As marriage equality and, broadly speaking, lesbian/gay equality become widespread, LGBT advocacy has begun focusing more on the “T” of the common acronym.
New Ways Ministry and other Catholic institutions have begun to help church members better understand this community.
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 84% of Catholics agree that lesbian/gay legal protections should be expanded to the transgender community as well, and 93% of Catholics believe in full equality for transgender people.
In seeking to promote education and justice for transgender people within the Church, as well as society, New Ways Ministry will be hosting its second day-long conference on transgender issues from a Catholic perspective. The workshop, titled “Trans-forming Love,” will take place May 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Through presentations, discussions, and prayer, the workshop will address issues such as gender identity development, legal considerations, spirituality, and the personal perspective of transgender individuals.
Featured speakers include clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Hendricks, PhD, and Hilary Howes, a Catholic transgender woman involved with LGBT advocacy. Hendricks is president of the American Psychological Association’s Division 44 (for the study of sexual and gender minorities), the Society for the Psychological Study of LGBT Issues, and a partner at the Washington Psychological Center. Howes is the author of the article “To Be or Not to Be: A Catholic Transexual Speaks,” which described her conversion to Catholicism and her gender transition. She is a member of the Pacific School of Religion’s Transgender Roundtable.
In conjunction with its educational efforts within the Catholic community, New Ways Ministry has also been active in advocating for transgender legal rights in Maryland.
In late March, the state’s legislature passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 establishing protections related to employment, housing, and public accommodations based on gender identity. It is expected that Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic, will sign the bill into law this spring.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director, and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, co-founder, of New Ways Ministry both testified before the Maryland Senate alongside other prominent Catholics in support of the bill.
Though 71% of Maryland citizens supported the law, a Republican state delegate will attempt to overturn the law through a referendum once O’Malley signs it. In response, the Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality has launched the “Stand for Fairness” educational campaign, according to The Advocate. It is unlikely the law will face enough opposition to be put up for the referendum.
For more information on how to attend “Trans-forming Love” workshop, visit their website.