When Trump rescinded the guidelines to schools on how to protect the dignity of Trans* students, he opened the door for SCOTUS to deny Gavin Grimm his day in court. When SCOTUS declined to hear Gavin’s case, the nation’s highest court delayed the protections that Trans* students are due under the mandate of Title IX.
Regrettably, these students will also hear the message they are not worthy of the same safety, respect, and dignity provided other students.
As Trans* Clergy my heart aches.
Like many Trans* people, my childhood and adolescence were painful. I knew I was different, though I did not know why. And, in response to a world that neither understood nor welcomed me, I withdrew. Now, I see more clearly and understand better how the pain of my difference connected with poor scholastic achievement. I simply could not move past the isolation and the feeling of hopelessness.
As a pastor, who follows the One (Jesus) who sought out the marginalized and the “different,” I am deeply aware and highly sensitive to the message our Trans* students and children are now hearing. Given a 40% attempted suicide rate among Trans* people— nearly nine times the national average for the general population—isolation and feeling hopeless can be a path that leads to this choice. From my childhood experience, I know these feelings well.
As a chaplain, I recently held in my arms one young Trans* woman who narrowly survived such an attempt; she could only imagine a painful future and a constant struggle—simply for living authentically as who she is.
As I held her, I saw my own pain reflected in her tearful eyes.
As an MCC Pastor, I expend much time and energy providing “religious triage.” Many LGBTQ people who enter the doors of our churches have heard the Bible quoted as proof they are unworthy of God’s (and our) love and are an abomination destined for eternal damnation.
The very God who created us all with great love and intentionality has been re-imagined by humans to wreak havoc and wage judgment on some of God’s Beloved, specifically based on gender and sexual identities. This is more than bad theology; this message carries real and lasting harm to heart, mind, body, and soul.
When SCOTUS declined to hear Gavin Grimm’s case, the message of inequality among students became potentially more harmful as these same students watch a country where Trans* adults are not treated any better.
It is easy to see the hopelessness that can be created when Trans* students see a future that includes more pain and struggle
In this new America, where human and civil rights are daily under attack, our work as faithful activists within God’s Beloved Community is more important than ever. We have been given a moral and divine command to ”love one another as we love ourselves.” “As” means equal, therefore we cannot love others less and ourselves more.
There are no qualifiers or conditions to that love; no “if” follows the command.
Let us then lead as the faithful and conspire to inspire. In all the ways we can, let us support Trans* students and adults alike through our words and actions—through resistance, insistence, and persistence. This must be done visibly and loudly. We cannot afford to be silent because silence equates to tacit support and approval. And, silence permits the message of exclusion and discrimination to be the loudest (and perhaps only) voice.
As the faithful, let us then vow to intentionally love one another; including those who live a transgender experience.
God is watching and waiting. May we respond accordingly.
God commands it. Lives depend on this. And, our very souls demand this of us.
Photo by Gaelen Norman