Tuesday, November 20th is International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day that honors and remembers those who have been murdered in the past year due to their gender identity (real or perceived). Sad. So sad.
What saddens me the most is that these murders could have been prevented. We need to do a better job of raising awareness of what “transgender” means. Some of the most vocal perspectives on the topic of human sexuality are all-too hateful, accusing those who feel trapped in the wrong body of being sinners who will be punished by God and banished to an et-ernal and inf-ernal hell.
But the hell is often here on earth for those who are condemned by religious leaders who manipulate God’s word into one of hate instead of the all-consuming love. Oh yes, I’m aware that some interpretations of the Bible have all sorts of things to say about human sexuality (to the extent of imagining that there is a “homosexual agenda” in places where there isn’t), but there is not universal agreement on the matter.
My view, as well as the view of many others, is that we should love more and judge less (and do some deeper Bible studies that delve into the early manuscripts). Not to mention that, while there’s still more work to be done, modern scientific research about gender identity (and gender dysphoria) has taught us a lot in the past few decades.
In the meantime, let’s pause the theological and scientific discussions to remember one thing: people are being murdered. Beautiful, loving people who want to live in peace and be treated with basic dignity. People who were targeted specifically because they were trans or perceived to be trans. People who often don’t have job security and face other discriminatory obstacles because of their gender identity.
Regardless of your personal views, I’m asking that you please speak out when you witness words, attitudes, and actions that could potentially lead to violence. It’s simply not acceptable to be silent or to pretend that hateful, judgmental words are somehow justified because you disagree with a person’s lifestyle. When you cloak condemnation in the Bible, that doesn’t let you off the hook.
You don’t have to be gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans or queer or intersex to be an ally. You just have to be human and filled with a compassionate heart. As you become more involved in consciousness-raising, you might find that your sphere expands to the point that you personally have friends who are trans. That’s what has happened to this particular small-town Texas straight gal who, in younger years, never imagined that I’d be writing this post (or, admittedly, anything that would appear on the unknown-to-me-at-the-time internet).
If you’re reading this and you’ve been the target of discriminatory words or actions, please know that you are loved. I care about you. And so do others. Your presence here on this planet is valuable and deserves to be treated with respect. You matter. Don’t give up. Check out http://www.itgetsbetter.org for resources that can help you through difficult times.
And to those who are raising consciousness about transgender violence, thank you. Keep up the good work. We’re all in this together. Let’s not forget those who have left this world too soon. Breathe peace.