Transgender Day of Remembrance: Beyond One Day

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Around the world, participants in the Transgender Day of Remembrance are attending vigils to commemorate all the transgender and gender-nonconforming people lost to anti-transgender violence in the past year. These vigils will include reading the 87 names of those know to have died this past year, along with the where, when and how they were killed. To find a vigil near you, click here.

As described in a previous Bondings 2.0 post, the Transgender Awareness Week (November 14th-20th) began with a National Catholic Reporter article by Catholic theologians who described our church’s moral imperative to, “promote wholeness for transgender people.” While today’s vigils bring the Transgender Awareness Week to an end, our work to end anti-transgender violence cannot end. These vigils serve to remind us of that moral imperative.

We can all take small incremental steps throughout the year to educate ourselves on the realities of transgender people. Below is a list of actions that New Ways Ministry suggests parishes, schools, and other Catholic communities take to raise awareness of and to support transgender people.  

Following this list is a list of  links to help you continue learning about transgender issues. Click the link to read the material or view the video.

New Ways Ministry’s Suggestions for Including Transgender People and Families in Your Catholic Parish, School, or Community

  1. Have a specific meeting to watch videos and read some of the resources listed below.
  2. If you have a book club, include some of the books on transgender experiences.
  3. Speak about needs, concerns, joys of transgender people in homilies, prayers, group sharing, talks, bulletins.
  4. Be visibly supportive of transgender people in work, prayer, and social environments.
  5. Develop a transgender-friendly resource library; subscribe to transgender-friendly periodicals.
  6. Recognize and/or participate in public transgender events.
  7. Invite support groups for transgender people to use church/community space.
  8. Hold an inclusive Mass celebrating all forms of diversity.
  9. Sponsor a retreat or day of recollection for transgender people and their families.
  10. Include transgender topics in adult religious education and youth ministry programs.
  11. Put an ad in the local LGBTQ paper inviting transgender people to your parish events and liturgies.
  12. Sponsor a panel inviting transgender people to speak about their faith.
  13. Form support groups for transgender people and for their parents, families, and friends
  14. Become involved and/or educate parish around pro/anti-transgender initiatives in legislation.
  15. Work with neighboring parishes to sponsor education days on transgender topics.
  16. Include transgender organizations in potential parish stewardship opportunities as both donors and recipients.
  17. Have your faith community host New Ways Ministry’s “TransForming Love” workshop, which introduces transgender issues from scientific, social, and religious perspectives. Email info@newwaysministry.org for more information.
  18. Provide an all-gender restroom.
  19. Respect a person’s pronoun preference.
  20. Email info@newwaysministry.org for more information on transgender issues.

Online Resources 

What Does the T in LGBT Really Mean?

The Genderbread Person

Trans Teens Tell Their Stories

Trans Identity and Mental Illness

Challenges and Prejudices Faced by the Trans Community

The Human Rights Campaign’s post on Addressing Anti-transgender Violence: Exploring Realities, Challenges, and Solutions For Policymakers and Community Advocates

Learn about six notable “Transgender Heroes.”

Becoming Who God Created Me To Be, by Jes Stevens—Queer Catholic (from Believe Out Loud’s 10 Transgender Christians Share Their Journey Stories)

How To Be A Trans* Ally

CatholicTrans blog

What Does the Bible Say About Gender Identity?

Videos

Transgender & Catholic

DignityUSA’s A message for Roman Catholic bishops from a Transgender Catholic

Is Your Youth Group Trans Friendly?

What Are God’s Pronouns?

How You Can Be an Ally to Trans People and Others

What Is the Gender Binary?

Gender is Complicated: Growing Up Intersex

Laverne Cox on Issues facing the Transgender Community

Jazz Jennings’ 10 Things You Need To Know About Transgender People

A few TED talks on Transgender stories

Beyond the Gender Binary | Dr. Margaret Nichols | TEDxJerseyCity

Books

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves

The Gender Book

 

For Students, Parents, and Schools:

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS A Guide for Trans and Gender Nonconforming Students

How to Be An Ally To Trans and Gender-Nonconforming Students

Connect with Transgender Student Rights (TSR), a community of youth dedicated to creating safe spaces for transgender and gender nonconforming students

Watch the Educators! Support Trans and GNC Students! webinar.

Watch the Gender Identity and Expression in the Classroom: The Experiences of Gender Nonconforming and Transgender Students in School webinar.

Bondings 2.0 Posts on Catholic Transgender Resources

A Catholic Introduction to Transgender Issues

How the Gender Binary Affects So Much of Catholic Thinking

DignityUSA Highlights Transgender Spirituality in Essay Series

Transgender Awareness Week: Promote Wholeness for All in Our Church

(For all previous Bondings 2.0 posts on transgender issues, go to “Transgender” in the “Categories” section of the right-hand column of this blog or click here.)

–Glen Bradley, New Ways Ministry, November 20, 2016

NEWS NOTES: November 20, 2013, Transgender Day of Remembrance

NewsHere are some items you may find of interest:

1) Today is the National Transgender Day of Rememberance, which commemorates those transgender people who have died from transphobic violence. The official website for this day features some of the hundreds of transgender people murdered world wide in 2013, with more than one dozen having died in the U.S.

2) Archbishop Jozef Michalik, president of Poland’s bishops’ conference, blamed the scourge of child abuse on societal acceptance of same-gender couples, reports The Telegraph.   His statement to this effect came only a week after he also identified pornography as the main cause of child abuse.

3) In an op-ed essay in Portland’s Press Herald Mike Michaud, a Catholic gubernatorial candidate in Maine, came out as a gay man.

4) A  student at a Catholic high in Bronx, N.Y., has filed suit against the school, claiming she was expelled because she is a lesbian, reports The New York Post.

5) The heavily Roman Catholic Mexican state of Jalisco has legalized civil unions for lesbian and gay couples,  according to NECN.com.

6) Following up on the controversy of distributing tickets to a Macklemore concert at Jesuit-run Creighton University, Omaha.com reports on how Catholics in that Nebraska city are open and welcoming of gay and lesbian people.

7)  Lesbian and gay couples who are getting legally married have a variety of ways of planning and structuring their rituals, according to a Religion News Service article on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog.  Catholics are among those making intentional and creative decisions about their ceremonies, notes DigntyUSA’s Marianne Duddy-Burke.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Remembering the Victims of Violence Against Transgender People

Today is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside every year to recall the too many transgender people who have been killed for who they are.  Full details of vigils and gatherings can be found on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website.

At least one of the vigils will be held at a Catholic site: San Benedetto al Porto Community in Genoa, Italy.

On the Women’s Ordination Conference website, be sure to read the Prayer to St. Joan of Arc, a person that many transgender Catholics look up to as a spiritual hero.

In a National Catholic Reporter commentary on the day, famed sexuality authors James and Evelyn Whitehead note that it is fitting for Catholics to mark this day because it occurs in November, the month of All Saints and All Souls.  But Catholics need to mark this day for a deeper reason, too, they note:

“Another claim on the Catholic community is the church’s commitment to social justice. The violence against transgender persons — including bullying of children, the adult experiences of discrimination at work, physical intimidation and even murder — cries out for protest from a faith community that would witness to peace and justice. But there are obstacles as well. On many sexual and gender issues, official church statements do not always contribute to social healing.”

The Whiteheads note the spiritual dimension present in understanding gender and gender diversity:

“. . . human experience records a dazzling diversity in God’s creation, registered in humanity as well. When we find ourselves confused or even bewildered by the questions surrounding gender diversity, it is useful to recall that bewilderment sometimes serves virtuous purposes. As one historian of religion writes, bewilderment may ‘correct the inclination to unwarranted certainty.’ Our bewilderment, at first so unsettling, may serve as a portal to humility and open us to God’s extravagance so generously on display throughout the world.”

But they also touch on the biological and psychological dimensions of gender diversity, too, and links these to the spiritual dimension:

“We are more aware today that gender and anatomy are not the same. The first formation of gender takes place before we are born, under the influence of prenatal hormones that influence the fetal brain. While we are afloat in our mother’s womb, our tiny bodies and brains are awash in these hormones. Powerful chemicals prompt the gradual development of male or female genitalia, as well as inscribing a sense of gender identity in the brain. Most often, the baby’s anatomy will match the brain’s sense of gender identity. But not always. Most transsexuals as early as childhood experience a powerful and enduring dissonance between the gender their bodies display and their interior sense of themselves as woman or man. For many, the search for gender integrity will entail a long and painful struggle. Spiritual health depends on a sorting out of this disconnect and moving toward a harmony in their experience of gender identity.”

In surveying the positive Christian responses to transgender people, the Whiteheads note two Catholic interventions:

“A Catholic sister has developed Trans Awareness Evening to introduce more of the faithful to the challenges and hopes of transgender members of the body of Christ. She also offers simple ceremonies of blessing for persons preparing for gender-confirming surgery. In her spiritual direction with transgender persons themselves, she invites them to pray Psalm 139:  ‘It is you who formed my inmost parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ In the midst of such prayers, transgender hearts, long abused by social and religious rejection, begin to heal.”

And:

“Hilary Howes, a Catholic transsexual, writes in Conscience magazine: ‘I hope that Catholics would look at the body of scientific and medical evidence to develop a loving acceptance of those of us with this variation.’ She adds, ‘I understand that my journey, though personal, touches that which is universal about gender for everyone … looking at everything as us and them, black and white, male or female, is limiting and dangerous. Ultimately, welcoming the mystery of diversity in God’s plan is the healing for our church for which I most hope.’ “

Please keep all the victims of transgender hate crimes in your thoughts and prayers today.  Let us pray that Catholics, who have been so supportive of lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues, will continue to open their minds and hearts to the experiences and gifts of transgender people in our communities, too.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry