I haven’t written here in so long. I have lots of excuses, seminary being a big one. And this year is supervised ministry, to boot, which means on top of trying to study and run my coaching and consulting business and take care of my family and my aging parents and, you know, breathe every once in a while, I’m also doing a ton of work at the church. Which is amazing, and I love, but sometimes there’s hardly room for the in and out of air in the lungs, much less the luxury of writing a blog post.
Until you start to notice a genocide happening.
That’s when you maybe give up a few of those billable hours you squeeze into the 5 am slot that was once your prayer and quiet time, that has recently become the time you do client work, and say screw it all, because something evil is happening, and it’s time to lift my voice.
And that is the point of this blog post. This post is about getting you — yeah, YOU — off your butt and out of your seat and up where someone, anyone, can see you. Because people are going to start dying, and I know you don’t want to be complicit.
You don’t want to be complicit, right?
Then you need to stand up right now and take notice of this ridiculous, terrifying memo drafted by Trump’s Department of Health & Human Services, which would essentially erase the identity of the 1.4 million people who identify as transgender — to say nothing of the many more who have not been counted in that number.
The ramifications of this are huge — and deadly for trans people who rely on the protections, medical care, and social acceptance that a formal recognition of their identity gives them. If you like to consider yourself a good person, if you like to think of America as good, then you’ll not just understand the irony of the “land of the free” not allowing people the basic opportunity to be who they are, but you’ll also be terrified that all these precious children of God will suffer immensely under this policy.
Whether it’s medications that will no longer be covered by insurance, anti-discrimination in work and school environments, or just the everyday of going out in public and feeling safe and protected, this policy will have long reaching arms that do not do good. This policy does not make America great. It makes America backward, and dangerous, and evil.
Worst of all, this policy is inhumane. Let me say this another way: it’s as though the Trump administration has forgotten that there are actual people involved. Which is about what I’d expect of Trump. But it’s not what I want to believe of America.
Maybe this is why it’s been so hard to write lately. I am so saddened by my country. I haven’t been an American Pollyanna in years — I’ve held our paradox for some time. That our founding documents can contain so much that is good and right and yes, even Godly while still being inherently racist, misogynistic, and privileged is not lost on me. That our foundational success was built on the genocide of indigenous peoples and the backs of slaves is obvious. That our continued policies make us a warring nation obsessed with riches is painfully clear. That we suck at caring for the stranger, healing our own socio-economic problems like racism and poverty, rape culture and women’s rights is plain.
But I always believed in the basic, inherent goodness of our people. I liked to believe that despite disagreements in rhetoric and by-laws, we were united in standing for what is good, what is right, what is just.
I have been gravely disappointed.
But the time is urgent, and my disappointment is not the point. The point is that people — real, flesh and blood people, who have eyes to look into and breath to breathe and skin that tears and souls that weep — will die if this nation tries to decide they don’t exist.
Some of them will be murdered. Flat out. They will be beaten and chained to fences and left to die. They will be shot to death and left face down in the street, like Londonn Moore, or stabbed to death and left in abandoned buildings, like Ciara Minaj Frazier.
Some of them will commit suicide. Abandoned and rejected by their families, and now by a country who refuses to recognize them, they will decide that death is their only option, like Leelah Alcorn and Hope Verbeeck.
Many of them — mostly teenagers — will simply disappear into the streets, homeless, hungry, endangered. And because so many shelters are run by religious organizations, there are few shelters in which they can find safety.
If you are a Christian, there can be no other definition of “the least of these” that you can find.
The other day, at my new church where I am doing my supervised ministry, we had our new member class. My new church is an open and affirming one, and many of the twenty-five or so new members were LGBTQ. Over and over and over again we heard stories of rejection and suffering, of real pain caused by churches and families who refuse to accept that maybe — just maybe — God had more than one idea as to how our beautiful humanity is expressed.
To think that a God who transcends gender — who contains all genders within the Godself — would then limit God’s own self-expression to just one or the other within God’s creation is limited thinking at best. At worst, it is dehumanizing. I am constantly amazed at our capacity to decide for God what God should be and how God should express Love on this planet, as if we know better than God. As if the Bible is not a book about boundary crossing and transformative Love. As if Jesus himself did not teach us that the person we love to hate is exactly the person we’re supposed to invite over for dinner. As if transgender people gave us any reason to hate them in the first place.
Here’s a hint — there’s no reason to hate transgender people unless you are a hateful person.
Let that sink in for a hot second.
If you’re not a hateful person, if you’re a good person, you would want people who are vulnerable to discrimination and violence, homelessness and suicide to be cared for. If you are a good person, you would care about the least of these. If we are a good nation, we would validate these people with basic human dignity in the form of rights and protection.
A good nation — a good people — would not do this horrible thing.
I know only a few trans people (well, that I know of. Who knows? I may know many more than I think.), but I confess, not well. I am not in deep relationship with any trans people, and I do not seek to speak for them. But the day before this horrible policy was released, I did have the opportunity to briefly be in the space of a transgender man. I shook his hand. I noticed the twinkle in his eye, the way his eyes crinkled up when he smiled. I noticed his shyness, the way his body moved slowly in space, almost carefully. I saw his soul — it was light and bright and big and wrapped around his body like a hand-woven blanket, big, fluffy, warm and filled with the love of its Creator.
I stand for him. I stand for all transgender people everywhere. I resist this disgusting policy. I lift my voice against church and government regulations that dehumanize LGBTQ people. I see trans people. I value them. I love them. I believe they are a beautiful expression of God on this earth, and that they deserve dignity, love, protection, and the fullness of freedom to live their lives in peace and justice.
This is what I stand for, and I will not be silent. I will not be complicit in America’s next genocide.
Come hang out with this amazing group of people November 13-15th in Denver, Colorado. I’ll be speaking on a panel about white privilege and the church.
This is a ridiculously exciting event chock-full of powerful speakers, but it’s not your usual conference. Here, YOU have a voice, too. Our sessions are discussions — so you’ll be able to participate.
Come! Talk W/ us! Journey with us on this path called faith.
I can’t wait to see you there.