Seeds of Hope

Do We Have to Include Transgendered Persons?


[Posted on September 21, 1999]

Rev. Turner:

Today reality barged into my world once again. I am a M2F non-op TS, who happens to serve in the ministry [as a lay person] of an MCC church. Tipper Gore came to town and was brought to the home of a famous local gay lawyer. The place was crowded with GL folks. As far as I could tell I was the only TG/TS there.

I tried to talk to the host about inclusion of TG/TS folks in the hate crime bill and ENDA. All he could talk about is they get protection, then marriage, then something else; then would work to include gender identity. First he and the majority get what they want and then he wants me to believe that the forces used in that effort would still be around to work for inclusion for TG/TS folks.

The problem with this is several fold:

a] HRC is dead set against us being included. They talk the talk but all they work for is rights of gays and lesbians. Bi's and transfolks can go fly a kite.

b] Barney Frank, the lead on ENDA and hate crimes is completely opposed to us being included.

c] Even the Fellowship of my church who are proud of the very small number of trans clergy, yet I read almost nothing about protecting us. Oh, there is the mandatory mention of GLBT, then the B and T do not get mentioned again. The web pages are filled with GL items and only the rare mention of out reach to the gender folks. Why does not the Elders go to the funerals of gender folks like they did Mathew and Billie Jack?

Many of us have worked very hard for GL rights. I have risked attacks and the like by appearing at televised city counsel meetings in my ministry role as Social Justice chair arguing for the rights of groups I do not belong to. Even though I defend GL folks the only place I seem to hear about trans folks is within our own community.

Tipper Gore arrived and gave a 6 minute pep talk about the need for ENDA and hate crimes bills and then shut up. I tried to ask about the fact that TS folks are excluded and had people shushing me. At one point I had several secret service agents looking my way.

So she escaped without being asked about safety for TG/TS folks who are often attacked, mutilated, and murdered because they are seen as flamboyant gays or queens. Than there are some news making murders of gays [more likely to make page one above the fold],and lesbians. Lots of opportunity to get paper and news coverage so everyone goes to Wyoming, but when Tyra Banks died in the street because the ambulance refused to treat a woman with a penis, nothing was said except locally. Meanwhile trans folks, particularly women suffer higher injury and death rates than GL folks.

Tonight I feel like just quitting but know that I cannot. With the hatred and rejection of some parts of the lesbian community and the self-centeredness of many gay male organizations it is no surprise that we are used only to be discarded when they have their protections.

What would Rev. Elder Troy Perry have me and the other TG/TS folks do in the church he started? Locally our pastor and congregation are totally supportive and affirming in so many ways. Other MCCs have reputations of rejecting gender benders and Trans folks. Fellowship seems to do not much more than a token effort through transmcc.

So the bottom line is that it's more horrific for a gay man to be beaten to death and hung on a fence in the cold than to have a trans woman who was fired because of transition, lost her apartment, rejected by family and straight friends, having to turn to sex work to live, and die after being stabbed in the chest more than 30 times.

Are we doing God's work?

Brenda


Dear Brenda,

I have printed most of your letter because no one could say or raise what you have better. In your observations you are correct that as a transgendered person you stand alone in this world for the most part. I, for one, applaud and support the position of the NGLTF for withdrawing their support of ENDA because it does not include you and our transgendered community. This is an issue that, while many people do not understand it, is the hill on which everything we as a community have fought for is on the line.

I am going to use this column, and what little influence I have, to ask the readers of this column to get information and read up on the subject of transgendered issues. If you know someone who is transgendered, befriend them, pray with them but most of all get to know them and what their needs and fears are. We in the gay, lesbian and bi community cannot afford to leave anyone behind. We can not afford to treat a people like we have been treated. We cannot, and must not, allow the same shame based language to be used against our sisters and brothers. We cannot, and must not, allow the same violence to be brought upon one part of our community and ignore the other. If we do not take in Brenda and others like her then what we are asking from the main-line straight community is a sham, selfish, self-serving and certainly hypocritical.

I realize that what I am saying here is in very strong language, but Brenda is right, Transsexual People (God's creation) are being killed and beat up and worse yet our community has the nerve to say the issues of the transgendered community are too much in our fight for equal rights. The say that if they are included it will hurt our cause, it will cause people who would help us otherwise to turn away.

My dear gentle folks, to those of you who think this will hurt our cause, please know we have no cause and will have gained nothing if the brother and sisters of the transgendered community are not with us. To those who would turn away because of us including and being apart of the transgendered community, I say, God bless, and have a nice journey on your own. Hopefully as you journey alone, you too will come to understand that our community is made up of Gay men, Lesbian womyn, Bi-sexual womyn and men and most assuredly not last or least but womyn and men who have come to understand their gender is not correct for their physical body.

Let me give our community an updated story of an old story that was told by Jesus many years ago:

There once was a gay man traveling the very dangerous road between Cobb County and Atlanta. This gay man was set upon by homophobic robbers who beat him and stripped him and tied him to a fence and left him to die. A Minister happened along and crossed to the other side of the road thinking, "If this person had not been gay and going to dangerous Atlanta he wouldn't be in the predicament." A gay and lesbian came by and also crossed over the road to the other side saying to each other, "If this queer hadn't been so flaming this would have never happened."

Than a Transgender name Donna came along, who was on her way to have her final surgeries done. All the money she had was for the surgery and recovery. She looked at the dying man and immediately cut him down, put him in her car and took him to a local hospital where she stayed with him until it as apparent he would survive, upon finding out that this young man had no insurance gave all that she had.

Brothers and Sisters, what is written in the scripture? Just this:

And a certain teacher of the law got up and put him to the test, saying,
Master, what have I to do so that I may have eternal life?
And he said to him, What does the law say, in your reading of it?
And he, answering, said, Have love for the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;
and for your neighbor as for yourself.
And he said, You have given the right answer: do this and you will have life."

--Luke 10:25-28

If we are to win, to gain the prize to truly know peace, to have true equality then we must not leave anyone behind, we must not leave any part of our community out.

Brenda, you are not alone, do not quit, do not give up. Remember to always PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens.

God bless,

Pastor Paul


Rev. Turner is Sr. Pastor at Gentle Spirit Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you are seeking guidance and pastoral care on your journey to fullness as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, please contact Pastor Paul directly at pastorpaul@whosoever.org.