Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to pause to think about the many transgender people beaten and murdered over the past year, and for many years previously. Close to 350 transgender people around the world were killed because of their gender identity since last year at this time. 25 of those who died were in the United States of America. These are only the cases that are reported to authorities who keep a record of these statistics.
Regardless of what personal, political, or religious beliefs teach you about gender identity, these are horrific statistics which bespeak a disregard for human dignity. Catholics, whose doctrines teach us to respect human dignity, without regard to a person’s state in life, should be outraged. Catholic leaders should be speaking out about this epidemic of disregard for human life.
Last year on this day, Bondings 2.0 posted a page of resources for Catholics to educate themselves and their faith communities about transgender issues and people. You can access that page by clicking here.
This year, we are able to offer another resource: New Ways Ministry’s workshop “Trans-forming Love: Education, Dialogue, and Prayer About Welcoming Transgender People.” The program is designed to help parish staff, volunteers, family members, parishioners, and, of course, transgender people, know about the realities of trans lives as well as the developments of Catholic thinking and practice in the area of gender identity. Last week, Robert Shine and I conducted three well-attended “Trans-forming Love” workshops in Catholic institutions in Wisconsin. The discussions were lively and the motivation to be more welcoming was strong.
If you would like to host a “Trans-forming Love” workshop in your faith community, please click here to read more information and to fill out a request form.
This year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we reflect particularly on the life-threatening challenges faced by transgender people of color. At Syracuse University, New York, the LGBT Resource Center hosted Jennicet Gutiérrez, an organizer for Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, who spoke at an event leading up to today’s commemorations. Gutiérrez, an undocumented Mexican woman who comes from a strongly Catholic family, described some of the particular problems that transgender minorities face. The Daily Orange reported:
‘Within the transgender community, people of color are disproportionately at risk of living in extreme poverty and facing incarceration, according to a 2016 LGBT Movement Advancement Project study. In 2015, there were 16 reported cases of transgender and gender nonconforming people who were murdered in transphobic attacks. Thirteen of the 16 victims were transgender women of color.
‘One in two black transgender people has been to prison, compared to one in six for transgender Americans, according to Lambda Legal. Once incarcerated, transgender people face a litany of abuses, including misgendering, humiliation and physical and sexual assault.”
Included in last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance post were a list of simple steps that parishes and faith communities could do to be more welcoming of transgender people. We reprint it here:
New Ways Ministry’s Suggestions for Including Transgender People and Families
in Your Catholic Parish, School, or Community
- Have a specific meeting to watch videos about transgender lives.
- If you have a book club, include some of the books on transgender experiences.
- Speak about needs, concerns, joys of transgender people in homilies, prayers, group sharing, talks, bulletins.
- Be visibly supportive of transgender people in work, prayer, and social environments.
- Develop a transgender-friendly resource library; subscribe to transgender-friendly periodicals.
- Recognize and/or participate in public transgender events.
- Invite support groups for transgender people to use church/community space.
- Hold an inclusive Mass celebrating all forms of diversity.
- Sponsor a retreat or day of recollection for transgender people and their families.
- Include transgender topics in adult religious education and youth ministry programs.
- Put an ad in the local LGBTQ paper inviting transgender people to your parish events and liturgies.
- Sponsor a panel inviting transgender people to speak about their faith.
- Form support groups for transgender people and for their parents, families, and friends
- Become involved and/or educate parish around pro/anti-transgender initiatives in legislation.
- Work with neighboring parishes to sponsor education days on transgender topics.
- Include transgender organizations in potential parish stewardship opportunities as both donors and recipients.
- Have your faith community host New Ways Ministry’s “Trans-Forming Love” workshop, which introduces transgender issues from scientific, social, and religious perspectives. Click here for more information and to fill out a request form.
- Provide an all-gender restroom.
- Respect a person’s pronoun preference.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on transgender issues.
Transgender Remembrance Day is a time to honor transgender people who have died due to hatred and fear. It should also be a time when people commit themselves to making the world a safer place for transgender people. For Catholics, making the world safer also means making our church safer.
What steps will you take to make our church a safer and more welcoming place for people of all gender identities?
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 20.2017