Those are just some of the words I've heard used to describe my 9-year-old daughter and others like her. As her family, we've had our share of run-ins with those who disagree with us since her social transition 5 years ago. Some of the gentler conversations stemmed from a lack of understanding about what it meant to be transgender and how a young child could understand themselves in those terms. I welcomed those discussions because they were usually coming from a desire to be educated. I still love having them when the opportunity presents. However, my husband and I have had other conversations filled with intrusive questions filled with implications about my husband's role in the family, why I wasn't stepping up and "being the parent" and if there was a history of sexual abuse. Without exception, those conversations came from people who called themselves Christians.
There's been a lot of recent media attention on transgender individuals and I've been horrified at some very ugly comments, many from those who quoted God's love out of one side of their mouth while spewing hate out of the other. I realize that not all Christians use the Bible as a weapon against those most in need of love or use their faith as an excuse for hatred and bigotry. Our family has a very supportive group of believers who love us and interact with us on a near daily basis. I know some of them are supportive of LGBTQ issues but I suspect others are not. However, they are so busy loving us and being our friends that it's never come up.
First, to my affirming Christian friends and those who are like-minded, thank you. To be honest, before you came into our lives, we were quite content to keep most Christians far away from our family. But, here you are with your love, acceptance and kindness, and you've made us reconsider that maybe all Christians aren't out to wound our family and cast judgment on our decisions. I have a huge favor to ask of you. Please, speak louder. I appreciate that you believe in a New Testament God who loves over an Old Testament God who judges. I see that you place high value on the verses that talk about feeding and clothing the least of these. We had become accustomed to buffet-style Christians who would take small helpings of specific references from Deuteronomy to force feed us their interpretation of the Bible.
My young daughter already distrusts anyone who identifies as a Christian because she's discovered on Google that Pope Francis compared trans folks to nuclear weapons. She's already been approached by children at school whose parents have said that she's wrong for being who she is because God doesn't make mistakes. She's seen the billboards against marriage equality and she's read about the bills that would force her into a men's room if she needs to use the bathroom.
My daughter is wary because she expects you to say hurtful things. When we visited your church, I heard a message about pruning unfruitful branches, but she heard that she was the branch because that's what she's come to expect. She needs your supportive voice to be louder than the competing voices of judgment and hate. So, please, speak up. Her risk for suicide is so much higher than the general population because of who she is and she could use all the love and support that you can show her.
To Christians who say they love others but refuse to use a transgender individual's new name and affirmed pronoun, who say that God doesn't make mistakes in regard to my daughter's gender, who use the Bible as a weapon, I have this to say. I don't hear you anymore; I stopped listening and you're wasting your time. When you started by calling my child, and those like her, disgusting and perverted, I left the conversation. When you said that you loved all people, but called them trannies, I took note. When you told me that you loved my child, but disagreed with the choices my husband and I made to keep her alive, I cut you out of my life. When you started quoting scriptures at me, I tuned you out. I deleted your comments from my page. I skipped your blog post. I moved to the next article. I stopped listening because I'd heard it all before. Your message wasn't new. It didn't convince me of anything before, and it's not going to convince me of anything now except that I want nothing to do with you or your brand of religion.
To Christians who don't allow LGBTQ youth to participate in your church programs because of who they are, what message are you giving them about God's love? It's been a long time since I've called myself a Christian and my memory of scripture is admittedly dimmer than it used to be, but I'm pretty sure Jesus encouraged others to suffer the little children to come to Him. Some children are trying to get access to God's love and you are denying them the opportunity.
When the AIDS epidemic first came onto the scene in the early 80s, you had an opportunity to extend love and support to a community that was frightened and alone. Instead of showing God's love, you proclaimed God's judgment. When the LGBTQ community was hungry and naked, you did not feed them, and you did not clothe them. And now, when the trans community has jumped into the headlines, you scream Bible versus at my family, you accuse us of child abuse, you tell us not to heed the advice of medical professionals and you are quite clear that we aren't welcome in your community.
If this is how you show God's love, then you're doing it wrong.
I can't tell you if I will ever return to the church or if my daughter will ever attempt to have a relationship with God. While I realize that God is not the same as the church or a particular group of believers, I'm trying to figure out if I believe in God or if it's just a habit from my childhood. But, I do know one thing. It's won't be a group of scripture screamers that will convince me to change. It won't be the group that professes love with their mouths while their hearts are filled with judgment. It won't be those who proclaim to love the LGBTQ community but disagree with their choices.
Maybe someday I will find my way back to God though today that seems unlikely. But, let me say this to Christians everywhere. If you truly hope to show the LGBTQ community that God is love, then take a tip from the believers in my life.
They are so busy loving us that it seems they've forgotten to judge us.