Some Christians’ talk on the transgender community has been nothing short of ugly.
Everyone’s favorite Pope has likened the trans community to nuclear weapons.
The Bible Research Institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church called trans identities a “sophisticated form of homosexuality.”
And Southern Baptists have chimed in with “stern but necessary critique” on “trangenderism.”
These remarks only serve to dehumanize the trans community and fear monger Christians into mobilizing against them. The majority of the disagreements are against proper pronoun and restroom usage. (It seems to the extent that LGB individuals are seen as sex acts, trans persons are seen as genitals.)
But while Christians have been busy debating on whether or not trans persons should be allowed to use gender appropriate restrooms, trans people have been dying.
A staggering nine trans persons (most of them trans women of color) have been murdered in the United States and Canada just in 2015. Those are just the ones recorded, as many trans individuals get misgendered (wrongly ID’d as the sex assigned at birth) and many more go unreported.
Then there are suicides. 41% of trans adults say they’ve attempted suicide in their lifetime, according to a study by the Williams Institute. Also, 57% of trans youth have reported to have attempted suicide when coming from rejecting families. Many report high levels of depression and other mental health issues. The stress of gender dysphoria (having dissociation with your body) is only increased when having to deal with workplace and societal discrimination and harassment.
This harassment is rooted in the dehumanization and devaluing of trans lives. Christians need to end, not add to, this ugly story, a narrative that goes against the Jesus Story.
Perhaps one of the most perplexing things Jesus did while on earth was continually surround Himself with those society marginalized. Every person is created in the image of God and as such should be revered as a creation of our almighty God. Undoubtedly, given His track record, Jesus would welcome in trans persons — He would house them, feed them, wash their feet.
How can we defend our anti-trans actions when looking at the Jesus story? Just last month, a debate over bathrooms in North Carolina reached embarrassing heights. Reverend Flip Benham and a group of “Christians” stood outside a women’s restroom attempting to deny entrance to trans women, Raw Story reported.
The uproar was over a nondiscrimination ordinance North Carolina proposed, and eventually voted against, that would have allowed transgender people to use gender appropriate restrooms. During the protests, Benham called one 17 year old trans girl “a pervert and a punk” when she attempted to use the restroom. How is this reflective of the Gospel?
What this shows to the rest of the world is how completely out of depth many Christians are with gender and sexuality conversations. This bathroom panic is completely unfounded.
Experts have thoroughly debunked the biggest myths perpetuated about the trans community — including that non trans people are in danger with trans persons when using the same restroom.
There has been not been a single reported case of that happening. In contrast, there have been countless cases of harassment of trans persons for using the restroom. So, when Christians demean trans people, prohibiting them from basic rights, they are actively contributing to the harassment trans people face.
It’s cause and effect.
If we truly cared about the danger the trans community faces, we wouldn’t be dehumanizing them. Instead, we would act like Jesus and invite trans people in. We would educate ourselves to the issues surrounding the trans community, and actively work to end disparities such as trans violence and homelessness.
As it stands, we Christians have not been known to speak out. We have been known as those who have stayed silent to the violence and dehumanization trans people face. We’ve rallied a mob and have harassed and shunned children made in the image of God. And as a result, trans people have died.
We must step up for our trans brothers and sisters. They can’t wait any longer.