“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are…Beloved, we are God’s children”
A sermon on the 2018 Transgender Day of Remembrance by the Rev. Thomas C. Jackson, President of Oasis California.
On this day we remember people who are Transgender and have died for being Transgender.
On this day we remember people who are Transgender from many nations around the world who have died simply because they are Transgender.
On this day we remember people who are Transgender who most surely must be called children of God – for that is what we are…we are all God’s children.
All of us: Transgender men, Transgender women: they are all God’s children. And we need to proclaim that here today and throughout the year: we need to speak the truth that Transgender men and Transgender women are all God’s children. Because those who do violence to Transgender people will find it more difficult to do so if they see Transgender people as God’s children.
This fundamental truth has been subverted for far too long by preachers looking to raise money by condemning Transgender people. That money they raise by focusing fear and anger on Transgender people: that is blood money, as tainted as the 30 pieces of silver Judas received for betraying Jesus the Christ to the Roman Empire. Now people are beginning to see through the false claims of Christian piety: more and more people see the Christian religion as something to be avoided and not embraced.
This undeniable truth has been put aside for far too long by politicians campaigning to win elections by funneling fear and hate toward Transgender people. Now people are beginning to see through this tactic of divide and conquer: the next Congress will not include a single Republican from California in the House of Representatives. Not even one for all of Orange County, the former heart of America’s conservative movement.
This fundamental truth has been obscured for far too long by those who claim to follow Jesus the Christ but in fact walk a different path. But their words of judgment and hate tell a different story, one which is leading more and more young Evangelicals to walk away from that religion. And all of these false ways of following Christ increase the hatred and violence directed at Transgender people,
The damage these false Christians have down to our Trans brothers and sisters breaks my heart. The false Christians have condemned and humiliated Transgender people, casting them out of their churches and driving them out of their family. The false Christians embark on fear-mongering, raise false fears about Trans people in bathrooms. They are not talking about a problem that exists in the real world: they are simply whipping their fellow un-Christian evangelicals into a fury.
And their fury, their false claims, their hate continues to spark a wave of violence that we – as people who follow the path of Jesus – must oppose. Because until Christians like us speak up and stand up, the violence focused on Transgender people will continue. And that is not what Jesus would do.
On this day we remember the Transgender remember people who have died. And we proclaim that the Bible never called for anyone to kill a Trans person for Christ; that scripture does not say it is OK to bully a Trans person in the name of God.
On this day we remember the Transgender remember people who have died. And we proclaim the Biblical truth that Jesus called us to love one another; that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
On this day we remember the Transgender remember people who have died. And we proclaim as loudly as we can that Trans people are God’s children.
This will be us into conflict with fundamentalists who say every word of the Bible must mean exactly what they say it means. To them we say: we love you – and scripture is too important to be read literally. The Holy Book is our spiritual guide to the universe, not a dated history book full of old-time stories that can be disproven by modern archeology.
This will be us into conflict with evangelicals who feel threatened by the eroding of white patriarchy and privileged. To them we say: we love you – and there is nothing to be afraid of. A straight white man with a gun who believes in white supremacy is more of a danger to your children in a restroom than a dozen Transgender people.
This will be us into conflict with those who rule this nation by spreading fear and anger and hatred to divide us. To them we say: we love you – and we’re not going to let you take basic civil rights away from Transgender men and women.
Even if it pleases your base and generates news coverage that distracts reporters from the evil being done by our government and in our name, we will not stand down. We will continue to resist. We will stand together at vigils like the one sponsored by the Companions of Dorothy the Worker this Friday at 6 p.m. on Harvey Milk Plaza. And in pulpits and sacred spaces across the Bay Area. We will join our colleagues in many faiths we will continue to preach truth to power.
This is not an adequate response to the brutality and violence inflicted on our Transgender brothers and sisters around the world. But it is another step forward. And if we follow this step with another and another then eventually we will reach the Promised Land where people are, to remake the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, our people will not be judged by whether they are Trans or straight, but by the content of their character.
This is my argument for accepting Transgender women and men into the family of God, of seeing them in fully equal terms as children of God. Other spiritual paths have their own path to reach this same place of peace, understanding, acceptance, and safety. And this is why we remember those Transpeople who died last year, so we can look each other in the eye and say: We remember. Never forget!
Let us pray, using the words of Vickey Gibbs:
God, of all the vast varieties of humankind,
Help us to move beyond
of an either / or mentality
to the inclusiveness
of an all and every
way of thinking.
Move us beyond binary definitions
to the mystery and complexity of
Your infinite creativity
As we pause to remember those
because of their
all encompassing humanity
open hearts that need to hear
souls that need to know
and minds that need to see
that there are
nor Your creation.
Let the people say: Amen