Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility – the day to acknowledge transgender people do exist and the discrimination they face. Many times, conversations on LGBT issues neglect the reality faced by many transgender and genderqueer people.
Transgender Discrimination is Real
According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, 63% of transgender and gender non-conforming people experience serious harassment or violence because of their gender identity such as bullying, family rejection, physical or sexual assault, or even being evicted or fired. Issues of violence and rejection such as these have lead 46% of trans men and 42% of trans women to commit suicide.
One may think these statistics should matter cause society is becoming more and more accepting each year so those numbers are bound to naturally decrease, but in fact the Accelerating Acceptance 2018 Report shows that 2017 was a year of increased discrimination against all LGBT+ people and increased discomfort of heterosexual people around LGBT+ people.
In 2017, people were more uncomfortable with LGBT+ people in their churches or in their families. We cannot take growing acceptance for granted. Even Lead Them Home, we are encountering increased stories of discrimination and mistreatment even among same-gender attracted and gender dysphoric Christians who are surrendering their entire lives to Christ.
Following Jesus’ Example
For many in the Church today, it is hard to love transgender people because they don’t fit into our “categories.” We hope that God will just “fix” them before they come into our churches and we forget the message of Jesus. Matthew 9 gives us an amazing picture of this.
Jesus is at the home of a tax collector with “many disreputable people”. Now the phrase “disreputable people” means people who do not fit into the religious categories of holiness of the day. The Pharisees (the pastors of the day) taught that people needed to become respectable religious people to enter the synagogues. Until then though, they taught no one should go near them. Yet, here is Jesus eating dinner at their homes. It doesn’t not say he was preaching to them or telling them they are in sin. It says he was eating dinner with them – sharing life with them.
When the pastors ask why Jesus is doing this, Jesus answers saying, “Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (Matthew 9:13, MSG)
Jesus shared life with people who the religious people rejected. He saw them as people made in God’s Image, and he calls us to do the same. We see transgender people, but more than that, we love them, share life with them, and stand up for them against mistreatment.
Check out the second edition of Guiding Families for more information.
Josh has an M.A. in Biblical Literature, and his greatest passion is help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.
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