The Christ United Methodist Church in Texas has responded to the recent and horrific string of murders of transgender women of color with a declaration of love and support for the trans community.
The reverend who organized the public gathering to mourn and defy violence against trans women, Dr. Sheron Patterson, said their purpose was to declare, “No more killings. To say transgender lives matter and we want the community to see that the church cares.”
Attendees gathered for a community “act of unity” in song and prayer as Dallas police continued their investigation into the recent deaths of multiple transgender women.
Their names include Chynal Lindsey, whose drowning has not been ruled out as a homicide at the time of this writing, and Muhlaysia Booker, an activist who was shot and killed in May. Unfortunately, there are many others, in Texas, and across the USA and world.
While many trans women and their allies have a complicated relationship with religious organizations, given the history of some to be less than welcoming and even contribute to discrimination and violence against trans lives, many organizations and individuals inside various faith groups and institutions are taking the lead and changing old and misguided ways to offer hope and change to those suffering. Such organizations, when supportive, can offer solidarity and hope to families, loved ones, and trans people of any or no religious affiliation.
Many faith groups in various religions are today offering programs in anti-discrimination education, community outreach, addiction support, homeless shelters, family counselling, anti-violence initiatives, equality for women including trans women, and much more.
Given how important spirituality and religious affiliation is to culture, family, and personal conviction, and how left out many transgender folks have been from their own faith communities, it is encouraging to see this and many other churches, synagogues, temples and mosques embrace trans people.
In Texas, Indonesia, Pakistan, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Germany, and all over the world, faith institutions are defying the tyrannical side of their cultural and religious history and declaring that love, inclusivity, and tolerance are the truth in the message.
If you aren’t sure who can offer support and safety to transgender people, just ask. Any institution will tell you their stand. Many will also call themselves “affirming” or indicate safe spaces with a rainbow or transgender flag. A surprising number of religious organizations not only offer their services to transgender folks but fully include them as members, administrative staff, and even clergy.
At Muhlaysia Booker’s funeral at the Dallas Cathedral of Hope, a speaker’s words stood in for the views of many. “We are here together today to demonstrate what it means to be community, and to stand together, and to know that we are stronger together, and that hate will never define us. Love will always win over hate.”