There’s a great op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer that stands in stark contrast to the ignorant and bigoted statements issued of late by state conservative leaders on the rights of transgender persons. According to Governor McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, transgender person do not exist; they are merely men pretending to be women and women pretending to be men.
You’d think that by 2016, the three men would have paid enough attention to the modern world and popular culture to have been dispelled of such absurd and ill-informed beliefs, but sadly, as we have seen in recent weeks, this is not the case.
Let’s hope that this morning, one or more of them, sets aside their blinders for a few minutes and reads an essay on the subject by the Rev. Terence K. Leathers, an Apex pastor. As Leathers notes in “The ‘Beloved Community’ includes transgender people”:
“There is a disturbing trend rapidly moving across this nation at an unparalleled and fevered pitch. It is based on hatred, soaked in prejudice and clothed in intolerance.
At rallies and other political gatherings, people are encouraged to act on their fears and ignorance regarding others who are different. Certainly, the current political climate fuels the spewing of mean-spirited rhetoric and sadly physical attacks as we engage in what is intended to be a democratic process.
As a straight African-American minister and pastor, I am concerned by what I consider a crisis. When did we become so uncomfortable with and even hostile to difference? I’m sure that many in the straight community are unaware of and some perhaps unconcerned about the plight of those considered different and non-conformist, those whose sexuality and gender identity or expression isn’t what we’re used to or even acknowledge.”
Leathers goes on to conclude this way:
“I believe, like Dr. Martin Luther King, we must work toward the creation of the ‘Beloved Community.’ The Beloved Community is based on an awareness that in order for there to be peace and harmony, racism and all forms of prejudice and discrimination must be replaced by the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. Whatever our beliefs, we cannot sit or stand by and allow these horrific killings to go unnoticed or unaddressed.
We must articulate in one voice the need for a non-gender-biased, non-racially biased justice system that protects the rights and dignity of everyone. Additionally, we must have a justice system that closely examines these attacks and when appropriate deem them hate crimes. At the same time, the church must not be silent. Our communities must not be silent as specifically transgender persons of color are murdered in our streets.
We must press our pastors and church leaders to make available this sacred space called the church for frank, honest and informed discussions about sex and sexuality and gender. We must not hide behind certain Scriptures without seeking to understand the historical context, the audience it addresses and its implicit value to our quest to make room at the table of humanity for everybody.”