Trump, Bathrooms, & The Church’s Responsibility To Speak Truthfully And Act Compassionately Towards Our Transgender Neighbors

(Credit: Ted Eytan, Flickr Creative Commons)

Like so many other things coming out of the Trump administration, yesterday’s rescinding of Obama-era guidelines ensuring students could use the bathroom of the gender they identify with is bigotry disguised as safety.

The claim that the transgender community is just a bunch of perverse sexual predators dressing up to use a different bathroom in order to sexually assault children is a demonstrable lie.

Perpetuating that lie, just like perpetuating any other lie, is a sin.

But, of course, the reason so many of us do that is it’s easier to continue scapegoating the other we don’t know or understand than it is to admit that our children are statistically – factually – in far greater danger of being sexually assaulted when we take them to church or attend a family get-together than they are using a public bathroom.

As Christians – as people – we have a responsibility to know the truth, to speak the truth, and to treat our neighbors with respect and dignity, especially when they are the marginalized.

Perpetuating myths about the marginalized perpetuates their marginalization.

Caricaturing the marginalized as something they are not, not only further marganilizes the oppressed, it erases their identity by dismissing the genuine of who they are and replacing who that identity with a stereotyped villain conjured up from our hateful and fearful imaginations.

The fact of the matter is transgender people are real. They are not sexual predators. And as such they deserve our love, support, compassion, and understanding – particularly when they are young, in school, and already undoubtedly going through a difficult time in their lives.

And especially when they enter the doors of our churches.

To do otherwise, to proclaim otherwise, to support laws that do otherwise, runs directly counter to the Love and Truth upon which the gospel is built.

And before anyone takes to the comment section to shout, “BUT THE BIBLE!!” remember this: the one time scripture tells the story of a person not conforming to traditional gender roles, that person is not shunned, but embraced.In the books of Acts, the apostle Philip was led by the Holy Spirit to the road “that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza,” which the NRSV fittingly describes as “a wilderness road.” There he met a eunuch from Ethiopia, a person whose sexual identity was radically different than his own. But rather than shunning the eunuch as some sort of perverse comic book villain, Philip listened to the eunuch’s concerns, read scripture together, and welcomed the eunuch into the body of Christ through the sacrament of holy baptism.

Today, the Church finds herself once again on a wilderness road meeting neighbors with sexual identity that don’t necessarily conform to traditional gender roles.

Rather than picking up our pitchforks and torches and joining the angry mob, perhaps the more Christian thing to do today would be to stop and consider the possibility that the Holy Spirit has led us to this moment to once again embrace those who have been marginalized by so many.

Rather than continuing the perpetuation of lies about the transgender community, perhaps the Christian thing to do today is seek out the truth and then embody the Truth no matter what it might cost us.

And rather than treating our transgender neighbors as monsters to be feared, perhaps the Christian thing to do today would be break bread with them and get to know them for who they really are: people who, just like us, are made in the image of God.

If we can’t even do that, if we can’t even bring ourselves to see our transgender neighbors as the image bearers of God they are simply by virtue of being human, then we have lost our own humanity and any claim we have to being followers of the One who declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Or to put it another way, there is no Christianity apart from love, compassion, and honesty and as our neighbors, the transgender community is deserving of all three.

And not just in public or in our nation’s schools.

But our churches as well.