This weekend thousands of folks will gather in Washington, DC for the National Trans-Visibility March. For those of us who cannot be there in person, it is equally important for us to be a viable, visible, and vocal presence of support here at home as allies for, and alongside, our transgender and gender non-binary/non-conforming siblings. Our transgender community often takes and suffers the “first hits” of the continued assault upon and attempts to dismantle and deny all LGBTQAI+ justice and equality issues in our current political climate.
Let me acknowledge that as a gay white cis-gendered male of many privileges, I can only imagine the emotional, spiritual, and physical struggles, challenges, discrimination, isolation, and loneliness my transgender and gender non-binary/non-conforming siblings face daily. The sheer strength, energy, courage, resolve, and determination it takes to live into who you are must be overwhelming at times – and truly makes you a living miracle.
I believe that you know and understand, more than anyone, what it means to be a “co-creator” with God… as you co-create every single day just to go out and face the world to live. Sadly, and all too often, how “well” a trans person “passes” (or not), also has a direct correlation to the discrimination/harassment she/he may expect to face at any given time on any given day. Sadly too, even within our own community we often “judge” and exclude based on expression and how well we “think” someone passes and/or wherever an individual may, or may not, be in their own journeys of transition. Sad, tragic, and unacceptable is not only the transphobia but the added racism and hate-filled attitudes that lead to a disproportionate number of trans women of color and Latinx that are violently attacked and killed.
As a person of faith, my soul is troubled more so than at any time in my lifetime at how the evangelical “church” seems to be in lock-step with and enabling this current administration to act in ways that either ignore and/or fly blatantly in the proverbial face of justice issues that should have us all crying out and demanding action and change. This newfound solidarity for power is even more ominous adding to the hurt, harm, and abuse so many have already suffered by and from the traditional church. Such is not of the God of love, compassion, justice, and mercy that I know… and nor will I yield to, nor accept, such intolerance and blatant disregard for the inherent value and worth of every person. Sometimes I just get tired having to fight the “same old battles” – perhaps we all do, but I also know we cannot give up, nor will we.
Two things that keep me going for now… one that keeps me smiling in the fight and one that tugs at my heart and soul:
“Some” who stand against anything LGBTQAI+ often insist that “holy scripture” be taken and applied in a strict, literal interpretation. So, for a moment, let’s “play along” with those rules… let’s say we accept a literal version of creation that God did indeed create Adam & Eve (not Adam and Steve) … If we hold to that quite literal version which tells us that God, in an “inerrant infallible” way created Adam and then created Eve from Adam’s rib… hmmm??? Then must we not also ask what that would mean – again quite literally – about Eve’s DNA??? Perhaps??? Do we dare say such a thing??? Could it not, would it not, mean that Eve was the first “transgender mother of us all”??!!! <smile>
And finally, recently I visited a 69 year old transwoman in ICU fighting for her life… a life in which she, at almost 70 years old, had finally been able to start on hormones for the first time and begin to transition in her own way as best she could at her age and resources only to have to stop for health reasons… she also discovered for the first time in her life that she is accepted, included, and loved unconditionally by God as the transwoman she is. Yes, our hopes and efforts must be for the youngest to the oldest among us… but if for only one person, and if only late in life… such is possible, then we must not give up, nor will we!
Rev. Mark Byrd (he/him/his) is the Senior Pastor of the New Life Metropolitan Community Church of Hampton Roads located in Norfolk.