of the south, the transgender bathrooms in public places could very well start popping up as well as signs banning trans people from the use of bathrooms. Has this country not learned anything? Is this how we want other countries to think of us? As a country who repeats our bigotry, from African-American to transgender hatred?
So again, I say thank you for standing with the transgender community of God’s children.


Thank you for this. I bawled.
Thank you for this. I bawled.
Last year, I started going back to church after 30 years away. I’d recently suffered what once we quaintly would have termed a “nervous breakdown”. I was out of work and I’m agoraphobic. I had nothing to leave my small apartment for, and a vast, hostile world to persuade me to stay in. But finally, I dared hope that church did *not* have to hate me. Or, I suppose, “hate the sin”, which always breaks down to the same thing. And I found a faith community. And bit by bit, I’m connecting.

And then this happens. It’s not just the laws, it’s the debates. It’s the bile, the disgust, the condemnation. It’s the surreal moment of being in the spotlight, everyone who fears and despises you pacing about you growling like feral dogs. And their message is clear….. they need to make us afraid enough to go away. It’s not about bathrooms or at least, not just. It’s about terrorizing us into nonexistence. They don’t want to have to think about us, what our existence means. If they dropped the certainty of authoritarian religion and politics and considered the findings of those scientists studying us, their worlds would be shaken. So they need us to not exist. Calls to the Trans Lifeline suicide hotline have doubled ( . Their tactics are effective, because they stab at our humanity, our right to consider ourselves human. I don’t think they’re consciously trying to drive us to suicide, I think it’s more a toddler screaming until they get what they want. But it’s effective.

I’ve been feeling the terror. I’ve been feeling unworthy to be considered human. That I may be seen by God as beloved is a possibility that’s seemed to be disappearing. I’m really vulnerability to fundamentalist certainty, and it’s been whittling at me.

So thank you for your letter. It feels like a message in a bottle on the choppy waters of the zeitgeist, but it is a balm. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Laura Bethany Taylor

As a “pastor” without a
As a “pastor” without a pastoral home for the moment, and a transwoman who has done my best to stand in the gap these past couple of months, thanks for the encouragement. I’ll keep your words close by and revisit when I need them!

Sabrina Catlin

I am a post operative trans
I am a post operative trans woman who lives in Charlotte, NC, HB2 is about a lot more than the bathroom issue. The real. discrimination is in the other clauses. One clause took away the rights of localities to set local ordinances. NC is not a home rule state, and the state legislation dictates and approves city charters. Another clause removed the right to use the state courts in any discrimination case. This effectively removes any semblance of equal right for any minority. Another clause fixed minimum wage at state determined levels. Forget $15/hour minimums that some locals wanted to consider. So you can see how bad this law is, and it is just a smoke screen for other major issues. Also the world has seen the unrest here in the past week. This has been building for years. The protests are still occurring, but are peaceful. It’s a mess here… I am also spiritual, and have found many welcoming churches. Welcoming Does Not equal accepting and loving… They just won’t attack you for being trans. This article makes a good point of what it should look like. Thanks..

Davis MacMajor

With all prayers and support
With all prayers and support from to Believe Out Loud Equality Heals Africa here in Uganda, East Africa.

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