“We Deserve to Proclaim Our Truth to the World,” Writes Transgender Catholic

Michael Sennett

Today’s reflection is by Bondings 2.0 contributor Michael Sennett, whose brief bio can be found by clicking here.

Today’s liturgical readings can be found here.

Oddly, I find today’s Gospel, with its subtext of fear and threat, to be comforting. This may seem strange, even contradictory. Still, I am greeted by it in a spirit of solace.

Jesus is cautious in today’s Gospel. His reluctance to travel to Judea is a sharp reminder of his humanity. He is anxious over his safety because to be known in Jerusalem as who he was would mean persecution. A striking parallel exists between Jesus in this story and the current reality of transgender and nonbinary people, who face increasing hostility and injustice.

I follow in Jesus’ cautious footsteps to protect myself in my Catholic and transgender identity. The hundreds of anti-transgender bills introduced in 2023 alone are spiritually, physically, and mentally exhausting. This week’s release of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops doctrinal note discouraging gender-affirming healthcare certainly amplifies my frustrations. Such bills and documents cause a rise in aggression toward the transgender community. Black trans women are especially at risk for violent attacks. Being visibly trans can come at the cost of personal safety and security.

In this context, the fear I feel for my community, and at times myself, is always looming overhead. Occasionally, the fear washes over me. However, when it does, Jesus rushes to my side.

Jesus, too, was afraid of being visible in Judea, knowing his life was at risk. But, fed up with the whispers about him, Jesus reveals his true self. Still, confusion reigns. The religious leaders don’t understand exactly who Christ is and where he came from. His radical teachings threatened the status quo. When Jesus speaks his truth in Jerusalem, it is apparent his adversaries know very little about him as a person.

In modern times, transgender and nonbinary people are a source of discomfort for some Christians. Catholic leaders who oppose us insist that “gender ideology” poses a threat to humanity. We are accused of disrespecting creation. The language of these leaders reflects their own limited encounters with gender diverse people. Like the people of Jesus’ Jerusalem, these Catholics have formed an idea of who trans and nonbinary people based on human-made social constructs about gender. Like Jesus when he reveals himself, trans and nonbinary folks are met with confusion. People struggle to grasp the meaning of living beyond a gender binary.

Despite the pain inflicted by some church leaders’ ignorance, I choose not to dwell on their words. Negativity need not be in the spotlight. This is our story. We must know our worth as Jesus knows his. We deserve to proclaim our truth to the world.

Transgender Catholics who are overwhelmed with despair are not alone. Community is more vital now than ever before. Not everyone was able to comprehend who Jesus was in their minds. Those who accepted him in their hearts, however, knew him and loved him. We must seek companions and community which accept us at the heart level, even if the mind is still working to understand us more fully.

Trans Catholics who have the privilege to be safely visible need to speak up. We share our stories over and over again in hopes that our neighbors make room in their hearts. One conversation at a time, we can reveal our true selves, known already by God, to our families, friends, and communities. We are sent forth by our loving Creator.

I take comfort in Jesus who is by our side when we suffer. He is familiar with the danger of hatred and the fear it breeds. In the wake of persecution, he boldly stood up to declare his truth. I pray for the courage to face transphobia in the Catholic Church with a Christ-like endurance. When bishops are insistent on exclusion, Jesus is persistent in love. At the end of the day, my transgender hands that inject testosterone into my body once a week are the very same hands that partake in the Eucharist, enveloped in God’s love and created in Her image and likeness.

Michael Sennett, March 24, 2023

6 replies
  1. Kathy Mattone
    Kathy Mattone says:

    Thank you Michael for this beautiful reflection. Know that there are many of us in the Catholic family who see, hear and love you. Your witness and courage inspire me!

  2. Duane Sherry
    Duane Sherry says:

    Thank you for sharing your spiritual journey. Your words encourage me to be honest and courageous in my journey.

    May God continue to bless you in proclaiming your truth to the world!

    “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” – Thomas Merton

  3. Anthony Durante
    Anthony Durante says:

    Thank you, Michael, for your witness and faithful endurance. By sharing the insights that the Spirit has given you through your lived truth, the whole church is enlightened.

  4. Debra Kowalczyk
    Debra Kowalczyk says:

    Hi, this is beautifully written. NO ONE should have to fear in this way. I am in tears thinking of this reality. However, I am constantly amazed by the courage and strength and patience within the LGBTQ community. You have risen above the hate in your words and actions. Thank you for this beautiful article and for encouraging all trans people who are safe to have a voice.

  5. Jeannine Gramick
    Jeannine Gramick says:

    What a beautiful reflection! Michael’s patience, endurance, and willingness to share his heart and his feelings fill me with awe. Thank you, Michael, for showing us how to be Christian.
    Sr. Jeannine Gramick


    Thanks to Michael for his reflections today.

    I have been amazed to read so many statements from various bishops and dioceses about transgender and nonbinary people. The statements read like the authors are taking about roaches or termites. And when asked if they consulted transgender and nonbinary people, none of those who have issued the statements and policies have answered yes.

    How can anyone take seriously statements and policies that depend on bias, old beliefs, pseudo-science, political attacks, misinterpretation of old books for their authorities, while at the same time ignoring the authority and authenticity of the very people the authors attempt to describe and make rulings about? Were it not for the damage such statements and policies cause, one could discard the statements as being simply uninformed and ignorant.

    I thank Michael for speaking out. There is a long history in religious institutions of marginalizing or discarding certain groups of people. Transgender and nonbinary people are some of the latest so targeted. In the middle of the battle for decent treatment for people living with AIDS there was a saying “Silence=Death.” That statement is as true today as it was when it originated.

    The deadly policies that target and even kill transgender and nonbinary people need to be decried and denounced and disobeyed. And when the leaders of the Church align themselves with politicians who use lies and attacks on transgender and nonbinary people to win political points, members of the Church have to drown out the voices of ignorance and falsehood with truth.


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