6,000+ Catholic Sisters Issue Statement of Solidarity with Transgender Community

Over two dozen communities of women religious have endorsed a statement of solidarity with transgender people in a moment when trans and nonbinary are increasingly under oppressed in civil society and the church.

The statement, “In Solidarity: Vowed Catholic Religious Honor Trans Day of Visibility,” was signed by religious communities that include more than 6,000 sisters across 18-plus U.S. states. The statement, timed for today’s Transgender Day of Visibility, begins with an affirmation that “transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive individuals are beloved and cherished by God.” The sisters continue:

“As members of the body of Christ, we cannot be whole without the full inclusion of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive individuals. At this moment in the United States, transgender people are experiencing harm and erasure due to:

    • The introduction and approval of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across several states.
    • Harmful rhetoric from some Christian institutions and their leaders, including the Catholic Church
    • Daily discrimination and violence

“The Gospel call of unifying love compels us to actively interrupt harmful interactions in daily life and dismantle the systems that reinforce this rhetoric and violence in society, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and other folks of color. We will remain oppressors until we — as vowed Catholic religious — acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people in our own congregations. We seek to cultivate a faith community where all, especially our transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive siblings, experience a deep belonging.”

The statement concludes with a call to “transform our hearts, our church, our politics, and our country” to ensure that the trans community is “acknowledged, boldly accepted, and celebrated.” An addendum to the statement lists resources to learn, act, support, and evaluate community practices.  Included in this addendum is a call to support “The Trevor Project, Transgender Law Center, New Ways Ministry or another organization supporting transgender individuals,” and to act by signining DignityUSA’s transgender-supportive statement, Beloved By God. 

The statement’s preparation was led by U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary- of-the-Woods, Indiana, and the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth’s Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office.

A nonbinary member of an unnamed religious order told Religion News Service (RNS) that it was “past time for religious communities to speak out against the injustice, the violence, the exclusion of trans, nonbinary persons.” This member also hoped the statement would raise awareness that transgender and nonbinary people are in religious life, not just “out there.”

RNS also reported on the efforts of Sr. Barbara Battista, SP, a statement organizer who is justice promoter for the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods:

“Battista said she and other crafters of the letter were initially responding to the wave of bills being considered in state legislatures that target transgender rights. When the bishops’ statement became public, Battista said, it jump-started their efforts.

“‘There’s a sense of urgency in me to say that there are many, many faithful Catholics who know a different way. . .We need to find opportunities to speak up and to say, “We are with you, we support you.”‘

“Battista noted that many of the bills working their way through state legislatures revolve around the health care needs of trans people, an issue that hits home for her as a licensed physician’s assistant in Indiana. She described her work as ‘participating in the healing ministry of Jesus,’ rooted, she said, in a ‘sacred trust’ between patients and providers.

“But Catholic leaders and government officials, she argued, have tried to ‘insert themselves into the private, very personal and intimate conversations and decisions made between the health care provider and the person they are serving.'”

In issuing this statement, Catholic sisters are once again leading the church on LGBTQ+ inclusion, providing a “different way” for Catholics, as Sr. Battista stated, from some U.S. bishops who have made suppressing gender identity issues a main part of their agendas.

New Ways Ministry is most grateful for this latest statement, which stirs and challenges every Catholic, and for women religious’ decades of advocacy for LGBTQ+ people.

To read a Bondings 2.0 reflection from transgender Catholic Maxwell Kuzma that was published for Trans Day of Visibility, click here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, March 31, 2023

Related Articles

U.S. Catholic,On Trans Day of Visibility, the church must be ‘a force for good’

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *