I was at a church service a few Sundays ago. The guest preacher (minister was away that day) started his sermon by talking about the dangers transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner poses to God’s kingdom, and how society is so accepting this of perversion to a point that we now encourage kids to become transgender. He said that people like Jenner are not new, and that these men who choose to live like women have been around in Thailand for decades, and that they often work as prostitutes. (He used a derogatory term in Cantonese for transgender women, which literally means “human demons”.)
After the service, a woman remarked that she didn’t know that this church is still against transgender people. I replied that the preacher didn’t speak for the congregation, and that he was probably pandering to parishioners who have left the church unbeknownst to him. As a transgender woman, the sermon made me very sad. Actually, before the preacher even finished his introduction, I had already tuned him out.
I consider myself staunchly Christian, and I work with/for Christian organizations on sex-trade and human trafficking issues in Toronto. Yet whenever I step inside most evangelical churches, my identity and worth (or as they say, my “lifestyle”) are being marginalized. If you say your sin is with money, or greed, or idolatry, or just about anything else, they will embrace you and your flaws. Let the Holy Spirit change you, they say. Tell them you’re transgender, you’ll lose your friends, your credibility, and your place at church. For a Jesus that spent so much time ministering to the marginalized, we sure don’t look much like his disciples.
That’s why when I go to church, I go to more “progressive” churches, or as a pastor at evangelical churches used to say, the “liberal churches that no longer care about Jesus, or God, or the Bible”. I want debate theologically with them about LGBT issues, but I realize that it’s nearly impossible.
But I’m not losing hope. A small group of friends from an evangelical church have been keen on learning about transgender people, and are beginning to rethink their church’s anti-LGBT stance. I’m not sure if they will ever be able to accept a transgender person into the Body of Christ, but I know that they’re the leaders of tomorrow, and being open minded doesn’t hurt a bit.
(I am half way through translating this post into Chinese. If that’s the version that you prefer, then you may have to wait a while.)