Sunday, January 17, 2016

So Many Trans People Are Turned Off By Religion

But as religions are starting to become more affirming some of the thing that they should know about/
7 Things the Transgender People in Your Congregation Wish You Knew
Sojourners
By Austen Hartke
January 15, 2016

This past weekend I had the honor of attending the Gay Christian Network Conference in Houston. This conference is, for many, a once-a-year opportunity to speak to other LGBTQ+ Christians about the joys and struggles we experience in our churches. We ask each other questions like “how do you find common ground in your non-affirming community?” and “does your denomination ordain LGBTQ+ folks yet?” and even “how long has it been since you’ve been allowed to take communion?” As I spoke to other transgender Christians, I found that many expressed frustration with the lack of education on trans issues in their churches. They told me that even though trans people are being recognized in the media, real and relevant conversations are just not happening in the sanctuary or at Bible study. Maybe folks are worried about saying the wrong thing, or perhaps our churches don’t make space for discussion. Whatever the reason, we as Christians are called into fellowship with one another, and real fellowship takes education and communication. In that spirit, here are seven things that transgender people in your congregation wish you knew. 
Austen goes on to write about the seven things…
1. We exist.
And we’re already a part of your church! Whether you know us, it’s very likely that there’s a transgender person in your congregation. This likelihood, of course, increases with the size of each community, but with transgender people numbering about .3 percent of the U.S. population — or, three in every thousand people — even a fairly small church has a good chance of including a trans person. And no, we don’t all look like Caitlyn Jenner. Some of us do dress or present in ways that you may read as definitively transgender, but others don’t, and the reality is that there’s no real way to know without asking someone directly.
And the other six things are,
2. We’re human, and in many ways, just like you.3. We’re waiting to see if you’ll make space for us4. We’re NOT waiting for you to tell us we’re OK.5. We’re diverse.6. We long to lead, share, give, and love in community.7. We can’t answer all your questions, but we’re almost always happy to share resources.
I once did an outreach at an Episcopal church when one of their members was coming out, so they had a panel to talk about trans issues and for him to come out on. Which thought it was a little hard on him, everyone in the room before the discussion began was murmuring about her being on the panel and when we introduced ourselves he came out as trans masculine. But that was the way he wanted to do it when he talked it over with the church elders.

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