Is it fair to say that most church folks do not understand transgender people? Most followers of Jesus can identify at least one gay or lesbian person they know – or at least know of – but most church people do not come in contact with any/many transgender people. Or we don’t think we do.
This video of Debi Jackson, the mother of a transgender child made my heart ache. I wish everybody would watch this – especially the last part. Easy Adult Church School Class discussion topic for this Sunday: Just show this and discuss. (I’m totally serious. Please do this.)
Some of Debi Jackson’s church friends have said horrible things about her child which are 1) untrue, 2) cruel, and 3) the kind of words that make people leave the very community that Jesus tried to create by including everybody – “even” tax collectors, lepers, bleeding women, semi-clueless fishermen who were not smart enough to become rabbis.
Two weekends ago, a much loved retired pastor in our Presbytery was remembered at a memorial service several months after his death. He was an artist, a teacher, a Renaissance Man and a profoundly faithful follower of Jesus. He was also a father and husband. And Greer was one of his daughters. She died in 1996.
I learned recently that Greer was named Greg at his birth and when she had gender reassignment surgery, her father’s church paid for it. The year was 1979.
Yes, you read that correctly: in 1979 a church paid for the gender reassignment surgery of the pastor’s child.
For all the congregations that reject, humiliate, banish, and condemn GBLTQ people, there are others that welcome all people in the image of Christ. This church offers Pride Cafe every Friday night in Chicago. This church in Birmingham, Alabama is working to bring employee and housing non-discrimination protections to LGBT neighbors. This church partners with the Utah Pride Center which coordinates the Queer Prom each spring. This church sponsors a residence for LGBTQ youth in transition from the shelter system to independent living in NYC. There are supportive congregations everywhere from Anchorage, Alaska to Lilburn, Georgia. Check them out here.
I am tired of people believing that the common characteristic of Christians is hatred for/exclusion of LGBTQ people. It’s simply not the case. And in some communities, the support dates back for a long, long time.
Image is of one of Greer Lankton’s art pieces. Her dolls were exhibited in the Civilian Warfare Gallery and the Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, and the Venice Biennale.