Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember: Faith Communities Can Save Transgender Lives

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2008) is set aside to
remember those lost to anti-transgender violence in the last year. Much of
this violence is fueled by a sentiment that it is tacitly and explicitly
reinforced by narrow understandings of gender, as well as outright
transphobia and homophobia expressed in the name of a Christian God. Too
many of us have not only heard "God condemns you" -- but also "It would be
better if you were dead."

It is a profound and important step for every faith community to join in a
resounding chorus that condemns all forms of violence against people who are
differently gendered.

* By vocally condemning anti-trans bullying, harassment, and hate crimes, we
begin to chip away at the self-righteous fuel that feeds those who believe
they are doing God's will by punishing the differently gendered.
* By loudly proclaiming that people of all genders are beloved, we begin to
address the rampant rate of depression and suicide among transgender youth
and adults that so to often encouraged by religious judgment.
* By reaching out in love to the transgender community, we begin to
undermine the isolation and low self-esteem that can undergird substance
abuse and high-risk behaviors (which inform high rates of HIV and AIDS).

Beyond the hate and judgment, trans people's lives are at risk because we so
often struggle to meet our most fundamental needs such as safe employment
and basic health care. Faith communities need to be out in front of such
justice issues as well.

So, this year, let us (re)commit ourselves to the work of speaking up and
speaking out, to the work of educating ourselves and educating others, to
the work of reaching out in love.

Chris Paige
Publisher, TransFaith Online

Followup reading:

* NCTE Health Priorities:
* TransFaith InterSections:
* TransFaith - Where do we begin?

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