A diversity of religious organizations have criticized an interfaith letter against transgender people signed by four top U.S. bishops and hosted on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) website.
In response, the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National LGBTQ Task Force published, “And Yet: A Testament to Transgender Persistence” as a response to “Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders,” the anti-trans statement that the USCCB is hosting. In the NRLR statement, the LGBT-positive religious leaders said:
“As members of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, we ask divine blessings on the transgender individuals who brighten our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and assemblies with their vibrancy and uniqueness – as well as on those many who have been driven from faith assemblies by the ignorance, fear and vitriol that permeates too many sacred spaces.
“As leaders from a wide range of moderate and progressive faith and spiritual communities, we reject the intent of the letter to deny the existence of our beloved transgender companions.
“Finally, we implore those religious leaders who signed the ill-conceived, trans-denying letter, “Created Man and Woman,” to reach out and connect with transgender people – you obviously know little about their lives, struggles, victories and aspirations. You will learn a lot about the divine’s creative genius if you walk and talk with transgender people and really listen to their stories.”
The anti-trans statement, signed by twenty faith leaders from Christian and Muslim communities, including four prominent Catholic bishops, stated that “human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female.”
New Ways Ministry, which signed the NRLR statement, had already criticized the anti-trans letter when it first appeared in mid-December. You can read the New Ways statement here. Bondings 2.0 readers are encouraged to contact the signatory bishops, as well as their own bishops, to respectfully express disapproval and to ask the Catholic hierarchy to listen to transgender people instead of demeaning them. You can find contact information for all U.S. bishops using the “Contact Your Bishop” resource on New Ways Ministry’s website, available here.
The two other Catholic organizations signing onto the NRLR letter are DignityUSA and Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER).
In an earlier statement, DignityUSA’s Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke described the letter as “heinous and immensely damaging,” adding:
“At best, those who have signed and promoted it do not appreciate the tremendous harm that it could inflict. At worst, they are cynically and callously disregarding the emerging scientific and social understanding of transgender people and their identities in the service of outdated and inaccurate ideas. In any case, the damage that this letter could cause to transgender people, their families, and their communities is immeasurable.”
DignityUSA also called for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to remove the letter from its website, given just 2% of its member bishops are signatories.
The TGI Network of Rhode Island released a statement challenging the trans-negative faith leaders, saying it “should be a disturbing letter” for people of faith and “worrisome” for every “decent, compassionate, human being [sic].” TGI stands for transgender, gender-variant, and intersex.
The four Catholic bishops who signed the letter are Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh told WDRB he also supported the letter’s contents, though was not a signatory.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 3, 2018