Jesus affirms everyone’s sacred worth

Published 5:14 pm Friday, March 4, 2022

I was born in Texas and raised on smoked brisket, rodeos, and square dancing.  I’m not making up that last bit. We actually had to learn square dancing and line dancing in elementary school! My family moved to Rocky Mount when I was 12, and I have lived in North Carolina far longer than I lived in Texas, but I will always consider myself a Texan, even if it’s only a small part of me.

But since we’re being honest with one another, I must admit to feeling shame, embarrassment, and anger at what came out of the Texan Governor’s office concerning transgender children. I understand that some people think religious folks should never opine on political matters. I refuse that notion with all of my being. Clergy should not use their public voice to endorse a candidate and party, or to engage in partisan politicking. We should, however, be willing to speak against evil and injustice whenever we see it, especially when it comes from lawmakers who have the power to ruin lives with the stroke of a pen.

Make no mistake: Governor Abbott’s legislation concerning transgender children will ruin lives. It is legislation that removes the opportunity of parents to support their children in discerning their own identity. Further, it removes the agency of children and prevents them from claiming their own identity in a community or environment of love and support.  One can debate the merits of hormone replacement therapy in teenagers, but to create legislation that effectively labels the gender transition of a child as abuse is not scientifically founded nor psychologically consistent with the current understandings of gender and sexuality. More than that, it creates the space to see transgender children and teenagers as problems to be fixed, rather than whole persons to celebrate.

I am not trans, so I cannot speak from that perspective.  I write as an ally to the trans community, particularly those in Washington who have found themselves hurt by the Church.  I cannot change the mind of a Governor, or anyone at all for that matter. I can, however, offer a counter-perspective.  There is a boldness and bravery that trans people exhibit that I don’t possess.  Our society does not take kindly to difference, no matter how much we like to say we celebrate diversity.  It’s the nature of systems to exclude what is different.  But those in the trans community are willing to bravely be their whole self despite knowing that they will face prejudice or discrimination.  So often, people hide themselves for fear that they won’t be accepted or loved.  Even small, insignificant things can become barriers to self-disclosure if we even catch a whiff of judgment in the air.  Trans people embody openness and self-awareness in ways I can only hope to embody one day. Though you don’t need to hear this from anyone, let alone a priest, I would be remiss if I didn’t say, unequivocally, Jesus Christ stands with you and affirms your dignity and sacred worth.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washing