Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Christians! Stand Up For Our Trans* Siblings!

Okay, I shouldn't be writing this. I am not transgender (that is to say, I do not experience a mismatch between my gender identity and my birth-assigned sex). I'm a privileged, heterosexual, white guy. Stop listening to me.  Go listen to some actual transgender Christian people like the ones listed in this post instead.

Still here? I wonder why? Perhaps my privileged voice may be less scary? And, let me be honest, I own a different kind of privilege (and grief) as well.  My wife and I have been privileged to parent, and cherish, and lose, a trans* child.  Someone we saw grow, and change, and struggle to love God and to love others well.  Someone we loved and cared for and wanted to protect.  As much as you want to protect your child from the threats and dangers of the world.

Right now a noisy campaign is trying to convince you that trans people's use of public restrooms is a new threat that you need to fight urgently against. This is a lie. Numerous US jurisdictions have had "public accommodation"  non-discrimination laws for many years.  Law enforcement officials have stated that these laws, which honor the human dignity of transgender people, have not led to an increased danger of restroom sexual assault.  Please see here for a lengthy listing of statements from such officials, and here for a more recent summary related specifically to North Carolina's "bathroom bill".
No, those who are actually in danger because of these campaigns are trans people themselves - people like my child - who are already exposed to great risks and may now be additionally threatened by self-appointed bathroom vigilantes every time they need to pee.  Really.  And this in the name of Jesus?

What's going on here is an old story in history of faith, it's called the scapegoat narrative, and it is the reason Jesus was crucified "outside the city wall".  Confronted with a threat, we project it onto some figure we can identify as alien, a figure who is then demonized and driven into the wilderness.  If you have never met, or known, or loved a transgender person, perhaps they might seem a natural candidate for such a figure of threat.  But it is not so. (Indeed, a sexual predator is more likely to look quite respectable and comfortable - someone like Dennis Hastert for example, former Speaker of the House, honored graduate of America's premier evangelical university, and now-admitted serial child molester... but I digress).

I believe that by taking its full force upon himself, Jesus dismantled and disempowered the scapegoat mechanism.  It is the business of His people now to be standing in solidarity with those who the world wishes to make into the bearers of guilt and shame.  We non-trans believers need to stand with our trans* siblings today.

EDIT: Here's a great resource with ideas for how to do that.

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