Allyson Robinson has a post with notes from a presentation by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott about the seven reasons why “congregations should embrace the trans community.”
Frankly, the whole thing just creeps me out.
Why the hell do we have to justify our inclusion in congegations? What other humans have to do that?
Why do we ask for them to embrace our “community,” whatever that is? Shouldn’t they just embrace transpeople as people, and not as members of some projected identity group?
I’m not going to argue that Ms. Mollenkott has detailed some of the gifts that transpeople can bring to a congregation. We do offer a view beyond boundaries of expectations, a statement of common humanity and all that.
But more than that, we offer a chance for people of faith to open their hearts to a calling in others that is stigmatized and shunned. We offer a chance to for congregations to open themselves up and defend the faith by being love, rather than defending the faithful by offering rules of separation and comfort.
At root, though, I guess I balk at casting transpeople as shibboleth, tokens that allow others to see lessons of faith or doubt.
In my experience, every transperson I have ever met has been a human, beautiful and wounded, eternal and bloody. Each one of us offers our own set of gifts and challenges to any community that we enter. Not all of us come as spiritual mentors, and even if we do come as that, well, we also come as hurting humans.
There are things to be learned from engaging transgender, but they are basically the same things to be learned by engaging any trans, engaging any liminal space where people walk between group identities and reveal a fundamental humanity in the light of essential difference. In the end, the ultimate lesson is always that our greatest power comes where we cross worlds, whatever that means, because it is in the connection and fusion of what some may see as separate that we bring the spark of the divine.
I value the idea that transpeople have gifts to offer, and that many have seen those gifts over time and cultures. Those gifts come from removing expectations of separation and embracing commonality, no doubt.
To me, religious groups should embrace all their members. They should help each and every one of their members make better and more inspired choices, choices that more reflect divine and universal love and less reflect immediate self-interest.
And that’s why, I guess, the idea having to justify our presence in communities of faith just creeps me out.