Posts Tagged ‘LGBTQIA’

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An Open Letter to Faith Leaders As We Approach TDoR

15 November, 2017

Dear Friends and Leaders,

 
Monday, 20 November, 2017 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Every 20th of November services are held to remember and make visible the known transgender people who have died due to anti-transgender violence. Black and brown transgender women make up the majority of these victims. This year continues the trend of seeing more transgender people killed than the previous year, yet these attacks and the Transgender Day of Remembrance receive very little acknowledgement outside of LGBTQ circles. The vast majority of Americans are unaware that on this day, every year, a day of mourning happens to honor the people lost solely because of their gender identity. This year, we mourn over two dozen Americans.

 
In light of this being Transgender Awareness Week and the week ending in the memorial service for those who have been lost, I encourage my pastors, my friends who are faith leaders, and all faith leaders to specifically mention the Transgender Day of Remembrance in their services and in their public prayers. Pray for and act on behalf of the victims of anti-transgender hate crimes. Pray for and act on behalf of victims and survivors, their friends, their families (chosen and biological), and their community.

 
Today, I present myself to you as a voice crying from the wilderness. A wilderness of fear, anguish, and suffering. A wilderness so dark that it cannot even be said to be ignored or rejected, but lost. I am the Samaritan woman begging for your children’s fallen scraps; for even your pets receive the blessing of Saint Francis once a year. I am the bleeding woman reaching out in hope of a miracle; I am extending my hand to you in faith that you will act to stem this bloodshed. I am the woman with the crooked back, bent over and hobbled, having seen nothing but dirt for decades; I stand before you now and hope you will lift our faces that we might see you and be seen by you.

 
I understand that the choice to do this comes with risk. There will be those who will be surprised or confused by what you say. Still more, there will be those who reject and actively resist what you say. I know that you have a position and a responsibility to your congregants and your superiors. You are expected to adhere to the dogma you were empowered under. I appreciate the gravity of what I am asking and I am asking it all the same. For God wants justice to follow down like mighty waters and that is powerful imagery. Mighty waters are overwhelming and not a little chaotic. They rip apart established structures and consume them. Mighty waters are not gentle, they do not only come if you are ready, and they do not ask your permission or acceptance for their flood. Scripture is demanding that justice, true Divine justice, be not concerned with what is political, or expedient, or comfortable.  Scripture demands we be prepared and willing to rip out the old structures and dogma, if it stands between God’s children and God’s justice. Are you willing to unleash those waters and let them wash away the injustices the church has shored and bolstered?

 
According to Matthew, Jesus said, not a sparrow falls from heaven without God seeing it, and how much more are we than sparrows. God sees us. I am asking that you, also, see us. God cares for us. I am asking that you, also, show care for us.

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More Than Just Dust

7 September, 2017

For you are dust and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19

God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles and inherit a seat of honour. 1 Samuel 2:8

 

Growing up in rural Minnesota in the 1980s our house was heated by a boiler stove. Multiple times each day throughout the winter months and sporadically throughout the warmer months my father or mother would go outside in the cold and scrape the ashes from inside the boiler into a large metal trash can.  I once asked my father why he kept the ashes. After all, the wood had already been burned so it could no longer be used to heat the house. It was trash, so why not throw it out? 

My father said it was true the wood had been burned and the ashes left behind could not be used to heat the house, but it was not true that the ashes were trash. In fact, there was a lot that ashes could still do. In the winter, he would lay ashes on our driveway, which went up a small hill. Covering the driveway in ash helped melt the ice and gave the tires something to grip so the truck would not slide or get stuck at the bottom.  During the spring, the ashes could be used to enrich the soil in the garden and flower beds; it also helped ward off pests that could ruin a crop. In the summer it could be used to de-stink the dogs when they tangled with a skunk. In the fall ash could be combined with water to clean silver. Though it did not look like much, there were still many uses for the ash.

We, also, are made of ash. Everything we are composed of is the ash, or dust, of stars after they have burned their fuel. We may not always seem special, but we are never trash. We each have something profoundly us that we can offer to others. Sometimes we forget that about ourselves and about others. Many cisgender and heterosexual Christians have forgotten this truth in regards to the LGBTQIA community. They write us off as just trash. Recently, a group of Evangelical Christians wrote a multiple point declaration they named The Nashville Statement that put the LGBTQIA community in the ash heap of Christian faith. They decried us as fallen, broken, sin-filled, and dangerous. They have forgotten that they are also the dust of stars and that we are also more than just dust. Each of us, no matter how we may look or how others perceive us, has something unique to offer Community. The young bisexual girl at school is an excellent math tutor. The androgynous presenting person in the office is a fantastic copy editor. The gay man who works at the auto store is the only one you trust to give you honest, solid advice on filters and plugs. The trans woman at Starbucks is gregarious and friendly with customers. Yes, it is true they are not ashes in common moulds, but they are special none the less.

You, my loves, are special none the less.

 

Reflection

In what ways am I more than just?

How do we learn to see others as more than just their background or appearance?

 

Prayer

Divine Light, we draw our bodies from the dust of stars and we will return as dust to them, but we draw our value and worth from you and the unique and precious gifts you have given us. Help us to see our value and respect the value you have instilled in others.

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Trans* Dignity

15 September, 2012

As a trans woman and resident of the DC area, I am greatly in favour of the DC Office of Human Rights’ campaign to promote trans* awareness and dignity, however, and here is where I will be offending most of you, the campaign photos that have been released all feature attractive, photogenic trans* people with strong “passing privilege.” I am concerned, and I believe legitimately so, that if they do not include average trans* folk, people who don’t “pass,” people who don’t “blend,” and people just starting on their transition the campaign will inadvertently create a standard for being trans* that most trans* people cannot live up to and will result in giving bigots the means to continue justifying discrimination and violence against them.

Further, for trans* people, or members of the GSM community who are out, this can place them in dangerous and life threatening situations. This isn’t a mere poo-pooing of the idea of beauty, but a concern for the safety of those who have no choice but to be out and at risk because the very nature of who they are makes it impossible for them to hide. If the DC Office of Human Rights continues to push the social envelope and includes people from the affected groups I mentioned, I can see this campaign doing a lot of good. If, however, they only present a media consumable version of trans* life and dignity, they will end up doing more harm than good.

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Whose Pride Parade is It? (a Caitlin on post)

10 June, 2012

Yesterday was the Pride parade in Washington, DC, which was a unique experience. Having never attended such a mass gathering of the gender and sexuality minorities community, I was overwhelmed by the immense crowds and the vast spectrum of style and presentation. But, as potentially affirming as the experience was, it was more disheartening. I was particularly troubled by three things: the lack of trans* representation, the rampant commercialisation of the parade, and the heteronormative appropriation of a GSM event.

As a trans woman attending with another trans woman and a trans man, I was looking forward to seeing others from my subsection of the community stepping-out onto streets that are more often hostile than friendly. I was anxious to see myself represented in the community and to feel a part of something larger, yet there was a distressing lack of trans* representation at the event. Though we missed the beginning of the parade due to metro rail-work also slated for this Saturday and Sunday, the section of parade I saw did not have any trans* specific floats nor was there trans* representation in other floats. There were gay, lesbian, queer, and drag specific floats. There we’re rainbow flags, gay pride flags, marriage equality shirts and banners. But, what I saw of the parade did not include political messages promoting trans* rights, demanding fair use of bathrooms, or acceptance into public spaces. I did not see anything memorialising the trans women of colour beaten and murdered by intolerant people. It felt very much like we were simply overlooked by the community.

Complicating this feeling was the rampant commercialism the parade was mired in. The number of banks, products, churches, and service providers with little to no connection to the community overwhelmed the floats that had strong ties to the community, such as The Blade and the homosexual contingent of the AARP. Conversations I overheard after the parade had more to do with the companies represented and how sexy the multiple floats of gay, cis, white men dancing in their underwear were then recognition of the gay owned businesses, such as The Blade, which has had to make cut backs on its staff and coverage due to the harsh economy.

But, perhaps, all of this is to be accepted and overlooked with a nod and polite thank you for thinking of us and allowing us to have our parade in your fine city. Except, I left with the realisation that it wasn’t really our parade. Much like how everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, it was looking to me that everyone was homosexual during the pride festival. A conversation held by two women on the metro ride home validated this impression. Their conversation started off innocuously, with the one observing the other’s rainbow flag and pointing out that she, also, had gone to the parade. Ah, yes, I thought, members of my community out and open. This was not the case. Here is a snippet of their conversation.

Woman 1: That’s a great flag.
Woman 2: Yeah, I marched in the parade.
Woman 1: I was there. It was so much fun! I’m NOT gay, but I totally respect you people.
Woman 2: I’m NOT gay either! ::laughing:: The bank I work for was in the parade so we all had to march. I had to tell my parents that work required it otherwise they wouldn’t have approved of my going.
Woman 1: Oh, I know, it’s SO hard to be a supporter for gay people, but I love my gay boys!
Woman 2: I know, right. My gay, I call him my gay boyfriend, is so fabulous how could I not support him.
Woman 1: I have a BOYFRIEND, but I ALWAYS tell him when a gay boy thinks he’s hot.
Woman 2: Me, too! I ALWAYS tell him because that’s the highest compliment you can get, to have a gay boy think your boyfriend is hot.
Woman 1: Not that I don’t support the gay girls, too.
Woman 2: Oh, definitely! But the gay boys are cooler.

Their conversation continued for fifteen minutes, at inappropriate decibel levels, as the two proud supporters shouted across the aisle at each other. It eases my worries of harassment, discrimination, and physical assault knowing I have such staunch and committed activists being fabulous and marching on my behalf in my parade.

Although I enjoyed the company I was with, I cannot say I got much out of the parade. With the lack of representation, commercialisation, and appropriation holding centre stage in the venue, I would have been happier at a coffee shop chatting with my friends and getting back to the grassroots movement to gain a little recognition and respect.