As a Christian pastor and as a woman, I believe trans* and genderqueer people are made in the image of God. I've watched as people have claimed my faith as a tool of harm against my trans* and genderqueer siblings. I've watched as men claimed to protect me, while really using my safety as a pawn in political games. Not in my name -- as a Christian or as a woman.
I stand in sacred solidarity and this is why:
1) The "bathroom bills" are Trojan horses: HB2 in North Carolina is getting tons of attention for gender policing, but as the Charlotte Observer notes, "The law limits how people pursue claims of discrimination because of race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or handicap in state courts. The law also means a city or county cannot set a minimum wage standard for private employers." In other words, trans* and genderqueer folks are the lightning rod for this bill and many other across the country, but this is really about all of us on the margins being kept on the margins. And that means this is about thrwarting the realization of the Realm of God among us.
2) I will not be divided and conquered for political expedience: As a cisgendered woman, I feel a profound sense of solidarity with my transwomen sisters. A transwoman is murdered every 29 hours, and yet they only make up 1 percent of the global population. Transwomen are sexually assaulted at insanely high rates too. Every day, trans* and genderqueer folks face embarrassment, harassment and real physical danger trying to use bathrooms that match their gender identities. We should be struggling together against our lived experience of patriarchy, misogyny and sexism. Instead, we are being divided and conquered. It's a strategy as old as Babylon.
3) White women's "safety" has been used to discriminate for too long: After the Civil War during the Reconstruction period, the religious "Redemption Movement" began among white churches that preached on and "portrayed black men as ravishing beasts eager to rape white women." During the Civil Rights movement, the week after the famous march on Selma happened, Sheriff Jim Clark who lead the crackdown on the protestors called it the "raping of Selma" and stirred fear that there would be a boom of interracial babies soon born to white women. Sound familiar?
4) I don't want to be used anymore to hurt my black brothers or my trans* siblings: To the sponsors of HB2 in North Carolina, HF3396 in my home state of Minnesota and all the rest of these so-called bathroom bills, I say not in my name. Not in my name will you make it impossible for my beloved trans* and genderqueer friends to get through their day -- at work, at school, at the doctor's office, at the grocery story, at the bus station, at the airport, at the gas station and all the other places public restrooms are essential. Not in the name of my protection will I be silent while you use me to discriminate.
5) Our own homes are more dangerous than public bathrooms: If we really want to take the dangers facing women seriously, then let's stop talking about public bathrooms. Let's talk instead about the bathrooms in our own homes where we are far more likely to face sexual abuse and attack from our own family members or trusted family friends. Let's talk about that harassment, sexual abuse and rape as matters of social justice. If you want to take the dangers facing women's bodies seriously, then let's talk about how you are defunding programs like Planned Parenthood that could save my life after an assault.
6) The bible says so: Our bodies are made in the image of the Divine -- no exception. Trans* and genderqueer bodies are made in the image of God too. I've heard arguments that trans* gender expression mars the work of the Creator that made them male or female. The text of Genesis 1.27 actually says "God created them; male and female," which I believe is not an either or statement but a gender-full statement. All bodies contain all gender possibilities. Therefore to honor the fullness of gender complexity and expression glorifies the Creator instead. To express our whole, gender-full selves is to align with the incarnate spark of the Divine within.
Not in my name.