Trans Students Celebrate Openly During Catholic Graduations

Two moments this graduation season highlighted the positive gains being made in Catholic education for transgender students, forgoing the controversies of past years for moments of celebration instead.

Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, an all-girls institution run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, allowed a transgender young man to graduate using his preferred gender identity. A post in the Facebook group for the class of 1970 includes the following caption for the above picture:

“Meet our alumni brother. This was not an easy decision for the administrators to make, but they did the right thing as Immaculate Heart does. {He] is the first transgender graduate but probably won’t be the last. He loves the school as much as the rest of us and that’s all that matters. ‘Every loyal daughter and son…’ “

Congratulations to this young man and to the Immaculate Heart Class of 2014, as well as the administrators for ensuring every student’s day could be one of celebration! Last year, a controversy at a New Mexico Catholic high school tarred commencement ceremonies when a transgender student was given the choice either to wear attire inconsistent with his gender or skip graduation altogether.  He chose the latter.

At the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, a transgender woman was chosen by her peers to address the graduating class of social workers. Andy Bowen spoke openly to an audience at the US bishops’ national university about her identity as a trans woman engaged to another woman and addressed her fellow students on the social worker’s duty to seek justice. She said, in part:

“Maybe it is because I’m a transgender woman who is engaged to another woman and I’ve had to come out of the closet like three or four times, but I’ve always been attracted to the principle that all human beings have inherent human dignity…

“If you center your moral universe on the idea that all human beings have inherent dignity, you have to work against injustice in all its forms because someone much smarter than me, living many decades ago pointed out how injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Congratulations to Andy and the CUA class of 2014! You can view her full remarks below or by clicking here.

While these two examples show progresss, there is still a lot of work to be done on Catholic campuses concerning transgender people. LGBT advocate and musician Joanna Blackhart recently spoke with HuffPost Live about her isolating experience attending St. Mary’s College in Texas as a transgender woman.

Let’s hope the examples of increased welcome and acceptance for trans inclusivity  on Catholic campuses continue to spread!

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

11 replies
    • stevekarper
      stevekarper says:

      Meanwhile here in md the church made a fool of itself by opposing and supporting the referendum to dump it the referendum attempt failed after it was pointed out the originator of the referendum was a member of the league of the south, a white supremacist group

      Nice to see progress, but even more so the joke of NOMs half million person march in DC turned out to be about 2000. NY sen Diaz, right winger, lured prob about 500 there with free bus service , telling them it was a tour of DC.

      Diaz is still living in the mental dark ages when he himself could not have gotten married, but supports a different kind of segregation.

      • stevekarper
        stevekarper says:

        correction opposing the bill to protect trans people and supporting the referendum to dump it. the referendum attempt failed after it was ……………….

        People will be known by the company they keep, this time the recalcitrant church living in the past

  1. Willam Nat
    Willam Nat says:

    This is getting way too confusing! If you say “transgender woman” do you mean a woman who psychologically wants to be a man or a man who psychologically wants to be a woman? And is it someone who wants to surgically alter themselves to resemble the other gender or someone who just wants to dress the part?

    • newwaysministryblog
      newwaysministryblog says:

      A good question. “Transgender woman” refers to someone who was born biologically male but who transitioned to a female at some point in life. The transition may or may not involve medical or surgical adaptations to resemble the gender that the person is transitioning to.

      • stlonginus
        stlonginus says:

        How often do transitions occur? Can a woman transition to a man and back to a woman and back to a man, depending on mood or other factors? What factors would contribute to multiple transitions?

        Also, can one deem someone to be another gender? Meaning, is it possible for me to believe that someone is behaving as a man, when in fact, the person is a biological woman? Can my belief occasion another person’s transition to another gender?

  2. Anita York
    Anita York says:

    A little research would be nice, the school is not run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as they were forced to disband in 1970 by the Vatican and James Cardinal MacIntyre. The school is its own entity and separate from the Immaculate Heart Community which is a lay community though connected in heart and spirit.

  3. Chelsea Cochrane
    Chelsea Cochrane says:

    As an alumna of Immaculate Heart (Class of 87), I am extremely proud of my alma mater. And actually, I’m not surprised. IHHS always taught us to cherish and respect every person we meet. Congratulations to all of those who took part in making this decision, and especially to my fellow alumnus.


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