Sunday, May 24, 2015

Transgender and Catholic

By Nick Stevens

Note: This commentary was first published by The New York Times.

Transgender and Catholic. These two words often aren’t used in the same sentence (at least in a positive way), but these words best describe who I am.

Yes, I'm a Roman Catholic in an increasingly secular world. But I'm also a Catholic in a transgender community who has often experienced religion as a mask for bigotry or even violence.

So when I came out as a transgender male at my small Catholic college in St. Louis I feared my peers would not respond well. Whether it was reactions of hesitation or outright exclusion, I knew things would change.

And things did change. But for the better.

My Catholic peers not only tolerated, but embraced me.

Even my grandmother, who is a traditional Catholic, gave me her blessing. In her words and actions, she communicated to me the fundamental truths of our faith: that God made us to be who we are, and if we aren't being true to ourselves, then we aren't being true to God.

Her acceptance was a testament to God’s unfailing love, and it allowed me to be true to myself.

I now work with a Catholic non-profit that promotes the social mission of the Church in public life. My co-workers affirm, respect, and support my gender identity. I also live in an intentional Catholic community committed to the values of social justice, simple living, and peace.

Those who believe the Church will never include LGBT people are blind to a Church that already does. Catholics who include and embrace the LGBT community aren’t acting contrary to the faith, but in accordance with the faith’s highest values.

My Catholic faith provides the moral foundation of my life. It’s taught me the value of radical inclusivity, particularly towards those who are discriminated against because of where they came from, how they identify, or who they love.

I've witnessed for myself the home that the Catholic Church can provide to the LGBT community. So it pains me to see headline after headline of transgender people who have been victims of violence, particularly in the name of religion.

And I won't stop working towards a Church that welcomes all and excludes none.

Why? Because this is my faith. And this the faith of the Church.


See also the previous PCV post:
Sub Secretum

5 comments:

  1. Too many have already left the institution or are dying off. Most have seen reforming church as a waste of time and energy. Move On, Hospice the Institution, being honest about its approaching death while helping those grieving its demise. Don't expend your energy keeping it on artificial life support.

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    1. Hi, John. A group of us is trying to make this case. See how it flies: The global institutional Roman Catholic Church has a value and a contribution to make to the world. If the whole human race is on the path to union with God in glory, then a global institutional church can be a symbol of that in the here and now. The symbol is only as good as the success of the global institution in actually unifying people toward the ultimate end. Staying with the RC institutional church and working toward its success as the symbol it is meant to be can be a valuable strategy. Many people are too oppressed to do this, but for those who are not, it is a valuable strategy to choose. What do you think of this argument?

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  2. Your Faith is bigger than any Good-Ole-Boys Club.

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  3. Our Catholic Church has completely forgotten Christ - while our community as a whole as been slow to accept those a little different than ourselves, the RCC has been unforgivingly and un-Christlike in their non acceptance. Being Catholic is a choice - a choice I just recently chose to reject - lifelong catholic, with a traditional family - with non-traditional extended family members - the dichotomy was too great - I chose my extended family members over the hatred espewed by our self-proclaimed "non bigoted" archbishop Nienstedt. I was well trained by Catholic schools - I choose Christ, not the RCC.

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    1. Better yet, Choose Jesus, not the Christ

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